On Thursday morning, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association. According to James, senior NRA executives have embezzled and wasted millions of donors’ dollars. Rather than simply suing, or prosecuting, the actual offenders, though, James seeks the complete dissolution of the NRA and a lifetime ban on four top executives from ever serving on a New York non-profit board ever again.
New York’s move is a case of concern trolling. The NRA is not a deceptive charity, gobbling up dollars from ill-informed donors who want to fight children’s leukemia or dengue fever in Senegal. The NRA is an issue advocacy group with five million members, the vast majority of whom presumably support its mission. Perhaps some of them want new leadership at the NRA, but Cockburn guesses that, even if all of James’s allegations about the NRA are true, exactly zero of them want the organization killed and its assets handed over to a receiver appointed by Andrew Cuomo.
In a press release put out Friday, James was remarkably forthright about the true intentions of her lawsuit:
‘While President Trump and others have suggested that the NRA should simply pick up and leave New York in an effort to evade responsibility, I’d remind them that we shut down the President’s own foundation, recouped millions in diverted funds after unearthing the illegal use of charitable funds, and directed those funds to lawful organizations for legitimate charitable purposes. We intend to do the same with the NRA.’
In other words, James’s plan is not merely to dissolve the NRA, but seize control of its assets and divert them to ‘legitimate charitable purposes.’ Of course, much like when Henry VIII dissolved England’s monasteries, Cockburn suspects James’s idea of ‘legitimate charitable purposes’ is the precise opposite of what the NRA’s millions of donors believe.
Harvard Law professor and legal super-duperstar Noah Feldman took to the pages of Bloomberg Thursday afternoon to lament the AG’s tactics.
‘By seeking such an extreme remedy, the progressive state sends the message that conservative political organizations are not welcome,’ Feldman wrote.
Telling conservative political groups that they aren’t welcome is the entire point of James’s lawsuit. Andrew Cuomo explicitly said as much six whole years ago. Unfortunately, the NRA’s leadership probably missed the threat. So now, James has arrived to carry out Cuomo’s gangster tactics in the guise of the law.
No doubt, James enjoys the role she is playing, but she would be pressured to act even if she did not. American progressivism is a fractious coalition in 2020, and this is about the only thing that unites them. Not merely the belief that the right should not hold power, but that it preferably should not have the ability to speak either.
It goes virtually without saying that this is another splendid example of progressives actually doing what they perpetually warn the Trump administration is planning to do. Two months ago, the Brookings Institute warned that ‘Donald Trump doesn’t hate protests — he hates dissent.’ A week after, Salon warned about Donald Trump’s plot to ‘criminalize dissent.’
Well, if Donald Trump’s plan is to suppress dissent, he is remarkably bad at it. America in the past four years has seen no shortage of anti-Trump dissent. It is positively drowning in dissent. In the last two months, anti-Trump dissent may have burned several buildings in your neighborhood.
What actually is being suppressed is not anti-Trump dissent, but dissent against the hegemonic cultural domination of the progressive left. That is why, with dozens of liberal cable channels, all boycott efforts target Fox News. It’s why, for New York, it’s not enough to simply argue against the NRA. It must be destroyed for a simple reason: pour décourager les autres.