I hadn’t heard or thought about the name Oliver North in many years. If and when I did, it was in relation to the ill-fated Iran-Contra affair, which was a political scandal that occurred in the United States during Reagan’s second term. The CliffNotes summary of the matter is that the United States, aimed to free 7 American hostages held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a paramilitary group with military ties to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Senior Reagan official secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which at the time, not unlike now, was the subject of an arms embargo. The intent was to fund the Contras in Nicaragua while simultaneously negotiating the release of the hostages.
Ultimately, it was determined, subterfuge notwithstanding; that by making large-scale modifications to the plan, then Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council played a central role in executing a covert and prohibited arms for hostages deal. On March 4, 1987, Reagan hit the airwaves in a nationally televised address, taking full responsibility, and saying, "what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages.”
Fast forward, On May 7, 2018, the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced that North would become the organization's next president within the following weeks. He will succeed Pete Brownell, the incumbent President, who did not stand for re-election.
After last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, in which 10 students and 2 teachers were killed, and a dozen others injured, North cited “a culture of violence” as the culprit in school shootings. He mentioned the drug Ritalin, TV, and movies, as causes for such shootings, which after last week, the 20thweek of 2018, numbered 22. Not surprisingly, he did not mention guns, lax gun laws, or any aspect of the Second Amendment, which the NRA vigorously supports at all costs. But there was one other NRA and gun lobby scape-goating favorite that he conveniently failed to note: violent video games.
At an NRA forum, North had this to say:
"The problem that we've got is we're trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease. And the disease in this case isn't the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence."
He indicated, in a Fox News interview last Sunday, that prescribing of the attention deficit disorder drug Ritalin was partially responsible for violence such as that at the Santa Fe, Texas high school. North also gave violent movies specific mention. Commentators from a variety of media outlets were quick to point out that the former Marine was not only featured as a voice actor in "Call of Duty: Black Ops II Video Game," but he also served as a pitchman. Undoubtedly, for North, it’s a case where, like beauty, violence is in the eye of the beholder.
There is little question, North created wide ranging parameters for creativity when he orchestrated the little known moving parts of the Iran-Contra scandal. In ascending to a pivotal leadership role with the NRA, he will almost certainly be called upon to match, if not exceed that level of mental legerdemain in his defense of all things NRA, including a relentless series of school shootings.
The constant barrage of shootings, especially at schools, but also in clubs and at concerts, has sparked a call for changes in gun laws. The NRA has been front and center in blaming culture, and in lobbying against any substantive changes. Now Oliver North stands front and center for the NRA.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a group which promotes stricter gun laws, said in a statement Monday that "The American people know who bears the most blame for gun violence: the NRA apologists who are always pointing their fingers at everyone else."
The terms of engagement are different, and many more than 7 lives are at stake. It’s been more than 30 years, and once again, Oliver North stands in the midst of a controversy that roils the nation. “Ollie North: At It Again!”
I’m done; holla back!