opinion | Marco Rubio’s attack on the NBA over the Texas shooting shows the folly of the GOP

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In recent years, Republicans have spent a fair amount of time attacking athletes and sports leagues. that they pleased Football players kneeling during the national anthem. that they hammered The National Football League to support these athletes. that they Criticize Major League Baseball to move All-Star Game to protest voter suppression bill in Georgia.

And in 2020, President Donald Trump targeted NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from races, which Trump apparently considered a bad thing.

If the bizarre new attack on the National Basketball Association from Senator Marco Rubio is any indication, the GOP’s culture war on the sports world may now turn into a gun debate. This evolving battle sheds light on how Republican demagoguery and cultural warfare really works on guns and why withdrawal may soon become more difficult.

The Florida Republican was outraged, as it were, by a Miami Heat anchor who spoke out about the killing of 19 children in Texas, then urged the public to pressure lawmakers to pass gun safety measures. Rubio tore this up as “politicizing a terrible tragedy” and posted the video:

Rubio kept tweeting. he is Hit the NBA On business interests in China and to run Television ad for a voting rights group criticizing voter suppression.

Note that some in the audience rejoice The suggestion that lawmakers pass gun safety measures. This may be what really angered Rubio: a private company practiced rhetoric that might get people to engage politically in opposition to the Republican position.

Suppose there is nothing wrong with Rubio criticizing the NBA’s dealings in China. Lawmakers of all sides regularly criticize private actors. Sports tycoons wield a lot of economic and cultural power and deserve serious scrutiny.

What reveals is Rubio’s anger over the NBA’s political rhetoric. On the one hand, this is part of a broader trend: Republicans have stepped up attacks on private businesses and threatened legislative punishment to keep them in line with cultural issues.

Republicans have Released against Disney for opposing it Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law, They Threaten Businesses Advocating against Republican voter suppression. This ugly trend clashed with the Republican sports world Criticize Kneeling and athletes threatened MLB for opposing Georgia’s Voting Act.

In this context, what is remarkable is the sheer weakness of Rubio’s case against the NBA. The Republicans could at least regard the kneeling athletes as unpatriotic, and could attack the MLB movement in the All-Star Game for costing Georgia revenue. However, here, all Rubio can say is that the NBA is “politicizing” the shooting.

This is transparent nonsense. Republicans also They defend public policy responses to the shootings. some are silly (fewer entrances and more weapons in schools), some are as well Insufficient (Red flag laws), but Republicans be Demanding reactions because they know that calling for nothing is not a political choice.

Henry Olsen

the interviewGun rights defenders do themselves no favors by not addressing gun violence

Given that, it’s funny that they claim that when Democrats demand their own response, it’s “political.” Just as the NBA crowd chanted the call to action to prevent more children from horrific violent deaths, the cry of “politicizing tragedy” won’t fool many voters.

More broadly, the intersection of the gun debate with GOP attacks on the sports world could push Republicans into shady territory. What happens if the world of sports becomes more Candid in advocating gun safety measures?

A key claim on the right is that gun safety regulations represent the dreams of the liberal elite that are far removed from true American culture. Republicans They already display dozens of ads for guns: It features female candidates lovingly brandishing handguns, male candidates bragging about their wives’ shooting ranges or skills, etc.

In these ads, guns are primarily a cultural connotation. As a single strategist in the Republican Party pointedBy declaring a love of guns, Republicans are signaling solidarity with conservative voters in a gun-oriented “cultural civil war.”

But if gun safety becomes more than a reason In the world of sports, these narratives can defend in unexpected ways. I spoke about this with Dave Zirin, the podcast writer who wrote Many books have been written about the intersection Politics and sports.

Zerrin noticed some interesting complications. Attacks on the NBA, which is more associated with African-American athletes, is based on a decades-old tradition of attacking the rhetoric of black athletes while enhancing their abilities, which Zerrin called “the old-fashioned scenario”.

That might work for Republicans in underground ways. But amid the mass massacres of children, it’s already hard to be a cultural demagogue against gun laws. If more athletes come out for such regulations, it will be difficult to associate them with effective liberal coastal elites.

If that happens, Zirin told me, “it would put Republicans in a position to defend the indefensible in front of an audience that might be more likely to listen to athletes than members of the Democratic Party.”

Note that it was a cultural moment when Steve Kerr was the coach of the Golden State Warriors Exploded in frustration over the recent mass shootings and angrily called for action against the guns. One has to hope that this trend will continue.

Zirin noted that if NFL players, NASCAR drivers and other athletes “associated with the White Americana” start talking about gun regulations, “there is a much greater chance that the public mood will change, even dramatically.”

This does not mean that this will happen, but it may. It is not clear how the Republicans will navigate the resulting cultural minefield.