A Letter to LifeLock Over its Bias Against the NRA

This is a letter that I wrote to LifeLock after they cancelled their affiliate program with the NRA:

To Whom it May Concern:

I have been a LifeLock member for many years. It is a great service that I have recommended to countless people. However, I find your politically biased discontinuation of the discount I receive as an NRA member unconscionable. As a member of the NRA and an NRA certified instructor, I help hundreds of law-abiding citizens each year to safely and legally keep and bear firearms. The vast majority of my students are people that wish to feel secure in their own homes. In Baltimore, MD, where I live, that is a big deal because it is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. Many of my students are single moms that simply want to protect their children. One of the classes that I teach for the NRA is Refuse To Be A Victim (see https://rtbav.nra.org). That class has nothing to do with firearms. It is about personal security and it includes a section on cyber-security. I used to recommend your service when teaching that section. I will do so no longer.

Your organization exists to safeguard people and so does mine. We find the actions of all violators of the law, especially those who use firearms in those violations of the law, to be reprehensible. We do not now, nor have we ever, promoted or encouraged any sort of law breaking. The NRA was founded in 1871 and is the nation’s longest standing civil rights organization (yes, the Second Amendment is a civil right). Our existence worked against white segregationists who sought impose unconstitutional gun laws to prevent newly freed African slaves from exercising their right to keep and bear arms as written in our Constitution. They needed those rights so they could protect themselves from the lynch mobs in the racist south. To this date, over a third of my firearms students are of African heritage, far more than the representation they have in the population.

Even now, many gun laws in my state of Maryland discriminate based on race, income, and sex. In the gun store I instruct for, we see a far higher number of applications to buy firearms made by African-Americans rejected than we do for Caucasians. Our city of Baltimore is predominantly African-American and suffers from diminished opportunities and lower income due to social engineering and generations of concentration and real estate redlining. Maryland’s oppressive gun laws force people to pay $200 just to exercise their right to legally keep and bear firearms, something that hits income-deprived people significantly harder. The residents of the city cannot even legally practice with firearms as the city prohibits gun ranges. In our state, women that have been temporarily hospitalized for postpartum depression are prohibited from owning handguns for life. People are stripped of their Second Amendment rights without having been indicted or found guilty of a crime. The NRA fights against such injustice, yet you fight against the NRA.

Having said this, I recognize that LifeLock is a private organization that has every right to choose how to conduct its business, including who it chooses to have as affiliates. However, your company’s actions are profoundly hypocritical in that you have affiliates that sell alcohol such as CostCo. Alcohol causes more deaths, ruins more people’s health (including children born with fetal alcohol syndrome), and destroys more families than firearms in the US ever will. Yet, you have no problem with a purveyor of alcohol being an affiliate.

What exactly has the NRA done that made a single one of these horrible crimes happen? The reality is that you are simply virtue-signaling to try and make your organization, one whose deception in the past led to a $12 million FTC settlement in 2010 and a $100 million FTC settlement in 2015, look socially acceptable. Your company should go the end of pack of virtue signalers. LifeLock is virtue-challenged.

I will find another company that provides comparable services and switch. Furthermore, I will make sure that everyone I know understands the depth of your bias.

Respectfully,

Andrew G. Knaster, Ed.S., MIS, MABS
NRA Certified Instructor and Life Member
#IAmTheNRA

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Does America have a black president? or “Do I have to eat green ham?”

Before I start, let me state that I have very little use for the term race.  I hate the notion that because people have different phenotypes they are somehow members of different races.  Homo sapiens are of the human race.  We have a variety of phenotypes.  Whether you believe in creation like I do or evolution as do others, phenotypes are a blessing.  For example, the narrow eyes of the Inuit people are helpful to them since they live in an environment with a lot of wind and cold. Along those lines, it makes sense that people whose lives began in the African continent, where intense sunlight is a constant, have dark skin.

That much being said…

When Wanda Sykes isn’t getting political, she can be fairly funny; not Anthony Weiner funny, but funny.  I saw her at the 2009 White House Correspondents Association dinner.  She had at opportunity to take a few well-measured swings at Mr. Obama.  Here is part of what she said:

“It’s amazing, the first black president – I know you’re biracial – but the first black president! That’s unless you screw up. Then it’s going to be, ‘What’s up with the half-white guy, huh?'”

Ms. Sykes made a very profound and true statement.  It raises the question, is Mr. Obama black or is he mixed?  Here is a really beautiful picture of him with his mom, the late Stanley Ann Durham, Ph.D.

The President and his Mom

Stanley Ann Dunham and her son, Barack H. Obama II

She is white (I hate the term.  I’d prefer Steve Bico’s assessment that we are pink.). His dad, Barack H. Obama Sr. is black (another term I am not fond of).

Barack H. Obama, Sr., the President's Dad

Mr. Obama is mixed.  That’s a great thing.  I think the more society becomes comfortable with the idea of mixed marriage, the sooner it will start to think of it the right way, just plain old marriage.  In my life as a minister, I had the privilege of marrying three mixed couples.  The ones with kids have mixed kids.  This begs the question, does America have a black president?

At a deeper level, the question morphs into other questions such as:

  1. How black is black, white is white, etc?
  2. If Melia Obama marries London Emilio Hudson, what box on the Census form will their children check?
  3. Do I have to eat green ham?

Question one is easy to understand although not easy to answer.  Question two requires you to do some homework.  Question three is autobiographical.

In 1981, I was a private in the U.S. Army.  As a private in Basic Training, I had no individuality, no prerogative, and few occasions to be creative.  Then, one afternoon in the chow line of Ft. Dix, N.J., I had a chance to be all three.  We formed two perfectly straight and sweaty lines of cannon-fodder-in-training.  The line of grunts on the left was given spaghetti and meatballs.  The line of grunts I was in got ham.  There was one problem.  When the Army prepared field rations in garrison, it stored them in these contraptions called mermite cans.  A mermite can is a large insulated aluminum container that has hot water and three non-insulated aluminum cans dropped in it.  It is sort of a cross between a double boiler and a thermos.

A Mermite can with its inserts

A Mermite can with its inserts

The mermite can did a decent job of keeping food warm.  It also had a tendency to turn it green, particularly eggs and ham (Dr. Seuss would have approved).  When I saw the green ham, my heretofore unused brain kicked in.  The green ham looked nasty and I didn’t want it.  I wanted the meatballs.  I told my drill sergeant that I could not eat the ham.  As he prepared to have me perform enough push-ups to make my triceps bleed, I whipped out my dog tags that said “Reformed Judaism” at the bottom, right next to the notch that was used to facilitate ramming one of them between my front teeth should I meet with my untimely death on the battlefield.

The drill sergeant pondered the situation for a moment.  He pointed to the meatballs.  I ate them and then faded back into O.D. green uniformity.

What does this have to do with the subject of the United States having (or not having) a black president?  It’s simple.  I was born and raised Jewish but at the time, I wasn’t practicing any faith.  I pulled “the race card” on that hot summer day for one reason; it served me.  It was not because I identified myself with the fledgling nation of Israel.  It was not because I had some overwhelming sense of Jewish pride or identity.  It was because I wanted something and I was willing to identify myself with my ethnic group in order to get it; just like the guy who used to be known as Barry.