- Feb 27, 2005
- Plymouth, MA
Lampert Smith: NRA card in my warm hand
Susan Lampert Smith
May 20, 2006
MILWAUKEE - I am the NRA. Really!
I had to join the National Rifle Association Friday to get into the "acres of guns and gear" exhibit at the gun group's annual convention.
Figuring it will be a cold day here in Liberal Hades before the NRA ever brings its national convention to town, I headed down Interstate 94 to check out a different culture.
Was it worth it? Totally. I picked up enough pro-gun freebies and gear to annoy all my liberal friends back in Madison.
For my vegetarian boss, there were copies of Ted Nugent's cookbook, "Kill 'Em and Grill 'Em." For my dad the municipal judge, a bumper sticker that reads "Soft Judges Make Hardened Criminals." I'm keeping the mini-Glock keychain and the bumper sticker with the classic Charlton Heston quote: "From my cold dead hands."
I now know where to buy camo nighties and thongs in the mossy oak pattern. They're from "The Formal Sportsman," located, most excellently, on Chippendale Lane in Port Matilda, Pa. For the gents, the company offers camo tuxedos and camo dress shoes to ease those painful occasions when dressing up is required.
I think the "Got Sig?" women's T- shirts would solve the Downtown Madison mugging issue. Those thugs would think twice if they thought Badger co-eds were packing Sig Sauer handguns. Of course, this assumes the thugs:
A) Can read.
B) Know what a Sig is.
As I listened to my radio on the way, conservative talkers Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner assured me that there would be no safer place in the world than downtown Milwaukee with 60,000 NRA members, "Freedom's 2nd Army," on the watch. Earlier, Madison talker Vicki McKenna said that despite what we in the liberal media will tell you, there are no freaks at an NRA convention.
Is she right?
Sure, as long as your idea of normal is a crowd that is 100 percent white, mostly older, and mostly male.
I attended a different convention at the Midwest Express Center exactly a year ago. The Milwaukee Bead and Button Show was an estrogen-fest of women pawing over displays of expensive shiny things. This weekend's NRA trade show was a testostorone-fest of men pawing over somewhat larger and more expensive shiny things.
The main difference is political. About as mean as it gets at a bead show are T-shirts that read, "Not Tonight Honey, I'm Beading."
But at the NRA event, I was greeted by Del Ellefson a "Washington County Republican" wearing an anti-Gov. Jim Doyle placard. Inside, the NRA was giving out dump truck stickers that read "Dump Doyle." And there was former Milwaukee Sentinel food editor Lee Aschoff wearing a denim shirt that read "Dump Doyle," on the front, and, on the back, "and Baghdad Russ, too."
Wow, don't see many of those in Madison.
Around 2 p.m., we all trooped over to the U.S. Cellular Arena to see Ted Nugent open the convention.
Behind me, three men expressed their admiration for the rocker-hunter-gun lover from Michigan.
"Wouldn't want to be a liberal around him!"
"I think the John Birch Society is too liberal."
"I'm to the right of the Spanish Inquistion."
Were they talking so loud because they could tell I was from Madison? Did I give off Liberal-aroma? Could they smell vegan bratwurst on my breath?
At the Arena, I was glad that no one knew that the last show I saw there was the anti-Bush Dixie Chicks.
I watched NRA president Sandy Froman, who looks like a fourth-grade teacher in her pretty flowered scarf, introduce the crazed looking Nugent. As he ripped into the National Anthem on his Tony-the-Tiger striped guitar, I recalled the last time I saw him live: 30 years ago at Bicentennial Fest at the Rockford Speedway. Who knew he'd become a law-and-order type?
And who knew Nugent would become the answer to the trivia question: Who uttered the naughtiest word ever said over the airwaves of Wisconsin Public Radio? Larry Meiller still chokes when he talks about it.
My reverie ended as Nugent hit the last chords of "The Star Spangled Banner." Suddenly, I realized that I was the only person in an arena filled with flag-wagging, gun-loving people who did not stand, with hand over heart. Suddenly, I felt thousands of glaring eyes.
Suddenly, I felt a little less safe in downtown Milwaukee.
I slunk out a side entrance and didn't relax until I crossed the Dane County line.
Cross-cultural visits are nice, but I feel safer among my own.
Contact Susan Lampert Smith at [email protected] or 252-6121.