By David Codrea
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives two definitions for “decoy,” the first being “a wooden or plastic bird (such as a duck) that is used by hunters to attract live birds,” and the second, more relevant to the discussion being offered here, is “a person or thing that attracts people’s attention so they will not notice someone or something else.” In either case, it involves a premeditated deception to accomplish an agenda that ends up victimizing whatever, or whomever, is lured into falling for—no offense to you hunters—a fraud.
What hunters should be offended by is an attempt to trick them into supporting “progressive” political goals, inevitably hostile to the right to keep and bear arms, by adopting the guise of being “sportsmen’s groups.” Responding to that, the Environmental Policy Alliance is out to expose what it calls “Green Decoys.”
“Funded by liberal foundations, these groups use sportsmen to camouflage their extreme anti-gun and anti-energy agenda,” the ironically (cleverly)-named EPA warns. “For example, the Joyce Foundation, major funders of the Izaak Walton League of America and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, has given millions to anti-Second Amendment groups like the Violence Policy Center.
“They have also given 6-figure grants to support Mayors Against Illegal Guns, anti-gun ‘messaging research,’ and efforts to increase regulation on firearm ownership,” the EPA advisory continues. “They even tried to make gun violence prevention a primary focus of the American Medical Association.”
To establish their case, EPA has produced a “Green Decoys” video (posted on the YouTube video-sharing website under that title, and also on the group’s website, GreenDecoys.com), and a report on financial backers, “How Radical Environmentalists are Using ‘Sportsmen’s’ Groups as Camouflage.” In it, they flesh out their claims about the recipient groups and the donors behind them, including background information like how the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation included Barack Obama on its board before he became president.
Employing a “divide and conquer” strategy against gun owners, often pitting sport shooters against those who own firearms for the primary purposes of protection and freedom, is hardly new. It’s been tried before with other well-funded shill groups established by those who can’t push citizen disarmament edicts through if they’re up front about their intentions, so they instead package them in a way to induce well-meaning but poorly informed gun owners to take the bait.
Some years back, this column talked about the American Hunters and Shooters Association (“Beware of Moles,” January, 2006), a group ostensibly “committed to supporting the right to keep and bear arms, protecting our homes, and preserving our liberties.” Along with those fine words, the group further pledged, “Hunting and sport shooting are American values AHSA will vigorously defend.”
How would they do that? Evidently by making disarming noises out of one side of their mouth, while asserting “an overwhelming majority of hunters support proposals like background checks to purchase guns, keeping military style assault weapons off our streets and the elimination of cop killer bullets,” out of the other. Just in case their anti-gun bent wasn’t clear, they advocated that “the FBI should be given reasonable access to National Instant Check System (NICS) purchase records” and promoted “legislative efforts to regulate .50 caliber BMG sniper rifles in the same manner as machine guns.”
Remember the line from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “Who are these guys?” In the case of AHSA, “they” were essentially über-rich Boston developer John Rosenthal (who along with one of the Kennedys founded Stop Handgun Violence), and a handful of directors that included a couple of ex-ATF careerists, and a turncoat lawyer who found greener pastures abandoning NRA and going over to the dark side. The group itself shared an address with a Democrat political consulting firm that counted John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi among its clients.
Attempts at such “false front” operations did not stop there, as this column noted several months back (“‘Gun Control’ Messages ‘Evolve,’” July, 2014), recounting further such “decoys.” In addition to AHSA, the went-nowhere-fast American Rifle and Pistol Association was examined, and two better-financed (and still kicking) groups were pointed out: One, Mark and Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, offers what it calls “commonsense solutions to protect our communities from gun violence” (which basically entails you and me obeying stupid infringements that the criminals doing all the damage will continue to disregard). The other, Evolve Together, Inc., represents itself as a “third voice … in the gun debate,” as if more than one voice that speaks the truth is needed, and as if debate with that advances anything but lies.
We’ve seen other attempts to lull gun owners into sleeping with the enemy, like a video produced by the “progressive” (and that’s putting it mildly) advocacy group Move On. In it, they feature some guy whose affiliation with gun rights is purposely obscure, but who nonetheless proclaims “I’m a gun owner and a proud defender of the Second Amendment, but for years I’ve watched Congress take money from the NRA and then oppose any kind of reform that helps keep us safe.”
For some reason I’m recalling a line from The Outlaw Josey Wales about telling someone it’s raining.
Another video that got significant media attention was produced by Michael Bloomberg’s money and featured someone we can only refer to as “Average Joe.” Cradling a shotgun in the back of a pickup truck, “Joe” was just the prop to convince some that a $12 million media campaign cooked up by a slick New York City ad agency represented predominant heartland sentiment.
“I believe in the Second Amendment and I’ll fight to protect it,” Joe declared, right before showing everyone a huge “but” that paid no mind to the pesky “shall not be infringed” part. To the dismay of the illusionists, many activist gun owners saw through the disingenuous spot, and that resulted in denials that “Joe” was an actor, and assertions that he was a real gun owner (Honest!), albeit one who just happened to remain conveniently anonymous.
Still, as long as we’re looking at people pretending to be one thing while working to undermine the group they’re trying to influence, it would be remiss not to acknowledge questions have been raised by critics of the Environmental Policy Alliance. Put more accurately, attempts to spread doubts about them have been made by media allies of those they expose.
Calling it “a front group for Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm Berman & Company,” The Huffington Post attempted an outing of sorts on EPA’s parent group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and its top man, Rick Berman, dubbed “Dr. Evil” on 60 Minutes. The thing is, while both HuffPo and Morley Safer tried their best to convince their “progressive” followers that Berman is devoted only to profits, neither made that case with examples of documented unethical practices, or by refuting anything the man, who decries a government nanny state and endorses personal responsibility, claims.
“Look, once you get past the name-calling, tell me what’s wrong with our statistics,” Berman replied to Safer. “Tell me what’s wrong with our science.”
For any wishing to contest EPA’s claims about Green Decoys, try refuting them with facts that demonstrate where they’re wrong, instead of resorting to the old ad hominem (attacking the man instead of his arguments) standby of shooting the messenger.