The late Charlton Heston has frequently been associated with “culture war”. Heston died in April 2008, but in the final years of his life, he was known principally as a staunch right wing gun rights activist, and former long term president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“Charlton Heston knew the culture war was coming before any of us did, Alex”. (@6:40)
Both Nugent and Jones seem to hold Heston in the highest esteem, and adhere to his position that so-called “divisive [liberal] forces” are seeking to take firearms away from gun owners.
In addition to receiving strong support from libertarian forces like Nugent and Jones (who have also advocated for white nationalist positions in the past), Heston received somewhat unwelcome support from David Duke (also see here). Both Duke and Jones have closely adhered to positions which are friendly to Russian interests. Common in all cases here, is the identification of Heston with “cultural warfare”.
Charting Heston’s journey as a Hollywood newcomer which began with films and figures connected to communism — to his emergence as the standard-bearer of right wing culture war ideologues may be a story of genuine American political transformation. However, it may also be a story of Heston’s evolution in line with Russian strategic propaganda interests.
Let me briefly make my case. Both Heston’s early films “The Ten Commandments” (1956) and “Ben Hur” (1959) contained metaphorical references to communism (it will be noted here that “The Ten Commandments” seems to have been anti-Communist due to director Cecil B. DeMille, whereas “Ben Hur” may be in effect ‘pro-Communist’ due to director William Wyler’s ‘rant’ against the HUAC).
In 1956, Heston was instrumental in bringing Orson Welles back to Hollywood, where Welles had not been involved in a major picture since he had ‘self imposed exile’ on himself in Europe around 1947, and after being blacklisted for his Communist Party connections. This attempt to rehabilitate Welles can only show Heston’s sympathy for the challenges Welles faced from the political establishment.
1968’s “The Planet of the Apes” is generally considered an anti-nuclear war film today, which may place it in alignment with Soviet peace movement propaganda. Certainly this has been altogether a “left of center” film franchise.
Following Welles’ death in 1985, Heston even went so far as to take over Welles’ role as narrator of a new version of the apparent Russian propaganda false prophecy Nostradamus film “The Man who Saw Tomorrow” (1991).
Heston’s final film was “My Father, Rua Alguem 5555” (2004), which saw Heston play Josef Mengele and was inspired by Gregory Peck’s performance in the anti-Nazi inspired “Boys from Brazil”. In this sense we can see that Nugent’s references to supposed liberal establishment boogeymen as “subhuman Nazi brownshirt punks” (9:15) and Jones’ consistent references to law enforcement as “jackbooted thugs” is an extenuation of sorts of the kind of antifascist narrative which Heston seemed to project throughout his career, regardless of his political affiliation.
It must be noted that this antifascist sentiment seems to have been a strategy which the Russians romanticized in order to recruit ideological assets; and there is considerable evidence that they then turned these narratives on their post WW2 ‘main enemy’ the United States. Such narratives existed in the oeuvre of Orson Welles, and certainly in the prior iterations of the Nostradamus film which Heston reworked in 1991.
Heston served as the NRA president from 1998-2003, where he notably kicked off the 2000 NRA convention in a challenge to Al Gore (creating a plausible ‘dialectic’ of conspiracism with a potentially-Russian influenced individual on both ends. Noting the Gore family connection to Armand Hammer is a favorite of right wing Kremlinologists, despite these figures overlooking Heston’s apparently own leftist and pro-Russian history).
Today, is it so surprising that the NRA has continued to be involved with narratives which are also subverting the FBI investigation into Russian election meddling, and promoting anti-Semitism? Yet in this same vein the NRA itself is under suspicion for money laundering and other financing connections to Russia.
We would be smart to look at the career of Charlton Heston and his relationship with the NRA as yet another case study of the concept that Russia has long played both political extremes against the U.S. and Western establishment (‘law and order’) center, which it has seemingly attempted to equate with the fascist enemy from WW2, despite right wing Russian nationalist advocacy for ‘fascist fascism’.
Yes, Nazis are bad. But despite so many of the claims of patriotism and traditional calls to American (white) nationalism expressed by figures like Jones, Nugent, Duke, and Heston, it is clear the only “Culture War” they are aiding is Russia’s. Their narratives are harmful to the unity of our diverse nation. Let’s be clear. This kind of thing didn’t start in Parkland.
(P.S. Don’t be an anti-gun dupe either. Be a rational person who understands there are some Americans who will never give up their guns, who are responsible, and live with it. Sensible regulation is the only remedy to this problem, and confiscation of mentally-stable, law abiding citizens’ guns is not a realistically implementable solution.)