The Republican National Committee today excitedly announced the launch of a new startup lab to bring techies and creatives together, Silicon Valley-style, to get Republicans elected. Oh, and they named it for a Nazi gun, a type of ammo, and a philosophy that puts war before peace.
Welcome to Para Bellum Labs, America! “Para Bellum Labs will help create a culture to allow the RNC to innovate faster and recruit more talented people who can build digital platforms to understand public opinion, engage voters and power elections,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus gushed in a press release this morning. Para Bellum plans to recruit on top engineering school campuses and hold fun hackathons.
The charm offensive all starts with the video above, which makes Para Bellum look like a much cooler place than DeVry Institute to get your associate’s degree in IT. “I chose to be a part of Para Bellum Labs because this is something that has never been done before,” says new employee Lauren. (By Republicans, no, this has not been done before. Not successfully. But by Democrats, well, um. Yeah.)
The thing about Para Bellum, though, is that name. In Latin, it literally means “(prepare)* for war.” That’s dumb enough, probably: Hey, idealistic young programmers! Let’s save the world by crushing our enemies, seeing them driven before us, and hearing the lamentation of their women.
In fact, it’s part of an old Roman cliche, “Si vis pacem, para bellum”—if you seek peace, prepare for war. That’s been quite an inspiring little phrase through history, at least to militarists. It was especially inspiring to Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken, the German government’s arms manufacturer from the late imperial era to World War II.
DWM started using the “parabellum” phrase as a name for its signature guns—first, the light machine gun used by the Kaiser’s best during World War I, and then its most iconic gun: the Parabellum Pistole, or the Luger pistol.
This story is already hilarious enough (especially because Parabellum guns are known for misfiring, jams, and general unreliability) but the Gawker article ends in the most amazing way… the RNC responded to the story: