A recruitment video released by the National Rifle Association is making waves for its militant tone, denouncing protesters and calling on viewers to “fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”
The minute-long advertisement was originally released in April but was reposted on Facebook June 12. It went viral Wednesday when a journalist tweeted it was “barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war.”
This new NRA ad is barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war. https://t.co/N33s2KyvVz
— Jeff Sharlet (@JeffSharlet) June 28, 2017
The video is narrated by conservative commentator and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who addresses the camera directly and in urgent tones denounces an unnamed “they,” presumably a reference to the anti-Trump left.
“They use their media to assassinate real news,” Loesch begins. “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”
“And then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance. All to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia, to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding, until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.”
“And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”
“I’m the National Rifle Association of America, and I’m freedom’s safest place,” Loesch concludes. Loesch’s commentary is intercut with b-roll of protests and protesters clashing with police.
The video, which has racked up over 2.5 million views on Facebook, was criticized for its ominous tone, although the video makes no specific reference to the NRA’s signature issue of gun rights and doesn’t mention firearms. Various progressive-leaning news outlets called it “chilling,” “outrageous,” and said it “stops just short of calling for violence.” “What Is This NRA Video Trying to Accomplish, Exactly?” one columnist asked. Deray McKesson, an activist and one of the most visible members of the Black Lives Matter movement, said it was “an open call to violence to protect white supremacy.”
This NRA ad is an open call to violence to protect white supremacy. If I made a video like this, I'd be in jail. pic.twitter.com/LD65yMUMVn
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 29, 2017
Jason Stanley, a philosophy professor at Yale University and the author of “How Propaganda Works,” called the video “utterly terrifying” and took particular issue with its allusions to tamping down protests.
“Dissent against the president is represented as an attack on freedom — when in a democratic society, dissent and protest are the essence of freedom,” Stanley said in an email to Yahoo News.
“‘Law abiding’ is used as a contrast with ‘democratic,’” he added. “So political protest — for example at airports — is not ‘law abiding,’ even though it is clearly consistent with the constitution. ‘Law abiding’ here means ‘following whatever the leader says.’ This is an authoritarian notion of law, not a democratic one.”
After the video started receiving renewed attention Wednesday, Loesch took to Twitter to defend it, engaging with both critics and supporters.
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment but posted a message of support for Loesch.
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