The gun rights group tells viewers they should fight protesters “with the clenched fist of truth.”
Fresh off being criticized for not speaking out against the killing of licensed gun owner Philando Castile, the National Rifle Association is yet again at the center of a firestorm of controversy. The organization’s vice president, Wayne LaPierre, tends to get people riled up by doing things like calling the NRA “the largest civil rights organization in the world.” This time around, however, people are outraged by an advertisement from the gun rights organization that blatantly ignores why Americans protest and hints at the need for gun owners to take action to make protesters shut up.
[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]The ad is barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war[/quote]
The one-minute video — which was posted to the NRA Facebook page in mid-June and started going viral on social media this week — features media personality and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. In the ad, which has been viewed millions of times, Loesch presents a seriously menacing view of America.
On Wednesday, civil rights activist Samuel Singyanwe wrote on Twitter that the clip “is basically the white equivalent of an ISIS recruitment video.”
Indeed, Loesch kicks things off in the clip by explaining what “they” do:
“They use their media to assassinate real news. 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.”
What’s the goal of the resistance? According to Loesch and the NRA, protesters against the travel ban, participants in the Women’s March on Washington, and people in wheelchairs who showed up to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to protest the Republican health care bill are out to gin up feelings of discontent in the hearts of average Americans. Their activism is, says Loesch:
“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 if the cops can’t deal with protesters, according to Loesch and the NRA, individuals need to take action:
“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. I'm the National Rifle Association of America, and I'm freedom's safest place."
Author Jeff Sharlett tweeted on Thursday that the clip “is barely a whisper shy of a call for full civil war.”
In response to Sharlett, a Twitter user named Uptown Ivy wrote a series of tweets detailing how the ad relies on dog whistle racism and partisanship — and how the NRA is still silent about the killing of Castile by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota last year.
In a tweet that’s gone viral, activist DeRay McKesson also called out the racial dynamics of the video. “If I made a video like this, I’d be in jail,” he wrote on Thursday.
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\n
And on the NRA’s Facebook page, one comment with nearly 7,000 likes calls out how liberals are labeled snowflakes, but are somehow a menace to society. “WAIT. So us on the ‘left’ are simultaneously fragile snowflakes AND so violent that you want to arm people against us? Good lord, whatever it takes to sell more guns right? Pathetic,” wrote Sayuri Rupani-Haynes.
Some Facebook users who own guns disagree with the ad’s message too. “I am well equipped and was a sniper in nam. My income now is social security and veteran disability which trump wants to cut. What's up with you?” wrote a man named Steven Lindberg.
In response to the criticism, on Thursday the NRA doubled down on the “clenched fist” message of the clip by tweeting a picture of Rosie the Riveter.