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Democrats are accusing the NRA of inciting a ‘civil war’ with viral ad
An NRA ad in April went viral last night on Twitter, and you have to see it to believe it.
A months-old National Rifle Association is going viral on Facebook, and it’s putting Democrats squarely in its crosshairs.
In April, the NRA uploaded a one-minute call to arms that can only be described as ferocious.
Join NRA Here: http://bit.ly/2q5pp0L
Posted by National Rifle Association of America on Monday, June 12, 2017
The ad is from conservative talk radio host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, who goes directly after Democrats—and especially the evocatively named ‘Resistance’—declaring in no uncertain terms that they use the media to “assassinate” real news and use schools to indoctrinate children into believing Trump is Hitler. She takes a moment to hit Barack Obama for, essentially, she claims, inciting violence. The ad is titled “Join the National Rifle Association,” and although Loesch says the only way to fight back is with the “clenched fist of truth,” it concludes with a link to join the organization.
Though the ad debuted several months ago and was republished on Facebook three weeks back (and already has 2.4 million views), it became a flashpoint for the left Wednesday night when it was tweeted out by journalist Jeff Sharlet, who declared it a “whisper shy of a call for full civil war.” (It should be noted that the Facebook post that is now going viral debuted two days before the Steve Scalise shooting in Alexandria.)
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
Sharlet is certainly using hyperbole to fight hyperbole, but he’s not wrong. It is a PSA for the largest group of armed Americans—the NRA once cited its membership at 5 million, although that number has been disputed—to fight back against a group of citizenry exercising their First Amendment rights to protest. It weirdly tells its members to let the police do their job, before then winking and nodding at taking matters into their own hands.
There’s a silver lining of truth to the video. The left has been an insurrectionist force ever since the election of Donald Trump. Every action they have taken—which, yes, has included moments that have spilled over into violence—is an action they would likely have considered an affront to American ideals if the right did it in the wake of a Hillary Clinton election win. If Donald Trump gave speeches declaring the president’s policies unfit for the nation, and if George W. Bush gave his backing to alt-right protests, there would be furious objections from Democrats. And although no party should be judged by its worst outliers, that’s simply the matter of how things work. There is no doubt that rhetoric on the left has escalated and veered into some violent territory since Trump.
But in a climate right now that can be accurately described as a tinderbox, Democrats found themselves flabberghasted at the ferocity of this ad.
President Obama’s speechwriter came out against it.
This is revolting and frightening. https://t.co/3pnDGjm16u
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) June 29, 2017
As did others.
What a call for authoritarianism looks like. Genuinely frightening. https://t.co/ytyI96i7u2
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) June 29, 2017
Wartime propaganda https://t.co/Elia25Y9oC
— Megan Corriveau (@megancorriveau) June 29, 2017
Oh holy fuck. The NRA needs to be dismantled over this. https://t.co/j70IGPJlkS
— Mindy Seidman (@emmjayess28) June 29, 2017
Yep, straight up incitement https://t.co/sIA6kBtS68
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 28, 2017
After the ad went viral because a “hack decided to tweet it,” Loesch responded, saying all she was doing was denouncing violence, and that she was in no way inciting violence.
That I condemned violence or that the left is being called out for their violence? You sanction violence? https://t.co/soE2WilrIM
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) June 29, 2017
Loesch, in a wide-ranging Periscope last night that touched on safe spaces and participation trophies, said that she was surprised by the matter going viral now, saying the ad wasn’t “wrong,” noting that it uses actual video footage of violent riots by the left.
“Did everybody forget this?”
She goes on to cite riots in the wake of Trump’s inauguration, specifically the riots at Berkley in advance of Milo Yiannopoulos speaking, and says that this was to be expected, that language of the left has always been steeped in violence.
She goes on to says the left is freaking out over someone condemning violence that they don’t have the “balls” themselves to condemn. This is, without a doubt, a sin we are all hypocritical about. People on the left have been dismissive of protestor violence. But the same could be said about the NRA. When Donald Trump said “second amendment people, maybe they” could do something about Hillary Clinton, the NRA did not speak out against Trump’s language, despite numerous calls on them to condemn it.
Instead, they called him “right.”
— NRA (@NRA) August 9, 2016
The NRA then followed it up with a call to vote, but there was nothing to say Trump’s language was out of line.
On Periscope, Loesch touched on the conclusion of her video, where she says the only way to fight back was with the “Clenched fist of truth.” She said it was a way for her to use the language of the left—citing Black Panther imagery and “Hillary Clinton-istas”—to condemn their actions. The left, according to Loesch, needs to get upset about the “clenched fist that was used to punch someone,” ostensibly referring to alt-right leader Richard Spencer getting punched in the face on inaugration weekend, an act that no doubt, many on the left responded to with glee.
That is what her ad was only about. It was, in this era of the White House declaring most published journalism it disagrees with false, only a call for people to arm themselves with “truth.” It just so happens that those same people are also armed with guns.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]