If you've been on Facebook recently, you might have noticed a rather jarring ad asking you to join the National Rifle Association. You know which Facebook ad I'm talking about — the one with conservative radio host and author Dana Loesch looking straight into the camera against a dark blue background, talking about "fake news" and "Hitler." Yeah, about that... here's the story behind that NRA ad in your Facebook feed. You might want to sit down, because it's not pretty.
The NRA ad begins, "They use their media to assassinate real news. They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler" — and then it just gets more intimidating from there. In between lines of Loesch's menacing monologue are clips of the exterior of The New York Times building and various protest clashes with police, and even the bloodied face of a man wearing a Trump campaign t-shirt. (Though there's no sign of the dozens of people who have been attacked by Trump supporters.)
The NRA's Facebook ad, the latest in the pro-Second Amendment organization's Freedom's Safest Place campaign, might be its most controversial and disturbing. It comes right to the very razor-thin edge of the line advocating for violence against anyone who opposes the president — but obviously doesn't outright say it. Representatives for the NRA did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment regarding the ad's insinuation that protesters are people against whom you might need to use a weapon.
Perhaps the most chilling part of the entire NRA Facebook ad is right before its call to action, urging viewers to join the NRA:
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.
In the eyes of the NRA it's us against them — the organization never names the vague "they" to whom it refers over and over again in the video, but the NRA describes what "they" do: They are the news media, schools, Hollywood, protesters, and even the "ex-president," as they describe President Obama. The NRA never gives "them" names, but it sure sounds like a list of people who deserve to be targets of violence if they act out too much. Which seems awfully dangerous coming from an organization focused on responsible gun ownership.
Of course, that's not how the NRA describes itself. On the NRA website, the organization bills itself as "America's longest-standing civil rights organization." But apparently, standing up for civil rights that aren't the Second Amendment is a threat to America's freedom and safety, as Loesch said in the video:
All to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia and smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law abiding — until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness.
So, if I'm hearing this correctly: The NRA is America's longest-standing civil rights organization, but its Facebook ad sounds as though it doesn't support American citizens exercising their First Amendment right to protest racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia.
Oh, and then there's that whole bit about police doing their jobs to "stop the madness." Tell me again, NRA: Where is your statement on Philandro Castile, a law-abiding gun owner who was killed by a Minnesota police officer last July? The pro-gun organization's silence has been deafening. The NRA has not responded to Romper's request for comment regarding the matter.
Lest we forget, the NRA called for more more guns in schools after Sandy Hook, when 20 elementary school children were gunned down in their classrooms in 2012. And the NRA also said that "gun laws don't deter terrorists," when responding to the 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. In 2011, when former congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, the NRA remained largely silent. But when a former Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer shot and nearly killed Congressman Steve Scalise earlier in June, the NRA railed against leftist liberals the day of the shooting, according to media watchdog group Media Matters for America.
Tell me one more time, NRA, how the organization is America's safest place when nearly 2,700 children and teens are killed by gun violence in America every year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? And please do fill me in on how encouraging violence against liberals without really saying it — wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean — helps protect our children and keep them safe again?
If the NRA really wants to be "freedom's safest place," then perhaps it could advocate for common sense gun safety laws. What if the NRA's slogan was "Protect yourself and others," and they made an ad about preventing children from accessing firearms. When a scientific study of 27 developed nations concludes that "guns do not make a nation safer," the common sense response isn't to advocate for more guns and broader access to gun ownership with less restrictions. The NRA could use its massive reach and deep pockets to lead a national groundswell on gun safety, but instead it lobbies for fewer background checks, fewer requirements on the safe storage and handling of firearms in people's homes, and says nothing about the epidemic of police brutality in our country.
When it comes to freedom and safety, as the NRA's latest ad hammers into oblivion, freedom has acquired an entirely different meaning: Freedom from the law — and there's nothing safe about that for any American.