The National Rifle Association, one of the most influential interest groups in America, and which has traditionally been successful at fighting any kind of legal gun control, once again weighed in on the fight between U.S. liberals and conservatives. The two new and professionally produced NRA videos, which were distributed as TV ads as well, are not just the usual videos promoting gun ownership, but, rather, constitute a form of general political activism.
The first clip, moderated by a conservative radio talk show host, carries a title that could have come straight from a John Wayne movie: “The Clenched Fist of Truth.” It accuses the liberal opposition of abusing their media power by calling for violent resistance against the government. Government security forces and the police are then forced to crack down on demonstrators, thereby confirming the reservations liberals have about the state.
The second NRA video, released on Monday and already viewed millions of times as well, is called “Organized Anarchy.” The speaker and main character, Dom Raso, is a burly retired American elite soldier wearing a T-shirt and a full beard. In terms of content, the clip could be part two of “The Clenched Fist of Truth.” Accompanied by a montage of images depicting politicians critical of Trump, and violent scenes showing demonstrators critical of the government, it suggests that “a bunch of entitled crybabies” who can’t get over Donald Trump’s election victory are systematically forming an organized anarchy and calling for “resistance” in America.
“They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”
What is really astonishing about the images and rhetoric of the videos, however, is that even art and architecture are openly criticized as leftist, liberal weapons of propaganda.
Dana Loesch says in her clip: “They use their movie stars, and singers, and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.” What we see in the pictures are not just political opponents and demonstrations, but also an iconic black and white photograph of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, home of the L.A. Philharmonic, one of the world’s foremost classical orchestras, and an equally dazzling black and white photo of the giant silver egg sculpture “Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor in Chicago’s Millennium Park. In the clip on resistance, army veteran Raso smugly notes: “I think people have been watching too much ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Hunger Games’.” But what, according to Raso, are they actually resisting? Is it “the democratic process?”
Both videos are cunning works of political propaganda and give the impression that the producers understand liberal social democratic ideology better than most liberals themselves. After all, those who use power for good have long since abandoned the belief that dominating symbolic forms of art could serve their purposes due to the perpetual cycle of criticism of criticism of criticism of criticism. On the one hand, this is a consequence of the social democratic liberalism prevalent in the West that should not be underestimated. On the other hand, it is an increasingly obvious strategic disadvantage in the ideological propaganda competition that is waged without mercy, but with advanced technological and dramaturgic methods.
Both Clips Are Disturbingly Advanced Pieces
In other words, it does not seem possible to ignore these kinds of provocations, because they have been eating away at public discourse via social media for far too long. But dismissing them as utter nonsense only confirms what lies at the core of the accusations, namely that the liberal mainstream denounces anyone who is unwilling to share its convictions as anti-democratic liars.
A long essay in American magazine The Point about neo-reactionary politics and the naivety of its opponents recently claimed that the values that have guided the center-left since World War II are in jeopardy: human dignity, the central role of science, government’s positive role in shaping civil society, and the view that things are always getting better. According to the essay, though, it is not that moral reference points, which have helped us stay the course, have disappeared, but rather that they are “on fire.” Things are not yet quite as bad on this side of the Atlantic. But the question of what it means to be engaged in a cultural propaganda war is increasingly difficult to ignore.