The National Rifle Association has published a politically charged video with one glaring omission: firearms.
Dom Raso, one of the most prominent of the NRA’s growing stable of video commentators, condemns Democratic politicians, the media and activists as the catalysts for political upheaval in the United States, a narrative that has been pushed by pro-Trump Internet personalities.
In the video, Raso, an outspoken former Navy SEAL, decries a “media motivated by extreme ideology” during montages that include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), CNN anchor Don Lemon and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights leader, juxtaposed with images of protests by anti-fascist, or “antifa,” activists.
“I’m disgusted that we as Americans are accepting to live with these conditions,” Raso said in the video titled “Organized Anarchy,” which had earned 2.6 million views on Facebook by Tuesday afternoon, after it was posted Sunday.
In the NRA-produced video, a rifle makes an appearance only at the very end if the viewer looks closely: a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division clutching one in his left hand.
This is the second recent NRA video that has centered on political discussions on public safety among civil arrest, with less clear connections to Second Amendment rights.
Raso’s video was created in response to the strong backlash from another NRA video featuring Dana Loesch, an NRA spokeswoman, and released in late June, which critics and even some gun owners said went too far.
In the video, Loesch described demonstrators who “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports — bully and terrorize the law-abiding.”
At the time, Loesch told the New York Times that “I hardly think that condemning violence is inciting violence” and said in a recent video that NRA critics “feel a need to project violence onto everyone else.”
A petition to have the Loesch video removed from Facebook argued that “the video tries to create an ‘us-vs-them’ narrative and pit Americans against one another.”
“It paints liberals as liars and as violent, unruly protesters who law-abiding gun owners need protection from,” the petition said.
After James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on Republican members of Congress last month at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. — wounding five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — a far-right commentator said the attack was inspired by the mainstream media and liberal politicians.
Black Lives Matter responded to Loesch’s ad with a video blasting the NRA’s production as “propaganda” aimed at dividing communities.
“They use their new president to enact a law-and-order administration, all to make them shoot first, to make them ask questions later, to make them scream, ‘I thought he had a gun in his hand,’ ” the video said.
Raso is a commentator for NRATV, not a spokesman, Bill Powers, a representative of Ackerman McQueen, a public relations firm for the NRA, told The Washington Post.
Powers said Raso believes that the video “speaks for itself.”
An NRA spokesman did not return calls for comment to discuss whether Raso’s position is paid or unpaid.
Raso could not immediately be reached for comment.
Some veterans have questioned Raso’s use of his time in the service to defuse opposing political arguments.
Veteran hagiography has consequences.
We are not nor should be arbiters or safekeeers of patriotism https://t.co/MrhrcmqBMu
— Peter Lucier (@PeterLucier) July 10, 2017
What the NRA SEAL shill did was use his service to shout down others, stifle debate. That's un-American, narcissistic, destructive, not OK.
— Alexander McCoy (@AlexanderMcCoy4) July 11, 2017
Those veterans appeared to be focusing on the closing line of the video, in which Raso aims his criticism at activists who have sometimes veered into destruction of property and rioting.
“Instead of smashing windows and degrading the value of that freedom, try showing some respect by thanking a veteran, or someone that has helped lay the foundation of this amazing country that we have the opportunity to live in,” Raso said.
Additional reporting by Peter Holley.