What do you think?

From today’s NY Times:

The National Rifle Association has unveiled a new advertisement on its Web site accusing President Obama of being an “elitist hypocrite” for expressing skepticism about the group’s proposal to put armed security guards in schools, while accepting secret service protection for his daughters.

The ad does not show images of the president’s daughters but refers to them in the first line of audio, in which a narrator asks: “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?”

9 thoughts on “What do you think?

  1. I’ve seen the video, and I noticed the new “app” that the NRA released the other day for the iPhone. The ad is appalling, and it’s driving away people who are sometimes sympathetic with the NRA’s goals. I grew up in a rural household with guns, and my father took me hunting when I was a kid. I think gun ownership is perfectly fine. I’m also sympathetic to gun rights advocates on broadly anarchist grounds (skepticism about government exercise of power, recognition that gun ownership has in the past been beneficial to the self-defense of black communities in the South from police over-reach, etc.).

    That said, every ridiculous thing the NRA has done over the past few weeks has made me more and more sympathetic to what Joe Biden is trying to do. And many the proposals Biden has floated have been basic, common sense proposals that would do genuine good and have very broad support from Americans.

    Minimally, the NRA needs to hire a PR staff, stop race-baiting, and stop being jerks.

  2. Ditto what Matt said, except the part about being raised with guns. I wasn’t. But the rest, yes.

  3. So many thoughts.

    In one sense, yes the president’s kids are more important than our own, in that they are political symbols of the entire country. If they were (heaven forbid) harmed, it’s not only a personal tragedy but also a reflection to the entire world that we can’t keep the people at the very top of our political hierarchy safe. Also, the president’s kids are more important than our own in that if they are in danger, that can potentially affect the president’s ability to be president (and not collapse as a grief-stricken parent) in a way that a stranger’s kids being in danger probably wouldn’t. This is why the president’s children, and all high-level politicians’ children, get extra protection.

    But behind this ad I sense the premise that any American patriot who has been to the shooting range should be seen as being on the same level as the people who guard the president’s children. Otherwise the analogy would start to fall apart. But the analogy *should* fall apart–because these two things do not seem equivalent. I would think that the secret service or whoever the armed guards of the Obama kids are have the training and discipline that puts them in a league above and beyond what we could expect from armed guards in schools–even if they were police officers. (Maybe I’m wrong though and I’ve been watching too many spy movies.)

    And I would think it’s actually a DOWNSIDE to being a politician that you need an armed guard. That is not something we should aim to have for everyone. And if everyone actually needs an armed guard, then our civil society has fallen and we have bigger problems than how to reduce violence in schools.

    Lastly, some of the suggestions I’ve heard batted around that the president should make the area around himself and his family a “gun free zone” (i.e. give up armed guards) are willfully ignorant and callous. Even ‘jokingly’ suggesting that someone should leave their family open to assassination just to achieve the optics of consistency is pretty disgusting. Moreover, I think this reaction is part of the behind-the-scenes racist attitude toward the president in that the privileges we have accorded to past presidents all of a sudden seem like excess or should be negotiable when we apply them to a Black man and a Black family. (see: reactions to their vacations, to people addressing them with the proper terms and deference, to how they spend their leisure time, to them bringing artists to the white house for performances, etc.)

    (I will say though, this is making me think about the people who used to harass congresspeople about why they didn’t get their own kids to enlist in the Iraq war if they were all for it, and whether that is a different use of bringing politician’s children into the conversation than this is. I think it is; but I’m not exactly sure why.)

  4. Great Comments!
    I’m now wondering if “elitist hypocrite” is racist in this context. E.g., another way of saying he is uppity.

  5. The NRA should stand for Neanderthals Regarding Arms except it insults our plausible ancestry. Putting out a shoot-em-up app at the same time decrying sensible laws on background checks? An ad that compares the first family’s safety to the rest of us given the racist tone of the ad itself (in black and white???)? It reminds me in the only rational response to such chutzpah of the ultimate Joe McCarthy put-down–NRA, finally, have you no shame?

  6. problem is that the very folks who would say yes let the president give up armed guards, will be the rightwingnuts who want to assanate him. The president and his family need protection, and as I see it so does everyone else. guns in the hands of mentaly stable responsible citizens are fine, as are guards in schools

  7. My first reaction is “Oh, PLEASE! The minute my child becomes a potential target for political kidnapping/assassination, I’ll expect her to be assigned armed bodyguards too!” Seriously, this is a totally specious comparison; *I* don’t have an armed escort, and it’s not because the President is a more valuable human being than I am, it’s because I’m utterly useless as a political hostage. :-)

  8. The most encouraging aspect of recent political discourse in the US on guns and gun control has been the representation of the NRA as an unreasonable, dogmatic, fringe organization that doesn’t even represent its own members. Check out this link of conservative talking heads who see this ad for the first time — and are utterly appalled by it. I think we’re watching the political power of the NRA erode, and fast. Fingers crossed, anyway.


  9. I too saw the video and they are really comparing to different things to make him look like a hypocrite- in my opinion. I would say his children are at a much higher risk for danger than my/your children and therefore needs more protection. Like the previous comment said the threat of most peoples children being kidnapped slim .. the president of the united states – much greater.

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