To be clear, I do not support arming 3-year-olds. Nor do I support raising a school security force of armed 5-year-olds called “Kinderguardians.”
These were some of the horrible ideas espoused by Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of Gun Owners of America, and Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, during the now infamous video created by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for Showtime’s “Who is America?” series.
Cohen, who’s covered in thick makeup and a wig, purports to be “Col. Erran Morad,” an Israeli anti-terror expert and tactical trainer.
Neither Pratt nor Van Cleave caught on. They evidently assumed they were talking to a pro-gunner — a friendly face — and he walks the two dupes right down the primrose path toward career suicide.
The result is incredibly painful to watch.
How bad is it?
At one point Van Cleave aims firearms at the camera that have been fitted with stuffed animals. In another spot, Van Cleave and Cohen sing a nursery rhyme about shooting people in the head.
Armed with a belt-fed machine gun, coupled with his grey hair and white mustache, Van Cleave looks like some kind of demonic Captain Kangaroo.
Pratt comes across equally as bad, but at least he doesn’t sing or dance.
I don’t blame Cohen for this debacle. He merely held up the mirror to two senior members of the gun community. The poor reflection was their fault. This is their responsibility.
Besides, Cohen hasn’t had a hit movie since forever. If he was still bankable at the box office he wouldn’t be producing short films for a cable network. He’s just trying to make a splash, which he did.
Neither do I think it’s time to call for anyone’s resignation. That will be up to the VCDL and GOA members.
I’m more concerned about how this could happen — how two senior leaders of the gun community could be so easily duped.
In my humble opinion, I think their desire for fame overcame their common sense, but a lot of the problem has to do with the lure of television.
I have seen grown men — myself included — turn into drooling, monosyllabic imbeciles the first time a
TV camera is pointed at them.
There’s an overpowering urge to say anything or agree to anything just to expedite the interview so the red light on the camera shuts off.
It takes practice before you’re able to tune out the camera, the hot lights, the makeup and the crew, in order to focus on the host’s questions and then formulate a coherent response.
It’s not easy.
My best advice: Don’t play with fire if you’re not ready. After all, you don’t have to talk to anyone. You can always say no.
Also, make sure you know who you’re talking to. A thorough investigation of Cohen’s fictitious production company would have raised red flags. It did for several other members of the gun community.
They smelled a rat and refused to participate.
I’m guessing Pratt and Van Cleave wish they’d done a little more due diligence too.