Guns, Violence and Advertising in the Age of Trumpism, Hate and Fear

Guns, Violence and Advertising in the Age of Trumpism, Hate and Fear

The above advertisement caught my eye as I thumbed through a magazine while cooling my heels at the Denver airport. It’s a lot to take in.

There’s a casual, but urgent proffer of weapons of annihilation.  I’m not anti-gun but let’s face it, the AR-15 is exquisitely designed to inflict catastrophic damage to flesh and bone. When used against unarmed civilians, they are devastating on a macabre scale.

Remember the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas? 58 dead, 851 injured.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida on Valentines Day shows that just about anyone can pick up an AR-15 and cause mass casualties.  Something they could not do with a baseball bat or even a knife.

Staring out from the ad are a bunch of club-wielding, masked guys of indeterminate background who are identified by the admonishment at the top of the ad: “NOT TODAY ANTIFA”

What, exactly is not to be today?

Antifa is a mash up of the words “anti” and “fascism.” The guys with the clubs are against fascism and they show up to protest Nazis and white supremacists.

The companies sponsoring this ad seem to be against people standing up to Nazism. They may be on the Right, but I’m not sure they’re on the right side of history.

The four muscle-bound, tattooed “gentlemen” facing down the Antifa crowd are pretty well -armed, thanks to their buddies at Spike’s Tactical, whose slogan is “The Finest AR-15s On The Planet.”

The guy on the right has an American flag on the front of his hat, which we can see because he is cleverly wearing his hat backward. The inference seems to be that carrying an AR-15 and defending Nazis makes him a real American.

I can’t see what’s on the front of the hat worn by the guy on the left, but it probably says “Make America Great Again.”

The other company featured in the ad is Pipe Hitters Union, a company that sells clothes emblazoned with their logo. The name sounds a lot like the union busters of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

So we’ve got pipe hitters and guys with AR-15s defending Nazis and preventing Americans from voicing their opposition to hatred, bigotry and racism.

It’s clear the sides have been drawn and it’s also clear that commercializing armed violence coincides with the inauguration of the current administration.

You can see where some of us are wondering about the whole “make America great again” thing. To some of us, it looks like Donald Trump’s explicit and exclusive goal is to destroy whatever once made America great.

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