Some Second Amendment activists are getting bad feedback after being a part of the Showtime series “Who is America?”
The show features British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, known for his past mockumentary-style comedy satires such as Borat, which featured awkward and often shocking real-life interactions with those not “in on the joke” until a final outlandish tip of the hat ends the interview. In his latest frontman persona as Israeli counter-terror expert Col. Erran Morad — it should be noted that Cohen is Jewish and fluent in Hebrew — he enlists several well-known gun rights advocates as well as some past and current Republican lawmakers in a conversation on children and guns.
In a 10-minute clip released by Showtime on Sunday that has topped 10 million views, Cohen features Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and later talks to Larry Pratt with Gun Owners of America. The resulting over the top plug for Morad’s “Kinder-Guardians” program supposedly aimed at arming children as young as age three features stuffed animals with concealed firearms and modified children’s nursery songs tweaked for self-defense.
Many in the gun culture community were quick to slam the production — as well as their colleagues that appeared in the production. Dan Zimmerman, writing for The Truth About Guns, editorialized that, “By allowing themselves to look like clueless buffoons, they’ve tarred all of us.”
Lee Williams, who runs the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s The Gun Writer site, said the interaction was “Incredibly stupid. Incredibly bad for the Second Amendment,” going on to note that it made the infamous Katie Couric interview with the VCDL, “look like a puff, pro-gun piece.”
Andrew Tuohy on Monday said that watching the video was “probably the most painful 11 minutes of my life,” going on to expound that, “These people have set us back, not brought us forward.”
Alan Gottlieb with the Second Amendment Foundation, speaking on Armed American Radio with Mark Walters, criticized Pratt and Van Cleave in words applauded by well-known and often-outspoken firearms trainer Rob Pincus. It should be noted that Pincus was asked to be involved in the Cohen project earlier this year but did not make it on-camera, later warning others of his experience.
In his defense, Van Cleave had himself warned others of the Cohen production as far back as February and his group, since the clip’s release, have said he was targeted by “very crafty and unethical editing.” The group had previously sued those involved in the Katie Couric documentary “Under the Gun” for $12 million, citing defamation but a federal judge dismissed the case.
Cohen in the past has been sued for slander or other injuries numerous times by those appearing in his character films, citing he and his crew were “replete with deceit, fraud and misrepresentation.” Former U.S. Senate candidate and Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore is reportedly mulling a lawsuit after a recent interaction with the British actor.
Meanwhile, Who is America is set to run through August on Showtime.
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