Its Our Job, Man!


By Michael Carrier

Director of Communications and Outreach


     A few days ago, I was chastised by a reader of our social media sites for posting the National Rifle Association’s latest pro-gun/pro-Trump ad under our social media feature “Political Ads Oklahomans Aren’t Seeing.”

     You remember it. It’s called “The Violence of Lies.” It’s the one most of America thought was basically a call to take up arms against our democracy and pull the trigger on a new revolution against left-wing America all in the name of President Trump.

     Here’s the spot in case you missed it:

     Yep, Oklahoma’s own mega-advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s long-time ad firm, can sure piece together a killer of an ad.

     According to our reader, we should “ STOP ALLOWING FASCIST PROPAGANDA!!!!!!!!”

     The gentleman went on:

     “Put them (such ads) with the southern civil war hero statues and describe what they've done, so as to not spread cleverly produced recruitment videos targeted at weak minds. Or just be another distribution channel for whatever extremist BS comes along. I will no longer do that.”

     Our response, which I penned with as much understanding as I could muster, was basically that it was part of our mission. That was not a satisfying response for him, as you might expect.

     I understand his point. I’m pretty sure people of both sides of the argument would.

     It’s a brutal, emotional and, frankly, a highly effective ad. It plays perfectly to the NRA’s constituency of rabid gun enthusiasts like raw meat would to a school of piranha, and it’s guaranteed to infuriate the left end of the political spectrum so much they all might run out and actually buy guns.

     That’s what advertising is supposed to do: make you happy or mad. When a commercial does those two things, then it’s called a win-win in politics.

     That’s exactly why people should know about this ad, see it, and discuss it. You can never have too much discussion when guns and ammo are the topics of a conversation.

     The OU Political Communication Center and the Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive are all about political advertising. It’s why we exist.

     Good, bad, ugly, nasty, true or untrue, we collect thousands of political campaign and issue ads each year. We make them public for everyone to see; students, educators, scholars, historians, the news media and everyone else, even politicians.

     We do it to ensure a free exchange of knowledge, ideas and information, to enhance education and to preserve history. In short, it’s our job.

     Our goals are to inform and educate the public and to help them know and understand what’s happening in the political world around them – and the entire world is political in one way or another.

     What we don’t do is pass judgment on the ads we share. If we did, we wouldn’t have many in our collection.

     Certainly not ads like the one a Southern candidate in the 1970s ran that began with the defiant proclamation “I am for the White People!”

     Politics – elections and campaigns – in America’s democracy is a tough, bitter knife fight of a business. It isn’t for the weak or faint of heart, especially these days. It’s more like Rome’s gladiatorial combat than it is the Lincoln-Douglas presidential debates.

     History also isn’t always fair. It isn’t always pretty or nice, kind or just. It often leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you learn about it. That’s why it’s so important.

     Our Archive is history. It’s important. People need to know and understand it, and, most importantly, learn from it.

     It’s our job man, every second of it, good, bad, pretty, ugly, nice or mean. That tastes likes democracy and freedom to us.