The National Rifle Association’s new ad campaign is a series of one-minute testimonials from gun rights proponents. Alongside a clip in which NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre describes Western Europe as a place where people must defend themselves using “rolling pins and broom handles” is country music legend Charlie Daniels speaking directly to the ayatollahs of Iran.
Daniels expresses his view that the Obama administration and its supporters are not representative of the US population.
“You might have met our fresh-faced flower child president and his weak-kneed Ivy League friends,” Daniels says of the administration that has ordered more targeted assassinations than any in US history, “but you haven’t met America.”
Daniels goes on to define “America” as a collection of groups who, as he accurately points out, did not play a direct role in the US-Iran nuclear negotiations. This includes farmers, cowboys, loggers, truck drivers, police officers, and “mountain men who live off the land.”
“You haven’t met the heartland where the people will defend this nation with their bloody calloused bare hands,” he says. “You haven’t met the steelworkers and the hard rock miners or the swamp folks in Cajun country who can wrestle a full-grown gator out of the water.”
“No, you’ve never met America,” Daniels concludes. “And you oughta pray you never do.”
There are some holes in Daniels’ argument here. For one, it seems unfair to claim that swamp folks are any more representative of the average American than Ivy League alums. Ivy League undergraduate programs produce roughly 14,000 new graduates each year. Reliable statistics on the reptile-wrestling sector are hard to come by, but it seems unlikely that an equal number of Americans truly master the art of adult alligator wrestling annually.
But that’s nit-picking. It’s unfortunate to see that Daniels’s politics have grown more divisive since the last time he addressed Iran’s leadership in 1980. In the single “In America,” released during the Iran hostage crisis, Daniels sang of a nation diverse but united, in which mountain men and D.C. paper-pushers alike could stand together and say:
We may have done a little bit
Of fightin’ amongst ourselves
But you outside people best leave us alone
‘Cause we’ll all stick together
And you can take that to the bank
That’s the cowboys and the hippies
And the rebels and the yanks.