In more fallout from Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series “Who Is America?,” a top gun rights activist explained how he was trapped into making a firearms training video aimed at toddlers.
In the video, which you can see below, Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, is seen explaining how children can use “Gunimals” to make bad guys take a “long nap.”
The Daily Beast reports that Van Cleave apparently figured out back in February that he had been played, and attempted to warn the gun rights community about an effort by “extremely well funded professionals” to discredit the movement’s leaders.
A long open letter from Van Cleave aimed at other gun rights organizations and leaders appears on a Reddit page and can be found by clicking here.
Van Cleave indicates in the letter that he is unsure who is behind the effort, but he appears to have a good idea. “At a minimum, it could be a comedy which would play only in Israel, but it could be a more damaging attempt to make a ‘mocumentary,’ by someone like Michael Moore, or, even worse, a Sacha Baron Cohen-esq ‘Borat’-type of shock comedy meant to be devastatingly embarrassing and humiliating to the victim in the crosshairs,” Van Cleave writes.
In his letter, Van Cleave offers a detailed account of how he was tricked into going along with the bit.
“Everything was elaborately and expensively staged; every contingency planned for, with explanations that make unbelievable things seem plausible (fake documents and videos about how Israel handles security in their schools, for example),” he writes. “The interview moved along at a pace, designed not to give the ‘mark’ time to reflect on where things are going. The craziness factor very gradually got more extreme, like cooking a frog by slowly heating up the water so he doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. It’s a con game, a sting, plain and simple.”
Here’s the video featuring Van Cleave …