Routine sexist attacks from the National Rifle Association's media outlets are undermining the organization's political effort to reach out to women as a growing demographic.
On August 25, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom attacked prominent gun safety advocate and Mom's Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts. As Gawker's Adam Weinstein explained, the article featured images of Watts "as a cutout mom with kitchen and housekeeping accoutrements, because moms oughta know their place!" The accompanying article accused Watts of lying about being a stay-at-home mom, because she had for a time run a PR firm out of her house while raising her children.
This offensive depiction of a woman from NRA media seems in stark contrast to the political arm of the NRA, which the very same day debuted several new ads narrated by women -- in a series titled "Good Guys" -- promoting the message that guns are a sign of empowerment for women and that women are an important part of the NRA community. One features a woman lauding the importance of "Mom and Dad"; one stars a woman emphasizing the "courage" it takes to be one of the "Good Guys." Another ad released earlier this month also featured a female narrator driving a pickup truck and attacking Everytown for Gun Safety founder Michael Bloomberg, telling him to "keep your hands off our guns."
Right-wing female commentators have long argued that "guns are the great equalizer between sexes in crimes against women," falsely claiming that guns make women safer. CNN's S.E. Cupp, The Blaze's Dana Loesch, and Fox News' Katie Pavlich have regularly appeared on cable news and published books to promote the NRA as a pro-women organization.
But as Media Matters noted in a feature on the NRA's annual meeting, 2014 seemed to mark a shift for the organization towards focusing increasingly on women and moms. In part that shift is monetary, as advertisers see women as a largely untapped market. It also seems, however, that the shift is in part in response to gun safety organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, who increasingly emphasize how dangerous guns can be for women in abusive situations.
This recent recognition of women by the NRA is undermined, however, by the attack on Watts and the numerous misogynistic and sexist comments from NRA commentators and spokespeople.
Rapid City Journal columnist Frank Carroll, a member of the National Rifle Association, is calling for NRA board member Ted Nugent and "anyone else who either backs him or avoids their responsibility to confront him" to be removed from the NRA's leadership.
Nugent caused widespread controversy this year over his characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." Citing that comment and Nugent's lengthy history of racially inflammatory commentary, several concert organizers have canceled Nugent appearances while other concerts have been protested.
In an August 12 column, Carroll called the NRA "an organization I belong to and agree with on many issues," while bemoaning that Nugent is a representative of the gun group. He added, "No wonder conservatives are struggling to lead in this country. At the very time we need authentic, humane, passionate conservatives and patriots the most, the best we can come up with are people like Nugent? Get real, NRA. Nugent has to go."
After the Toledo Blade received months of criticism for reluctantly hosting National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent at their food and music festival, the conservative commentator repaid the Ohio paper by declaring that "So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
Nugent has been a source of virulently racist, sexist, and homophobic commentary for years, but his January declaration that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" has triggered a wave of cancellations and protests of his concerts.
On August 8, Nugent performed at the 31st Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-off, a three-day festival featuring concerts and barbeque sponsored by the Blade. Nugent's appearance had been a source of controversy since it was announced in April, with the event's director telling Media Matters that he had received numerous calls from readers objecting to the performance. And after violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence created a petition urging the paper to cancel the concert, the chairman of The Blade's parent company apologized for the invitation and wrote that while the concert would go on, he would "not support inviting him again."
According to an August 9 Blade article, Nugent "and about a dozen people protesting his appearance overshadowed" the festival, with the sign-toting protestors receiving "support from numerous honking motorists who drove by and a few who flashed a thumbs-up sign." During the festival, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence founder Toby Hoover delivered more than 6,200 petition signatures collected by CSGV to the Blade's sales director, according to the group.
Nugent responded by lashing out at the protestors, President Obama, and the Blade from stage:
From the stage, Nugent blasted the protesters, calling them the "Barack Obama fan club."
"How much crazier can you get than having a President of the United States who hates the United States?" he asked.
Neither Nugent nor the protesters were happy with the newspaper.
"The Toledo Blade hates you," Nugent told the crowd. "They hate your guts ...; They hate me. They hate freedom. So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
At least four Nugent concerts have been cancelled this year in response to Nugent's commentary, and several more have been subject to demonstrations. American Indian groups in particular have been protesting Nugent over his past racial comments, with tribes cancelling planned casino concerts and the president of the American Indian Movement Grassroots reportedly stating that the group "will always" protest the concerts.
Music industry experts say that Nugent's rhetoric has hurt his image to the point where he could seriously damage his music career.
Mike Mori, director of sales for The Blade and a coordinator of the event, reportedly confronted Nugent over his comments attacking the paper:
Mr. Mori, who is director of sales for The Blade, said he told Nugent, whose right-wing views prompted an outpouring of opposition before the Friday night show, that he was disappointed in his statements to the crowd, and told him The Blade sponsored the event and paid his fee.
"We were served a petition by an anti-gun coalition to not have him play shortly before he went on, and then they put the picture of them giving it to me on the Internet," Mr. Mori said. "His wife saw it, he thought that The Blade instigated the petition.
"I met with him after the show. I had a spirited conversation with him. I was very disappointed in him. I think he was a little bit embarrassed. He said he would like the chance to write a letter to explain his side of it," Mr. Mori said.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent hyped his August 8 appearance at The Toledo Blade's food and music festival by attacking the "stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors" that attended a rally organized by an American Indian group at his August 6 concert.
Nugent's summer tour schedule has been filled with controversy, protests, and cancellations. At least four concerts have been cancelled because of Nugent's history of racially inflammatory commentary, while activists -- representing both American Indian and progressive groups -- have staged protests at other concerts. American Indian groups became involved in protesting Nugent after two American Indian tribes cancelled Nugent concerts scheduled at their casinos after learning of Nugent's past comments and appropriation of American Indian headdresses during concerts.
In April, The Toledo Blade announced that Nugent would perform at the paper's four-day "Rib-Off" food and music festival in August. At the time, employees of The Blade told Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp that the paper was receiving "quite a few" calls from angry readers and that the paper would "think long and hard about inviting him next year." Controversy over The Blade's invitation to Nugent spurred gun violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to launch a petition calling for the concert's cancellation. On July 27, The Blade's owner sent a letter to the editor where he declined to cancel Nugent's appearance but apologized for the invitation and wrote he would "not support inviting him again."
On August 7, Nugent took to his Facebook page to hype his "Rib-Off" appearance, but also to argue that American Indians upset about land being taken from them by white settlers need to learn about the American Dream.
During an appearance at a Tea Party event in Wyoming, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent used the derogatory term "Japs" while discussing how he believes America has changed since World War II.
Nugent, who is also a spokesman for Outdoor Channel, appeared alongside birther and former Fox News contributor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Paul Vallely at an August 2 rally hosted by the Big Horn Basin Tea Party. At the end of the event, Nugent and Vallely were deputized by the local sheriff.
During his remarks Nugent described his belief that the government has "turned on us" since the United States defeated the "Japs and Nazis" in World War II, citing his claim of "ranchers being arrested because of gerbils on their range." The term "Jap" is universally recognized as a racial slur since its derogatory usage during World War II.
NUGENT: I know I'm speaking your language. I know nothing I've said surprises you except maybe the insane depth of this self-inflicted curse of apathy. We have bent over since World War II because we couldn't believe that good -- the universally celebrated good of America crushed the universally understood evil of Japs and Nazis. We couldn't believe that that government that represented us in good over evil could possibly turn on us. They've turned on us. They've literally turned on us, ranchers being arrested because of gerbils on their range or some families arrested because the EPA claims they are building a barn on a wetland where for 200 years of satellite documentation, no moisture.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out after the cancellation of an upcoming concert, claiming his critics are like Nazi chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
On July 21 the Coeur d'Alene Tribe announced that Nugent will not perform at the tribe's Idaho casino on August 4, citing "Nugent's history of racist and hate-filled remarks." The Puyallup Tribe followed suit, cancelling two scheduled concerts at its Washington state Emerald Queen Casino because they didn't want their venue used "to promote his racism."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, responded to his critics in his regular column for conspiracy website WND.com, comparing them to an infamous Nazi. While claiming that American Indians are his "BloodBrothers," Nugent wrote that those who lodged complaints against his scheduled performances were part of the "Josef Goebbels gang." He also wrote, "Josef Goebbels and Saul Alinsky would be very proud of them and very angry at me. Cool."
Nugent's Nazi comparison comes as the NRA is already under fire from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists compared a proposal to expand background checks on gun sales in Washington state to the policies of Adolf Hilter, and mocked Jewish individuals who support gun safety.
The National Rifle Association has once again drawn condemnation from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists invoked the Holocaust to attack a Washington state ballot initiative to expand background checks on gun sales. Despite regular denunciations from Jewish groups for misappropriating the history of Holocaust, the NRA routinely uses this type of rhetoric to demonize its opponents and gun legislation it dislikes.
According to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, recently released audio captured NRA lobbyist Brian Judy attacking Seattle businessman Nick Hanauer's support of Initiative 594 -- which would expand background checks in Washington -- because of Hanauer's Jewish background. Calling Hanauer "stupid," Judy argued that "he's put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis."
Judy went on to mock the intelligence of anyone who is "anti-gun" and Jewish:
JUDY: You know, it's staggering to me, it's just, you can't make this stuff up. That these people, it's like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think: Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?
And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. And now you're supporting gun control -- you come to this country and you support gun control. Why did you have to flee to this country in the first place? Hello. Is anybody home here?
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has called for Judy's resignation and asked that the NRA "make clear that it rejects his ignorant and unproductive dialogue."
Ted Nugent's recent spate of offensive and racist comments that have sparked protests and canceled shows are damaging his image and could well cripple his income if he continues, according to veteran concert promoters and industry journalists.
In a week when two casinos operated by different Native American tribes canceled three separate Nugent shows set for next month and dozens protested a concert in New Jersey, concert touring experts say the National Rifle Association board member and conservative commentator is doing real damage to his money-earning potential.
"If you're going to say something political, you're going to have some backlash, it doesn't matter who you are or what you say," said Larry Magid, a Philadelphia-based promoter who has handled Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, and Bette Midler. "Nugent seems to have taken it to extremes. I don't know that you can blame anyone for not wanting to play him for all of the baggage that he brings."
Magid, who also organized the famed 1985 Live Aid benefit show in Philadelphia, said Nugent was never a huge concert draw, but his declaration earlier this year that President Barack Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" may mark a turning point.
"I don't know if that is frustration at not being a viable act, but it is stupid," Magid said of Nugent. "If you are a musician, you are trying to bring your music, your art to a broad group of people. It is one thing to take a stance, it is another thing when you are talking about the president of the United States.
"For all of the people enamored with him, there are 20 or 30 or 40 times that who are not enamored with him. To me, it's not bright. If I'm a promoter I have to think two or three or four times before I take a shot with this performer."
"No one should be surprised by any of this," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of Pollstar USA, which tracks concert touring receipts. "It's a free country and Nugent has always had a big mouth. But if he keeps making incendiary statements his future tours may be limited to NRA conventions and Fox News events."
Bongiovanni said the public reaction is not unusual: "Why be surprised if you can't sell tickets to them after you insult people who are gay, animal rights, or gun control advocates, or just in the majority of people who voted for Obama?"
Rep. Paul Ryan's poverty proposal, which would in part punish impoverished Americans for not getting themselves out of poverty on a specific timeline, is based on the conservative myth pushed by right-wing media that blames poverty on individuals' "spirit" and personal life choices. Experts say poverty is the result of systemic inequality and lack of opportunity.
After an American Indian tribe canceled a Ted Nugent concert because of his history of using racist language, recently posted footage of Nugent shows what else they're missing out on: the use of anti-gay slurs to attack President Obama.
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe had initially hired Nugent, a National Rifle Association board member and spokesman for the Outdoor Channel, to perform on August 4 at its Idaho casino. The tribe had been unaware of Nugent's background of racially inflammatory commentary until being contacted by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch project, and it canceled the concert hours later.
In video posted online, Nugent is seen during his July 6 concert at River Road Ice House in New Braunfels, Texas, calling Obama a "piece of shit," a "cocksucker," and a "motherfucker." (Nugent had previously promised to stop name-calling following controversy over his characterization of Obama as a "subhuman mongrel.")
During an onstage rant, Nugent claimed he is "the number one man that the president hates more than anybody in the whole world" and added, "I must be a fucking angel, because the devil don't like my ass."
NUGENT: The most important thing about tonight, the most important thing maybe in life, the most important thing certainly on planet earth, is that you are in the presence of the number one man that the president hates more than anybody in the whole world. That's right. I piss that piece of shit off every day, and I don't even try. I scare that cocksucker, you know what I mean? He don't like Uncle Ted because I celebrate freedom. That motherfucker don't like freedom. He don't like Texas. He don't like liberty, that piece of shit. He hates Uncle Ted. I'm proud. I'm proud. I must be an angel; I must be a fucking angel, because the devil don't like my ass.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent demonized those in poverty, describing them as "stupid" and having "no one to blame but themselves," while attacking their access to "luxuries" such as "air-conditioning," "bling-bling," and "clean water."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, wrote in a July 16 column for WND, "America's Whining 'Poor' -- And Other Conundrums," that "the squawking poor just keep on getting poorer, and as is always the case, they have no one to blame but themselves. Stupid is as stupid does."
He went on to complain that "America's so-called poor live a life far better than do real poor people around the world and have luxuries they can only dream of," citing access to clean water and other supposed "luxuries":
As the Democrats continue to get away with their crimes, the squawking poor just keep on getting poorer, and as is always the case, they have no one to blame but themselves. Stupid is as stupid does. Brainwashing only works if you give up your brain and your soul to the brainwashers.
Another mind-boggling conundrum is the fact that America's so-called poor live a life far better than do real poor people around the world and have luxuries they can only dream of.
With their cell phones, automobiles, microwave ovens, air-conditioning, new clothes, manicures and pedicures, bling-bling, clean water, more food than they can eat, pretty much redistributed everything handed to them, they still whine how America should be more like those other countries.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent wrote that some people who supported President Obama "defiled the sacrifices and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spat on his grave" because they voted for Obama "based on the color of his skin instead of the content of his character."
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, added in his July 9 column for conspiracy website WND that Obama's election represented "the worst case of racism I have ever witnessed in my lifetime":
We have all seen the roving reporter man-on-the-street interviews. I'm sure we all have some friends, acquaintances, even family members and others who have uttered the painful statement. I don't know about anyone else, but when I first heard people say that they voted for Barack Obama because he was black, or that it was "time" for a black president, my skin crawled.
I am well aware that that statement of mine will be isolated and made out to be "racist" by the dishonest media and the maniacally boneheaded Saul Alinsky gang over at the Huff-n-Puff Post and beyond, but the real horror is that the worst case of racism I have ever witnessed in my lifetime was the indecent choice en mass by millions of Americans who defiled the sacrifices and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spat on his grave when they actually admitted that they voted for this president based on the color of his skin instead of the content of his character.
In a later section of his column that sought to downplay racism in the United States, Nugent claimed he has "never personality witnessed" it in his lifetime:
Does racism still exist in America today? I'm guessing that is does, but in my nonstop world travels over a lifetime, being the ultra-gregarious chap that I am, enjoying the friendships of many good people, performing more than 6,500 concerts around the globe, diligently pursuing diverse peoples and places, I have never personally witnessed racism or hatred of any kind with anyone I have ever met.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent celebrated the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), claiming that the only Jewish Republican serving in Congress practiced the politics of Nazi chief propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
On June 10, Cantor was defeated in a primary election by tea party Republican candidate David Brat. Cantor is the only current Republican Jewish member of the House of Representatives (there are none in the Senate) and has been active in Holocaust education programs, including serving on the United States Holocaust Museum Council.
In a June 11 column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent -- who is also a spokesperson for the Outdoor Channel -- described Cantor as representative of "Joseph Goebbels and Saul Alinsky smoke-and-mirrors politics":
I say we the people have had way more than enough compromise, backpedaling, Joseph Goebbels and Saul Alinsky smoke-and-mirrors politics for one generation, and I say it's about time we go Eric Cantor on the whole gang of deceivers and liars infesting our government right now. There's only so much decent people can take.
Cliven Bundy's abhorrent, racist comparison of slavery to federal poverty assistance bears a striking resemblance to common claims from conservative media, who have frequently invoked slavery to describe the supposed damage "the welfare state" has done to black Americans.
Nevada rancher Bundy, who was praised by conservative media for engaging in an armed standoff with federal agents after refusing to pay decades worth of federal grazing fees on public land, on April 19 questioned whether black Americans were "better off as slaves" or "better off under government subsidy," telling a reporter in a racist rant:
"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, "and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids -- and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch -- they didn't have nothing to do. They didn't have nothing for their kids to do. They didn't have nothing for their young girls to do.
"And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?" he asked. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
As Slate's Jamelle Bouie noted, Bundy's repugnant rhetoric sounds familiar -- it's the same logic behind many right-wing criticisms of the social safety net. Media Matters has been tracking this type of offensive rhetoric for years.
During the fight over health care reform, Rush Limbaugh claimed that "It won't be a matter of whether you have coverage or don't have coverage. What'll matter is that all of us will be slaves; we'll become slaves to the arbitrary and inhumane decisions of distant bureaucrats working in Washington where there's no competition, nobody you can go to if you don't like what you hear from the bureaucrats that you have to deal with."
When Glenn Beck was a host on Fox News, he had an obsession with comparing things to slavery, including the claim that progressive policies created "slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control," and that "big government never lifts anybody out of poverty. It creates slaves." In 2008, Jim Quinn, the co-host of the radio show The War Room with Quinn & Rose, was forced to apologize for comparing "slave[s] in the Old South" to welfare recipients today, when he claimed that the only "difference" was that the "slave had to work for" the benefits Quinn said they received.
In his 2008 book Let Them In, The Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley argued that the Great Society programs of the 1960s were ultimately worse for black families than slavery, writing "The black family survived slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow, but the well-intentioned Great Society sounded its death knell."
More recently, Riley promoted the twisted logic of George Mason University's Walter Williams (who has often guest-hosted The Rush Limbaugh Show), who claimed that because more black children live in single-mother families now, welfare "destroy[ed] the black family" more than slavery:
During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do," Mr. Williams says. "And that is to destroy the black family."
Ted Nugent, National Rifle Association board member and a favorite of conservative media, has become infamous for his extreme racism for calling President Obama a subhuman mongrel -- but Nugent also used the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to claim that the Great Society programs were "responsible for more destruction to black America than the evils of slavery and the KKK combined." In a 2011 Washington Times column, Nugent also suggested that the Democratic Party is the "modern-day slave master" to low-income Americans.
Vox's Matt Yglesias noted the irony of Bundy criticizing the government for assisting Americans through federal programs, when he himself has benefited from federal subsidies which keep the cost of grazing low for ranchers like himself. And though the abhorrent comparison of slavery to welfare is ridiculous on its face, it's worth noting that federal benefit programs have been vital in keeping Americans out of poverty -- in fact, federal programs today are cutting poverty nearly in half, whereas in 1967 they only reduced poverty by a single percentage point.
Conservative media may finally renounce Bundy and his lawless cause following his racist remarks; but they should also renounce this harmful, inaccurate comparison.
On April 25 the National Rifle Association kicks off its three-day annual meeting, hosted this year at the home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, which will feature far-right conservative media figures known for extreme rhetoric.
Tourism officials expect more than 70,000 attendees at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium for the meeting, and attendees will be able to peruse more than 400,000 square feet of exhibition space to enjoy "over 600 of the most spectacular displays of firearms, shooting and hunting accessories in the world!" As in years past, the NRA expects that roughly 80 percent of attendees will be men.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America -- part of the newly launched 1.5 million member Everytown for Gun Safety organization -- is planning on bringing 100 mothers and 20 gun violence survivors to Indianapolis in order to urge NRA leadership to support requiring background checks on gun sales.
Attendees can also view a number of presentations, the most prominent of which include the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, the Annual Meeting of Members, and the Stand and Fight Rally. The NRA-ILA forum will feature several prominent GOP officials including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Far-right conservative figures are a mainstay of these annual meeting events. During last year's Stand and Fight Rally, keynote speaker Glenn Beck depicted then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, in a Nazi salute, leading to condemnation from Jewish groups. Other presentations at the 2013 meeting reaffirmed the NRA's hardline stance following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the claim of new NRA president Jim Porter that President Obama would seek "revenge" against gun owners.
In addition to the NRA's own bombastic CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, this year's meeting will feature Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, radio host Mark Levin, religious hardliner Franklin Graham, and others known for their extreme right-wing rhetoric:
Mark Levin is a conservative commentator best known as the host of The Mark Levin Show, which is a nationally syndicated radio program by Cumulus Media Networks. Levin delivered a video message at the 2013 annual meeting in which he claimed that the Second Amendment protected a "well-armed militia" in case "the federal government got out of control." (The Second Amendment actually calls for a "well regulated militia.") Levin is known for his inflammatory commentary, including the recent claim that the "key" to a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 would be "her genitalia." He has also accused Obama of abusing children, compared marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, compared supporters of the Affordable Care Act to Nazi "brown shirts," and advocated for Obama to be impeached.