Ten days after posting an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent has apologized, claiming he did not realize the image he shared that placed Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates had a “connection whatsoever to any religious affiliation.”
Nugent's apology comes as controversy swirls over his role on the NRA's board of directors and relationship with GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The tone in his latest statement -- his fourth response to the criticism he has received from civil rights groups, media figures, and even far-right gun groups -- is a marked departure from previous explanations he gave for posting the image, which included claiming that “Jews for guncontrol are nazis in disguise” and that his critics were “mentally challenged.”
In a February 18 statement to MLive, Nugent said, “Can I say oy vey? I sincerely apologize for my irresponsible re-posting of such a nasty and offensive meme. In my rush between songwriting jams and musical recording frenzy, all I saw was the images of people dedicated to disarm us, I made no connection whatsoever to any religious affiliation.” Nugent also added that “everyone knows” that he is not anti-Semitic.
On February 8, Nugent shared an image headlined, “So who is really behind gun control?” that depicted Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates. Some of the pictures feature descriptions such as “Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg.” Nugent captioned the image, “Know these punks. They hate freedom, they hate good over evil, they would deny us the basic human right to self defense & to KEEP & BEAR ARMS while many of them have tax paid hired ARMED security! Know them well. Tell every1 you know how evil they are. Let us raise maximum hell to shut them down.”
Nugent was quickly condemned by the civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League for the anti-Semitic conspiracy alleged by his image. But rather than backing down, Nugent made two additional inflammatory posts on February 8.
In the first post, Nugent asked, “What sort of racist prejudiced POS could possibly not know that Jews for guncontrol are nazis in disguise?” Responding to the charge that he is an anti-Semite, Nugent wrote, “Meanwhile I adjust my yamika at my barmitzva playing my kosher guitar”:
In the second post, Nugent suggested that the United States is on the path to a genocide similar to the Holocaust. His post included an image of Jews being rounded up by Nazis with his comment, “Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me.”
Nugent also attacked those who called him anti-Semitic in a February 11 interview he posted to his Facebook page, claiming that his critics are “mentally challenged” and “the devil.”
The same day Nugent issued his apology, one of the individuals targeted by the anti-Semitic image Nugent posted spoke out at the Huffington Post.
John Rosenthal, a co-founder of Stop Handgun Violence, criticized Nugent and targeted the NRA's relationship with him, writing, “Ted Nugent has long represented the NRA and they owe us an explanation of exactly what they're conspiring to encourage their armed followers to do with respect to 'shutting me down.'”
In 2014, Nugent generated widespread controversy by referring to President Obama as a “subhuman mongrel.” After several days of criticism, including by some prominent Republican politicians, Nugent offered a half-hearted apology, though “not necessarily to the president,” but then attacked Obama as a lying, law-breaking racist who engages in Nazi tactics.