National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent participated in a softball interview to attack his critics as “mentally challenged” and “the devil” following outrage over his promotion of an anti-Semitic image.
On February 8, Nugent posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page alleging that Jews were behind a conspiracy to enact gun regulations. After being condemned by civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League, Nugent doubled down by posting more inflammatory content, including an image of Jews being rounded up by Nazis alongside his comment “Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me.”
In the ensuing controversy, Nugent has been condemned by diverse voices including civil rights groups, Jewish organizations, and both gun safety groups and pro-gun organizations and writers. Several organizations called on the NRA to remove Nugent from its board of directors. (Nugent was praised by white nationalists, and his support for Ted Cruz is still displayed prominently on the GOP contender's website.)
In a February 11 interview with an unnamed questioner, available only on his Facebook page, Nugent suggested that his critics are “mentally challenged” and said, “To attack me one would have to not only play devil's advocate, one would actually be the devil's advocate or more probably the devil itself.” To deny charges of anti-Semitism, Nugent stated, “I admire and love my good Jewish friends even more than usual because of their valiant dedication to 'Never Again!'”
The unnamed interviewer fawned over Nugent and provided him cover, describing the Israeli flags that were used to label Jewish American politicians in Nugent's anti-Semitic image as “proud.”
Instead of asking actual questions, the interviewer instead served up friendly prompts to Nugent such as, “You aren't anti-semitic. For certain,” and “You support the state of Israel.”
Below the interview, Nugent posted a link to a press release issued by a fringe gun group called The Zelman Partisans, a more hardline spin-off of the far-right gun group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO).
The press release, which excused Nugent's use of the anti-Semitic image and played on the same anti-Semitic tropes espoused by Nugent, suggested that The Zelman Partisans would accept Nugent's conduct if he joined the group.
According to the press release, “Nugent is correct that Jewish individuals play an outsized role in U.S. anti-gun leadership. (Aaron Zelman, in his inimitable style, called them 'bagel brains.')” The Zelman Partisans still chided Nugent for his image but made him an “offer” that he could prove he is “really pro-Jewish” by joining the organization.
The Zelman Partisans is an offshoot of JPFO, which was founded by Aaron Zelman. (JPFO, whose website claims that many Jews who support guns safety efforts are “professional victims,” released an alert condemning Nugent but then deleted it from their website.)
The organization, formed after Zelman passed away in 2010, explains,“We will not let Aaron's philosophy -- the philosophy to which we are all also committed -- be watered down, betrayed, or 'disappeared.'”
The group's website contains far-right pro-gun material and sells a shooting target that allows target shooters to take aim at quotes from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), other gun safety proponents, and Hitler.