Apparently at the National Rifle Association (NRA), being the target of a conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smear is a good way to get yourself investigated and possibly kicked out of the organization. Putting forward conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smears is not.
As the NRA continues to avoid addressing an anti-Semitism controversy that has embroiled organization board member Ted Nugent, a recall campaign against another board member -- conservative activist Grover Norquist -- is moving forward, even though the campaign's basis is a conspiratorial and anti-Muslim smear.
Following a decades-long campaign by anti-Muslim think tank head Frank Gaffney, which in the past year has been amplified by conservative radio host Glenn Beck, ballots to officially recall Norquist from the NRA board will appear in the March editions of the NRA's magazines, according to a report by Right Wing Watch.
For at least 15 years, Norquist, a well-known tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform, has been targeted by Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy, with the claim that he is a surreptitious agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Critics of Gaffney have alleged that his smear campaign is largely motivated by the fact that Norquist is married to a Muslim woman and has Muslim in-laws. One high-profile conservative group investigated Gaffney's claims in 2012 and found them to be meritless.
Norquist has called Gaffney his “stalker” and has accused Gaffney of also spreading rumors that he is gay and a member of “the Jewish-Russian mafia.”
Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist made headlines again in March 2015 after it was repeatedly promoted by Beck on his nationally-syndicated radio show. Beck, a longtime supporter of the NRA, is a frequent keynote speaker at the gun group's annual meeting.
Following Beck's endorsement of Gaffney's conspiracy theory, the NRA, at the request of executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, agreed to open an investigation into Norquist's alleged ties “to Islamist groups that have ill intent towards the United States and its allies.” The findings of the investigation have yet to be released to the public.
During the NRA's annual meeting in April 2015, Norquist was reelected to the board, but he also issued a statement saying he had “voluntarily suspended his Board activities pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The NRA has handled controversy surrounding Nugent, who posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page and then subsequently made inflammatory posts and statements about the Holocaust, in a much different manner. Nugent's image suggested that laws regulating guns were the result of a Jewish conspiracy and included descriptions of alleged conspirators such as “Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg,” and deceased former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who “Gave Russian Jew immigrants your tax money.”
After declining to comment on Nugent to several media outlets, the NRA released its only statement to date on the controversy: “Individual board members do not speak for the NRA.”
The NRA's refusal to seriously address Nugent's anti-Semitic post comes as the controversy has begun to become enmeshed with Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, which continues to tout Nugent's praise. (Cruz has also lavishly praised Gaffney, calling him “a patriot” who is “clear eyed about radical Islamic terrorism.” )
Unlike the controversy surrounding Norquist, the NRA has given no indication that it intends to investigate Nugent.