National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent continued to stereotype African-Americans as violent, exemplifying a media trend of coverage that exaggerates African-American criminality.
In his regular column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent addressed the topic of race and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, claiming in a July 24 opinion piece that there is a “mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America” :
Why wasn't Trayvon [Martin] educated and raised to simply approach someone he wasn't sure about and politely ask what was going on and explain he was headed home? Had he, I am confident that Zimmerman would have called off the authorities and everything would have been fine.
Why the nasty “creepy a-- cracker” racism and impulse to attack? Where does this come from? Is it the same mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America, most heartbreakingly in Chicago pretty much every day of the week? Where does this come from? And why is it so prevalent?
This type of generalization about African-Americans is in line with racially charged comments Nugent made on entertainer Nick Cannon's podcast on July 23. In advocating for the racial profiling of African-Americans, Nugent said that his views were informed by watching news reports featuring African-Americans accused of rape, burglary and murder:
NUGENT: I think that typically when you see the, I don't even remember the term they use, but the gangs of blacks lately that have been just been going down the downtown streets and breaking windows on cars. We played the Milwaukee state fair a couple years ago and these black mobs were just attacking white folks coming out of the fair. And over and over again I watch the news and here's a rape and here's a burglary and here's a murder in Chicago. 29 shot. 29 blacks shot by 29 blacks. At some point you got to be afraid of black and white dogs if the Dalmatian's doing the biting.
In fact research into media portrayals of African-American crime indicates that media is responsible for creating a perception of criminality that does not reflect reality. According to research by Kelly Welch, an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Villanova University, African-American criminality is exaggerated due to media portrayals of young African-American men as criminal and racial profiling by criminal justice officials:
But public estimates of Black criminality surpass the reality. The media perpetuate ideas linking race with criminality, which have also been reinforced by political agendas. The temporary efficacy of using a racial hoax to mislead law enforcement and the public has capitalized on and strengthened views about race and crime.
All of these phenomena have served to solidify the stereotype of the young Black man as a criminal threat among the public in contemporary American society, which then fuels the practice of racial profiling by criminal justice officials. The prevalent typification of Blacks as criminals seems to justify law enforcement tactics that exploit race in criminal investigations.
Nugent is influenced in his beliefs by this phenomenon while also contributing to it through his own media portrayals of African-Americans.
In his July 24 WND column, Nugent made a number of other broad generalizations about black America and suggested that, “The first step toward genuine healing for the denial-riddled hysterical black community would be to admit that George Zimmerman was indeed getting his 'a-- whooped' by an angry, violent, wildly overreacting young man, and that Trayvon Martin was not an innocent child.”
Discussing Zimmerman trial prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel, who was pilloried by conservative media over her appearance and manner of speech, Nugent claimed that the young woman represented “pretty much every self-inflicted bad choice that really oppresses blacks.” According to Nugent, “Obesity is also a major cause of death for blacks,” and “the root of unemployment for blacks” is an inability to “read or speak clearly” caused a lack of discipline to acquire “the most basic education” in the black community:
Did you happen to mention that the misguided, I believe racist prosecution team's prime witness, one Rachel Jeantel, displayed pretty much every self-inflicted bad choice that really oppresses blacks?
Obesity is also a major cause of death for blacks. That no one disciplined Rachel to get the most basic education to be able to read or speak clearly is the root of unemployment for blacks.
In addition to calling for racial profiling, Nugent has also recently added to his lengthy history of racially charged rhetoric by claiming that African-Americans could solve “the black problem tonight” if they just put their “heart and soul into being honest, law-abiding, [and] delivering excellence at every move in your life.” Those comments led to calls for his removal from the NRA's board of directors.