Yesterday, National Rifle Association CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre published a blog entitled, “Those Who Call The NRA Racist Don’t Know Our History.”
At first glance, we thought the article was satire. Then we clicked on the link.
The defensive headline alone is laughable. Anyone who follows the NRA knows it is an organization that consistently uses blatantly racist language and race-baiting to create a culture of fear and in turn, sell more guns. NRA leaders have called men of color “thugs,” perpetuated racist terminology like “black-on-black crime,” referred to communities of color as “violent inner cities,” mirrored the language of a racist president, and disparaged President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, non-native speakers, and others who don’t look like them, talk like them, or pray like them.
In fact, the history of bigotry within the NRA prompted CSGV to create NRA on the Record — a site that tracks the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and generally reprehensible comments made by NRA leadership. Media Matters has also created an incredibly comprehensive database of these comments.
Since LaPierre has clearly forgotten so much of the NRA’s history, CSGV compiled a few of the NRA’s most racist moments to refresh his memory. And believe us — these are just a few.
In his blog, LaPierre harkens back to a time when the NRA was an organization that valued responsible gun ownership, advocated for gun violence prevention legislation, and supported reasonable regulations on firearms.
But Wayne LaPierre’s NRA is not the NRA he references throughout most of his article. Today’s NRA is one that has made a calculated decision to stoke fear in order to sell guns — the fear of “inner city thugs,” “radical Muslims,” and “illegal aliens.” They have told their overwhelmingly white base that they should be afraid of people of color and need to buy guns to protect themselves.
For decades, NRA board members, leaders, and spokespeople have fanned the flames of hatred and racism. Sometimes their comments have been thinly veiled. Other times, they have been shockingly overt. Here are just a few examples:
- LaPierre called for a return to a white male president, saying “eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”
- NRA board member Jay Printz posted a meme on his Facebook page that said, “Liberals think conservatives are violent because we own guns. When was the last time a group of conservatives blocked a freeway, turned over cop cars, rioted, looted, threw Molotov cocktails, burned buildings?” The meme was clearly in reference to groups protesting racial injustice.
- NRATV commentator Bill Whittle said black people are intellectually inferior to people of other races.
- NRA board member Todd Rathner posted a photo on Facebook of a sign that prohibited eating, drinking, and smoking in a hearing room, and then complained the Spanish-speakers were not abiding by the sign.
- LaPierre has used the idea of the “dangerous black man” in his stump speech for years. The idea of the “mugger, murderer, or rapist” — the NRA boogeyman — serves as code for “black.”
- The NRA has blamed the “violent left” for protesting racial injustice in Missouri, Baltimore, and other cities, effectively sending the message: “Hey, white America — this is why you need guns.”
- Earlier this year, the NRA released a disgusting, violent, and divisive ad that urges gun owners to take action against demonstrators advocating for civil rights, rejecting the racist Muslim ban, and protesting police brutality against people of color.
Then there is Ted Nugent — the NRA’s most prominent, unabashed bigot. “The Noog” has served as an NRA board member for years and has never been shy about his despicable views on race. Here are just a few of his comments:
- He publicly called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”
- He celebrated the use of the n-word in a column.
- He said Civil Rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton speak in “ebonic mumbo-jumbo.”
- He openly mused that if he saw an undocumented immigrant, he’d like to “shoot them dead.”
- He wrote that Travyon Martin was an example of “the same mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America.”
- On The Alex Jones Show, Nugent said, “The food stamp scam, the welfare scam — blacks can fix the black problem tonight if they…put your heart and soul into being honest, law-abiding, [and] delivering excellence at every move in your life.”
In addition to promoting their own hateful words, the NRA has no problem supporting fellow bigots. Trump is America’s most high-profile racist. Beginning with the birther movement — a racist attack designed to question the legitimacy of our first African-American president — Donald Trump has led a nonstop crusade to disparage people of color. The NRA’s full-throated support of the bigot-in-chief is a more recent piece of their long history of racism. The NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump. In January, their home page read “Trump’s Strongest Ally.” In February, LaPierre said the NRA “has President Trump’s back for the next eight years.”
The NRA has done more than give Trump money. They’ve fed him racist language, and they’ve parroted racist rhetoric he came up with on his own. In fact, the NRA’s vernacular and Trump’s align pretty closely.
From calling Mexicans “rapists and murders” to his attacks on a federal judge of Latino descent to his wink and nod to the white supremacists in Charlottesville to his race-baiting when professional athletes protest racial injustice, Trump has made racism a cornerstone of his campaign and his administration, and the NRA has stood beside him, endorsed him with no hesitation, and never once condemned his racist language.
The NRA is gaslighting us. They use slurs, race-bait, disparage people of color, and support racist politicians. Then they insist that they are the “safest place” for the same people they’ve degraded so openly.
They try to push guns into communities of color, claiming guns will help protect the people who live there. Then, they tell their members they need to buy guns because people of color are armed, dangerous “thugs.” It’s a transparent, disgraceful farce.
LaPierre can try to reframe the NRA’s history, but he’s not fooling anyone. We know the NRA’s history. We’ve taken notes. Those who call out the NRA’s racism are right on the money.