I will admit that as a former AFN disc jockey and rock fan, I was more than a little perturbed when last week rocker and Second Amendment firebrand Ted Nugent posted a clearly anti-Semitic graphic on his Facebook page.
As someone who is involved in the gun rights movement with the Zelman Partisans, the best Jewish gun rights group in the United States today, I couldn’t believe I was so wrong about someone! As I wrote at the Zelman Partisans today, I was one of those fans who was understandably upset. Was Ted implying that Jews were somehow responsible for the demise of our freedoms? Was he an anti-Semite? Is Ted prejudiced in some way against Jews? Has Ted become a liability to the gun rights movement?
And then I talked to Ted.
Yeah, I spoke to Ted Nugent on the phone several times, and we emailed a bunch as well. My son was green with jealousy, but thought I was the coolest mom ever. As a former radio DJ, I was a bit star struck myself, but more than anything, I wanted to know the truth. I wanted to know what was up. And as one of the founders of the Zelman Partisans, I thought we had a responsibility to get the whole story, because no one else bothered.
See, everyone was quick to condemn Ted. The National Review Online called Nugent a disgrace to the gun rights movement. Every media outlet screeched about Ted’s alleged anti-Semitism. Even other gun rights groups, such as Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership jumped onto the “Ted is an anti-Semite” bandwagon.
But folks, Ted Nugent is far from it.
Yes, he’s blunt. Yes, he can be crass. He may even give me a run for my money in the cursing department, although I still say I win by a nose! But at no time has he ever exhibited any kind of hateful, bigoted, or anti-Semitic streak. As he told me on the phone, he doesn’t care if you’re black, white, orange, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or green! What he cares about is freedom and defending it from those who would threaten it!
So why didn’t this obvious anti-Semitic graphic raise any red flags to anyone else? Why didn’t anyone contact Ted for a statement, and why did everyone rush to condemn him? I told him it was because it’s become en vogue to immediately knee jerk into condemnations. The quicker, the better, because if you’re not fast enough to issue an appalled statement, you may be viewed as an extremist by association.
“It didn’t even occur to me,” he explained. He said he didn’t look at that graphic closely. He just wanted to explain that Jewish people who forget history and try to disarm Americans should remember the Holocaust. He just wanted to show who these politicians who are attempting to infringe on our rights are. He didn’t even think about what that graphic represented.
Ted is a lot of fun. He has a lot of energy, and he goes about a mile a minute. So having had a couple of conversations with him, I can see how this happened. I’m not excusing it, and neither is he. The first time we talked, he was on his way to speak to a youth group, so we chatted for a while as he drove. I explained that there was no way around it. That graphic was the product of an anti-Semitic site called “The Jewish Problem” (No, I’m not linking to it. Find it yourselves if you want to puke in your own mouths.) I told him that I wasn’t being politically correct when I told him that graphic was chock full of anti-Semitic crap.
And when I told him that the graphic brought some pretty nasty anti-Semites to the Zelman Partisans’ doorstep, including one conspiritard claiming that Jews were behind the 9-11 attacks and another one posting a comment so vile about Jews, that we altered it in a way that truly reflected his love for der Fuhrer, Ted seemed pretty upset.
“Oh, man,” he replied quietly. “Can I call you tomorrow and we’ll fix this together?”
Does this sound like someone who is in any way an anti-Semite?
Does this sound like someone who hates Jews?
Talking to a Jewish woman, from a Jewish organization dedicated to preserving our freedoms, Ted Nugent was anything but defiant about using the image on his page. He was contrite. He acknowledged he jumped the gun without doing his research, and he was genuine about not realizing what that graphic was. “I just never saw it that way,” he told me.
We chatted for a bit longer, and texted the next day. Today, Ted gave me a call and we discussed how to best address this and set the record straight. I told him the best way was to own it. Admit he fucked up and explain what he really meant to say.
And that’s exactly what he did. No excuses.
“Can I say oy vey?” he wrote. “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. Everyone knows deep down that at 67 years of age I didn’t suddenly become anti-Semitic. That’s patently ridiculous, and those who rushed to such a mistaken condemning judgement should re-examine the system by which such equally irresponsible knee-jerk judgments are made.”
Look, our rights are too precious to alienate allies as dedicated as Ted Nugent. He’s been a steadfast voice and fighter for our Second Amendment freedoms for decades. No, he’s not politically correct. Yes, he’s sometimes brash. And yes, he is human, and he will make mistakes. This was one.
But the Ted Nugent with whom I spoke is also kind, funny, generous, and sincere. He doesn’t sugarcoat, and he doesn’t mince words. I guess that’s part of why I do like him so much. At the same time, he’s also a critical and very powerful voice for our Second Amendment rights, and shutting him up and unceremoniously tossing him out of the gun rights movement hurts no one but ourselves.
As I was writing this post, I got an email from Ted, and I want to post it here in its entirety. Read it, and make your own judgments.
Besides trespassers and dopers and assorted criminal punks, I’ve never intentionally set out to hurt or offend anyone. The gun gluttons who pay attention to my 50 plus years modus operandi know very well how my take no prisoners hyperbole valve runs wide open.
I will continue to point out when our society and culture has a booger dangling out of its nose. To ignore that would be shirking my responsibility as a citizen who is supposed to be engaged in this unique and sacred experiment in self-government.
I will not be muzzled.
The road to hell is paved with political correctness and the abject denial and dishonesty that goes with it. It is a self-inflicted cancer that causes some Americans to cower in the corner, afraid to say what they really think lest they be labeled, ridiculed and scorned by political correctness goon squads whose goal is to stamp out speech and ideas that differ from their own. I’m not afraid.
To the innocent who have been offended or hurt by something I said or wrote, please accept my heartfelt and sincere apology. My words were not, and will never be, directed at you. Only the guilty need feel guilty.
You will continue to find me in the public arena of ideas where the dust and sweat is swirling. Come along if you dare.