Nugent Inflames Debate
by Liam White on Friday, May 18th, 2012
170 million Americans will be eligible to vote this November in the presidential election, an all-time high. Given the vast range of citizens’ views, no candidate can please everyone. While the Northeast typically takes a more liberal stance on controversial issues, many other regions hold much more conservative positions. One that conservative voters value in particular is the Second Amendment: the right to bear arms.
Gatherings like National Rifle Association (NRA) conferences are influential forums for candidates to garner support; simply vowing to adhere to the Constitution and protect traditional American rights to own firearms can swing millions of votes. The NRA, which considers itself a civil rights organization, claims to have 4.3 million members, equivalent to the population of Kentucky. Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a well kept, prep school-educated man whose Mormon faith does not match that of many conservative Republicans, sought to gain support from this potentially influential group of voters by enlisting the backing of Ted Nugent, a successful hard rock musician and NRA board member.
Throughout his career, Nugent has come out strongly against the use of drugs and alcohol, yet has avidly fought for his right to bear arms. In recent years, Nugent has attempted to regain the spotlight he had at the peak of his career in the 70’s by vehemently opposing the Obama administration. In 2007, while performing, Nugent exclaimed, “Obama, he’s a piece of sh-t, and I told him to suck on my machine gun … Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b—ch … Any questions? Freedom!” Perhaps even worse than this vulgarity, however, was the completely erroneous statement he made in a Washington Times article in 2010: “Barack Hussein Obama did not sneak into power. An army of clueless, disconnected, ignorant Americans invited him to bring his Marxist, glaringly anti-American jihad into our lives.”
But Nugent made his most egregious statements last month at an NRA rally in St. Louis. His ideas are not just radical, but caustic and destructive. Nugent claimed that “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” and added that, “we need to ride into that battlefield and chop [the Obama administration’s] heads off in November.” What is most concerning is that many refuse to dismiss Nugent as a lunatic. The passionate performance has led many to follow his directions: “get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America-hating administration.” His powerful stage presence seems to stick more clearly in the minds of his supporters than his claims that the President is a communist terrorist bent on destroying the America. Even advocating violence if the election results go unfavorably for his side was not enough to deter his fans.
A country that is supposed to promote freedom of speech has been shaken by a man who has ignored all guidelines of logic, rationality, and sense. Nugent went as far as to call himself “a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally, fighting power-abusing, corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise [him] because [he has] the audacity to speak the truth.” In what may only be adding fuel to the fire, the Secret Service was called in to investigate whether he posed a legitimate threat to national security. Romney, surely aware of the rock star’s history of inflammatory behavior, has gone mute about Nugent’s statements. While Romney would be mad to condone such lunatic behavior, his silence may have earned him some conservative votes, though such predictions are purely speculative.
ower of one person’s voice is astounding at times. Nugent found the right forum and a group he could connect with to expertly deliver a prejudiced and paranoia-inducing speech. He attracted an audience through the fervent faith he had in his own positions. Despite his xenophobic, offensive, blatantly false remarks, American citizens tacitly encouraged what he had to say by refusing to condemn him. Nugent’s statements remain inappropriate, unnecessary, and harmful to a meaningful national dialogue. In order for freedom of speech to retain its positive power, his slander of Obama in such an incredibly public venue cannot be tolerated by the average voter, let alone a potential President.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=3489