Racist cartoon attacking NRA over terror watch list presents fear, not fact

A recent political cartoon run in several Central Ohio newspapers shows the severity of the anti-gun bias prevalent in the establishment media. The cartoon depicts a man wearing an NRA armband handing a rifle to a stereotype caricature of what is presumed to be a Muslim terrorist. Under the picture are the words "NRA fights effort to deny guns to people on terrorist watch list." (Click here to view the cartoon.)

Obviously, the cartoon is intended to be an example of exaggerating the truth to make a political point.

But, in this case there isn't even a kernel of truth to exaggerate.

Not only is the Muslim terrorist in full religious garb offensive, but the entire premise of the cartoon is flawed. The NRA, like many civil liberty groups, is concerned with the administration of the terrorist watch list, which is notorious for tagging innocent people as terrorists.

Criteria for how people get on the watch list are shrouded in mist, and correcting mistakes is nearly impossible. As of this writing, an eight year-old boy is the latest in a long line of innocent Americans forced to endure the problems caused by their names being put on the list in error.

Civil rights organizations, like the NRA, want the terrorist watch list to be a reliable resource. And until it is, most will not support restricting people's God-given rights based on an unreliable and unregulated government list.

The notion that the National Rifle Association is fighting to let terrorists buy guns isn't political spin - it's an outright lie. In this case it speaks to how far the establishment media will go in their anti-gun crusade. This specific cartoonist was also so determined to make his point that he forgot that using racist stereotypes is a breach of acceptable journalistic standards.

Unless, of course, the stereotype portrays gun owners as uneducated, incestuous hillbillies prone to being manipulated by the "gun lobby." Such a portrayal is not only acceptable to the establishment media, but they actually encourage it.

Political cartoons require that the cartoonist take sides on a given issue. This is perfectly acceptable and understood. They are also intended to create conversation on important issues of the day. But in this case, the author crossed the line by using an outright lie and a racially insensitive stereotype in an attempt to be thought-provoking.

As is usually the case, however, it isn't the overt anti-gun bias that exposes this cartoon, the cartoonist and editor as crossing the line from provocative and interesting to biased and hateful.

If the cartoon were pro-gun, or sent a message about the success of concealed carry laws, you can bet the establishment media would be denouncing it as racially insensitive. They would also quickly jump to use it as proof that the gun lobby represents dim-witted, racist white men showing their true colors. But, since it sends the approved establishment media message that vilifies the NRA, all other possible offenses are forgiven.

The first reaction by gun owners is to simply ignore yet another attack on the gun lobby and the right to keep and bear arms. But a cartoon like this can't go unanswered since it sends a powerful message.

After all, we are still battling attempts to close the mythical "gun show loophole" and several other issues created out of thin air by the anti-gun movement. Once the establishment media give the myths the light of day, they become nearly impossible to refute. With the American people still scared about the specter of large-scale terrorism on home soil, claiming the gun lobby is fighting to arm terrorists poses a serous risk to gun rights.

It simply doesn't matter that the issue in question doesn't exist.

Using the terrorist threat also says a lot about how far the enemies of gun rights will go to end private ownership of guns. Over the years, they have always tried to exploit the high-profile phobia of the day to their advantage. When child safety was at the forefront of product safety, the shrill cry, "won't anyone think of the children" was a staple of the anti-gun talking points.

When spree-killings took place in our schools, they exploited the tragedy to create school "safety zones." As implemented, all the gun "safety zones" accomplished was to make killers aware of a place they could be sure of preying on unarmed victims.

Now that people are scared about possible terrorist attacks, the anti-gun movement has stayed true to form and is preying on that fear.

The only consistency is that the anti-gun message absolutely always preys on people's fears, and uses the stereotype that all gun owners are unintelligent, narrow-minded yokels, paranoid loners, or insecure men compensating for some type of physical shortcoming.

When those stereotypes become ingrained in American pop culture they are almost impossible to dislodge. That means that when we see cartoons like this in a newspaper our only option is to politely respond.

Doing so is the obligation of every gun owner, and is just as important to our rights as voting, and exercising the right to bear arms through Ohio's concealed carry law.

You can contact the cartoonist, Pat Bagley at the following link:

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoonist/contactCartoonist.cfm/BagleP

Gerard Valentino is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and his first book, "The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative," is available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store..

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