In recent months, Ted Nugent’s virulent racism, sexism and violence-mongering have received considerable national attention and widespread criticism. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was right on target when she denounced her Republican opponent Greg Abbott’s embrace of Nugent as “repulsive.”
As a Davis campaign spokesperson pointed out, “Greg Abbott’s decision to defend his appearance with an admitted sexual predator disrespects every Texas parent with a daughter.”
John McCain, Ron Paul and some other Republicans joined Democrats and independents in criticizing Nugent’s description of President Barack Obama as a “subhuman mongrel” and a “chimpanzee.”
Nugent’s reluctant apology for this racist remark was highly publicized, but his promise to stop calling people names did not survive that interview. Unable to control his own unsavory impulses, Nugent also recently accused President Obama of causing “a power struggle between the different races” in a way that resembles the rise of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
As David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted, it is Nugent who “has a long track record of extremist rhetoric and behavior, often violent and outrageous in nature.”
In a 1990 interview, Nugent defended not only his frequent use of the N-word but also his time at a 40,000-acre ranch in apartheid South Africa.
Nugent announced: “Apartheid isn’t that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.”
He said: “The preponderance of South Africa is a different breed of man … I say that with great respect … but they are different. They still put bones in their noses, they still walk around naked, they wipe their butts with their hands.”
Two decades later, greater public exposure of Nugent’s bigotry and extremism is leading to growing public criticism and political opposition. Just last month, city officials in Longview paid about $16,000 to end contract negotiations with Nugent because they decided he was not an appropriate choice for their family friendly July 4 event.
All the negative publicity surrounding Nugent should have given pause to organizers of Saturday’s event in League City. Building mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans is a praiseworthy project, but Nugent’s appearance will gravely tarnish the event because of his unrelenting racism, sexism and violence-mongering.
The First Amendment protects Nugent’s right to perform. The First Amendment also protects the right of other people to protest against Nugent’s bigotry and extremism. At a time when right-wing Texas Republican politicians are exploiting hatred and prejudice for partisan gain, workers, people of color, women, gays and lesbians, the disabled, the marginalized, young people and people of conscience cannot remain silent or passive.
Together, we must oppose such hatred and prejudice. Together, we must stand up for justice. This is why a spirited protest against Nugent’s appearance in League City will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday on the public sidewalks at Marina Bay Drive (FM 2094) and South Shore Boulevard (north side).
Everyone who would like to help send a strong message supporting freedom, equality, solidarity and justice for all is welcome to join us.
David Michael Smith is a former professor at College of the Mainland.