AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

What’s Behind Giffords’ Smear of New NRA President?

After the recent change of guard at the National Rifle Association, with former Rep. Bob Barr replacing Charles Cotton as NRA President, the gun control organization Giffords pounced on the development, smearing Barr with an old, debunked accusation of racism.

Giffords made an accusation that Barr is a racist because he gave a speech to a group that he didn’t know was a white supremacist group, running over to left-wing website The Daily Beast (archived link) to publish the smear:

Gun Control Org Resurfaces New NRA Prez’s Speech to White Supremacist Group
Former Rep. Bob Barr gave a speech in 1998 to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group.
A leading gun control group accused the National Rifle Association of acting to “fan the flames of extremism” by choosing former congressman Bob Barr as its new president—citing a long-acknowledged speech to a white supremacist group Barr gave while serving as a U.S. representative from Georgia.
“The fact that the NRA board of directors handpicked a president who was the keynote speaker at a convention of blatant white supremacists tells you everything you need to know about the state of the organization,” Emma Brown, executive director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Daily Beast of Barr’s 1998 speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) in Charleston, South Carolina.

I was concerned initially when I saw the charge and decided to investigate it myself. What I found has alleviated my concerns and only entrenched my disgust for the dirty tactics of the gun control movement.

First, some background. I had never heard of former Rep. Bob Barr until I watched the movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” I thought the movie was hilarious, but it’s certainly not to everyone’s liking. One of the scenes that had me laughing till my stomach hurt was Barr getting punked by Borat offering cheese at the start of his staged interview. Barr’s hard gulp at being told what the cheese was made of capped the scene.

To his credit, Barr took it like a man. He didn’t sue Sacha Baron Cohen, didn’t complain about it, or anything like that. He took the high ground and explained what happened at length in a Q&A session later. (On a side note, Sacha Baron Cohen seems to hate the Second Amendment community and has attempted other pranks to make us look like uneducated bigots and violent racists.)

The reason the Borat “incident” is important is because Barr comes across as trusting, willing to give his time to a foreign correspondent whose work wouldn’t be read by his domestic constituents and potential voters.

Barr was deceived by Borat despite vetting done by his staff. The reason the vetting happened, in my opinion, is a past incident when Barr accepted a speech invitation without sufficient vetting. Back in 1998, the Washington Post reported (archived link) that Barr had given a speech to a white supremacist organization. Barr’s response was published in Time magazine in March 1999: 

In his column “Right Back At You,” Jack E. White suggested that I am closely associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which he described as a “white-supremacist group” [DIVIDING LINE, Feb. 1]. As a former U.S. Attorney who has prosecuted white supremacists and racially motivated police violence, I find this charge offensive and absolutely inaccurate.
The racial views of the C.C.C. are repugnant to me, and I would never have spoken to the group had I known beforehand of its stand. It is absurd and irresponsible for anyone to suggest that one speech–during which I discussed only the impeachment process, as I was asked to do–implies that I in any way share or support the group’s view. As the record shows, I don’t.
BOB BARR, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE 7th District, Georgia Washington

Barr’s actions fighting violent racists, including those working within government, says a lot more about him than a one-off speech to a group whose views he was not aware of. This was a hard lesson learned for Barr in 1998, and one that was reinforced by Borat in 2006.

Gun control organizations like Giffords ought to tread carefully and not throw around accusations of racism like candy, lest they become like the boy who cried wolf. They should also do some introspection and look for racists in their ranks.

As an immigrant and a person with high melanin content, I’m not concerned about the new NRA President, and wish organizations like Giffords would debate the merits of gun control honestly instead of using lies, statistical manipulation, fallacies and smears as their strategy.

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