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How are NRA Associates Responding to Coronavirus? Racism, Dismissals, and Conspiracies.

March 19, 2020

Last week, the NRA cancelled its annual convention due to concerns about coronavirus––but that hasn’t stopped several NRA board members and associates from furthering racist narratives about coronavirus, spreading conspiracy theories, and dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic. Here’s a sampling of their comments:

Furthering the racist “Chinese Virus” narrative, which has led to verbal abuse and physical attacks against Asian-Americans:

  • NRA Board Member Ted Nugent, on Alex Jones’ radio show: “In China… there is an entire culture where they believe and they perceive and they continue the horror that the more you torture a dog, the more pain and suffering and howling and whining and crying you perpetrate upon that dog, they actually believe the meat has medicinal qualities and is good for you. Stop and grasp the evil in that culture. This is the same Asian culture of the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanking even though the shoe is on the other foot at that time.”
  • NRA Board Second Vice President Willes Lee: “Dem Baby Killers tried to slip in their abortion trap when we’re trying to win the war against Chinese Wuhan virus. #Disgusting”

Spreading conspiracy theories: 

  • NRA Board Member Bob Barr, in response to reports that Philadelphia police were delaying arrests for some nonviolent crimes: “[The District Attorney of Philadelphia], like others elected with money from George Soros, has shown a disinterest in enforcing such laws anyway.”
  • NRA Board Second Vice President Willes Lee said that coronavirus is an “Election ploy” that will “go away in mid-Nov.” Lee also retweeted Bernard Kerik: “Why do I feel this hysteria is being created to destabilize the country, and destroy the unparalleled and historic economic successes of President @realDonaldTrump?” 

Dismissing the seriousness of the pandemic: 

  • NRA Board Member Dean Cain retweeted this tweetwithout comment”: “America has survived measles, polio, smallpox and many flues and virus outbreaks. Isn’t this what our enemies want to shut down our economy and livelihood”
  • NRA Board Second Vice President Willes Lee: “ACC tourney canceled. Now, 1. Gross overreaction (yes, that’s redundant) 2. Now I’m absolutely pissed at China for their attack on the rest of us. (Did Biden’s son get $$ for nothing from China?)”
  • NRA Board Member Mark Geist has retweeted several misleading posts minimizing the seriousness of the crisis, including this tweet from Donald Trump Jr.: “For children and the non-elderly the coronavirus is actually less deadly than the common flu.”
  • Before attending an NRA fundraiser, NRA Board Member Congressman Don Young (R-AK) spoke to a room of 50 elderly people and dismissed coronavirus as the “beer virus,” saying: “This beer virus I call it, they call it a coronavirus I call it a beer virus, how do you like that? It attacks our senior citizens. Now I’m one of you. I still say we have to as a nation, as a state to go forth with our everyday activities.”

These comments are not only racist or dismissive––they contradict nearly every conclusion and recommendation from experts about coronavirus. Here is the CDC website, which––unlike these comments from NRA associates––actually provides helpful information about how to stay safe during this pandemic.

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