A lot of you have probably wondered in the last few weeks: What the fuck is wrong with Ted Nugent?
The overrated, bombastic guitarist—best known for such cultural high-water marks as “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” and “The Harder They Come (The Harder I Get)” (oh, and the original artwork to his massive 2007 flop Love Grenade)—has yet to follow through on his promise to be “dead or in jail” should President Obama be reelected.
And now, after calling Obama’s agenda racist, he’s attending the State of the Union as a guest of Texas Republican Rep Steve Stockman where he will likely make a further mockery of the tragedies in Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine and elsewhere. He shouldn’t be allowed. Not because he supports gun rights. But because he’s anti-American.
The man who told Glenn Beck that his line at the Republican National Convention, “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November,” was not a threat, and then alluded to the harvest (scythe, reaping, wink-wink) has clearly been addled by decades of artless guitar noodling played through amps so big they can bury you in them.
Nugent is so very wrong on so many things, but they can all be boiled down to his inability to grasp two very basic points.
1. Ted Nugent doesn’t understand guns.
Back in 1991, Damn Yankees—Nugent’s “super”group with Styx’s Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger’s Jack Blades—had a hit called “High Enough.” The treacly power ballad’s video glorifies a Bonnie and Clyde-type duo who knock over a liquor store, run from the cops, and find themselves in a shootout. Ignoring for a second that the heroes of this video are lawless pricks who steal from a small business to support their lusty outlaw lifestyle, there’s a scene three minutes into the video where Nugent, wearing a zebra-patterned kaftan and a pair of mirrored wrap-around shades that were in style never, stands in the front doorway, jamming on the song’s climactic guitar solo,as a hail of police bullets is magically diverted by what one can only assume is the sheer majesty of his shredding. Normally we would write this off as Hollywood gun fetishism or a bit of good fun. But Theodore F. Nugent, head evangelist for the from-my-cold-dead-hands crowd, gets no free passes here. Yes, we get it, the video is a joke. But if you don’t think Nugent believes bullets can be redirected by the force of his machismo, you underestimate the man’s stupidity.
2. Ted Nugent doesn’t understand what it means to be an American.
Right before he uttered “chop their heads off,” Nugent said, “We’re Americans because we defied the king … We are patriots.”
It’s 1,000 percent bullshit.
It’s true that we wouldn’t be Americans if we hadn’t defied a tyrannical monarch, but what makes us Americans is what we did right after: We set about governing ourselves with the principle not of might makes right, but of equal representation, of peaceful transfer of power, of democratic rule.
We’re patriots because some 237 years later, we adhere to the principles of that grand experiment. Inherent in all of that is that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The many in this scenario is the vast majority of Americans who support background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. And the few are gun manufacturers—and those who don’t believe in the magnificent Jeffersonian/Franklinian idea that we’re all in this together, who believe that when you find yourself in the minority on an issue your best recourse is not to speak out but to take up arms to subvert the will of the people.
Patriot isn’t the word I’d use to describe them. It’s traitor.