Published with permission from Media Matters for America
The NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom celebrated racist former NRA board member and NRA Executive Council member Jeff Cooper and recommended that people read the late Cooper’s newsletter — which was peppered with racial slurs and defenses of slavery — before the 2016 election.
In an August 3 article, America’s 1st Freedom feted the upcoming 40th anniversary of Gunsite, a shooting academy founded by Cooper. The article lavishes praise on Cooper’s “well-known erudition,” calling him “a formidable historian and philosopher of broad, eclectic taste.”
The article concludes with a note suggesting, “For further reading, we highly recommend Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries” before linking to where the newsletter can be read online. Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries were a monthly to bi-weekly publication that ran from 1993 until Cooper’s death in 2006.
According to the NRA, the commentaries “are insightful, wide-ranging and quite frequently laugh-out-loud funny” and “Even 10 or more years later, many of his observations remain astute and timely, particularly in advance of the 2016 presidential election.”
Cooper often used racial slurs in his newsletter, including calling people of Middle Eastern descent “ragheads,” black children “pickaninnies” and “goblins,” Japanese people “nips,” Vietnamese people “gooks,” American Indians “pesky redskins” and “Injuns,” and black South Africans “kaffirs” — a term equivalent to the slur “nigger” in the United States.
After the Transvaal Province in South Africa was renamed to the Gauteng Province during the 1994 post-Apartheid elections which were open to all races, Cooper suggested that the province’s inhabitants should be referred to as “Oranggautengs.”
In response to a 1999 speech by Nelson Mandela, Cooper put forward the racist idea that “Equality is biologically impossible, and liberty is only obtainable in homogeneous populations very thinly spread.” Years later, he also wrote, “Sorry, Mr. [Thomas] Jefferson, but all men are not created equal. (‘All ya gotta do is look.’)”
A recurring theme in Cooper’s newsletter was defending the institution of slavery. In one instance, Cooper claimed that “slavery has been the normal condition of mankind for most of history. What do you do with the losers? You either kill them outright or put them to work”:
We reflect, in this period of racist agitation, that slavery has been the normal condition of mankind for most of history. What do you do with the losers? You either kill them outright or put them to work. If you pen them up you have to feed them, and you have enough trouble feeding yourself. Despite this a large number of semi−literate types in the States seem to think of slavery as a unique invention of the southern states of the US over a period of a few generations.
Cooper mused that abolishing slavery in the United States was “a mistake” in another commentary, suggesting the institution of slavery is as inevitable as “gravity,” and argued that “Without the institution of slavery, civilization would never have been achieved, for no one could ever have done anything intellectual if he had to spend all his time hewing and digging and fighting.” According to Cooper (emphasis original), “Colonial Africa was a far better place for both black and white before the colonists gave up.”
Cooper was an anti-gay bigot who praised Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe for calling LGBT people “perverts who do not deserve civil rights.” He also wrote that “lesbians make lousy shots” compared to “normal girls.”
The NRA article praising Cooper’s commentaries was published the day before an NRA representative appeared on Fox News to discuss NRA efforts to appeal to a more diverse audience:
NRA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre speaks during the leadership forum at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting Friday, May 3, 2013 in Houston. (AP Photo/Steve Ueckert)