Gun Owners of America Embraces Racist 'Black Hurricane Names' Meme

Earlier this week, the Congressional Black Caucus recommended that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee replace Janet Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, so naturally the American Family Association’s One News Now turned to Gun Owners of America for comment.

Gun Owners of America is no fan of the DHS under Janet Napolitano – the group’s executive director, Larry Pratt, thinks the agency is raising a private army that will allow President Obama to overpower the US military.

But the group’s objections to Jackson Lee are unrelated. Seizing on a bizarre meme popular among Internet racists circa 2006, GOA spokesman Erich Pratt (Larry’s son), told One News Now that Jackson Lee thinks “one of the top pressing issues of our time ... is the group NOAA, which takes part in naming hurricanes. She thinks that they're racist because they don't use black-sounding names like ‘D’Shaun’ and ‘Keisha’ and ‘Jamal’ and names like that."

As Snopes explains, Jackson Lee did in fact express concern in a 2003 interview that “all racial groups should be represented” in NOAA’s hurricane names and hoped that the agency “would try to be inclusive of African American names.” Her comment then provoked a storm of anger among right-wingers including Rush Limbaugh and WorldNetDaily, which published a comment from a reader asking, “This is ridiculous. How about naming the storms after gang members, or infamous criminals?” It also spawned at least one horribly racist chain email.

And apparently the meme lives on, since Gun Owners of America – normally a leading light of racial reconciliation – is featuring it as its primary objection to a possible Jackson Lee nomination.

Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America (GOA), is not keen on the idea of the longtime representative heading up DHS.

"If Sheila Jackson Lee becomes the new Homeland Security director, I think it will make us all long for the days of Janet Napolitano, who was certainly one of our more inept directors,” he tells OneNewsNow. “... We don't think [she] is going to be any better. She's ‘F-minus’ rated from Gun Owners of America."

Pratt also fears Jackson Lee would politicize the DHS even more than did Napolitano.

"[Jackson Lee thinks] one of the top pressing issues of our time ... is the group NOAA, which takes part in naming hurricanes,” he explains. “She thinks that they're racist because they don't use black-sounding names like ‘D’Shaun’ and ‘Keisha’ and ‘Jamal’ and names like that."

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Gun Owners of America