This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.
This morning, an excellent new website launched, providing fascinating information about the good folks making up the NRA board. One name jumped out at me — former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. The website, called “Who is on the NRA Board?”, provides a great deal of helpful information, including highlights from Gilmore’s illustrious career. That highlight reel includes, first and foremost, Gilmore’s association with the “Free Congress Foundation,” “a think tank that promotes the far-right’s viewpoint in the ‘Culture War.'”
According to this new website, which is sponsored by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence:
Gilmore effectively succeeded FCF President & CEO Paul Weyrich in 2009. On replacing Weyrich, Gilmore said, “Paul Weyrich blazed the trail for many conservative themes and I want to continue that leadership.”
What is the “Free Congress Foundation,” you ask, and what are the “themes” it promotes, and that Jim Gilmore said he “want[ed] to continue?” The “Who is on the NRA Board” website has the answer. Here are a few examples:
In 1984, FCF hosted a dinner honoring Roberto D’Aubuisson, the fascist leader of right wing death squads in El Salvador, for being “a symbol of resistance to communists.” Known as “Blowtorch Bob” for his torture techniques, D’Aubuisson’s most high-profile victim was Bishop Óscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after speaking out about human rights abuses in El Salvador. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Carter Administration, Pat Derain, called FCF’s dinner “bizarre and ludicrous. It would be intriguing to know what aspect of his person they are honoring. His efforts to overthrow his own government? His leadership of death squads?” During the 1980s, the foreign policy wing of FCF actively supported the Contra rebels in Nicaragua and the South African apartheid-backed RENAMO rebels in Mozambique, and even provided political training to the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. RENAMO is accused of killing over 1,000,000 civilians in Mozambique. Free Congress Foundation was a supporter of rabid homophobe Dr. Paul Cameron. Cameron wrote that common gay sex practices include the insertion of gerbils into the rectum, the consumption of human feces and urine, and sex with minors. His false claims included an assertion that less than two-percent of gay men survive to old age. Free Congress Foundation began distributing Cameron’s literature as early as 1983. In 2002, FCF published a mock interview between the FBI and a prospective Muslim recruit that disparaged the Islam faith by suggesting—amongst other things—that all Muslims are required to kill members of other faiths. In December 2001, FCF asked Congress to retract a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service that celebrated the Muslim Eid holiday.
Again, those are just a few of the (heinous, despicable, shameful) things the Free Congress Foundation – the organization that Jim Gilmore took the helm of in 2009 – has been involved with over the years. Has Jim Gilmore ever denounced any of this sordid organization’s past? Not at all. In fact, to the contrary, Gilmore has praised the Free Congress Foundation for having “blazed the trail for many conservative themes,” while vowing “to continue that leadership.” Jim Gilmore: a fine addition to the NRA board, no doubt.