Don Jr. uploaded a post on Instagram showcasing his Crusader stylized semi-automatic rifle. The gun also featured a picture of Hillary Clinton behind bars on the magazine.
The caption read, “Nice day at the range. [A]dding a little extra awesome to my AR and that mag…”
President Trump and Don Jr.’s supporters found the “Crooked Hillary” image funny, with other expressing their admiration of the AR-15. However, members of the Liberal Twitter did not see the humor, and some condemned Don Jr. and his post, calling it “dangerously hateful.”
CNN producer David Shortell, and Washington Post religion reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey reached out to experts, asking them to explain why Don Jr.’s Instagram post was particularly problematic. The focus of the reports was on the Christian iconography present on the AR-15.
While the journalists acknowledged that people could consider the Crusades a historical event and Christianity a religion, the experts did not believe that this was the reality.
Shortell referenced the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League’s warning that the “far right” had “seized upon” the Crusader symbols “to represent an anti-Muslim ideology.”
SPLC analyst Howard Graves told Shortell, “The adoption of these symbols is meant largely as a way of signaling anti-Muslim sentiment in particular, but also this notion that Christianity needs to retake western civilization.”
A theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, Robin Jensen, told Bailey: the cross can be “a symbol of self-sacrifice and divine love,” but, “this is not what you put on a gun unless you’re saying Christians have a right to kill people who aren’t one of us.”
Dan Jones, a historian based in the U.K. and author of a book on the Crusades, said: “At a time when tensions in the Middle East are running high, it’s an inflammatory time to run around with a gun with a crusader image on it.”
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, maintained that Don Jr.’s gun “sends the wrong message.”
“A cross doesn’t offend me. It’s the context. It’s on a weapon. It’s a weapon that is similar to ones used in mass killings. The whole package sends the wrong message,” Hooper said.
Don Jr.’s spokesman, Andy Surabian, released a statement addressing the controversy: “Symbols on firearms depicting various historical warriors are extremely common within the 2nd Amendment community. Don’s Instagram post was strictly about him using a famous meme to mock Hillary Clinton, as he and many others have done on numerous occasions and will surely do again in the future, so long as it continues triggering humorless liberals.”
Cole Leleux, CEO of Spike’s Tactical — the company selling the Crusader-styled rifle — wrote an email to CNN, stating: “It’s objectively silly and dishonest for leftwing groups, like the SPLC, to claim that this symbol on our Crusader model has anything to do with hate or an extremist ideology. In other words, these people have no idea what they’re talking about and should apologize for their outrageous smears.”