NEW YORK – A National Rifle Association magazine cover depicting New York mayor and gun control campaigner Michael Bloomberg as an octopus is raising questions because the imagery has a history as an anti-Semitic symbol.
The cover of this month's issue of the NRA publication America's 1st Freedom features an evil-looking cartoon of the Jewish mayor, with a headline warning: "Tentacles!"
The eight-armed sea animal has been used as the Nazi representation of Jewish conspiracy and control, and was referenced by Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf."
Asked Wednesday about the connotations of the cartoon, Bloomberg declined to comment, saying he didn't want to add to the attention it might get.
NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner said possible parallels between the magazine cover and the historical context of the octopus were accidental. She said, "Any use of it as any sort of anti-Semitic symbol is inadvertent and unintentional."
She said the cover caption explains why the octopus image was used. It reads: "How NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg extends his reach and his illegal anti-gun tactics across America."
The NRA magazine dedicates several stories around a central theme of alarm that the "rogue Mayor Michael Bloomberg is working to bring his gun-control schemes to your hometown." The nearly 600,000-circulation publication is described on the NRA's Web site as a hard-hitting news magazine for its members.
Bloomberg's gun control campaign, which involves suing out-of-state gun dealers and continued pressure on Capitol Hill, has raised the hackles of many pro-gun individuals and groups beyond just the NRA. Many have held him up as enemy No. 1 in a battle over the Second Amendment.
David Twersky of the American Jewish Congress said he did not think the NRA was trying to be purposely anti-Semitic, but that it had nonetheless committed a blunder by not being aware of the symbol's hateful past.
"For them not to know this is really, really stupid," he said. "You take a powerful Jewish figure, and show him in a way that provokes traditional anti-Semitism, it's really unforgivable."
The Anti-Defamation League said although some may perceive the drawing as offensive, it did not believe the cartoon is inherently anti-Semitic.
"While the use of an octopus to connote anti-Semitism has been used by the Nazis and anti-Semites, and is still used today, it usually is accompanied with a very specific symbol" or other indicators that the magazine cover does not have, said ADL spokeswoman Myrna Sheinbaum.