Although this post appears about five days later than intended, the points raised here remain pertinent.
Jared Lee Loughner is the would-be assassin of a Democratic politician. He is a paranoid plot-spotter who spent a great deal of time blathering on about the gold standard, controlled demolition, NASA fakery and the use of "grammar" to control minds. These are all far-right conspiracy memes, familiar to students of American extremism. Anyone who pretends otherwise is disingenuous.
Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting spree, the right wing media infrastructure quickly repackaged Jared Lee Loughner as a "leftist."
"The hard left is going to try and silence the Tea Party movement by blaming us for this," Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote. "The left is coming and will hit us hard on this. We need to push back harder with the simple truth. The shooter was a liberal lunatic. Emphasis on both words."
This sentiment was not confined to a single nutjob -- it became the party line of the day throughout right-wingerland. From the New American
Far from being a tool of the right, it appears as if Jared Loughner, the notorious mass murderer who killed six persons last week in Arizona, was schooled in a program hatched by that American terrorist par excellence, Bill Ayers. World Net Daily reports that Loughner was a student in one of Ayers' radical education projects. And the man who ran the program, WND adds, is "a former top communist activist who is an associate of Ayers."
Turns out, however, he went to a high school associated with radicals and communists — most notably, Ayers. The school program to which the high school was attached was funded by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, whose chairman at the time was Barack Obama...
And so on. This has to be the loopiest conspiracy theory I've heard all month. Even someone as nutty as Jared Lee Loughner might have a hard time believing that Barack Obama somehow managed to turn Arizona high schools into communist training grounds.
Here's that ever-reliable propagandist for psychopathology, Jerome Corsi
Jared Loughner, the alleged Arizona assassin, may have been inspired by the radical leftist punk-rock band Anti-Flag, one of his favorite bands, according to a schoolmate who posted on Twitter.com her reminiscences about her association with Loughner.
By this logic, I must be an anti-Semite because I listen to Wagner. I must also be a neurotic Jew because I listen to Mahler.
Now looky here
LOUGHNER - LEFTIST ASSASSIN - USED GLOCK 19
Despite this headline, the contributors to the above-linked blog seem impressed by Loughner's marksmanship. I'm reminded of R. Lee Ermey's memorable line about Oswald in Full Metal Jacket
The evidence that assassin was on the left of the political spectrum continue to pile up. Friends, political ideology, religious beliefs, favorite books and activities already proved this lunatic was a progressive-liberal. Now comes word that Loughner was anti-Bush and a 9/11 Truther.
Hardly a Palin follower or Tea Party member, wouldn’t ya say?
Actually, I would
The "bombs in the buildings" mythos originated with Holocaust deniers
and conspiracy buffs who came out of the far right John Birch/Milton William Cooper tradition. Circa 2005, the meme began to infect the left, forcing the more intelligent progs to staunch the spread of the virus. When the moderators at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground put a lid on "CD" posts, infuriated conspiracists derided the "liberal gatekeepers
One of the key conspiracists pushing that "CD" nonsense is Alex Jones, the famed blowhard from Texas who is no-one's idea of a progressive. Jones originally stumped for the Tea Party, although he now believes that Sarah Palin has betrayed the movement
. While it is true that the split between Jones and Palin exemplifies a larger rupture within the conservative movement, let's not pretend that there are liberals standing on either side of that line.
"Truther" Jones also supported the ultra-conservative teabagger candidate Debrah Medina in the Texas race for governor. Medina, you may recall, famously came apart on Glenn Beck's program
because she wouldn't distance herself from the theorists who believe in a controlled demolition of the twin towers.
In fact, the tea party movement is hopelessly intertwined with the so-called "truth movement" and other strains of reactionary American conspiracism. See here
. Also see here
Tea Party Patriots for 9/11 Truth are a diverse group of non partisan supporters of the constitutional liberty and free enterprise message espoused by liberty candidates such as Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential elections.
Many of our members joined us after taking Constitution Classes with the Institute on the Constitution (iotconline.com). Most of our members are members of national truth and liberty groups such as the Campaign for Liberty, John Birch Society, GOOOH, Institute on the Constitution (iotconline.com); Restore the Republic, National Veterans Committee on Constitutional Affairs (NVCCA.net), and/or are members of various local Tea Party groups and national 9/11 Truth groups such as AE911Truth.org; pilots for 9/11 truth, the DC for 9/11 Truth, Truth-March.net, scholars for 9/11 Truth, military intelligence of 9/11 truth and many others...And that
, friends, is the truth about the truthers. Today, there are very few remaining left-wing CD nuts; the phenomenon skews sharply right.
The right-wing propagandists who have tried to paint Loughner as a liberal want you to believe that anyone who has ever had an unkind word for Dubya must be pinker than Emma Goldman. That false dichotomy shouldn't fool anyone with a triple-digit IQ. In fact, many right-wing conspiracists (Alex Jones being the most famous example) have always viewed the Bush family with suspicion and animus. Throughout the postwar period, reactionary conspiracists have often damned traditional Republicans -- yet no-one in his right mind would ever use the word "liberal" to describe these right-wing extremists. The most infamous example was provided by John Birch Society leader Robert Welch, who genuinely believed that Eisenhower was a communist.
Today, the Birchers, the Skousenites and their ideological confreres have taken over a large segment of the GOP. This takeover has created an under-recognized fracture within the right.
Fundamentalist Christians created a similar fracture when they put George W. Bush into office, because the fundamentalist mind-set is also notoriously receptive to ultra-paranoid political theories. Many of those theories target the neo-cons and the Bush family from the right
Loughner himself was a self-proclaimed atheist, of the sort familiar to Flannery O'Connor readers: The perpetually enraged God-denier whose loud, inarticulate blasphemies mask a secret longing for the blood of the Lamb. Only someone raised in a culture of fanaticism would mount a rebellion of this sort. Both Jared Loughner and Hazel Motes might have turned out differently had they lived in a community where moderation has a voice; alas, in Arizona, the ultra-right controls the mainstream media and the ultra-ultra
-right controls the samisdat alternative. When all trails lead back to the same place, confused young people have nowhere to go. Except when they go crazy, as Loughner did.
Loughner became a right-winger between 2006 and today. He had no other frame of reference.
Back in the days when I hobnobbed with hard-core conspiracists, I met quite a few Jared Loughners -- including at least one unhinged individual who, I suspect, may one day commit a similarly violent act. (That's a tale for another time.) I've seen many naive and unstable individuals make the same segue that Loughner made.
To put the matter very simply: People can become Weirdness addicts. They get hooked on bizarre political ideas. Those who have the most serious addictions will eventually turn to right-wing pushers, because they're the ones who supply the hardest shit.
That's why the teabagger takeover of the Republican party is so dangerous. Today, one can no longer easily distinguish the "mainstream" Republican party from the underground culture of paranoia addiction. The modern GOP has become the party of conspiracy, both in its willingness to exploit fearmongering (example: Glenn Beck) and in the actual practice of dirty tricks (example: Karl Rove).
The most insidious forms of deception involve the rewriting of history. From Alex Jones' site
In a Tweet, fellow student Caitie Parker said the accused gunman was “quite liberal” and a “political radical.” He listed Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Marx’s Communist Manifesto as his favorite books.
But it was not simply leftist radicalism and worship of diehard socialists like Marx and Hitler that motivated Loughner.
Even more reprehensible is this
The Associated Press didn’t want to use Adolf Hitler’s or Karl Marx’s name, since these are the heroes to those on the left who have a fondness for Socialism and Marxism.
I have cited but two examples; one can find many more.
Apparently, right-wingers believe that you'll find swastikas and pictures of Der Fuehrer at any given left-wing gathering. In fact, you're much likelier to encounter that kind of imagery at a gun show in Utah -- as I once did.
(Conservatives never mention that Loughner's reading list also includes a seminal work by the vile Ayn Rand, who has become a Tea party goddess.)
For decades, the John Birch Society has pushed the notion that Nazism was a form of communism. Neo-Bircher Glenn Beck has tried very hard to make this notion mainstream -- and he has had an appalling success.
What astounds me is not the ignorance of the young, but their jack-ass certainty about the things they know that just ain't so. If much of our population no longer finds Hitler locatable on the right, then all dialogue has become impossible. One cannot debate the mad.
In a later post, I suppose I'll have to demonstrate why Beck is wrong. I'll have to point out that Hitler was never a socialist (despite the name of the party he commandeered), that Nazi brownshirts and other Freikorps thugs routinely beat and assassinated leftists, and that the Nazi movement was funded by the fiercely anti
-socialist Henry Ford. I'll also have to demonstrate that the Birch movement itself grew out of the pro-Nazi segment of the American right of the 1930s -- and that, to this day, the Birchers idolize Henry Ford, Hitler's paymaster. Birchers invented the "Hitler was a socialist" canard in order to camouflage their own Nazified origins.
Yes, I'll have to write a post like that. More than one.
But, frankly, the task is infuriating.
I used to have an entire floor-to-ceiling book case filled with works about Nazism. Each and every one of them
was written by historians who understood Hitler as the ultimate exemplar of radical revanchist conservatism. Alas, nowadays one must argue with nearly-illiterate ninnies who would rather eat Vegemite on cowcrap than read a book by Shirer, Heiden, Toland, Bullock, Waite or Infield. This smug new generation prefers to get what it is pleased to call "history" from fruitcakes like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.
Being asked to prove that Hitler was a right-winger is like being asked to prove that water is wet and the sun is hot. It's galling