Monday, January 10, 2011

Who is Jared Loughner?

An interesting analysis of Jared Loughner by Mark Potok of Southern Poverty Law Center.
At one point, Loughner refers disparagingly to “currency that’s not backed by gold or silver.” The idea that silver and gold are the only “constitutional” money is widespread in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement that produced so much violence in the 1990s. It’s linked to the core Patriot theory that the Federal Reserve is actually a private corporation run for the benefit of unnamed international bankers. So-called Patriots say paper money — what they refer to with a sneer as “Federal Reserve notes” — is not lawful.

At another, Loughner makes extraordinarily obscure comments about language and grammar, suggesting that the government engages in “mind control on the people by controlling grammar.” That’s not the kind of idea that’s very common out there, even on the Internet. In fact, I think it’s pretty clear that Loughner is taking ideas from Patriot conspiracy theorist David Wynn Miller of Milwaukee. Miller claims that the government uses grammar to “enslave” Americans and offers up his truly weird “Truth-language” as an antidote. For example, he says that if you add colons and hyphens to your name in a certain way, you are no longer taxable. Miller may be mad as a hatter, but he has a real following on the right.

Loughner talks about how you “can’t trust the government” and someone burns a U.S. flag in one of his videos. Although certain right-wing websites are already using that (and his listing of The Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books) to claim that Loughner was a “left-winger,” that does not strike me as true. The main enemy of the Patriot movement is certainly the federal government. And so-called Patriots have certainly engaged in acts like burning the flag.
See also several interesting articles on the Talk2Action site by Chip Berlet and Frederick Clarkson.

1 comment:

  1. I have no idea what the killer really thinks but do know that his classmates thought he was a real left winger. That comes, by the way, from The New York Times. So, it is not rightists only who have said such things.

    Of course, Extremists on the far left have been known to convert to the far right. Mussolini comes to mind. In fact, to the day he died he considered himself a socialist - although, evidently, he disagreed with the left wing parties of the time.

    I think we are still in the phase of information gathering. It is foolish to make claims in the dark.