Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Jared Lee Loughner Case: American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor Has a Newfound Friend in the SPLC’s Mark Potok

By Nicholas Stix

It’s a funny old world.

Following the Tucson Massacre, Jewish Week Assistant Managing Editor Adam Dickter interviewed my good friend, SPLC propaganda chief Mark Potok and, judging by the favorable results, I have to wonder if Jared Taylor has been contributing to the SPLC, or has compromising photos of Mark. Or is Mark on his best behavior, now that his organization has been buffeted by heavy-duty exposés, most notably a book-length, muckraking volume of the journal, The Social Contract?

Heck, whenever I call Mark up for an interview, he ignores my messages, and if I get through to him directly, hangs up the phone, as soon as he hears me introduce myself. Where is the love, Mark?

Jewish Week: Was the suspect connected to hate groups?

Potok: I know of absolutely no connection of Jared Loughner to any groups. It seems very likely he absorbed some of the more far-out ideas of the radical right via the Internet, like this idea of the government controlling people through grammar, which is extremely unusual even on the fringe of the fringe.

The report of some internal e-mail from DHS is making the claim that he was connected to American Renaissance. All I can say is I don’t see any connection after looking at everything out there, although maybe they saw something I didn’t. It is not an anti-Jewish group; it’s an anti-black group.

JW: Aren’t such groups interconnected?

Potok: Not in this case. The American Renaissance has explicitly rejected anti-Semitism. In any case, in reading through this person’s material I did not see anything that suggested anti-Semitism.

JW: What about his citation of “Mein Kampf” in his YouTube profile?

Potok: My own take on his readings when you look at those books together [“Mein Kampf,” the “Communist Manifesto” and Ayn Rand’s “We The Living”] they’re about the individual versus the state, a tyrannical, oppressive government. That’s a weird reading of “Mein Kampf” … he is hardly an intellectual or even a consistent political thinker. My own sense is that he is mentally ill and seems to have absorbed some ideas from the radical right.

JW: Could those ideas have pushed him over the edge?

Potok: Perhaps you can say the ideas affected him and whom he killed and the target he selected. Otherwise he may have ended up shooting up an elementary school or a post office or a mall. The fact that the target was the highest official of the federal government near him means it was very likely sparked by something. Maybe the kind of words he saw on the Internet made him feel that behind all evil in the world was the federal government.

JW: Had you heard of Jared Loughner before Saturday?

Potok: We didn’t know him at all.

JW: Is there any indication that he was influenced by the tone and rhetoric of conservative political commentators?

Potok: There is nothing to suggest that.

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