There Is Yet No Loughner / Far-Right Connection

by Daniel Foster

It is worth stating again that there is at present no — zero — evidence that purported Tucson shooter Jared Loughner was affiliated with any tea party group or other mainstream conservative cause. But nor is there any reason to think that Loughner was aligned with even far-right or radical political causes. 

The basis for speculation that Loughner had a right-wing political connection stems from:

1) A Fox News report that DHS had established a connection between Loughner and the white-supremacist group American Renaissance. 

2) This from the New York Times:

Some people who study right-wing militia groups and those who align themselves with the so-called Patriot movement said Mr. Loughner’s comments on subjects like the American currency and the Constitution, which he posted online in various video clips, were strikingly similar in language and tone to the voices of the Internet’s more paranoid, extremist corners.

In the text on one of the videos, for example, Mr. Loughner states, “No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver.” He also argues that “the current government officials are in power for their currency” and he uses his videos to display text about becoming a treasurer of “a new money system.”

The position, for instance, that currency not backed by a gold or silver standard is worthless is a hallmark of the far right and the militia movement, said Mark Potok, who directs research on hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“That idea is linked closely to the belief among militia supporters that the Federal Reserve is a completely private entity engaged in ripping off the American people,” Mr. Potok said.

But Mr. Loughner also posits in his Web postings the idea that the government is seeking to control people through rules and structure of grammar and language.

This is similar to the position of David Wynn Miller, 62, a former tool-and-die welder from Milwaukee who describes himself as a “Plenipotentiary-judge” seeking to correct, through a mathematical formula, what he sees as the erroneous and manipulative use of grammar and language worldwide. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers Mr. Miller a conspiracy theorist, some of whose positions have been adopted by militias in general.

“The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” Mr. Loughner said in a video. He also defiantly asserted, “You control your English grammar structure.”

Mr. Miller, in an interview, said the argument sounded familiar. “He’s probably been on my Web site, which has been up for about 11 years,” Mr. Miller said. “The government does control the schools, and the schools determine the grammar and language we use. And then it is all reinforced by newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and everything we do in society.”

Except the reporting on (1) is false, according to a DHS official who told Greg Sargent that “We have not established any such possible link.” And a leader at American Renaissance says he’s looked at his subscription logs and conference attendance for the last twenty years and finds no record of Loughner.

As for (2). Where to begin? How about with the Times’ sources. First there’s Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lest we forget, is an organization that just labeled immigration restrictionist groups “hate groups” and issued an “alert” to law enforcement officials nationwide to fear for their lives when pulling over vehicles with right-wing bumper stickers.

Potok has a much sharper analytical mind than I, and has done some mighty quick and conclusive psychological profiling of Loughner. He cuts through the morass of utter nonsense in Loughner’s statements — most of which treat the concept of “currency” as a talismanic, metaphysical, and even supernatural catch-all — and seizes on a barely coherent remark about the gold and silver standards as evidence that Loughner was moved to action by monetary policy. 

The second source — who testifies to the congruence between Loughner’s indecipherable (and ungrammatical) proclamations on grammar and a fringe conspiracy theory that sees the world as controlled by primary school English teachers – is the author of said conspiracy theory. 

We don’t yet know whether and to what extent Loughner’s motives can be said to be political. But all the early evidence indicates that “political” is far too charitable a word to describe his disconnected utterances.