On The Money with Peter Hebert

January 14, 2011

Sowing Confusion and Profiting from Tragedy

Filed under: Commentary — Peter Hebert @ 5:56 PM

The mainstream media narrative of the Arizona massacre opened with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, and a memo from the Department of Homeland Security. They stated that Jared Loughner was suspected to have had ties with, or had been influenced by, “white supremacists” and those with conspiracy theories about a “Zionist Occupational Government” in control of the United States. Were the narratives laid down in the early moments of the Arizona massacre true? No. Not at all. The facts show that Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, and the Department of Homeland Security are run by self-styled “experts,” who are idiotic, because they have an agenda that is not aligned with truth or accuracy.

What are the facts? Jared Loughner was not linked to American Renaissance as reported by Department of Homeland Security. He was not a returning veteran targeted and radicalized by anti government conspiracy theorists as suggested in an earlier report issued by Department of Homeland Security that enraged veterans. Napolitano stated, “We do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs.” Yet, no one paying close attention to the Department of homeland Security believes that. Why then the unwarranted public indictment of American Renaissance? That organization’s positions are outside of the mainstream, and they have a First Amendment right to not be in the mainstream of opinion. Loughner was not interested in politics according to his friends and did not vote in the mid-term elections. He was a registered Democrat and also penciled in as an Independent. He was not a patriot or “truther” given that he video taped himself burning an American flag and posted the clip to You Tube. He was not part of a take our country back militia with camouflage, fatigues, and face paint that huddled with the boys in paint ball war games or beer bottle target practice. He also was not part of the Christian right with anti abortion positions given that he stated, “No. I will not trust in God.” Moreover, he had what appears to be a ritual altar, a “devil’s shrine,” with a skull. As one of my Facebook friends said, “A heart wherein rememberance of God is absent is liable to be controlled by the Devil.”

So why might Jared Loughner have gone on a shooting rampage? He had fixated a grudge on to Giffords. Why? He asked Giffords a question, “What is government if words have no meaning?” The Congresswoman replied to him in Spanish to a question he had asked in English. He concluded that she was “a fake,” which grew into a resentful grudge for being perhaps slighted and insulted. Jared Loughner was not political. But, like the majority in America, Loughner believed that “government was fucking us over.”

Was Jared Loughner Jewish and does it matter? He allegedly listed himself as Jewish on his MySpace page. His friend Bryce Tierney told Mother Jones that Jared’s mother was Jewish. Jared is not an uncommon Jewish name. It is rarely if at all used by others. Does it matter? No. It only matters if he is Jewish given how quick Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League attempted to sow fear of white supremacists and neo-Nazis lurking in America.

Who was Jared Loughner? He was a socially isolated person, detached and aloof. He was a pot head and a drug user, who allegedly quit using drugs. He once suffered from acute alcohol poisoning. He was in court in 2007 for a drug paraphernalia possession charge. He had nothing to do with Sarah Palin or the Tea Party. He more closely resembles Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s 1951 right of passage novel Catcher in the Rye or Alex DeLarge from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film Clockwork Orange.

Is there any relevance to Jared having read or owning a copy of Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto as suggested by the “experts”? No. Anyone who wants to understand political science, political philosophy, and the 20th century needs to read those books otherwise they will remain not only uninformed, but easily manipulated by any state regardless of the nation in which they reside. Is it normal for a young person to be quirky? Yes. To want to get under someone’s skin? Yes. The issue is not the books or the dangerous and threatening ideas. The issue is that this young man never made a clean transition from adolescence into adulthood.

Jared Loughner was living out loud American Pulp Fiction as an alienated “liberationist.” Tierney, his friend, believes that Loughner thought like the Joker from the most recent Batman movie The Dark Night. “He fucks things up to fuck shit up, there’s no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn. He probably wanted to take everyone out of their monotonous lives: ‘Another Saturday, going to go get groceries’—to take people out of these norms that he thought society had trapped us in.”

Does drug use trigger schizophrenia or sociopathic behavior? Yes. Drug use can lead to mental illness. Moreover, antisocial behavior is more likely than schizophrenia as a result of drug use. Is there a relationship between mental illness and crime? Yes. The majority of those in jail for violent crimes suffer from mental illness. According to Dr. E Fuller Torrey, “A 2007 study by the U.S. Justice Department found that 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of local jail inmates suffer from mental illnesses.” Ten percent of schizophrenics become violent. With over three million schizophrenics in the country, that is 300,000 potentially violent people. Arizona has 21,000 people with untreated schizophrenia. Ten percent of murders are committed by people with mental illness. Jared was one of them.

Was the massacre predictable? No. It could have happened anywhere in the nation.

Is mainstream media-driven polarization to blame? Both FOX News and MSNBC is packed with smug and self righteous talking heads, who are paid to shape public perception – not engage in real investigative journalism. Their competitive drive for authoritative dominance leads to highly charged debate and division in America, But, there is no evidence that the distasteful mainstream media is to blame for a mass shooting.

Is the two party system with over the top rhetoric to blame? There is no evidence of gun rhetoric used by political candidates as inciting violence. Psychotic thinking and political thinking are not the same. Psychotic thinking is a break with reality. Political thinking is based on divide, conquer, poll, and build consensus. What do the polls indicate? A CBS news poll indicated that 57 percent do not believe that the rough political environment was connected with the Arizona shooting. Should we tone down the heated rhetoric? Yes. Does it create a climate of hate? Yes.

Did Barack Obama’s race have anything to do with the Arizona massacre? Did “negro phobia,” to borrow an odd phrase used by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, fuel the massacre? No. The Obama Administration’s failed domestic, foreign, and economic policies indeed served as a lightening rod that divided America. But, race and failed government policies were not the cause.

Who are we as a people? We are a nation of high talk and a lot of denial of reality. The shooter, Jared, is a lost soul from a lost family from a community that saw the signs, yet did not intervene. Wednesday, the crowd applauded and applauded. Napolitano scripted as a high priest, not as the greeter from Walmart with the smiley face, “If you see something, say something.” An empty platitude wasted on a nation out of touch with the other families in the neighborhood and schools.

Are Walmart and its customers to blame for the Arizona shooting? No one called Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps, not enough people shopped at Walmart. Janet Napolitano seems to think that Walmart plays a strategic role in the nation’s security against domestic terrorism. But, how does Walmart play a role in detecting mental illness and drug abuse?

Senator Pete Domenici (R-Arizona) was an advocate for better mental illness treatment. His daughter was a victim of this disability. I went to high school with her in the late-1970s. One third of our high school used drugs. We were the children of Congressmen, Senators, State Department personnel, and your run of the mill doctor, lawyer, and business owner. I don’t know what triggered his daughter’s mental illness. But, Domenici was an advocate for treatment of a silent and painful tragedy in many families across the nation.

What motives would Potok of Southern Poverty Law Center and Foxman of Anti-Defamation League have in propagating lies and misdirects through the media and Department of Homeland Security, law enforcement, and the public? Why would these organizations routinely propagate widespread fear about “armed Klan paramilitary forces,” “violent neo-Nazi extremists,” “skinheads” and the like? In the minds of people like Potok and Foxman, the world of non-Jews harbors a population of rabid anti-Semites and neo-Nazis beneath the surface of civility. Why? These organizations always do what they do best: sow confusion and profit from tragedy.

Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League purport to serve as a watch dog to protect Jews and Americans against hatred. But, is this true? No. If the perception of anti-Semitism, hatred, and bigotry can be created and sustained, the contributions come in. These organizations are funded by contributions. In 2000, Southern Poverty Law Center pulled in $44 million in contributions from the victims of their fear mongering. In 2009, Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual contributions had dropped to just $3.2 million, but it had accumulated $200 million in assets. Were these organizations at the forefront of racial profiling and housing discrimination issues in connection with mortgage lending and the foreclosure crisis? No. Why? How do you get the bankrupt with no assets to send in a check? It’s not going to happen. The checks come in from the middle class and affluent, some of whom are Jews, who have been victimized by Potok and Foxman’s unwarranted fear mongering.

Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League advance self-serving propaganda and anti-American interests that undermine freedom of speech. Southern Poverty Law Center recently objected to Public Broadcasting Service in Denver for broadcasting a documentary film about FEMA camps – an issue with its genesis in Oliver North’s Congressional testimony when Reagan was President. The Anti-Defamation League has a record of objecting to stations like the Public Broadcasting Service for airing programs that are critical of Israeli policies that have an adverse impact on Palestinians. Critics of the Anti-Defamation League have also pointed to Islam-o-phobia in America as being rooted in some of its statements to the press. Political opponents have been routinely labeled “anti-Semites.” Are they Jew haters? No. They are advocates for free inquiry and free speech. Some members of the Anti-Defamation League were on the watch list by the United States government after World War II. As recently as the 1990s, police raids took place on their offices in California for theft of police records.

Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League smear Americans, like people in Arizona, as haters and racists for wanting immigration laws enforced. What could be the motive for this? Could Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League represent corporate interests that want a North American Union or a New World Order run by bankers and corporations? I don’t know. What I do know is that these two organizations are frauds, should be repudiated and discredited.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC blamed Palin. Democrats blamed guns. Glenn Beck of FOX News blamed truthers. Hillary Clinton while in the Middle East blamed “extremists.” Anti-Defamation League blamed those with “a distrust of government.” Southern Poverty Law Center blamed “white supremacists” and readers of Ayn Rand. Homeland Security blamed American Resistance. No one blamed heavy drug use, mental illness, isolation, and alienation. What should we conclude? All of the “experts” are idiotic and liars.

The memorial service on Wednesday served to respect the dead; and comfort the survivors, wounded, and grieving nation. The heroic were honored. Yet, there was much that was out of place. Elected and appointed officials, not clergy, served as readers of the liturgy with readings from the Old and New Testaments. Was there anything wrong with that? Yes and no. Cheering college students and applauses gave us the impression that America is populated with social and emotional misfits, who were out of step with what should have been a solemn assembly. We were puzzled by what struck us as really bizarre and inappropriate responses given a shooting spree massacre and assassination. I don’t think members of government should act as our high priests reading from the Old and New Testaments, and I think the American Civil Liberties Union should stay out of the matter. It’s inappropriate for our elected and appointed government representatives to cross into a sacred sphere in that I would rather have seen a rabbi and a priest handle the service. Janet Napolitano’s reading of Isaiah was moving, but her self-branded image as the mascot for Walmart detracted from the message.

What were the proposals from Congress? It was not a law requiring members of Congress to not answer in Spanish when the question is posed in English. It was not a law to encourage faith in God or respect towards religion as a civilizing force for good. It was not a law requiring Americans to turn off the television and spend more time with the neighbors. It was not better mental health care programs and outreach for the untreated. It was not a say no to drug abuse campaign. It was not a drug rehabilitation program.

It was paranoid. Restrict the size of a gun clip. Yet, just one bullet is enough to cause a national tragedy. It was self serving. Restrict gun owners with a weapon to 1,000 feet from an elected official. And, what about every one else? Jon Stewart’s response was not only mocking of the small mindedness of some in American government, but more clever. Were members of Congress giving in to fear as suggested by Stewart? I don’t think so. I think Congress was doing what it knows how to do best – being pig headed and stupid to continue to anger the majority of Americans.

What was the public reaction? Sales of handguns, especially the Glock, experienced a nice upward bump. The public uses the same logic as all governments around the world. If the other side has five tanks, we will have ten tanks. If the other side has five fighter jets, we will have ten that fly higher and faster. Is the public naive, fearful, or simply wanting to be prepared given the intelligence data? On the surface it would seem the public response is odd, but it is not given that the wisdom of crowds is far wiser than the wisdom in the halls of Congress.

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