New In The Phoenix -- Arizona & The Crazies

In the new issue of the Boston Phoenix -- in print tomorrow, online now -- I write about the dangerous game Republican and conservative leaders are playing with the conspiratorial fringe, regardless of what happened on Saturday in Tucson.

Some thoughts before I send you to the article. I have tried, from the first moments, to avoid drawing any premature conclusions about the factors contributing to it. I think the questions I raise in the article are legitimate regardless; the threats against Giffords and others, and the fears leading several moderate Republicans to resign their posts, exist in reality, regardless of what is or is not in Jared Lee Loughner's head.

But I do also want to note that it's too soon to be drawing firm conclusions that the far right had no connection to this, as many seem to be doing. We simply don't know enough yet to say.

I would note, for example, a column on the Forbes web site reporting that anti-government extremism expert JJ MacNab believes Loughner's ramblings appear to come from the Sovereign Citizen movement. From the Janet Novack column:

current Sovereigns consider the government illegitimate and embrace various bizarre and elaborate conspiracy theories, including that the government was involved in 9/11. (Loughner was reportedly a 9/11 truther.)

A Sovereign believes that every individual has more rights and power than any government agency or political body, but that sinister forces behind the government have systematically suppressed this secret knowledge in order to better enslave us all as `subjects.’ Depending on the sovereign group, the conspiracy behind the government is run by rich bankers, the Federal Reserve, Jews, Zionists, the Pope, the Queen of England, or in one extreme case, shape-shifting reptiles.” Moreover, she says, Sovereigns have a fixation with words that can expose this conspiracy, which they blame for their various problems—with taxes, debts, ex-spouses, child protective services, and so on.

All of which sounds exactly like the daily ramblings and postings of Alex Jones, a 9/11 Truther who I mention in the new article, and who has in fact openly defended the Sovereign Citizen movement. [Update: also see this Mother Jones article.]

I have no idea whether Loughner was in fact influenced by the Sovereign Citizen movement, or whether that influence had anything to do with the shooting. But neither do those who have said there is no link at all.

With that, I give you the link to my latest, and look forward to your comments!

Desert Storm: Tragedy in Tucson re-opens the question of the GOP's dangerous embrace of extremists



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