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SPLC blames Ayn Rand, David Icke and Others for Arizona Shooting

Aaron Dykes
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who is to blame for Jared Loughner’s bizarre actions yesterday? According to Mark Potok, anyone with even the vaguest links to his bizarre and disjointed online ramblings.

As a shocked world looks to the background of accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner for clues as to why he would shoot a Congresswoman, a Federal judge and others, Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, predictably stepped forward on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC program to paint a broad brush against the “radical” right, whom he automatically deems responsible for the shootings.

Going from the books posted on the accused shooter’s You Tube reading list, Potok deceitfully attempts to connect him to author Ayn Rand’s We The Living while ignoring Loughner’s praise for the Communist Manifesto and national socialist Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Even more outrageously, Potok excerpts a vague term used by Loughner about “conscience dreaming,” which he says he studied in college, and links it to new age speaker, British author and ‘conspiracy theorist’ David Icke, despite the fact that nothing known about Loughner has ever mentioned Icke or his work. Not only is this an example of unjustified guilt-by-association, but David Icke has manifestly promoted non-violence throughout his decades of work. Further ‘conscious dreaming’ is a term often linked to yoga practices and Eastern philosophy not “radical” right wing ideology.

Because Loughner allegedly posted statements about gold and silver-backed currency on his MySpace and other postings, Mark Potok further connects Loughner to right wingers on this point; however, it is the Constitution, in Article I Section 10, which demands that “No State shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”

Loughner’s You Tube account further includes a bizarre video titled, “How to: Your New Currency,” wherein he makes such incoherent and repetitive statements as “If I’m thinking of creating a new coin that’s in my control as treasurer then I’m thinking my new coin is starting a new currency system. I’m thinking of creating a new coin that’s in my control as treasurer. Hence I’m thinking my new coin is starting a new currency system.”

Regardless of why Loughner advocated gold & silver currency, the position has nothing to do with violent action, nor is it patently connected to the so-called “radical right.”

Potok and his Southern Poverty Law Center are searching for a broader enemy so they can demonize political opponents and chill free speech in general. Jared Lee Loughner’s actions are deplorable and disgusting, but there is no reason to believe it was motivated, endorsed or encouraged by the right wing or any other known political faction. Indeed, the motivation for the accused assassin’s shootings may be hard to pinpoint, as he has many incoherent ramblings which may add up to nothing in particular at all.

Sticks & Stones, Not Words, Cause Injury

Even if other clues about Loughner’s background– such as his being a liberal atheist, critic of ‘government-controlled’ grammar, admirer of the Communist Manifesto, of death music and abortion, or anti-semitic groups– played a role in his going overboard, it is no reason to demonize anyone else matching that background. Potok’s words are influential, and he should be more cautious about casting blame in the direction of any given political movement. Already publications like Politico and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have run with the idea that Loughner’s murders and near-fatal shootings were triggered by right wing ‘conspiracy theorists.’

Until there is evidence this shooting was caused by anyone other than Loughner himself, people like Potok should put down the blame game. Everyone recognizes that this incident was a tragedy. Alleged links to writers, deceased or otherwise, that Loughner supposedly read may factor into his bizarre background, but have no apparent connection to the shootings’ motivation, nor do they construct a comprehensive pattern. Why then would Potok seek to connect a web of right-wing rhetoric to this killer? That is the war on free speech waging in Potok’s own mind (and he has been at long before this unfortunate incident).


Aaron Dykes is frequent writer for and webmaster for He is also a videographer, researcher and editor who has worked on numerous documentaries and video reports.

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