Jared Loughner’s Currency Conspiracy Driven Rampage


Jared Lee Loughner, the twenty-two year old suspect in today’s murderous rampage in Tucson, Arizona, subscribed to a bizarre set of conspiracy theories that inspired his actions. Six people are dead and twelve are wounded, including Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as a result the shootings. The alleged murderer left online YouTube rants prior to engaging in violence that give clues to his political beliefs. Of course, it was chilling to see the murder attempt on a lawmaker who was included in an infamous cross hairs map put out by Sarah Palin’s “Sarah Pac.”

The Congresswoman herself ominously addressed the provocativeness of the image on cable news saying, “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list…but the thing is the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that.”

The rhetoric is immature and that of pseudo-populist fluff. It certainly doesn’t help the situation when there are unstable folks who might take its exaggerations to a deadly conclusion. That being said, trying to make sense of the political beliefs behind today’s murders takes us well beyond easy Palin bashing. For any understanding of conspiracy inspired violence, Chip Berlet is the analyst to turn to and his expertise is much valued. This is especially so when the Lazy Angeles Times runs a story proclaiming “Arizona Shooting: Mystery Surrounds Suspect in Rampage.”

Not really. Berlet has a good handle on his talk2action post, “Alleged Giffords Shooter Shares Currency Plot Obsession with Anti-Abortion Killer.” The best excerpts of the analysis are setting his actions in context of a similar a historical case:

Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Arizona shares an obsession with government currency and money manipulation plots with anti-abortion killer John C. Salvi 3d. Loughner wrote about a conspiracy of currency manipulation in text posted on YouTube. Salvi was found guilty in the Brookline, Massachusetts clinic shootings in late 1994 that left two women dead and several persons injured.

Next, Berlet gives a summary of the beliefs the alleged shooter left as clues to his mindset:

Jared Lee Loughner warned about the “current treasonous laws,” and stated he would not “pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!.” He said he could not “trust the current government because of” Constitutional “ratifications; adding that the “government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people controlling grammar (sic).”

The post ends with the most level headed analysis of the situation:

The writings of Jared Lee Loughner are an odd jumble of right-wing Patriot and anti-Federal Reserve themes mixed with rhetoric similar to that from people who are mentally unbalanced. It is too early to tell where this story will lead. It is clear, though, that aggressive right-wing rhetoric targeting Democrats as treasonous encourages some unstable people to act out in aggression or violence. This was the warning of my report Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating, published in June 2009.

It’s unfortunate that an expert such as Chip Berlet will not make the rounds of the corporate media. His informative take is essential to make sense of the mayhem today in Arizona. There’s no evidence that Loughner was directly inspired by the chalkboard silliness of Glenn Beck or the gun rhetoric fluff of Sarah Palin. Unless we learn something in the coming days, Berlet’s assessment is a good guide to go by until then. His warning about aggressive demagoguery and its potential dangers to democracy, however, is a caution that needs no delay.

About Gabriel San Roman