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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jared Lee Loughner's reading list

 by John MacBeath Watkins

The suspect in the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others, killing six, listed his favorite books on his You Tube page.

"I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno."
Notice the past tense.  This makes me think he expected to die when he committed his crime.  He also says "I attended school" and "My favorite interest was reading, and I studied grammar. Conscience dreams were a great study in college!"

A man who puts both the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf on his list of favorite books is not aligning with the left or right, he is aligning himself with the most murderous regimes in history.  Both ar books about the overthrow of government, though their authors had different goals in overthrowing it.

I suspect Loughner's political views were not coherent enough to belong to left or right, but was sufficiently disturbed to be affected by the hateful rhetoric that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has condemned.

The fact the alleged shooter was a nut doesn't let people who have poisoned our politics off the hook.

Perhaps we need a counter reading list.  I'd start with Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

8 comments:

  1. The mentally ill are susceptible to cultural imagery. Remember Rupert, who used to come in to the Wallingford store? He'd pick through the trash cans and if he found so much as a gum wrapper, he'd chastise us for failing to recycle. Was (is?) Rupert a fair representation of an environmentalist? For that matter, was Ted Kasczynski? I suspect that the coarsening of political discourse is both a cause and an effect here, and predictably, there is a rush to push the wrong-doer into the opposite political camp in an effort to gain political traction. Dunno what can be done to detoxify our politics...most of us don't have the patience or education for the Lincoln Douglas debates! Good post, John. Bridget

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  2. A man who reads both the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf is NOT "aligning himself with the most murderous regimes . . ." Many people have read both. I've read both and I'm not aligned. I read because I'm curious, not aligned. He also read Peter Pan and Aesop's Fables. What "alignment" do you posit for readers of The Old Man And The Sea"?

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  3. Hold on. I've read most of those books myself! I wonder if the reading list really has anything to do with this man's state of mind. Where in Alice in Wonderland did he find the inspiration to kill? Where in Gulliver's Travels? Wizard of Oz? Aesops FAbles?

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  4. Backbone, he did not say he merely read Mein Kampf, he said it was one of his favorites. Is it one of yours? I suspect not. His list of favorite books was intended to say something about himself. What do you think he was telling us?

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  5. No, I haven't, but have heard of it. Paranoid, you say? I'll check it out. Hitchens wrote an interesting essay this week about political violence, justified and unjustified. Would be interested to hear your take on it. Bridget

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  6. I'll have a look at the Hitchens piece. Did you know Locke was implicated in the Rye House plot? He fled to France. He also published the Two Treatises on Government anonymously, because it included the view that subjects had the right to rebel. Have you read my 'Locke was wrong' post? I wonder if you'd like to read the essay I've been working on.

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  7. I found Mein Kampf pretty unreadable, and I tried a couple of times. I understand it flows better in German. The most interesting thing about that screed is its symbolic nature; when you say you have 'read' it, that it is one of your 'favorites, it means you hold to its cultural beliefs; a belief in White Supremacy, racial destiny, and a hatred of Jews individually and as a race. That the congresswoman is a Jew cannot be overlooked.
    ...a rumor is going around that Jared is Jewish, well, Hitler might have been too. A lot of evidence was burned. Jewish blood does not prevent Jewish hatred - it is a strange disorder.

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