Possible Racist and Anti-Immigrant Tie to Alleged Arizona Assassin
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jan 09, 2011 at 04:02:40 PM EST
Alleged assassin Jared Lee Loughner on December 15, 2010 posted a message about "the second United States constitution" and his distrust of the current government. In another message apparently authored by Loughner on a conspiracy theory website, were these words: "Is it possible that politicians are taking advantage of the money system? It's possible to overthrow a government and change the currency."

The reference to a "second United States constitution" or a "second American constitution" on the Political Right refers to objections to the Reconstruction Amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments) especially the freeing of slaves and the citizenship right for "All persons born or naturalized in the United States."

This raises the question of a possible racist and anti-immigrant tie to the act of terrorism in a state where the issue of race and immigration has turned nasty.

According to the post by Loughner

In conclusion, reading the second United States constitution I can't trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

    No! I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!

The concept of a "second American constitution" actually comes from serious writings by Constitutional scholars and has been twisted by White Supremacists and conspiracy theorists. The claim is a core element of White Nationalism, as documented in Leonard Zeskind's. Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

Scholarly accounts of the concept of the "second American constitution" can be found in Our Secret Constitution: How Lincoln Redefined American Democracy  by George P. Fletcher and in Democracy's Constitution: Claiming the Privileges of American Citizenship by John Denvir.

According to Fletcher:

"The Civil War called forth a new constitutional order. At the heart of this postbellum legal order lay the Reconstruction Amendments--the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, ratified in the years 1865 to 1870. The principles of this new legal regime are so radically different from our original Constitution, drafted in 1787, that they deserve to be recognized as a second American constitution."

Here are the main elements of the three Reconstruction Era Amendments:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

The conspiracy theory version of the "second United States constitution" or a "second American constitution" can be found on numerous websites. For example in this post:

Exactly Which Constitution Are You Following?

    David Alan Black

    Because of Lincoln's war, the Tenth Amendment was effectively abolished, the conquered states were made into puppet governments set up by the Republican Party, and Lincoln succeeded in consolidating governmental power in Washington by military dictatorship.

    This means that Americans face a choice as to whether to defend the old Constitution or to follow the new, secret charter--that is, whether to defend the concept of a limited republic with maximum freedom for the people or to acquiesce to the new consolidated concept of power that is prone to dictatorial and imperialistic expressions.

  It is probably true to say that most Americans are firmly in the pro-big government camp.  

Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment also contains a reference to the "validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned." This is a potential tie in to the anxieties experessed by Loughner about the manipulation of currency by politicians.

= = = = = = = =

Text of the Reconstruction Era Amendments

Thirteenth Amendment

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Fourteenth Amendment

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Fifteenth Amendment

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation




Display:
He seems to be tied to no one group, and his ramblings are like from a schizophrenic in that they don't seem to be coherent. Just a jumble of things from a variety of vantage points. One that hasn't been diagnosed or treated at the time of his alleged crime spree killing. I would be interested in more information. His only central idea is that some how his target was oppressing him in some way. Perhaps a paranoid component to his delusionary architecture. It doesn't absolve him from his actions, it just may help us to understand his motivations a bit better.

by Nightgaunt on Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 01:13:15 AM EST
Yes, he is deranged. No, not everything in his writings is incomprehensible. Several of us who study right-wing rhetoric see clear phrases and views that are very familiar to us.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 09:32:28 AM EST
Parent
Chip, are there any indications of a dominionist connection, or is it all seem to be more political/Tea Party stuff?

I told the people on a message server that I'd bet that the murderer was dominionist, or had dominionist connections, but some of the things I've read in the news make me wonder about that.  (I admit that I've learned I can't trust the news - my wife has been complaining about how some of the news reports had it wrong and my own research shows how much they can and will distort things.)

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 11:52:28 AM EST
Parent




Helpful insight

by wilkyjr on Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 09:17:02 AM EST
The desire to separate Loughner from politics does a disservice to our national discussion on civil discourse. The fact he's clearly insane does not exclude the content of his obsessions and their sources. Chip has shown the links between Loughner and extremist rants, between Loughner's actions - shooting people - and avowed rightwing tactics. This makes very clear that deeply troubled people can be and are influenced by the world around them. For us to try to exculpate the extremists' content and advocacy makes it more likely these things will continue to occur. People with schizophrenia do occasionally harm people, but this man was clearly organized sufficiently with a named target, a strategy, the ability to buy a weapon, and a boatload of ultra-right rant. There is nothing about this that speaks of impulse or disorganization. He did not wear tinfoil hats and mumble in dark rooms. He did not lash out at a passerby impulsively. He planned this, had a reason for it, and committed a focused act against a specific target. Thus those who fed the delusion ARE morally responsible for galvanizing him. His illness does not give them an "out" but in fact makes them more culpable since that is precisely what many of us predicted - the mentally ill will become the enraged philosophers' amanuensis. The rhetoric MUST end. America is not the Gulag, and nothing under the sun makes the ratcheting up of hate justifiable. When it culminates in the murder of children, old people, and public officials, the responsibility must be accepted.

by Churchlady on Mon Jan 10, 2011 at 12:50:41 PM EST
Parent


The points in this article help to clarify what he may have intended.  As I read through some of his postings, I noted a focus on "new currency," "English grammar," "mind-control," etc. and tried to connect the dots.  One of the common denominators of this sequence is the notion of medium of exchange, or nexus, between a buyer and a seller, between speaker and listener, and between self and others, or the individual and the collective.  His syllogisms are peculiar and seemingly tautological, which may be a function of a compromised ability to reason, so he is left to rationalize.  To the extent that he may suffer from a mental illness, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he could conceivably be diagnosed with substance-induced psychosis.  However, he could also be abusing drugs to self-medicate for underlying mental illness as well.  That he would have been vulnerable to suggestion, especially ones which might supply him with a feeling of self-importance, empowerment and control could well be anticipated from what is known from him through his self-reports on his website.  "What is government if words have no meaning," i.e., how can another entity presume to exert authority over you, if you can't even communicate with them?

by Justinteim on Tue Jan 11, 2011 at 09:46:49 PM EST

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