American Renaissance: Was Jared Lee Loughner Tied to Anti-Immigrant Group?

Article excerpt

A Department of Homeland Security memo suggests a 'possible link' between Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and American Renaissance, an 'anti-government' journal.

A possible link between Jared Lee Loughner, the primary suspect in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and American Renaissance, the publication of an anti-immigration group, offers potential new insights into what may have caused the 22-year-old Arizonan to carry out the attack, which killed six people and wounded more than a dozen outside a Tucson, Ariz. stripmall on Saturday.

The shooting attack gravely wounded Representative Giffords and killed her aide Gabriel Zimmerman, US District Judge John Roll, a nine-year-old girl, and three others. The hail of gunfire shocked the nation and reinvigorated scrutiny of rancor and anger-fueled debate in American politics.

On Sunday, Fox News quoted a Department of Homeland Security memo that states Mr. Loughner is "possibly linked" to American Renaissance, which DHS says promotes views that are "anti- government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG [Zionist Occupational Government], anti-Semitic." Both Giffords and Mr. Zimmerman are Jewish.

American Renaissance is the publication of the The New Century Foundation, described by the Anti-Defamation League as a "self- styled think tank." The ADL, on its website, calls American Renaissance a "white supremacist journal and companion Website" that "promotes pseudoscientific studies that attempt to demonstrate the intellectual and cultural superiority of whites and publishes articles on the supposed decline of American society because of integrationist social policies."

The DHS memo quoted on Fox goes on to say: "Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of Loughner's firing frenzy, is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group's ideology when it came to immigration debate."

"When you look at Loughner's web posts, he puts himself out as half fantasy seeker and dreamer and half political philosopher, and American Renaissance, while a hate group, markets itself as a political philosophy organization," says Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, at San Bernardino.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti- Defamation League, is skeptical about any hard connection between Loughner and American Renaissance.

"The fans of American Renaissance tend to be older and they tend to be intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals," says Mr. Pitcavage. "Based on the limited nature of [Loughner's] internet footprint suggesting his thoughts and beliefs, there's nothing to lead one to think he would lean that way. It's perplexing to us that there is a notion of a substantial connection."

In Arizona, particularly, immigration issues, including the passage of a tough anti-immigration law last year, overlapped with parts of the broader tea party agenda. Giffords narrowly defeated a tea party candidate in November's election. She supported the federal health-care reform law and spoke out against Arizona's tough anti-immigration law, both counter to her tea party opponent. American Renaissance's website carries what appears to be a paid tea party advertisement featuring the "Don't Tread on Me" flag that's become synonymous with many of the movement's protests.

After the shooting, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat in a largely Republican state, condemned "the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government." But the potential link to American Renaissance frames the shooting in a different, and possibly more complex, light.

The New Century Foundation was founded by Yale University graduate Jared Taylor, the author of several books on race and policy who has has written that diversity is "dangerous" because it is "one of the most divisive forces on the planet. …