It’s important for Americans to know who Arthur Jones is and what he stands for. Here’s why: Jones just won the Republican primary and will face Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski, in Chicagoland’s 3rd district in November.
An initial read of candidate Jones’ website reads right off a Middle America conservative playbook. But click “Holocaust?” and “hate speech?” and you discover an unabashed life-long neo-Nazi, Holocaust denier, white supremacist, Jew- and black-hater.
Well before the primary and to its credit, the Illinois Republican Party had disavowed Jones. But the bigot ran unopposed and gets to see his name listed on the ballot as the Republican candidate — a fact that shames our democracy and those who voted for him.
It is clear that Jones wants visitors to his website to know that his Holocaust denial and hatred of Jews is long-standing and dates back decades. He scanned and posted lurid slanders of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel, which come from crude flyers dating back decades. He also posts pictures and videos that place him at events sponsored by today’s American Nazis and white supremacists.
So how did this man make it out of the sewer and become a candidate for the U.S. Congress? Public apathy and disinterest in politics can account for some — but not all — of Jones’ support. In fact, much of Jones’ worldview reflects the ideology of a new generation of “activists” in the alt-right movement. Highly tech-savvy twenty- and thirty-somethings deploy the latest social media bells and whistles to give a 21st-century extreme makeover to the same gospel of hate that has motivated the much older Jones for many years.
It is no secret that Congress continues to disappoint, leaving many voters looking for new ways to vent their anger at the system. While we don’t have to worry that Jones will win in 2018, Americans should begin to worry about the man’s youthful spiritual heirs following his example in the not too distant future.
Think it can’t happen? Just look across the Atlantic, where extreme far-right parties have gained votes and power across Europe. They have found ways to weaponize classic hatred of Jews not seen since the Nazi era, and to denigrate other minorities, including Muslims, as they push a xenophobic agenda.
Jones may be running as a Republican, but hate in our nation’s political discourse is a bipartisan disaster-in–waiting. Evidence the virtual free pass bestowed by much of the media upon America’s leading black bigot — Rev. Louis Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam leader has made the hatred of Jews and White Americans a central theme in his speeches and writings for a half a century. And despite his vile racism, many important African American figures from Barack Obama to leading members of the Black Congressional Caucus proudly flock to be seen standing next to the dangerous demagogue.
In this era of hyperpartisanship, Americans must reestablish a no-tolerance policy for purveyors of racism and anti-Semitism in our political discourse. Progressives should be taking the lead in criticizing bigotry when it erupts from the Left. Conservatives should be the first take on overt haters like Arthur Jones and sound the alarm when the dog whistles of bigotry are sounded in their midst.
Cooper is associate dean and director of global social action for Simon Wiesenthal Center.