Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let Me Show You What the Jesuits Taught Me: Jared Lee Loughner as Gordon Pratt

Jared Loughner has proved somewhat impervious to political analysis, but that hasn't stopped all sides of the blogosphere from weighing in on his possible partisan motives. Right-wingers point to the presence of the Communist Manifesto among his favorite books as evidence that he's a liberal. In some odious homage to ahistorical nonsense, they also cite the presence of Mein Kampf as additional evidence, but somehow manage to overlook the presence of Ayn Rand's We the Living.

Saner observers point out that Loughner's rants on secret mind-control grammar are more associated with the outer fringes of the Right Wing, and that his obsessive bimetallism is an article of faith to actual elected Republicans on the state and national level. They also note that the gunman targeted a Democrat who voted for the Affordable Care Act, a fact which the wingers only take to mean that even Democrats are murderously enraged over Obamacare.

A third faction argues that Loughner's possible mental illness depoliticizes his murder spree entirely. But this is simple evasion. The mentally ill have politics, just as the physically ill do. Loughner was politically obsessed, even if his commitments were somewhat opaque to others. He went to a political event, and targeted political figures.

That said, the combination of communism, Nazism, Randism, and existentialism, along with goldbuggery and other obsessions makes me think that looking at a list of favorite books isn't going to tell us much about him. Such a motley assortment of mutually exclusive philosophies seems more like padding than it does an actual foundation for political commitment. Most of all, it reminds me of this: