The Reader’s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.
Art Jones, a white supremacist, anti-Semite, and Holocaust denier is running for Congress this year, as he has done seven times before. This year is different because he’s actually won the primary, by default, since no Republicans are opposing him.
Jones didn’t just come from nowhere. He’d already had a lengthy history of white supremacist activism by 1994, when he sat down with the late Grant Pick, who Michael Miner called “the writer who best defined this paper,” for a lengthy profile, “Bigot for Hire: Nobody likes a Nazi, but Art Jones has found his niche.” He’d been a member of the National Socialist White People’s Party (NSWPP) since the mid-70s and had already run for Congress several times and for mayor of both Chicago and Milwaukee and had altercations with Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer.
“Some neo-Nazis resort to violence,” Pick wrote, “but though Jones has had his share of altercations and gets blustery with ease, he’s basically a propagandist. He puts out a newspaper, maintains a hot line, participates in demonstrations, and appears on TV talk shows. ‘I’d be a fool if I didn’t take every opportunity to get my ideas before the people,’ he says.”
Pick’s story was remarkably measured considering the subject matter. Then again, he didn’t need to resort to any high-flown rhetoric to convince his readers that what Jones believed was evil. Jones did that quite well enough himself. Most of their interviews took place over coffee and pie at a diner near Jones’s home on the southwest side, and he did not mince words about his hatred of blacks, Jews, gays, and Asians. He didn’t censor himself after Pick revealed that he, himself, was Jewish.
“I am capable of making a distinction on the basis of individuals,” Jones told him.
“But even though I might like you personally—and I do—if it came to a question of making an exception for you, I wouldn’t, because what if everybody had his own favorite Jew or favorite black? Like Goebbels said, if everyone had a favorite Jew, we wouldn’t get rid of anyone. If you’re lucky you’ll get kicked out of the country. If you’re not lucky you’ll end up dead. But you’ll pay in hell, anyway.”