There are many reasons why, when people ask me where I’m based, I say, “Entirely too close to Chicago.” Most of them have to do with hating the concrete jungle. I’m approximately the only black man so inspired by Steve Irwin that he wants to go running off to frozen volcanoes in Russia and jungles in Venezuela to study animals that want to eat him. But flowering in the shadow of all those aspirational reasons is a pernicious little PITA of a briar/weed: Arthur Jones.
Jones, running unopposed, is poised to become the GOP’s nominee for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. He’s also a Nazi. Literally a former leader of the American Nazi Party. Several Republican officials have even decried him as a Nazi, which, in 2018, has to be the most overkilled canary in the coal mine.
Anti-Semitic, nationalistic, isolationist, racist, fascist—Jones is a walking bingo card of liberal trigger words—and cartoonishly so. Here, I’ve compiled some classic Jones quotes for your enjoyment:
- “Jews are the most dangerous, subversive, treacherous, sick-minded people on the face of the earth, overall. They’re communists and con artists (one wonders how they balance that). They’re the biggest slumlords in the city of Chicago. ... The man who sold us on Vietnam—Kissinger—is a Jew, and he ought to be shot.”
- “With the Jews I would be merciful. . .They’ve got their synagogues, their Stars of David—it would be nothing to scoop them up and throw them out of the country. With blacks, realistically, you couldn’t do that because there are too many of them. You should give them part of the country and say, ‘It’s your turf, your territory—run it like you’d like.’ ... Homosexuals would be rounded up and isolated from the rest of the country, in camps or in some remote region of Alaska.”
- “To me, the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket.”
- “The white race has got to do something, and fast. ... If we can’t get anywhere through the ballot box, we’ll have to resort to the cartridge box.”
- Speaking about an old Jewish friend/boss: “If he walked in this place today, I’d say, ‘Hey, Jerry, sit down.’ He was a fair and decent human being, even though he was a Jew.”
Cartoonish as he is, especially considering that he’s campaigning in a heavily Democratic district, he’s no laughing matter. I first found Jones myself when I was tracking hate groups for a piece I wrote for The Root last year. I quickly realized that he’s the only thing more dangerous than an ignorant bigot: Never far from his massive home library, Jones is that extremely well-read, intelligent and persistent brand of bigot who’s learned to filter a massive repository of research through entrenched ideology. He’s always primed to rattle off arcane references that make many people feel out of their depth and inclined to concede to his exhibition of intellectual authority. As Grant Pick, who profiled Jones for the Chicago Reader back in 1994, said of him, “At the point where you get the idea, Jones still goes on and on.”
Jones isn’t a tiki-torch-carrying brawler. He’s something more pernicious: an educator.
Jones became enamored with Nazi uniforms and memorabilia as a kid in Beloit, Wis. By the time he shipped off to Vietnam, Jones was carrying a copy of Mein Kampf. When he returned to Wisconsin to attend college, Jones joined the National Socialist White People’s Party.
He dropped out, returning to Beloit to found a local NSWPP chapter. What a reunion he had with his fam. His father, a World War II vet, came charging at men dressed like Nazis who were surrounded by black counterprotesters, only to find his son at their head. He walked away in tears, convinced that “he got into that Nazi mess in college.” His mother, meanwhile, concluded that Jones just didn’t get enough religion to make him tolerant.
In 1976, Jones ran for mayor of Milwaukee, placing third, and protested desegregation busing. The next year, he moved to the Chi and opened a new NSWPP chapter. It was a turbulent time. The American Civil Liberties Union was fighting to protect the right of a neo-Nazi group calling itself the National Socialist Party of America to march in Illinois. Incidentally, the NSPA decided against marching—but Jones’ “Cicero Nazis” swooped in to march in their stead.
NSWPP ultimately split over whether or not to support Iranian Muslim leader Ayatollah Khomeini’s opposition to Israel. Not long after the split, Jones, with help from his wife, founded the America First Committee, which the Southern Poverty Law Center still tracks as a hate group.
Since then, Jones has flown mostly under the radar, garnering small press spots here and there: marching with white nationalists at Charlottesville, Va., supporting Donald Trump, heading a meeting of the Aryan Nations World Congress, etc. He and the America First Committee metastasize from place to place throughout Chicago, popping up like a tumor at different bases of operations during election seasons. He’s run for Congress, among other offices, in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2012.
Now he’s plaguing headlines across the country and making me want to reach through my phone to slap the patriotism out of every old Trump-voting Army buddy I have on general principle.
At least he’s teaching Republicans how to improve their Nazi callouts, though, which is kinda funny. “Making America great again,” “winning” against “shithole countries” and “putting Americans first” all seem to share an ethos with Jones and the America First Committee ... spelling Amerikkka the same way.