Hartley (right) and I at Saturday's prejudice party, pic from Arizona.indymedia.org .
A few tidbits more about last Saturday's bigot bash at the AZ Capitol. At the very end, I got into what you might call a spirited discussion with the master of ceremonies, this dood Todd "Twinkle Toes" Hartley, editor and chief bottle washer over at PHXnews.com. Someone at Arizona.indymedia.org posted the pic above, which shows Hartley et moi talking with the caption, "It was a verbal fight, but almost turned physical." I don't think it was that bad. Sure, it wasn't the college debate club. It was an argument, and I enjoyed it, as I enjoy most arguments.
Basically, I just wanted to ask the twerpy, mandal-wearin' Hartley if he had any qualms about introducing white supremacist J.T. Ready along with all the other speakers. Hartley pulled out his tape recorder, taping me as I taped him. Then he informed me that he had just been asked that week to emcee, and that he hosted "the most listened to immigration podcast on the Web." (Dare to dream!) That's when I asked my J.T. Ready question.
"Today’s the first time I ever met him," he replied. "I’m given a nice list of people to introduce. I’m sure that if I spent time, and God knows I could, I might be able to find stuff on you. And if not a direct link, some kind of connection."
Connection to what -- white supremacy? Riiight. I'd stay away from those car exhaust fumes if I were you, Toddy. That shit kills brain cells.
Anyhoo, his response seems to acknowledge that Ready has an unsavory history, and implies that Hartley doesn't much care if the guy is a white supremacist. All he was doing was introducing folks, right? So I asked the following and it went downhill from there:
Me: If David Duke was on the list you’d be alright with that too?
Hartley: I don’t think I would, in fact I appreciate your baiting.
Me: It’s a hypothetical--
Hartley: If Michael Moore was on the list, and they invited him, and I am their guest, I’m going to introduce the people they invited.
Me: Even if it was David Duke, or someone like that?
Hartley: I’m not interested in falling for your bait. It’s childish.
Me: It’s not childish. It’s a very serious problem.
Hartley: Excuse me, what you think is the serious problem is ass-backwards. The serious problem is you go back to the New Times and you take one little word out of this which says, `No Todd was dodging the question. He said blah-blah-blah about David Duke.' And you know what happens? Then you start creating this uh this whole big feeling. You don’t have to make faces, you’re a grown man. This whole big feeling—
Me: I’m not making faces, I’m trying to understand--
Hartley: I know, the New Times is a little slow, so I’ll break it down a little slower for you—
Me: Not slow enough to have a neo-Nazi on stage with me…
And so it went. Hartley went on to brag that his site gets more readers than New Times, that he makes more money than I do, and so on. Not sure that's true, or what exactly that has to do with anything. But I guess it made him feel good, especially when he really couldn't argue with the fact that he had just introduced a white supremacist.
Since my initial blog post on Saturday's events, some have suggested this is a big free speech issue, which is a load of bull hockey. I would never suggest that people be denied the right to assemble and make their voices heard. However, if I headed, say, a prominent Democratic group, and I had a vocal member of some Communist organization speak at one of our rallies, you're telling me that right-wing columnists, radio hosts and the like wouldn't hop on that like a leopard on a steaming hunk of antelope carcass? Of course they would, and they'd have the right to do so.
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J.T. Ready's presence and popularity at Saturday's rally is highly disturbing for a number of reasons. He has openly attended neo-Nazi meetings (the National Vanguard's Winterfest conference last year in Phoenix), and posted his profile on a prominent white supremacist Web site. He's had run-ins with the police, fudged his military record, and engaged in what some might call vigilante activity. He himself is direct proof of what the ADL said earlier this year about the nativist movement: That it is a magnet for extremists such as Ready, and that there is significant overlap between the anti-illegal movement, and skinheads and white supremacists. Just read the comments on my 6/18 post Triumph of the Swill, and get a load of the crackpot Holocaust-denial. That also proves the point.
I mean, Sen. Jon Kyl, one of the most conservative individuals in the U.S. Senate is a "traitor" to these loonies. Todd Hartley actually called for Sen. John McCain to be "deported" during the event. Empty rhetoric, and also completely wacko. These 21st Century Know Nothings refuse all compromise. Anyone who doesn't agree with them is a traitor, and most of them are virulently xenophobic. Are they all 100% racist? No, there are also some naive types in the mix. But if they're attending rallies where J.T. Ready is being applauded and hailed, then they have a duty to separate themselves from him. And if this movement does not wish to be thought of as anti-Mexican, it should purge itself of its most lunatic fringe.
Thing is, if that were to happen, I doubt there'd be many of the goobers left.