You'd think a practicing lawyer, former president of the Arizona Board of Regents, and erstwhile GOP gubernatorial candidate would possess a lick of sense. But Tucson attorney John Munger is proof positive that possession of a swell resume is no guarantee of intelligence.
Munger is the fella who recently threatened legal action against Luis Heredia, Executive Director of the Arizona Democratic Party, because Heredia called nativist hatemonger Glenn Spencer a "purported racist" and an "anti-Semite."
This, after Spencer was allowed to speak as an "expert" on border security matters before a state Senate committee stacked with Republican wingnuts. Munger accused Heredia of defamation and demanded a retraction, suggesting a lawsuit might be forthcoming if he did not.
Heredia, to his credit, told Munger to take a hike.
Interestingly, Munger did not threaten the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or myself with legal action. I mean, the ADL, the SPLC, and yours truly (along with many others), have been correctly labeling Spencer a bigot and an anti-Semite for years. Also, the ADL denounced Spencer's visit to the Arizona Legislature in even stronger terms than Heredia.
So why go after Heredia? Well, my surmise is that the letter was a cheap publicity stunt and Munger has no intention of suing anyone. When I called Munger to discuss the letter, which had been released by Spencer himself, the big-shot corporate lawyer displayed a breathtaking ignorance about his own client and about recent Arizona history.
He claimed to know nothing of the ADL's multiple denunciations of Spencer, and also pulled a Sgt. Schultz when it came to Spencer's connection to convicted kid-killer and minutewoman Shawna Forde, who was sentenced to death last year for the murders of a 9 year-old and her father in Arivaca. In fact, Munger didn't even know who Forde was. Or so he said.
Maybe Munger's just acting the idiot, but when it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, etc.
On Monday, Munger doubled down on his apparent cluelessness during an appearance on Tucson journalist Bill Buckmaster's radio show in a square off with former Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General Vince Rabago.
The Spencer flap came up and Rabago savaged Spencer for his activities on the border and for his Mexican-bashing statements. Munger, of course, defended his client, and, strangely, gave me credit for creating the whole brouhaha over Spencer.
"What started this," Munger told Buckmaster, "was I got a call from this, frankly, wacko reporter at the New Times up in Phoenix. This guy was the most unprofessional reporter I've ever talked to, and you know, Bill, I've talked to hundreds of reporters. This guy didn't want to hear what my point of view was, he wanted to try and indoctrinate me about Glenn Spencer."
Well, not "indoctrinate" so much as educate, but some noggins are just too hard to penetrate with inconvenient truths. As far as being "wacko" and "unprofessional," all I can say is that at least I'm not shilling for a Mexican-hating extremist.
(Buckmaster's podcast of the show is, here. The fun begins around 18 minutes in.)
Munger went on to depict Spencer as practically the second coming of Martin Luther King, Jr., painting the rosiest of pictures of his attendance at a crackpot conference in 2002 sponsored by the infamous white nationalist magazine American Renaissance.
"He spoke at a group back in Virginia," said Munger. "Various PhDs from Vanderbilt University, from Harvard, spoke at this same thing. He actually spoke against what this group believed in and was harassed by the crowd. People didn't like what he said. And what he was saying was, look we all need to work together to solve this problem. The border is out of control."
Thing is, according to American Renaissance magazine's account of the 2002 gathering, Spencer was well-received. And he was hardly serenading the crowd with Kumbaya, if the publication is to be believed.
Here's American Renaissance's version of events:
Glenn Spencer of AmericanPatrol.com expanded on this theme in remarks on "The Second Mexican-American War." Mr. Spencer warned that Mexican immigration into the Southwest is nothing less than an unarmed invasion to reconquer land lost in the first Mexican-American War. By failing to halt illegal Mexican immigration, the United States is importing poverty, turning California into a Third-World nation, and inviting secession. Mexican irredentists, active in groups like MeCha and La Raza, have won elective office in California, and Mr. Spencer effectively demonstrated the threat by playing recordings of inflammatory speeches by Hispanic leaders.
Although immigration apologists say la Reconquista is a myth promoted by a few Hispanic activists and anti-Mexican bigots, Mr. Spencer argued that it is Mexican government policy. Mexico is encouraging migration into the United States and promoting dual nationality in order to have direct influence on American policy. In effect, Mexico is supporting the ethnic cleansing of the American Southwest. Whites are fleeing California at the rate of 100,000 per year, but the state's population keeps growing. From 1990 to 2000, the number of Hispanics in California increased 80 percent, with no end in sight.
Mr. Spencer believes tension on the border will inevitably lead to bloodshed. He noted that Spanish language television encourages Hispanics to hate whites. Historical resentments, Mexican government propaganda, and anti-American Hispanic intellectuals have set the tinder, and all that is missing is the spark. Mr. Spencer thinks that could come in the form of a confrontation between US border agents and Mexican police or military forces, both of which have fired on the border patrol in the past. Mr. Spencer put the odds of such a violent confrontation -- followed by large-scale anti-white rioting -- at better than 50-50 by 2003.
As for Munger's contention that educated folk from Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities attended, the American Renaissance account does not mention those two institutions of higher learning, but there were people with advanced degrees present.
The publication mentions the remarks of "Professor Michael Levin of the City University of New York" who regaled attendees "with a brilliant dissection of the black campaign for reparations for slavery."
Levin didn't like the idea of reparations, naturally, and noted that, "Reparations advocates claim black poverty stems from centuries of slavery and racism, and refuse to recognize that failure is rooted in low IQ."
Oh, but it get worse.
Lecturing the crowd also was "J. Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario" who had novel ideas about the intelligence of those who dwell in Africa.
"Dr. Rushton explained the methodology of recent research on African intelligence that has led him to conclude that the average African IQ is 70," reads the account.
It later adds that,
"Dr. Rushton pointed out that it is hard for many people to accept the idea that an entire race could have an average IQ that is, by Western standards, at the borderline of retardation. He argued, however, that a 70 IQ is adequate for functioning in a simple society."
And so it goes, on and on.
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This event was hardly a one-off. American Renaissance holds them regularly, the most recent being held in Tennessee, with a similar cast of characters. You can read the publication's account of the 2012 kook conference of haters, here.
There's something quite dangerous in Munger's obtuse defense of Spencer and those like him.
Since he's a traditional Republican, he's helping to mainstream a radical nutbar like Spencer. And by pooh-poohing a gathering of pseudo-intellectual racists such as the American Renaissance conference, he does a real disservice to the party of Abraham Lincoln, Barry Goldwater, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Stupid or not, there's no real excuse for Munger's words and deeds. And if he thinks I'm a "wacko" for saying so, considering the source, I reckon I can live with that.