Phoenix house painter George Lindell says he doesn't understand why so many folks are upset by his anti-Semitic rant in front of the press pen at the Donald Trump rally on Saturday, October 29, where Lindell shouted "Jew-S.A." over and over, in time with the rest of the crowd, which was chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A." in unison.
Videos of Lindell's outburst went viral after some of the reporters present Tweeted them out. Several news outlets did stories on the incident. Lindell was quickly identified by name as the same guy who'd had a viral video five years ago after he was involved in an automobile accident. Right-wing blogs called him a Hillary plant, and the Trump campaign denounced his remarks.
But in an interview with New Times, Lindell claims it's all been a big misunderstanding.
"I wasn't saying a racist statement," he insists. "I was just saying 'Jew-S.A.' 'cause I'm from Phoenix, man, and I've got a Spanish lingo."
Lindell offered this excuse to other reporters and on his Facebook page the day after the rally, where he claimed in a post that "Jew-S.A." just happens to be how he pronounces "U.S.A," because that's how it sounds in Spanish.
"[I] always thought that was funny," he writes in the post. "[S]o [I] added it to my lingo, nothing about [J]ews, you people are paranoid!"
He also insisted in the same message that he wasn't a "Killary" plant.
But most of those commenting on Lindell's post did not accept his explanation. Indeed, the video itself shows Lindell pointing at reporters and photographers just before the Jew-S.A. chant, saying, "You're going down, you're the enemy. You're the ones working for the devil."
Lindell then starts his tirade of "Jew-S.A.," after which, he shrugs his shoulders, and says, "We're run by the Jews, okay? Yeah!"
But Lindell doesn't just pronounce U.S.A as Jew-S.A., he also spells it that way.
A September 7 post to the Facebook account for his business, Lindell Paints, states the following:
"War with Russia? Sounds like a good time to shooot amerikan democrats in the back or face! I supopport russia over any communist cuntry especially the Jew sA." [sic]
Referring to the written version of the anti-Semitic slur in question, Lindell claimed to New Times that "Jew-S.A." is "the only way you can spell it," adding, "it's a play on words."
(Since New Times spoke to Lindell, both his personal and business Facebook accounts have been taken down.)
Carlos Galindo-Elvira, executive director of the ADL of Arizona, doesn't accept Lindell's rationale.
"He tries to get himself off of one hook, then he attaches himself to another," Galindo-Elvira said of Lindell. "It certainly demonstrates his ill-respect for Latinos and people who happen to speak Spanish, so he jumps from one frying pan to another."
Galindo-Elvira noted that there has been a "spike" in anti-Semitism of late, and pointed to a new ADL report on the harassment of journalists who are Jewish or perceived as being such. The report claims that the widespread harassment "has been driven by rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign," and points to data showing 2.6 million tweets between August 2015 and July 2016 with anti-Semitic language.
In addition to Lindell's anti-Semitic statements, there are numerous comments to online articles — under the name of his business "Lindell Paints" and featuring his company's logo — that are patently racist. For instance, in response to a video on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website Infowars.com, "Lindell Paints" posted several racist comments about African-Americans, using the n-word, such as "[N]iggers were slaves for good reason, there is no need for them to live now," and, "[I]t is not murder when you kill a nigger, it is animal abuse, which is needed sometimes, just look at your own dog."
Asked about these comments, Lindell told New Times they were made by people he employs.
"I got like six people, they're all alt-righters, they do that, man," he said. "I ain't got time for that shit, I'm the boss, bro."
Still, Lindell said he was okay with whatever his "helpers" wrote under his business name.
"Oh, Black Lives Matter, and they called them niggers?" he replied when asked. "Who cares? It's a word in the English language. Do you know how popular that word was? It was the most widely used word in 1902."
He also claimed to live in a neighborhood where a lot of African-Americans live, and with whom he gets along. Pressed about the statements, he said, "I approve of what's on there one way or another."
Lindell vehemently denied that he is a racist.
"The human race is only one race, dumbass," he explained to this reporter.
Is he anti-Semitic?
"Fuck no," he replied. "Most of my customers are Jews ... I fucking happen to love the motherfucking Jews."
During the nearly 40 minutes New Times spoke with Lindell, he espoused a mish-mosh of conspiracy theories involving the Federal Reserve and the Bush family.
"You ever wonder why, in America, we had three TV stations for 75 years, from the time it was invented, to the time it was expanded?" he asked. "Because the cabal that owns the Federal Reserve also owns all the TVs."
Interestingly, Trump publicly has expressed conspiracy theories, involving a cabal of a slightly different kind. For instance, last month, he blasted his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for meeting secretly with international bankers "to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers."
These remarks were condemned by the ADL's national chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt for echoing common anti-Semitic themes that posit a worldwide conspiracy aimed at global domination by the Jewish people. Such a conspiracy is at the heart of the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which dates to 1903 and is cited by many Jew-haters as proof that such a conspiracy exists.
Lindell also has some odd religious beliefs, vaguely based on Christianity, which he shared with New Times. "You got to fuckin' turn toward God," he explained during one impassioned diatribe. "And, man, I hope you do, because if you don't, fuckin', you're my slave. And you're not only my slave, there are a whole bunch of us, we all have slaves ... Don't forget, I have like a hundred planet systems that I pretty much created."
As has been noted by several articles about Lindell's Jew-S.A. rant, this is Lindell's second time as the subject of a viral video. In 2011, he was caught on camera by a local news station after being involved in a serious auto accident. Lindell, who was unhurt in the collision, offered an animated description of the accident, coining the phrase, "Reality hits you hard, bro." As a result, he became a pop-culture sensation for a moment.
His account of the accident was set to music by YouTube artists, the Gregory Brothers, and video of Lindell was played on popular Comedy Central programs such as Tosh.0 and The Daily Show. When New Times writer Benjamin Leatherman spoke to Lindell at the time, the painter and amateur drummer was hoping to cash in on his newfound fame by selling mugs and T-shirts online and doing TV commercials.
But in a recent, sympathetic piece about him in the Arizona Republic, a glum Lindell claims not to have made dime one from these efforts to monetize his popularity. The piece reports that Lindell currently is living in a warehouse that doubles as his business address, and that his company is not doing well.
By contrast, Lindell was both feisty and strange in his conversation with New Times about his Jew-S.A. spiel. Asked about a strange hand sign he made during the rant, which seemed to resemble one made by supporters of the Three Percenter patriot movement, Lindell said he had no knowledge of it.
"That is a Satanic sign, bro," he said. "That sign goes back thousands of years. It's the sign of the fucking beast. The beast is my friend. The beast is my master, okay?"