Antigovernment conspiracy theorist Alex Jones seems finally to have crossed the Rubicon of race. Earlier this month, the man who may have done more than any other to popularize “truther” theories about government complicity in 9/11 declared that the U.S. government believes that “whites are the new Al Qaeda.”
The source of Jones’ race paranoia is the Department of Homeland Security’s year-old “If you see something, say something” terrorism awareness campaign. According to DHS’ website, the program is meant to encourage people to consider “behavior, rather than appearance” when considering whether to report apparently “suspicious activity” to authorities. “Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious,” it says. To drive that point home, DHS produced a series of public service announcements such as a 10-minute video released in July featuring mostly white “terrorists,” while the actors portraying citizens who report their suspicious activities are all minorities.
Jones sees this heavy-handedness as evidence of a racist conspiracy to demonize white people. “Far from representing some superficial nod to political correctness, this is in fact a deliberate effort by the feds to characterize predominantly white, middle class, politically engaged Americans as domestic extremists. It’s all part of the agenda to frame dissent against big government as dangerous radicalism,” reads a widely reposted July 18 article on his website, Infowars.
He was still railing on a month later. “Did I not tell you they were gonna switch it from Al Qaeda to the Tea Party? And now you’re seeing it, I told you. … They’re gonna rebrand the war on terror on the constitutionalists,” Jones fulminated on his Aug. 18 radio show. “I’m asking listeners out there…. What do you think of the rebranding that the terrorists aren’t Al Qaeda anymore? It’s that veteran, it’s that gun owner, it’s that farmer … it’s that white person. Whites are the new Al Qaeda.”
“I told you this was coming, I saw it in the memos that were leaked to us,” he claimed. “Now they’re going public, ‘cause they’re getting ready to start the provocateured events and the purely staged events. They’re gonna find mentally ill ex-prisoner white people that they’re gonna recruit in and lead to try to get them to blow up a school bus or something, or to bomb a federal building. And if they can find idiots, they’ll do it that way.”
It is not entirely shocking, given the internal logic of Jones’ antigovernment beliefs, that he appears to be embracing a form of paranoid white nationalism. He has for years flogged racially charged conspiracy theories such as the “Plan de Aztlan,” a supposed plot by Mexico to “reconquer” the American Southwest, and the “Plan de San Diego,” an alleged scheme by undocumented Mexican immigrants to murder all whites over 16. That’s not to mention federal agencies like FEMA, which, Jones has long believed, is plotting to intern dissidents in “death camps.”
Now, veering into racial territory, Jones may have brought a few fellow travelers with him. Last week, William Gheen, head of the nativist extremist group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), made a spectacle of himself by claiming that DHS is preparing for a “conflict” with “white America” — words remarkably similar to those from the Jones camp. Gheen added that “extra-political,” “illegal,” and “violent” methods, or perhaps even a military coup, could be the only way to save the country from the man he characterized as “Dictator Barack Obama.”
Gheen was almost immediately criticized severely for what sounded to many like a call for violence, and responded to his critics in a furious “clarification.”
“Yes, I did mention that the Obama administration, in my opinion, is telegraphing a conflict with white America or white Americans. I say this in response to the recent Homeland Security video being played across the nation titled, ‘See Something, Say Something,’ where almost all of the suspected terrorists are white and all of the people calling the police are minorities,” he fumed. “This video, combined with earlier leaked documents showing Homeland Security demonizing the Tea Party, veterans, ham radio operators, and people that like ’80s movies as potential domestic terrorists, shows a clear pattern of our own government demonizing tens of millions of our own citizens!”