The Gospel of Alex Jones
You probably wouldn’t have expected this from National Review, but Betsy Woodruff delivers a dissection of Alex Jones worth of NR founder William F. Buckley:
Infowars is a misnomer. At its core, 9/11-truther Alex Jones’s infamous website is not about “info.” It’s about faith. Jones shows less interest in marshaling information to convince people of his various conspiracy theories than in preaching a theology. He’s not your everyday screed-monger. Rather, he’s an evangelist, and he’s looking for converts, and, judging by the size of his audience, he’s pretty good at making them.
Jones’s theories have sometimes gained currency outside Infowars. His website recently reported that the Department of Homeland Security was buying a notable amount of ammunition, suggesting that it was a federal attempt to raise the price of ammunition or create a stockpile for use against an armed uprising by citizens. A number of news outlets reported on the purchases. Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) led a House subcommittee hearing on the matter. And Senator Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) and Representative Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) introduced legislation pushing for more accountability on ammunition purchases by government agencies. But, as tends to be the case with Infowars’ narratives, it turns out to be a non-issue: The DHS buys large quantities of ammo to use at law-enforcement training centers, and there’s little change in the quantity purchased this year compared with previous years.
Regardless of how you feel about the DHS’s buying ammunition, this could be the year “Alex Jones” becomes a household name.
Jones stands out not for sharing disconnected theories explaining things that have happened in the world; instead, he presents a cosmology that demands full faith and adherence. If you are lukewarm, Alex Jones will spit you out.
Before we get into that, it’s important to bear in mind just how out-there unstable Jones appears to be. This is the man who, after going on a high-speed paranoiac rant on Piers Morgan Tonight about gun control, returned to his Manhattan hotel room to make a video in which he claimed to be under surveillance by hostile government agents. This is the man who proudly describes himself as the nation’s preeminent 9/11-truther. This is the man who, as Alexander Zaitchik put it in a Rolling Stone profile, makes Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck “sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft.”
Ultimately, Woodruff’s conclusions about Alex Jones are fundamentally the same as Rachel Maddow’s thoughts on the man, and that isn’t a surprise: Both women are sane people who find Jones’ conspiracism toxic and damaging. Still, its good to read Alex Jones getting hammered from the right as well as the left. Jones needs to be pounded by the Left, Right, and Center, till at last his influence is dissolved, save among the most hardened of the hard-core conspiracists (who he won’t lose but who are largely not a factor politically).