“I have a real hard time believing that J.T. Ready could actually shoot and kill a child.”
—Harry Hughes, region director of the National Socialist Movement
onservatives don’t much like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which does the country a favor by keeping track of America’s haters.
One hater the group was tracking was a man named Jason Todd Ready, who specialized ”in bashing immigrants.” Here is just a snippet of his profile on SPLC’s site:
After being court-martialed twice, Ready was discharged from the Marines for bad conduct in 1996. Ready, who has run for various Arizona offices usually without success, advocates for the placement of landmines on the border and rails against Jews and nonwhites. In June 2010, Ready led a group of armed extremists into the Arizona desert to apprehend immigrants and drug smugglers.
His criminal history apparently began in 1992 when he was arrested for “damage to property and aggravated assault with a weapon,” and his two courts-martial involved “failing to follow an order or regulation, and larceny and wrongful appropriation,” as well as “conspiracy, assault, and wrongful solicitation and advice.” All of that plus this:
In 2007, Ready was pulled over for driving a vehicle with a fake license plate. He was carrying a 9mm Beretta handgun at the time. Ready was arrested and charged for possessing a traffic preemption emitter, which is an illegal device that can change traffic lights from red to green.
So, you can see Ready was not exactly a model citizen. And by now you probably have heard this news:
On Wednesday, police said, Ready, a burly 39-year-old who went by “JT,” shot and killed four people, including a 16-month-old girl, in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert where he lived. He then turned the gun on himself.
But there is a little more to the story than just another bewildering and heartbreaking case where a man with an affection for guns and little affection for mankind went off and killed innocents.
With Ready’s background, it is at first glance very difficult to understand why Arizona’s former state Senate President Russell Pearce at one time had a relationship, if not outright fellowship, with him. But when one thinks about it, the attraction becomes obvious.
Russell Pearce is a Republican whose time as Chief Deputy Sheriff under Maricopa County’s infamous Joe Arpaio made him the perfect guy to help bring shame upon Arizona for, among other things, the state’s adoption of SB1070, an intrusion into the fed’s immigration jurisdiction, at least according to a lawsuit filed by the Obama administration.
And to give you an idea of why Pearce and J.T. Ready may have hit it off, here is what Pearce said, as he described the Administration’s legal action over SB1070:
When you talk about jihad, that is exactly what Obama has against America, specifically the state of Arizona. Think about it. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a sitting President has sided with a foreign government to sue the citizens of its country. For defending our laws? For defending and protecting the citizens of the state of Arizona? It’s outrageous and it’s impeachable.
Jihad. Obama has a jihad against Arizona and America. Impeachment.
A disagreement over immigration law is, in the mind of Pearce, signs of an anti-American holy war perpetrated by our own president. That insight into Pearce’s thinking, coupled with the bold, extremist politics generally practiced by the right-wing today, makes it fairly easy to connect the dots and explain why a man as sick as J.T. Ready was at one time welcomed into the Arizona GOP.
As the SPLC notes, Ready’s attempt at a career in politics began in 2004, as he ran for a state House seat. He lost, hopefully because of statements he made like this one:
He told a reporter that the state could improve its education system if it would “deal with this mass illegal influx of foreign students who do not even embrace the same language and culture as Americans and who spread tuberculosis, whooping cough, lice, and other third-world biological diseases to other children.”
John Rudolf at HuffPo wrote:
Ready served for several years as a Republican precinct committeeman in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, and Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican and former Arizona Senate majority leader, endorsed Ready’s run for Mesa City Council in 2006, which he lost. The two were linked over their shared opposition to illegal immigration.
And even though Pearce denies it now, there is plenty of evidence to show that he was more than just a duped acquaintance who is being victimized by a hostile press determined to connect him to a sociopath.
Stephen Lemons of The Phoenix New Times, objected to Pearce’s claim he didn’t know Ready all that well. Lemons wrote:
Indeed, the pair once were so close that Pearce attended Ready’s baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 2004, Pearce ordained Ready an elder in the church’s Melchizedek priesthood, an office held by adult men of the Mormon faith.
I don’t know much about the Mormon’s Melchizedek priesthood, but I do know that they don’t take such activities lightly and it would be a big deal to ordain someone in the LDS church in any capacity. Mormons mean business with those kinds of things.
In fact, as Lemons reported,
According to LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah, the person being ordained gets to choose who will ordain him. She explained that often a young man will choose his father to do the ordination.
So, Ready’s choice of Pearce meant something. And that ordination was in 2004, around the time that Ready’s political adventures—with his dramatic expressions of white cultural angst— began, so it’s not like Pearce didn’t have a clue about Ready’s admittedly evolving hatefulness.
And we have this from the Anti-Defamation League:
In April 2007, a local newspaper exposed Ready as a neo-Nazi after his profile on NewSaxon, a white supremacist social networking site, was revealed. Even after being “outed” as a neo-Nazi, Ready continued to make public appearances, including sharing the podium with State Senator Russell Pearce during an anti-immigration protest at the Arizona State Capitol in June 2007. The protest attracted a crowd of approximately 350 people, many of whom cheered for Ready.
The SPLC quoted something Ready said at a neo-Nazi gathering in Phoenix in December of 2007:
The truth is that negroids screw monkeys and rape babies in afreaka [sic]. Then stupid white man who licks kosher jew rear lets negroids in. … Stop Negroid immigration and integration now!!! Nature will take care of the rest
So, if all this is true, it is clear that Pearce was not so quick to judge Ready as “darkness took his life over.”
Now, it is important to say that Russell Pearce is not responsible for what J.T. Ready did. Neither is the Republican Party in Arizona. And it is only fair to note that Ready’s pathology apparently worsened over time. Indeed, some important conservative leaders in the party did eventually object to Ready’s status as a Republican precinct committeeman in 2008, albeit a long seven months after, as the ADL pointed out, “Ready handed out racist and anti-Semitic literature at a Republican Committee meeting.”
But here is the point, beyond the mere sadness of Ready’s latest crime: This disturbed individual—and the signs of his derangement were everywhere—found at least a temporary home on the ground floor of a political party that too frequently has offered itself as a refuge for people who love lots of guns and ammo and who believe some variation of what J.T. Ready said in 2009:
This is a white, European homeland. That’s how it should be preserved if we want to keep it clean, safe, and pure.
If the Republican Party wants to right itself, if it wants to demonstrate to Americans that it will not tolerate even the faint smell of someone like J.T. Ready, then it should use this tragedy as a way of reevaluating some of its most extreme cultural rhetoric—expelling Pat Buchanan from its ranks would be a good start—and reconsidering some of its most outrageous positions on gun rights.