Adventures with Extremists
“’Bloody Hollywood,’ [Tony Kaye] muttered. ‘Bloody America. I flew to the Caribbean last week to speak with a very wise man, a Nobel Prize winner, and he said that America was so bloody…so stupid…could you hold on a minute?’
“’Ok’ I said.
“I heard Tony place the telephone receiver down onto the table.
“’I don’t mean it,’ he said to someone, softly. ‘I love America.’
“’That’s fine,’ I heard an American voice reply. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
“Tony returned to the phone.
“’America,’ said Tony, ‘is a fucking amoral disgrace.’”
–‘Them’, Chapter 8.
It’s probably a measure of how unredeemably shallow I am, that in a book like Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures with Extremists, my favourite section is the all-too short chapter set in Hollywood.
Here is a book filled with such fringe characters, conspiracy theorists and oddballs as the would-be scourge of the Bilderberg Group, Big Jim Tucker; hunter of twelve-foot lizard-human hybrids, David Icke; and ‘progressive’ Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Thom Robb; as well as not-so-fringe characters such as Dr. Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland.
Yet I zoomed in on film director Tony Kaye as he battles to release his version of American History X.
Perhaps I can be forgiven, as this film is one of those that even non-movie fans tend to remember. It stars Edward Norton as a repentant racist and contains the famous scene where he forces a man to open his mouth over the edge of a pavement before stamping on his head. Everyone remembers that scene, even though the camera cuts away. It was done far more graphically in an episode of The Sopranos – but it’s the first version that stays in the mind.
I had been aware that it was eventually Norton’s cut of the film that was released and that Tony Kaye had wanted his name removed from the credits; but I certainly didn’t realise that he was so completely barking mad or up his own ass.
“Tony had been editing American History X for a year and a half. His producers were demanding he give it up. They thought it was fine already. But Tony was refusing to hand it over.
“’We’re about to drive down Wilshire Boulevard to pick up Marty, my manager,’ said Tony. ‘Marty is worried about my standing within the Hollywood community. But Hollywood should be more concerned about being in my good books than me being in theirs.’
“Tony paused for a moment. He drummed his fingers on his knee.
“’So that’s where we are’, he said. ‘Did you notice my license plate?’
“’JEW1SH’, I said.
“’I used to call this the Jewish Car’, said Tony. ‘But now I call it the Motherfucking Bigot Car’.
“’Why’s that?’ I asked.
“’Because we are all racists,’ said Tony. ‘Aren’t we? Do we not need to accept that before we can move on?’”
Tony feels that he should be surrounded by positive spiritual vibrations during his meeting. To that end he has had a Tibetan monk flown in, first class…from Tibet. He also has a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi. He was unable to get a Muslim at short notice. Oh, and he’s forbidden any of them to speak. They’re only there to provide the good vibes, although the rabbi is quite keen to push his screenplay.
No wonder Edward Norton ended up dong the final cut.
The Klansman with the Self-Help Books
Jon Ronson manages to get himself invited to spend time with the most unlikely people and for that you have to admire him.
Although, as a Jew, he really is pushing it when he turns up in the militia-heavy Aryan Nations of the Ozark Mountains.
He’s a bit more at home with KKK leader, Thom Robb, a supposedly forward-thinking Klansman who reads a lot of self-help books and reminds Ronson a little of Woody Allan. Seriously.
Thom is on a bit of a hiding to nothing. He wants his Klan members to stop using words like ‘nigger’ and ‘Jew’. He even permits them to wear their traditional robes and pointy hats only once a year, which leads to Ronson witnessing a scene which made me wonder if this inspired the similar one in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained:
“’They’re different to the ones we’ve got now, aren’t they?’ he said.
“’I believe that the hood might be a little different,’ said Pat.
“’Silk or cotton?’ said Joe.
“’Cotton’, said Pat.
“’We were using silk’, explained Joe to me, ‘but we had problems getting them cleaned. You take them to the cleaners and the niggers’ll lose them. But these cotton ones right here, you can wash them yourself.’
“’I’ve put some cardboard in my hood to line it,’ said Pat to Joe. ‘Mine’s got a kind of shark-fin look. See?’
“For a while, Pat and Joe held each other’s hood, feeling the lining, running their fingers with some tenderness along the edge of the shark-fin edge.
“I guessed then that Thom had underestimated how much his members enjoyed wearing their robes.”
Thom is big on gaining real political power for the Klan; and, like any other politician, that includes kissing a lot of babies. But has he gone too far when the rumour goes out that he has been photographed kissing a black baby?
In fact, Thom had me convinced that he was a genuine guy until a hilarious press meeting when the pointy mask slips:
“’America will either be white and Christian, or America will be what they want: a multi-racial, anti-white, anti-moral America. Pray on it. Meditate on it. Look to the most high in heaven. Who guided our people. From the very beginning. And blessed them and nourished them into a great Nation that only in the last thirty or forty years has been turned into a cesspool by faggot slime –“.
A Free Presbyterian in Africa
“’A person who doesn’t like to work, a person who gets deputies to do things he doesn’t need to do, he’s not a man at all. He thinks he’s the Pope. And I don’t think I’m the Pope!’”
Yes, one guy who never gave a toss about political correctness was Dr. Ian Paisley. If it was offensive to someone then Big Ian had probably said it at some stage. And since Jon Ronson was following him on one of his African missionary outings in 1998, it was a time when he really never gave a toss.
I’ve always thought that the late Dr. Paisley had a wicked sense of humour; so you can imagine the delight he got when he found out that Ronson was Jewish:
“A few hours’ driving followed. It had been impossible for me to attempt to pass the Paisley jeep along these tiny, rural dirt roads. But the truth was, I had forgotten all about his gentile-Jew challenge. Then, suddenly, the walkie-talkie crackled into life once more.
“’Germany calling!’ hollered Dr. Paisley. ‘Germany calling! Germany calling! Germany calling! I see you are still behind!’
“’I – um – got a bit of a crackle there,’ I said. ‘Could you repeat that, please?’
“’You got no crackle at all,’ he yelled, abruptly. ‘You got the message loud and clear. Do not tell lies. Over and definitely out.’
“Finally, just as we reached the church, Dr. Paisley crackled onto the walkie-talkie again.
“’What we’ve got is…um…we’ve got some light…’Jew’…down the road for you, so be careful not to skid if you overtake us! Ha ha! Over and out!’”
Almost all of the characters that appear in this book are convinced that there is a small, shadowy cabal who are intent on imposing a global economy through a New World Order. Only Paisley didn’t see them as Bilderbergers or Jews. He thought they were Papists.
I have to admit that I didn’t particularly take to Ronson. I admire him for what he finds out, yes; but I didn’t find him particularly likeable. He makes it his mission in this book to penetrate the secrets of the Bilderberg Group and ultimately to attend one of their secret owl ceremonies in the forests of northern California. And it is a genuine shock earlier when he names some of the characters who pull up to a meeting in a Portuguese hotel.
I found most of his extremists rather endearing –especially David Icke – in a barmy, earnest kind of way. The world would be a less humorous place without them, that’s for sure. And you know what? They may just be on to something. Some of it really isn’t all that far-fetched.
Not funny at all were the events at Ruby Ridge; and when you read about representatives of the American government shooting a young mother in the face whilst holding her child or shooting her son in the back, it’s not hard to see why some Americans no longer trust that government.
Nor did I find anything remotely funny about Muslim hate-preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, who dreams of seeing the Black Flag of Islam flying all over the world. And cheerful about taking British benefits whilst he’s planning it. Nor did I find Ronson’s obsequiousness around him anything but nauseating.
However, in the spirit of this book and this article, let me keep it light by finishing back in Hollywood, where many place the leading lights of the Jewish conspiracy. Ronson goes through the different ways in which the Jewish moguls did everything except help out their fellows during the dark days of Hitler:
“So it seems that Jewish moguls do not meet in darkened rooms except for when they are planning ways to suppress pro-Jewish movies. We are notoriously prickly when it comes to identifying with our own. Imagine Harry Cohn, who founded Columbia Pictures in 1924, meeting in a darkened room – Harry Cohn, who was once asked to donate money to a Jewish relief fund, and roared: ‘Relief for the Jews? How about relief from the Jews. All the trouble in this world has been caused by Jews and Irishmen.’”
Uh…Jews AND Irishmen?
Even Mel Gibson didn’t go that far.