LITITZ, PA – Driving home on a sunny, mid-October Saturday afternoon, I noticed a good deal of commotion going on in the quaint and usually tranquil town of Lititz in Central Pennsylvania. A sign, causing a number of motorists to beep their horns, roll down their windows and yell supporting praises, caught the corner of my eye. It read: “LaRouche says: DUMP John Boehner Now! IMPEACH Obama,” and it contained a photo in the lower left corner, of President Obama with a Hitler mustache.
I processed this information for the next few seconds as I continued to drive: LaRouche is still making noise? I thought, figuring he must be well into his nineties by now (he’s 92, I confirmed later on). And why are they after House Speaker Boehner and President Obama, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively, simultaneously? If this is an anti-major party rally, it might be interesting to find out more of what they propose as an alternative. Finally, I wondered, as I almost always do when an incumbent president’s non-supporter throws the word “impeach” around as if it is a synonym for “throw him out and put my guy (/woman) in,” instead, on what grounds did they think Obama had committed an impeachable offense?
With those thoughts simultaneously coursing through my brain for a few more seconds, I decided to pull off to the side of the road, park my car, and head over to the LaRouche contingent to see what the fuss was all about.
“Why impeach Obama?” I asked, as I introduced myself to the two men who had set up a stand on the side of the road, which included the “dump and impeach” sign. Before they would answer that, however, the men, upon seeing my business card – I told them I wanted to write a story – recognized my name’s roots and said aloud: “Greek,” immediately followed by “Greece really got screwed by the EU,” referring to the current economic crisis.
LaRouche spent much of his political life as what is known as a “perennial presidential candidate.” Major parties (Democrats and Republicans) typically give their nominees one chance and then turn to someone else four years later. But smaller parties and independent candidates – Ralph Nader is a prominent modern-day example – often run in numerous consecutive elections. LaRouche is one of those, having run for president in each election from 1976 to 2004.
A quintessential conspiracy theorist, LaRouche contended that 9/11 was an inside job –a failed coup d’etat against the U.S. government. Most recently, his pamphlets suggest that President Obama has been supporting a pro-Nazi regime to assume control in the Ukraine – hence the photo depicting Obama with a Hitler mustache. That, in fact, prompted LaRouche’s clamor for Obama’s impeachment. “Well, we don’t really think he’ll be impeached,” said one of the men – both of whom wished to remain anonymous so as not to draw attention to themselves and detract from LaRouche’s message. “Someone needs to sit him down, like they did with [President Richard] Nixon, and tell him ‘you’ve got to resign.’ Then, Joe Biden will be president in name, but [President] Bill Clinton really will be running the show. And he can fix this mess.” Replete with language such as “Save the United States from Extermination,” found on his Political Action Committee, larouchepac.com, LaRouche also contends that Obama is a puppet controlled by the British government, as part of their attempt to reestablish their world dominance.
LAROUCHE’S GREEK CONNECTION
“I’ll have him give you a call,” one of the men said about one of the Greeks deeply involved in LaRouche’s efforts, and spoke to me about LaRouche’s longstanding connection to Greece’s problems.
A piece on the PAC’s Facebook page, titled “Massive Looting of the Greek Population,” attributes numerous accidental drownings at Greek beaches to be suicides in disguise, by Greeks who cannot bear the current conditions but who do not want to be associated with the stigma of suicide. “People will go to the beach and drown themselves so it does not appear to be a suicide,” the article says.
In the 1970s, much of LaRouche’s inner circle was dominated by Greeks: Most important were Konstandinos (Gus) Kalimtgis (“Gus Axios” or “Costas Axios”) and Criton Zoakos (“Nick Syvriotis”), and Andy Typaldos (“Andreas Reniotis”). They were his top aides throughout that decade.
PLATONIST, NOT ARISTOTELIAN
LaRouche, a student of history and philosophy, considers himself a Platonist, i.e., “in search of absolute truth,” rather than an Aristotelian, someone guided by empirical data. Essentially, LaRouche writes, statistics lie, and Aristotelians immerse themselves in statistics, whereas Platonists like himself are not fooled.
Ideologically, LaRouche began as an unabashed leftist, embracing Marxism and railing against the Nazis – though his across-the-board conspiracy theories have pitted him against almost every aspect of political establishment, and have caused alliances with strange political bedfellows.
As we continued to discuss politics on the side of the road, every five seconds or so a motorist driving by would beep the horn, give a “thumbs up” sign, and shout “I hate Obama, too!”
Little did these conservative Central Pennsylvanians realize that this anti-Obama rally emerged not from Obama’s right, but from his left. The motorists, unknowingly, were aligning themselves with a Marxist or, at least, a Franklin Roosevelt New Dealer.
MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS
The LaRouche staffers were very polite and responsive during our talk and gave me plenty of literature to take home. I am not quite sure if that my having spent a good half hour with them on the side of the road now renders me as one of “LaRouche’s Greeks,” and I am by no means a conspiracy theorist. Moreover, though many will dismiss some of LaRouche’s contentions as paranoia, he does provide loads of descriptive information on other matters, such as his focus on Greece’s problems.
To the extent that it is important for the United States to continue to be a marketplace of ideas, with many voices and so, right or wrong, our First Amendment guarantees their freedom of speech, if LaRouche’s supporters convince us to change our minds, then should we not be grateful that they have opened our eyes? And if we dismiss their message as a whole lot of drivel, then at the very least, we have reinforced our own beliefs. Should we not, again, be grateful insofar as they have caused us to stop and think?