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Meet Alex Jones

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For such an angry guy, the barrel-chested Jones is a surprisingly jolly presence. Off-air, his gravel-pit voice softens to crack jokes with his young staff, dote on his wife and three kids, and take chatty calls from his 86-year-old grandmother. Jones is always talking about how boring and conventional his life is. He attends a Methodist church on Sunday, blushes at profanity and likes to take his family hiking on the 193 miles of trails that crisscross Austin. Any rage left over from his show appears reserved for the black Dodge Charger he guns down Austin's highways, 450-horsepower engine roaring, speakers pumping old-school rap, heavy metal and classic country.

"People think I'm depressive and angry, but it's the opposite," Jones tells me over margaritas at his favorite Mexican joint. "My life is a love letter to humanity. What the globalists do is a hate letter, a curse."

The restaurant, like many of Jones' favorite spots, is located in South Congress, an artsy neighborhood featured prominently in Slacker, director Richard Linklater's 1991 ode to Austin's eccentrics. Here, in the self-proclaimed world capital of live music and conspiracy culture, Jones is part celebrity, part mascot. During lunch, a stream of teenage and twentysomething fans approach Jones to shake his hand and thank him. "Aw, you're sweet," he tells the girls; "Thanks, buddy — what's your name?" he asks the guys.

"My one weakness is enjoying my long enemies list," he says, after posing for a picture with a young fan who looks like she just stepped out of a Suicide Girls pinup calendar. "I don't get off on being famous."

Critics of Jones often focus on the question of whether his narrative of evil is responsible for inciting violence. Last July, an ex-convict named Byron Williams was arrested following a gun battle with California police. Williams, an Alex Jones fan, was allegedly on his way to shoot up the Tides Foundation, a liberal nonprofit that had been targeted by Glenn Beck in repeated rants. To hear Jones tell it, such vio­lence is really the fault of the New World Order — and victims like Gabri­elle Giffords are essentially collateral damage.

"Some unstable people are drawn to the bright flame of enlightenment that is so-called 'conspiracy culture,'" Jones says. "Some trees are going to become uprooted in a storm like this. But we can't stop telling the truth for fear of what telling the truth is going to do. If we do, then human life as we know it is over and we're just Prozac-head automatons."

When I press Jones on how he would respond to a violent attack on one of his boogeymen, the Council on Foreign Relations, he once again implies they would have it coming. "I strongly believe in nonviolence and have protested the Council on Foreign Relations with a bullhorn because it's the most effective thing to do," he says. "But if someone attacks the globalists at the CFR, it will be a manifestation of all the evil they've been part of — the corporate neocolonialism, the bombings of villages." Evil, as he sees it, begets evil. "I don't want anybody to attack the CFR," he insists. "But it's up there in the hierarchy. We'll all be judged."

Jones was born in Dallas in 1974, the descendant of two lines of Texas frontiersmen. He describes a childhood that will disappoint those searching for the Freudian roots of his crusade. His parents, a dentist and a homemaker, raised him with love in the manicured suburb of Rockwall. "I was the all-American kid with a great family," he says. "I read Time-Life books, played football, was friends with everybody."

Home life was intellectual, but not overtly political. "My parents were careful not to give me political views almost as an experiment to see what I'd turn into," he says. "The closest thing to a childhood political training was some neighbors who were members of the John Birch Society. They'd come over for dinner and I'd be exposed to those ideas, starting at around age two."

It was in high school that Jones discovered a corrupt, Blue Velvet underbelly to his town. At weekend parties, he watched as off-duty cops dealt pot, Ecstasy and cocaine to his friends. "A truck would appear, sometimes with a guy still in uniform inside," Jones recalls. "Then, on Monday, they'd have D.A.R.E. and drug-test us for football." Jones, a young var­sity lineman, did not appreciate the irony. "I was like, 'You want to drug-test me, when I know you're selling the stuff?' I called them the mafia to their face. At the time, I didn't know anything about CIA drug-dealing."

Things came to a head during Jones' sophomore year, when he was pulled over while driving without a license, a six-pack of beer under the passenger seat. Jones told the cop he was corrupt and had no right to enforce laws. "They brought me to jail," Jones says. "Afterward, one of the cops told me to wise up, or they'd frame me and send me away." The following week, his father was so spooked that he sold his dental practice and moved the family to Austin. A few months later, Rockwall County's sheriff was indicted on organized-crime charges.

For Jones, the encounter with state hypocrisy was transformative. "The Rockwall cops were lowbrow thugs, and Alex was a hell-raiser," says Buckley Hamman, a cousin who grew up with Jones. "The conflict with the cops started Alex down the road of his current pursuit."

In Austin, Jones quit football and smoking pot ("It made me paranoid"), and began consuming history: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. "I started understanding that governments have been staging terror and dealing drugs throughout history," he says. "The whole program was there."

The most enduring influence, though, was a 1971 bestseller he found on his father's bookshelf: None Dare Call It Conspiracy. Authored by Gary Allen, a spokesman for the John Birch Society, the book provided the cornerstone for New World Order conspiracies. According to None Dare, the federal income tax is nothing but a plot by a cabal of megarich "insiders" who work to suck the middle class dry and transfer its wealth to the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. As a teenager, Jones read the book twice. "It's still the easiest-to-read primer to the New World Order," he says.

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