I Served on a Jury with a Nazi Who’s About to Become a Republican Congressional Nominee

Photo Credit: Paul Weaver/Flickr

In February of 2013, I was on a jury with a Nazi.

Today, that Nazi is running as a Republican for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. The Washington Post notes that he “is all but certain to become the GOP nominee.”

His name is Arthur Jones (“Art” to his friends and his knife collection). We met when he was a spry 65-year-old and we were selected to a jury deliberating a case between two railroad manufacturers.

I remember during jury selection, the attorneys asked him what he liked to read. “History,” he said.

“What kind of history?”

“Military history.”

The attorneys didn’t ask which military.

Before long, we were in the jury box together, listening to how one train part manufacturer had allegedly used a Chinese factory to copy parts created by another train part manufacturer. On our lunch breaks, Art would unfurl a newspaper and eat in the jury room. As he read the paper, he’d offer running commentary on the stories that irked him. The word vomit foamed out of his mouth and I perked up. I flipped open my jury notepad and began documenting his various tangents.

Day 2:

Art explains that every Wednesday night for the last 30 years has been “Cabbage Soup Night.” Also, he says Israel planned 9/11.

Day 3:

Art tells us of the time his mother removed a fish bone from his father’s throat using scissors. (This is why he no longer eats fish.) He refers to President Clinton as a “crumb-bum.”

Day 4:

Relatively quiet, he only speaks up when complaining about painting shown in newspaper. “They call that art…”

Day 5:

  • “I was the first person to be attacked on ‘Jerry Springer.’”
  • “If you can’t speak English, you shouldn’t be teaching economics.”
  • Martin Luther King’s organization “ran a stolen car ring.”
  • “There were two unexploded bombs” left behind after the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • “I made Jerry Springer a millionaire!”
  • “I was on ‘Geraldo Rivera’ once.”

Day 6:

  • “I said to Newt Gingrich, ‘Listen here, Shorty…’”
  • “So then the judge gives me a big lecture on how to conduct myself in the police department...”
  • “They don’t teach cursive anymore? That’s stupid.”
  • “I was in Texas one summer and there was a plague of crickets!”
  • “Modern poetry doesn’t have any rhyme or rhythm to it.”
  • “We’re becoming a nation of zombie consumers.”
  • (To the judge, regarding our next witness) “Only one Chinaman?”
  • He said the word “doggone” twice.

Day 7:

  • “I don’t want to ruin my appetite. Wednesday night is cabbage soup night!”
  • “I was in a play called ‘The Sausage Maker.’”
  • “This comes from two FBI agents I know: They have a pill they can put in your gas tank, and it amplifies everything you say.”

Final Day:

  • “A school for rabbis owns the dirtiest, filthiest (adult) book store in Milwaukee!”
  • “Harry Reid’s son is involved in a $5 billion deal to sell our mineral rights to China.”
  • “I have great faith in the crooks running this country.”
  • Judaism “is the only religion that rips people off.”
  • And that old chestnut: “Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.”

As time wore on, I made it my mission to waste his lunch hour by winding him up. He spent more time shouting at me than eating. On the last day, he was particularly incensed about this story of an inmate suing a jail that wouldn’t provide kosher food. Art said we shouldn’t cater to inmates because “when you’re in jail, you don’t have any rights.” I mentioned that Judaism isn’t the only religion with dietary restrictions.

Me: “What about Muslims? Don’t they care what they eat?”
Art: “I’m saying it’s not the Muslims who are raising the issue. They might care, but at least they’re not arrogant enough to start demanding things.”
Me: “So do they have special dietary restrictions?”
Art: “Yeah, they don’t eat pork.”
Me: “Shouldn’t we supply them with an alternative?”
Art: “They’re not asking for an alternative.”
Me: “Why not?”
Art: “Because they don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Me: “So they just take one for the team and eat a hot dog?”

At this point, Art realized I was taking him down a bottomless pit, so he circled back to the original story. He decided the best course of action was to allow the Jewish inmate to remain separate from gen-pop by throwing him in a solitary confinement cell.

One day, as he was leaving, he lobbed a conspiracy theory so insane, I actually asked him to stop leaving so he could explain it to me.

“Pepsi-Cola is using parts of aborted babies. They add it to their drink mixture to give it flavor.” I asked him to explain how Pepsi would have come up with that idea. Art explained, “They were using it on an experimental basis. Someone came up with the idea. ‘Hey, ya know, this stuff is pretty good.’ Add a little baby parts to it and it tastes even better.”

When deliberations began, I hoped Art could curb his impulses long enough to decide the verdict. Before we could get to the disputed parts of the case, we read a document that detailed items that both sides had agreed were true. Art refused to agree. I told Art it didn’t matter if he agreed whether something was true, both the plaintiff and defendant agreed, so we had to move on. Art refused. It was as if he’d joined the lawsuit as a third party, jumping off the top rope with his mighty folding chair of truth.

Mercifully, an hour into deliberations, the bailiff entered and called us to the judge’s chambers. The lawsuit was off. The defendant settled.

Every so often, Art pops up in the news. Here he is promoting Donald Trump at a white supremacist rally. Here he is talking about his current candidacy. Whenever these things appear on social media, I’m taken back to those magical two weeks of conspiracy theories and lectures about the nefarious schemes of kosher food manufacturers.

I wonder why the Republican party in the 3rd district of Illinois can’t be bothered to put up literally any other human as an alternative. Heck, even a corpse can win an election these days.

I may not have been able to pull Art out of his anti-Semitic conspiracy spiral, but I did learn a valuable lesson: If you get a bigot sufficiently agitated, he will spend an hour spewing nonsense and forgetting to eat his lunch.

I wrote this while drinking a Pepsi. Cheers, Art.