Jim Shankman, the Madison-based author of a now notorious, vile Internet screed directed at blogger Ann Althouse and her husband
, returned my call late last night and we spoke for approximately 30 - 40 minutes.
WE WILL FUCK YOU UP. We will throw our baseballs in your lawn, you cranky old pieces of shit, and then we will come get them back. What are you gonna do? Shoot us? Get Wausau Tea Patriots to form an ad hoc militia on your front lawn? That would be fucking HILAROUS to us. You could get to know the assholes on your side in real fucking life instead of sponging off the civil society we provide for you every single day you draw breath."
Shankman is currently unemployed, claims to not be a member of a union and says he most often works as a dishwasher when employed. He insists that he does not advocate for violence and in some ways sought to distance himself from his "manifesto," while also acknowledging authorship. He says he's done with the issue and was simply giving voice to thoughts and rhetoric he "regularly hears in the street."
"I'm done with it," said Shankman, adding that he intends to pull back some from social media. However, he did not back away from the manifesto, claiming he wanted to elevate the idea and that if others in Madison wanted to embrace it, then so much the better.
"Why Ann Althouse," I asked. Along with Shankman claiming to have felt, or actually been threatened via multiple blog comments on conservative blogs over the years, Shankman said he believes Althouse wields her blog as a "bully pulpit," telling only one side of the story intentionally designed to portray his friends and associates unfairly. He also believes Fox has been instrumental in elevating Althouse's reporting, thought not always with attribution. "I see these stories on her blog, first, " said Shankman, then later he sees them on Fox News, claimed Shankman.
Shankman believes reports of thuggery and other misbehavior by Leftist protesters in Wisconsin is "all over-blown." He was most particularly offended by the notion that protesters didn't clean up after themselves and that Tea Party-aligned individuals purportedly removed a "Solidarity" T-shirt from a capitol statue of Hans Christian Heg (video of Heg with shirt here
). As an aside, last night John Nolte rounded up "20 Days of Left-Wing Thuggery in Wisconsin
. The incident involving the Heg statue seemed to be sort of a last straw for Shankman.
General Hans Christian Heg, a Wisconsin war hero who fell at the Battle of Chickamauga of the Civil War.
Indeed, Shankman's anti-Althouse manifesto
includes a line referring to Heg.
"You don't fucking touch Hans Christian. Ever."
Shankman insists that the Civil War hero would have been strongly in support of today's pro-union protesters. Hans Christian Heg was a Norwegian immigrant, had been a gold-rush Forty-Niner and a Republican known for his strong anti-slavery views. Evidently Shankman equates today's worker with black slaves from that most unpleasant portion of America's past. However, Shankman doesn't exactly give the impression of someone willing to set off across America to dig for wealth as Heg did in 1849. Through his politics, he seems to believe we are all somehow entitled to some measure of it through the government for being born.
Apart from his nasty rant, if Shankman, a self-defined "radical progressive" reminded me of anyone, it was Peggy Joseph, who, after hearing Obama speak in October of 2008 said, "I won't have to work, I'll put gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage." Now, those perceived promises unfulfilled over two years into the Obama presidency, Shankman emphatically and repeatedly claims "Obama is the worst president in history."
Asked about his politics, Shankman expressed no great regard for Democrats or union bosses and sees them as forces, combined with moderate Republicans, who pose a serious threat to America's future. While denying he is a socialist, or Marxist, Shankman labeled his economic ideology "distributionist." He believes we should divide the wealth of America across the population "so that everyone can buy a house," feed and support themselves, starting over from there based upon some concept modeled somewhat after Catholic charity. He also believes in single payer health care and believes Obama has abandoned progressives on that issue.
In terms of political advocacy, Shankman actually praised both Sarah Palin and Andrew Breitbart and was clearly excited to find that I was writing a piece for Big Government. "It's great what they are doing with news and video from events and such." However, Shankman was clearly only speaking to Palin's and Breitbart's roles as advocates for that in which they believe, saying he wishes there were more on the Left doing the same things, as it's so effective. "It's time to learn what you believe in and advocate for it," said Shankman.
Shankman also claims to be one of approximately ten individuals who have recently started a new movement they hope to grow, "Labor Party USA." He also claims to have once been a member of the International Workers of the World
, saying his membership is not current but he may join again. I believe this is it.
This is the official web-page of the International Workers of the World, IWW/AI - affiliated to the IFA - L'Internationale des Fédérations Anarchistes - The International of the Federations of Anarchists - The International of Anarchist Federations (IAF) and the Anarchist International (AI). For the history of IWW/AI in general, see link to the history of IFA/IAF/AI, at "Links" below. The Confederation consists of anarchosyndicalists in the Anarchist Federations of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Finland, and in several other countries of the Anarchist International broadly defined, from Iceland to the New Artisan and Workers' Union in Mauritius (click on: NAWU ), etc. i.e. world wide.
Shankman doesn't see much of a difference between Republicans and Democrats, but feels it's only Progressives that are trying to fix things in America.
Finally,as regards Ann Althouse, Shankman said he believes in what he called the "law of privilege." As best as I could interpret it, it meant that if the majority of Madison residents were progressive and didn't want an Ann Althouse in their midst, then they are somehow entitled to make it unpleasant enough for her to live there, that she'll leave. However, he did reiterate that he currently has no plans to participate in such an effort. When I asked him if he had given up on advocating for ideas and perhaps even trying to change Althouse's mind, he said "no." At that point, he said he'd be happy to sit down and talk to her and buy her a beer.
I guess does have some things in common with Obama, after all.