The organizer of an anti-Muslim hate rally in Phoenix, Arizona now says he needs patriots to donate $10 million to him so that his family can be safe from Muslims – even though none threatened him.
We all saw it coming, but 10 million?!
According to Jon Ritzheimer, he doesn’t fear for his own safety (because he’s a tough guy) but his family has been put in harm’s way by his actions, and therefore he humbly asks that Fox News watchin’, Muslim-hatin’ America lovers please give him $10 million so he can fortify his house. Given the price tag, this involves coating the entire thing with diamond-embedded gold – you know, to keep out the moslems.
But don’t worry, skeptics and cynics, he swears he needs it!
I know this seems like an absurd amount of money and I’d like to explain that. The money will go towards fortifying my house and getting what ever is necessary to make them feel safe again. I refuse to profit from this and any additional funds will go to Children’s Hospital. You have my word on that! And should I decide to run for John McCain’s seat in the Senate that is up for grabs this election, money will go towards starting my campaign as well. I would be running as an Independent Free Man who refuses to be labeled left or right.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s try. First of all, you have to admire the moxie it takes to ask for $10 million then turn around and promise you A) won’t profit from it and B) will give any extra money to charity. What a saint this multimillionaire will be, selflessly giving anything beyond his 10 million free dollars to a generic “Children’s Hospital.”
Sillier still is Rizheimer’s plans to run against John McCain. Using what we could call the “Joe the Plumber” model of political campaigning, Ritzheimer is already passed Step One (“Make public ass of self”), and wants to combine Step Two (“Milk ill-gotten celebrity for all it’s worth.”) and Step Three (“Lose convincingly in an election.“). It’s unclear what his “Independent Free Man” platform would look like – he only compares it to the beliefs of George Washington, a man who presided over 13 states and died in 1799. Hard to say where Washington would stand on Net Neutrality.
Ritzheimer seems to be the latest in a growing number of conservatives who saw how much money an anti-gay pizza shop made by begging for money and took an opportunity to pull the same stunt. It’s not just that his GoFundMe campaign was a foregone conclusion, it was probably built into his anti-Muslim rally from the very start. In fact, even his interviews while at the rally were rife with mentions of how scared he was for his family and that he would “going into hiding” after it was over. (Note the irony of a group of men with assault rifles standing in front of women and children entering a mosque and claiming they are the ones who are being terrorized.)
This is what is called “laying the groundwork,” and Ritzheimer is sticking to his schedule. It’s only been a few days and lo and behold his fleecing has begun.
And like clockwork, supporters have come filing in to throw money at him. Several of the people who have donated even volunteered to help act as Ritzheimer’s personal buddy guards. One assured him, “I got your 6.” Another: “I will donate time on your security detail also! USMC brother!”
Further supporting the idea that Ritzheimer planned to become a millionaire from square one is the fact that his rally was, at least by his metric, an unmitigated disaster. There were no Muslim attacks. No rolling firefights in the streets between cartoonish Jihadis and equally cartoonish armed patriots dressed in camo. To the contrary, the Muslim community handled the situation with more grace and tact than these idiots, frankly, deserved.
Nobody threatened Ritzheimer or his family. In fact, when some of the guys Ritzheimer convinced to come actually met some of the Muslims, they wound up apologizing to them for being belligerent morons.
The Washington Post caught one such surreal exchange, writing:
Jason Leger, a Phoenix resident wearing one of the profanity-laced shirts, accepted an invitation to join the evening prayer inside the mosque, and said the experience changed him.
“It was something I’ve never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along,” Leger said. “They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe.”
Paul Griffin, who had earlier said he didn’t care if his t-shirt was offensive, assured a small crowd of Muslims at the end of the rally that he wouldn’t wear it again.
“I promise, the next time you see me, I won’t be wearing this shirt,” he told one man while shaking his hand and smiling. “I won’t wear it again.”
Giving Ritzheimer $10 million won’t make him safer, because he isn’t under threat. It will only do one thing: Make a bigot rich, and don’t we have enough of those?
Update: GoFundMe took down Ritzheimer’s fund. I guess being known as the number one resource of right-wing bigots to bankroll their hatred isn’t what the crowd at GoFundMe had in mind when they made the site. The reaction on his Facebook page is alternating between frantic shouts of “Christian persecution” and suggestions to set up a “alternate” fund on the Christian-style GoFundMe clone called Samaritanspurse.org. Despite the outrage, GoFundMe has probably done these fans of Ritzheimer a great service by not allowing them to waste their money on his scheme – just don’t expect any “thank yous,” guys.