By Bob Skolnik
When the Landmark published a story in mid-December about perennial candidate and neo-Nazi Art Jones being the only Republican candidate and de facto nominee for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District, the story drew little attention.
But the Lyons white supremacist went international last week after the Chicago Sun-Times interviewed Jones at a local restaurant. Suddenly Jones, 70, has received more attention than he has ever received in a lifetime of controversial white nationalist activism.
Almost immediately, there were links and summaries of the Sun-Times story in national and international publications such as Newsweek and the Haaretz newspaper in Israel.
Follow-up stories about Jones appeared in the New York Times and the Atlantic. Two local television stations came out to interview Jones and on Feb. 8 Jones was on national television being interviewed, and ridiculed, by CNN anchor Alisyn Camerata.
"The media have gone nuts over this," Jones told the Landmark on Monday. "You would think Adolph Hitler has risen from the grave the way they're carrying on."
Jones said that CNN set a car to his Lyons apartment to pick him a 5:30 a.m. to take him downtown for his CNN interview
He and Camerata engaged in a combative seven-minute interview shortly before 7 a.m. Jones said that his website received a lot of views after the interview.
"As a result of that, just that one short little interview, I got 20,000 visits to my website," Jones said. "I certainly busted through the blackout, didn't I?"
Jones is assured of being the Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District in November, because no other Republican filed to run in the March 20 primary. The Illinois Republican Party has repudiated Jones.
Incumbent Dan Lipinski, of Western Springs, faces newcomer Marie Newman, of LaGrange, in the Democratic primary. The 3rd Congressional District has been in Democratic hands since 1975.
Jones says that he has not been part of any Nazi organization for nearly 40 years. In 1980, he founded his America First Committee. Its principles – anti-Semitism, fear of immigrants and white supremacy -- are in line with neo-Nazi views, though Jones claims he doesn't share that movement's political philosophy.
"It's a patriotic, white nationalist organization, but it's not a Nazi organization," Jones said. "I mean, there's a lot of things that go into National Socialism that I excluded from my organization. I don't believe in a dictatorship. I believe in utilizing the political process that the Founding Fathers gave us. That's what I fought for in Vietnam."
Jones a couple of years ago participated in a rally in Columbia, South Carolina, protesting the decision to remove the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the state capitol at the invitation of a North Carolina Ku Klux Klan group.
But Jones says there are some white supremacist groups that he won't associate with, like white power biker gangs and the skinhead movement.
"I don't associate with any kind of criminal element, any militia group, anything like that," Jones said. "But I have spoken at National Socialist meetings of the National Socialist movement."