Stranger and stranger
As regular readers of this blog will know, Jack Ross is a friend of mine and one of the movers and shakers (I mean that literally, as well as figuratively) of the Kiwi literary scene.
Jack's politics are on the (non-Marxist) left, but he has a long-standing fascination with fascism and anti-semitism which has often found its way into his writing. Last year he wrote a remarkable and still-unpublished account of his visit to the site of the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, in the Czech Republic, as well as a head-spinning not-very-short story about Baudelaire and the origins of 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' which couldn't quite fit into brief #34. Jack's first book(let) was a translation of Ezra Pound's half-forgotten 'Fascist Cantos', and recently he published an article on the same poems in the electronic journal ka mate ka ora. Jack's article is so good that it almost made me want to read Pound again, and I jumped onto the computer this morning to advertise it.
Before I got around to doing that, though, I grazed the the online Guardian, and found Gary Younge telling the strange and somehow sad story of Lawrence Dennis, the intellectual leader of American fascism who was posthumously outed as an African American. The prodigously gifted Dennis was one of the hundreds of thousands of light-skinned African Americans who disguised themselves as white to escape racist prohibitions; he became a diplomat, a stock broker and, eventually, a propagandist for white purity who guested at one of the Nuremberg rallies. Only at the end of his life did Dennis display his real identity:
In what may have been his most audacious act of defiance, or evidence that he had finally given up the pretence, he eventually let his hair grow out. When he died, in obscurity, in 1977, he did so with an afro.
I've heard of Jews disguising themselves as Nazis, and it's been known for some time that Australia's leading neo-Nazi James Saleam had an Arab father, but an African American? I went googling for images of Dennis, and stumbled upon www.jackross.net, which hails Dennis as a 'prophet of the global justice movement'.
Jack Ross - the other Jack Ross - seems to be some sort of terribly trendy 'Third Position' fascist who garnishes the politics of the far right with a few superficially left-wing phrases and references. These days, when the cannier fascists are keen to replace race with culture as the keystone of their bigotry, and organisations like the British National Party even include token Bangladeshis and Jews in their ranks, Dennis' ancestry probably isn't quite the sticking point it would once have been on the far right.
What can Jack Ross the fair dinkum liberal lefty Kiwi do about the bad advertising at jackross.net? Nothing, I suppose, except regret that his parents gave him such a ubiquitous name. Let's hope not too many readers of his books jump online, google his name, and come to the wrong conclusions. Don't come to me for a haircut, by the way.