Posted on January 7, 2020

Photographer Mark Peterson Is a Liar

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, January 7, 2020

Last January, I got an email message from a photographer named Mark Peterson who said he was working on “a photo essay on free speech and those who are having their constitutional right to free speech denied,” and asked if I would let him take my picture.  Here is his complete message:

Mr Taylor
i am a photographer working on a photo essay on free speech and those that are having their constitutional right to free speech denied
I would like to make a portrait of you in the coming month
I am working on this project for the German magazine Stern
and hoping to complete this project in the next few months.
here are a few of my recent covers that i have shot on assignment

I said yes. Mr. Peterson came to my house and took what must have been hundreds of pictures, so I asked him to send me a few. He sent this.

Mr. Peterson also asked me to send him a few lines about who I am and about how my free speech is denied. I sent him this:

Jared Taylor describes himself as “race realist” and “white advocate.” He argues that race is a biological reality — not a social construct — and that race is an important part of individual and group identity. He believes whites have a right to remain the majority in their traditional homelands, just as people of every other race do. He wants all nations and ethnic groups to flourish, and believes this is most likely when societies are racially and culturally coherent. Diversity is not a strength, but a source of conflict.

Taylor faces serious obstacles to expressing these views. He and his organization, American Renaissance, have been banned from Twitter and Facebook. His videos are routinely removed or “restricted” by YouTube. PayPal, Mailchimp, and even commercial printers have cut ties with him. Beginning in 1994, he held conferences in hotel ballrooms, but “antifa” disruption and threats of violence forced hotel managers to cancel their contracts. Taylor now holds conferences in government-owned venues that have a First Amendment obligation to serve his group, but this is not a secure refuge. In 2018 he had to sue the state of Tennessee to prevent it from charging crushing security fees that the state said were needed to pay for armed protection against protesters and agitators who vowed to shut down his conferences.

Taylor has learned that not many Americans have a principled belief in freedom of speech.

Mr. Peterson wrote back: “Really like what you wrote. Thank you for that.”

That was a year ago and I forgot about it.

Well, last December, the “photo essay on free speech” appeared, but in New York magazine, not in the German magazine Stern. And it was not about freedom of speech but about “the threat of domestic terrorism.” It starts with Dylann Roof’s Charleston massacre. It says there are “148 white-nationalist hate groups in this country,” and warns that “their violence is indisputable.” It adds that photographer Mark Peterson has been “traveling the country to surface the extent of the activity and catalogue the most dangerous ideologies.” The introduction concludes: “Without a full accounting of the reality, there can be no remedy. To look away is a form of collaboration.”

Then there are Mark Peterson’s photos of burning swastikas, hooded Klansmen, arm-band-wearing Nazis, bare-chested sieg heilers – and your servant. The photo Mr. Peterson sent to New York doesn’t look much like the one he sent me. One friend told me it looked like a survivor from a coal mine disaster.

And the text? Not a word from what I sent Mr. Peterson. Instead, this is how the article introduces me:

The FBI’s 2019 numbers [on hate crimes] won’t be available until next November, but indications suggest they will continue to trend upward. The most deadly mass shooting of 2019 was committed by a xenophobic extremist in El Paso, Texas. “Lone wolf” killers have found their pack.

Fractured as it may be, the far right is now connected by public figures arguing for some form of ethno-nationalism. One such figure is Jared Taylor, founder of the New Century Foundation and the American Renaissance Conference, which brings together far-right leaders from various strands of neo-Nazism, the KKK, and the alt-right.

If you share the article on Twitter or Facebook, the title that goes along with it is “A Year Inside a Growing American Terrorist Movement.”

I’m a trusting guy. I’m willing to believe that Mr. Peterson could have had an assignment from Stern about free speech. Maybe it was cancelled and he decided to peddle his pictures to New York instead. So I wrote Mr. Peterson to ask what happened to the Stern assignment. Twice. That was more than a week ago and I have had no reply.

I’ll probably go to my grave still being surprised by such pathetic dishonesty.