John Huppenthal

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

John Huppenthal

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s the kind of comment you might expect from an ignorant relative, not an important Arizona politician who claims credibility for being from Tucson’s south side.

“I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English. And I’m not being humorous or racist. A lot is at stake here.”

But of course, the comment was not from a nobody. Arizona’s elected superintendent of public instruction, John Huppenthal, made it anonymously on Dec. 16, 2010 at the Espresso Pundit political blog. Last week, Arizona bloggers forced Huppenthal to acknowledge he had been commenting for years on political websites under pseudonyms such as Thucydides, Falcon9 and Socrates1289.

Since then, others have combed through their old postings and found troves of Huppenthal comments that previously seemed like run-of-the-mill Internet bluster from a random right-wing radical. Reading through them has made me uncomfortable not just because they exhibit unwise, compulsive behavior, but because they also reveal too much of his inner world — an ugly landscape of vanity and stupidity.

Among the most disheartening comments are his contradictory, self-congratulatory discussions of race, culture and immigration. This Sept. 8, 2013 comment at the Blog for Arizona website, in which he spoke of himself in the third person, was one of the keys to unlocking Huppenthal’s online identity:

As for Huppenthal hating public education and hispanics, that’s not going to wash. Huppenthal grew up in south Tucson, all of his friends were Hispanics. He was the only Caucasian in his social group. Jimmy Ortega, Manny Gonzales, Luis Rodriguez, Charlie Praciado, Marcelino Lucero. Just because he won’t support the ‘we hate Whitey’ curriculum of extreme Chicano activists doesn’t mean he can’t do well among Hispanics.

His argument that he is a white man who relates to brown people might work, except he’s the same man who, having just won election to the superintendent’s post, wrote this on December 14, 2010: (In this and all posts I’m quoting, Huppenthal’s bad punctuation — remember, this man is our superintendent of public instruction — is just as he posted it.)

we are now going to see the dark side of controlling immigration — fewer jobs for caucasions. In an improving economy, free flowing immigration creates more jobs for caucasions, not fewer. Economic growth is one part productivity growth and 2 parts population growth. Caucasians aren’t reproducing themselves, so all population growth has to be immigration.

Catch that? His concern isn’t for the well-being of “native-born Americans” or some other non-racial category. It was for whites. Huppenthal, who was born in Indiana before moving to Tucson as a child, also describes the state as being made up essentially of immigrants and Caucasians.

So much for Jimmy Ortega and Huppenthal’s other south-side buddies. Who cares if their families have lived in this area for generations, long before the Huppenthals arrived — to him, they’re all apparently “immigrants.”

With those inner beliefs, it’s no wonder he came out with this gem in the same, 2010 Espresso Pundit comment:

We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English.

His comments make clear he could never have been a fair arbiter of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies program, which he declared illegal in December 2011. On March 8, 2012, he commented on the Three Sonorans blog, “Yes, MAS=KKK in a different color.”

Huppenthal’s comments on race and culture are some of the most disturbing, but more of what he posted relates to the idea of the “oppression” and poverty resulting from excessive taxation. Over and over, Bob Lord and others at Blog for Arizona wrote posts about the mysterious commenter “Thucky” (their nickname for Thucydides), mocking him as a “dummy try hard” while baiting him to keep digging himself deeper.

Claiming to want “to debate on a higher intellectual plane,” Huppenthal complied, continuing to comment deep into this month. Last week, in a message to the Arizona Republic, he said he made anonymous online comments because “I believe in rigorous public discourse, in furthering ideas and reforming ideologies that don’t always work.”

I’m not sure how that can explain his comments related to Tucson mass-shooter Jared Loughner. Six days after Loughner’s attack, on Jan. 14, 2011, Huppenthal wrote this at the Democratic Diva blog:

Jared was a “fervent” atheist, smoked pot “daily” and his beliefs were described as “leftist.” Bill Ayers, the President’s mentor, is the CEO of the school activist program running at Jared’s high school ,which Jared participated in.

Want to connect some more dots?

I’m tempted to analyze what’s wrong with that comment, but it’s much easier to point out what’s right about it: nothing. You could write it off as early speculation after the shootings, but then how would you explain his inability to grasp, almost a year after Loughner’s diagnosis as severely schizophrenic, that Loughner was psychotic and not rational, in this comment from Espresso Pundit, on March 7, 2012:

Jared Loughner’s act was logical once you understand what he was thinking. He just wasnt’ very good at articulating his thoughts but those thoughts and the intensity of which he partook of them gave him an incredible sense of superiority over us mere mortals. A nihilist, Loughner feels that we are all so many inconsequential flecks of dust and that his act had no meaning at all. Not much discussion of holding these philosophies accountable for this debacle.

We can thank Huppenthal for making these and many other eye-opening comments because they show him for what he apparently is: A narrow ideologue with delusions of intellectual grandeur. It would have been nice to know that before we elected him in 2010, but thank goodness we have a chance to reconsider this year, unless he relieves us of that burden by resigning now.

The poor judgment he used in making the comments, misrepresenting himself as someone other than John Huppenthal by speaking of himself occasionally in the third person, is bad enough.

What he revealed about himself is worse.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter