Commentary: Why Do Law-And-Order Conservatives Throw Stones from Glass Houses?

(Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP) (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

By Rory Fleming

Seth Barron is so “in” with sketchy far-right interests it hurts. As recently as late 2021, he was the managing editor of The American Mind, the flagship publication of the Claremont Institute. That think tank has been described as having “done more than any other group to build a philosophical case for Trump’s brand of conservatism.” It has also been called a “racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right.”

But really, as his new debut book and recent writing demonstrates, he is just another crime crank. He wants mass incarceration. He wants endless surveillance and stalking of Black and brown people because of phantom gang connections. As evidenced by Heather Mac Donald writing the foreword to his book, he wants the imaginary “war on cops” to stop.

But the irony is that the billionaire family behind the distribution of his books has been led by criminals, perhaps even rapists.

It is not hard to figure out. Humanix Books published Barron’s The Last Days of New York. That publisher’s content is distributed by Two Rivers Distribution, a brand of Ingram Content Group. The chairman of Ingram Content Group is John Ingram, who also leads the board of directors of Ingram Industries, Inc.,

Mr. Ingram’s father, Erskine Bronson Ingram, was a colorful man. In 1994, Forbes listed him as the fifty-sixth richest American, and he was Tennessee’s only billionaire.

After his father died, Erskine and his brother Frederic took charge of what was then known as the Ingram Corporation. In the 1970s, both brothers would be charged in federal court with bribery: the result of “a contract between Ingram Contractors and the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Chicago to haul sludge by barge.” Erskine went to court and beat the charge, but Frederic would serve part of a four-year prison sentence, despite his massive wealth.

President Jimmy Carter commuted Frederic’s sentence in 1980, but the magnate had other skeletons in his closet.

According to a 2001 article by prominent Nashville journalist E. Thomas Wood,  Frederic, who also went by Fritz, was accused of raping a young woman in New Orleans in 1978. She sued, and Orleans Parish jury awarded her $350,000 in 1982.

In response, Fritz renounced his US citizenship and went into self-imposed exile in Ireland. He died in 2015, prompting a memorial to be published in the May 2016 issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly—a little over a year before #MeToo became a viral hashtag.

Despite his deep affiliations with this sordid family, Seth Barron had the nerve to direct more fire toward former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commutation of sentence for David Gilbert, San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin’s father, after he had already served forty years in prison. He wrote of prison journalist John J. Lennon’s New York Times op-ed, where Lennon mused, “Who deserves mercy? Can we earn it? If our victims won’t forgive us, will a governor? And why should mercy fall on the grace of the governor alone?”

Did the uncle of Barron’s billionaire patron earn his victims’ forgiveness for his massive Chicago grift? He certainly did not earn his prosecutors’ forgiveness.

According to Wood’s 2001 story, the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune reporter in 1981 that the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago urged the Department of Justice to oppose Fritz Ingram’s commutation, in part because of evidence that he was “directly involved and approved of a $1.2 million worldwide bribery conspiracy.” He also apparently bribed “individuals in foreign countries” and made illegal campaign contributions to politicians in Louisiana.

Did the woman that Fritz Ingram purportedly raped forgive him? Based on her lawsuit, the answer seems to be no. She said that he “forcibly held her down, slapped her repeatedly, and raped her seven times.”

These are the kind of people that Seth Barron associates himself with—so he casts the first stone, he would do best to check his own glass house.

Rory Fleming is a writer and an attorney


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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