The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

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The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:29 pm

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:30 pm

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:49 am ... societies/

John Miller

Politics of Hate in the USA, Part III: Posse Comitatus, Grassroots Rebellion, and Secret Societies

The following text, which is the final of three installments, traces back to a conversation I had with Mike Kelley in 1994, “Too Young to be a Hippy, Too Old to be a Punk.”1 Christophe Tannert at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin had invited us to discuss underground political and aesthetic culture in the US for the first issue of Bethanien’s Be Magazin. One year later, I followed this up with a narrative account and analysis of the subject, “Burying the Underground.” Meanwhile, a series of sieges, armed standoffs, and bombings made Americans increasingly aware of a growing polarization between the US federal government and what was hardening into a grassroots militia movement: Ruby Ridge (1992), Waco (1993), Oklahoma City (1995) and Fort Davis, Texas (1997). I began to see this as a right-wing counterpart to militant leftism. In fact, the right seemed to be mirroring tactics that had previously belonged to the leftist underground. This led me to write a complementary essay, “Heil Hitler! Have a Nice Day!, the Politics of Hate in the USA” By 2001, the militia movement had run out of steam. When al-Qaeda terrorists staged the September 11 attacks, however, these so closely resembled events described in The Turner Diaries that I had initially suspected the radical right. Although unemployment and economic dislocation drove the militia movement, the Great Recession has not provoked a similar response. Instead of overturning—or seceding from—the federal government, the far right, now exemplified by the Tea Party, wants to work from within the political system by downsizing government and converting it to a states’ rights model. This shift is evident in the current Republican debates leading up to the next presidential election, where candidates have tried to turn “moderate” into a pejorative term.

John Miller


Posse Comitatus

The Jew run banks and federal loan agencies are working hand-in-hand foreclosing on thousands of farms right now in America. They are in essence, nationalizing farms for the jews [sic], as the farmer becomes a tenant slave on the land he once owned….The farmers must prepare to defend their families and land with their lives, or surrender it all.

—James Wickstrom,2 Christian Identity minister and radio talk show host

Of all the far right factions, the Posse Comitatus may be the largest. A true grassroots movement, it is also the most amorphous and the hardest to pin down. James Ridgeway compares its organizational flexibility with that pioneered by the SDS, yet it also takes the anti-Federalist logic of states’ rights to a topical extreme. “Posse Comitatus” literally means “power of the county” in Latin. The name refers to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which forbids the use of US military and national guard forces as civilian police forces.3 Congress passed this legislation after the Civil War to prevent President Grant from using soldiers to guard ballot boxes against election fraud in southern states.4 The Posse Comitatus believes this law empowers a sheriff to call a posse into being or to disband it as necessary. A posse is simply “all the men that a sheriff may call to his assistance in the discharge of his official duty, as to quell a riot or to make an arrest.”5 The Posse Comitatus sees the law as a wellspring of radical decentralization, granting the sheriff ultimate authority. Accordingly, its members consider income tax, social security payments, drivers’ licenses and even license plates as violations of the Constitution. The Posse claims that, when necessary, it may usurp even the sheriff’s authority. According to a doctrine set forth by Christian Identity minister William Potter Gale, the Posse claims its authority comes straight from God.

Although the Posse Comitatus is freeform by definition, Lyman Tower Sargent traces its origin to the Citizens Law Enforcement and Research Committee, founded by former Silver Shirt and Identity Christian Henry L. Beach in 1969.6 With the spate of family farm foreclosures beginning in the late 1970s, ranks of the Posse expanded as farmers withheld taxes and fought to save their property. Amidst the greater period recession, high interest rates combined with a severe drop in demand for crops to touch off a farm crisis. After a major US-Soviet grain deal fell through, rising inflation forced underdeveloped countries to redirect their budgets from grain purchases to debt maintenance. In the US, the small farmer was left holding the bag. What made the crisis even worse was farmland itself sometimes dropped to a third of its previous value. A congressional report estimated that almost half the nation’s 2.2 million farmers would lose their farms by the end of the century.7 Unable to make ends meet, some turned to community activism, some to alcohol and spousal abuse, and others to anti-Semitism. Just as Nazis once blamed Jews for the dislocations of modernization, bankrupt small farmers wanted to pin their troubles on a Jewish banking conspiracy. Few, however, bothered noting that Jews own none of the big, international banks.

The idea of the family farm as a wellspring of American identity runs deep in the United States. It derives in part from Thomas Jefferson, who viewed big cities with distaste and envisioned the United States as a vast array of independent farms:

Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.

They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests, by the most lasting bonds.

Jefferson’s philosophy reflected the political economy of the southern plantation system in which each plantation produced much or all of what it needed. (The autonomy of the plantation, of course, depended on slave labor.) Jefferson himself owned a Virginia plantation—though, ironically, a not very successful one. Unlike George Washington, he did not free his slaves after the Revolutionary War.9 Conversely, Washington was a land speculator in the trans-Appalachian region and therefore less aligned with small property interests. Jefferson vigorously championed small farming yet, by establishing a liberal political culture within a capitalist economy, his policies paved the way for America’s transition to industrial capitalism.

The small farmer’s aspirations for independent production and land ownership constitute as much an ideal of civic virtue as they do a means of livelihood. Even so, the supposed autonomy of the small farm has always been tenuous at best, subject to the vagaries of good and bad crops, variable interest rates and supply and demand. In other words, the autonomy of the small farmer was always a relative state—one rested on a precarious economic foundation. During bad times, small farmers have often resorted to wage labor to keep their farms intact. Nonetheless, their aspirations mark them as petit-bourgeois and have rarely shown solidarity with labor movements. Moreover, they resent federal farm subsidy programs—not only because policy makers attach them to big agricultural conglomerates, but also because they render the small farmer a dependent consumer instead of a virtuous producer.10 This tension is not new. Frontier farmers often found themselves at odds with a centralized government unwilling—or unable—to protect their interests. Rural vigilante justice and its attendant gun culture are legacies of that history. Taking the law into one’s own hands thus survives as a cherished rural tradition. And yet that civic independence has been frustrated in recent years. American farmers have been forced into the painful admission that the small farm has become inefficient and wasteful relative to conglomerate “agribusinesses.” Here, their sense of civic deprivation, plus very real material losses, goes back to a promise held out by homesteading: land ownership. James Corcoran has described its importance:

Land doesn’t only serve as a farmer’s collateral for operations loans, the ability to buy the seed, fertilizer and chemicals to plant his fields—land is a farmer’s identity. It is his connection to God; it is his religion, his nationality, his family’s heritage, and his legacy to his children. Land is a farmer’s way of life, and in the early 1980s he was losing it. Like the people he replaced on the land—the American Indian—the farmer became a modern exile, forced to migrate to strange cities and states in search of a new life.11

Driving people from the land is part of the process of long-range accumulation that Marx identified as a structural feature of capitalist development. The farmers’ resistance to dispossession does raise the radical question of who is entitled to land ownership. But claiming a holy right to the land—as do the Posse and Identity Christians—is a self-serving ideology; not only does it justify the farmer’s existence against abstract economic forces, it also represses the historical memory of how frontier farmers violently drove their predecessors, the Native Americans, off the very same soil. This manifest destiny of the small farmer simply transmutes the divine right of kings into the rural populist homestead. Even the ideal of independent production can, at times, undercut the small farmer’s sense of social responsibility. Thus, to consider small farming an inalienable and God-given way of life entails reactionary identifications with blood and soil.

Alarmed by an anti-Semitic flare up in the farm belt, in 1986 the Anti-Defamation League commissioned the Lois Harris organization to poll Iowa and Nebraska residents on these issues. Seventy-five percent of the respondents blamed “big international bankers” for farm problems, with 13 percent specifically blaming Jews. 27 percent agreed, “Farmers have always been exploited by international Jewish bankers.” Among people older than sixty-five, that number leapt to 45 percent.12 The growth of the Posse closely followed this trend.

Typical Posse tactics include highly effective forms of “paper terrorism” such as tax resistance and filing nuisance liens and lawsuits, which tie up courts and make life miserable for Posse targets. When these fail, they sometimes turn to guns. In 1980, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified 17,222 individuals who, as a form of tax protest, either refused to file returns or filed and refused to pay what they owed. By 1983 that number jumped to 57,754 and subsequent efforts by a special IRS task force have hardly made a dent in this figure.13 In Wisconsin the aforementioned James Wickstrom, onetime candidate for governor and US Senate, openly espoused tax revolt and violence.14 Some groups, like Charles Shugarman’s Virginia Patriots Network, conduct special seminars in tax resistance, stating that wages are a special form of barter between employer and employee and, therefore, not subject to taxation.15 With a similar barter idea, Denver Posse member John Grandbouche initiated a system of warehouse banks where depositors could convert their money to gold or silver to avoid taxes. Grandbouche called his organization the National Commodities and Barter Association (NCBA). The Wall Street Journal reported that the NCBA laundered up to half a million dollars a day for as many as 20,000 depositors. Federal agents raided Grandbouche’s offices in 1985, recovering thousands of documents and an estimated $250,000 in gold bullion. A federal judge, however, ordered the return of this property.16 Other warehouse banks have turned out to be simply old-fashioned bilking schemes in which otherwise skeptical farmers have lost their life savings to con men. In June 1986, for example, authorities convicted Roderick Elliot in one such an embezzlement operation. Elliot was the publisher of the movement’s key tabloid, The Primrose and Cattleman’s Gazette (its name insinuating that Jewish bankers had led farmers “down the primrose path”).17 More recently, Roy Schwasinger’s organization, We The People, sold about 3,000 bogus “information kits” at $300 each to gullible farmers. These explained how to claim one’s portion of a supposed $600 trillion class action suit against the government brought by ranchers and farmers. In 1995 Schwasinger received a nine-year prison sentence for his part in the scam.18

In 1983 the death of the sixty-three-year-old tax resister Gordon Kahl created the Posse’s first martyr. Kahl was a decorated World War II veteran who kept his farm afloat by working winters in Texas as an auto mechanic. He joined the Posse in 1974, stopped paying taxes and appeared on television two years later urging others to follow suit. Going public landed him in Leavenworth prison for one year. Authorities then released him on probation with the proviso that he stay away from the Posse. Unrepentant, Kahl still refused to pay taxes and still urged others to do the same. Although he owed only a pittance, his very public defiance made him a thorn in the side of government officials. On February 13, 1983, federal marshals tracked Kahl, his son and some friends as they were leaving a Posse meeting in Medina, North Dakota. Kahl stopped at the marshals’ roadblock and a gunfight began. The marshals wounded his son. A crack shot, Kahl killed two marshals and wounded three others in retaliation.19 He went on the run for four months, then holed up in the Smithville, Arkansas “earth home” of his Posse friends, Leon and Norma Gintner. This dwelling was a survivalist bunker stockpiled with weapons and food. Federal agents and local Sheriff Gene Matthews surrounded the bunker on June 3. Outside, they captured Leonard Gintner. Shortly thereafter, Gintner’s wife came out to surrender. Neither would confirm whether Kahl was hiding inside. Matthews entered the bunker, hoping that, as sheriff, he could convince the fugitive to surrender peacefully. Kahl fatally wounded Matthews with one round from his Ruger Mini-14. Police experts believe that, in the exchange, Matthews killed Kahl as well. Unsure whether the fugitive was dead or alive, agents proceeded to spray the bunker with gunfire. The assault ended only after a commando detonated the bunker’s more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition with a grenade. Death left Kahl a longstanding hero in the movement.20 It also set the stage for a siege/shootout syndrome that would be tragically repeated as the struggle between right-wing dissidents and the federal government continued to escalate.

Other Posse figures include Arthur Kirk, who died in a 1984 firefight with a Nebraska SWAT team, and the eccentric Michael Ryan. Ryan presided over a polygamous, survivalist compound in Rulo, Nebraska where he forced his male followers to sodomize each other and a pet goat.21 Once considered a leader chosen by God, Ryan was convicted by jurors for torturing and killing two of his followers, twenty-seven-year-old James Thimm and five-year-old Luke Stice. For refusing to sodomize the goat, Ryan shoved greased rake handles up Thimm’s rectum, then literally skinned him alive. When police raided the Rulo compound, they discovered more than $250,000 in stolen farm equipment, an arsenal of full- and semiautomatic weapons and 150,000 rounds of ammunition.22 By anyone’s standards, Ryan was certifiably insane. His example illustrates the individual extremes that become available once the social contract is jettisoned. Conversely, Ryan’s case—among others—raises the question of how violence and irrationality become legitimized, both within extremist cults and within the mainstream.


The Turner Diaries

The great danger of democracy, of course, is the same danger that exists with any other form of government; namely, that the wrong minority will be in the driver’s seat. That’s the problem we must overcome now—or perish as a race.

Before the advent of television, it wouldn’t have been feasible to run a truly progressive nation democratically; the process of control was too awkward. That’s why the United States drifted the way it did, subject to various pressure groups, until the worst of all possible groups elbowed the others aside and took over. These days the process of control is reasonably efficient, and if we ever manage to break the grip of the present media bosses we can look forward to the use of the same process to speed America along the upward path again.

—William L. Pierce 23

The Turner Diaries is an influential right-wing tract written by former physics professor William Pierce. Pierce published it, however, under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald. Critics call the book the Mein Kampf of American neo-Nazism. Before starting his own National Alliance, Pierce had, in fact, been a member of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party and the John Birch Society. Society president Robert Welch introduced Pierce to an apocalyptic story called The John Franklin Letters that Pierce used as a model for his own book.24 In the guise of a futuristic novel, The Turner Diaries is part propaganda, part primer for guerilla war and part juvenile blood lust. Its publisher Stuart Lyle described it as “an underground classic,” selling more than 185,000 copies outside bookstores before its above ground publication and distribution in 1978. Pierce himself gloats:

It offends almost everyone; Afro-Americans, feminists, gays and lesbians, liberals, communists, Mexicans, democrats, the FBI, egalitarians, and Jews. Especially Jews: for it portrays them as incarnations of everything that is evil and destructive.25

Former liberal William Gayley Simpson laid the ideological foundation for Pierce’s book in his own Which Way Western Man? After working as an integrationist, Simpson became obsessed with the idea that white Christians risked forfeiting their identity through policies of desegregation and affirmative action. These, moreover, he viewed as part of a sinister Jewish plot: a divide-and-conquer strategy of miscegenation that would leave only Jewish racial integrity intact. Consequently, he argued vehemently for eugenics, segregation and the deportation of Jews.26 Even so, Pierce sharply distinguishes between these beliefs and those of Christian Identity which he dismisses as a “lowbrow” theology incapable of attracting anyone but “hicks.”27

The narrative conceit of The Turner Diaries is the belated discovery of a unique record of “the Great Revolution,” the diaries of one Earl Turner, which historians have republished on the revolution’s one-hundredth anniversary. Pierce envisions this event in apocalyptic—rather than political—terms. The struggle occurs in 1999, at the outset of the millennium. Copying the French Revolution, Pierce even sets out a new dating system, with time divided BNE (Before the New Era, analogous to prehistoric time) and the years following it. Nevertheless, Pierce’s revolution is totalitarian, not democratic; the rights of man evaporate before a phantasm of racial purity. He also adds “editors’ notes” as additional commentary to Turner’s firsthand account. This “historicizes” the fantasy, a posture not dissimilar to Kruschev’s boast “History is on our side. We will live to see you buried.”

The plot begins when the federal government passes an anti-gun law called, suggestively enough, the Cohen Act. Blacks begin raping white women in great numbers (one of Pierce’s deep obsessions) and, as special deputies, round up all those who refuse to turn over their guns. Jews, of course, have masterminded this turn of events. Only one group stands ready to resist “the System,” a small network of underground cells called only “The Organization.” Earl Turner belongs to one such cell of four people operating in Washington, DC. Long before the Cohen Act, his group had buried a cache of guns in a remote Pennsylvania woods. Once they retrieve their weapons, they turn to robbery and murder simply to survive; as gun owners, they can neither work nor identify themselves in public. Meanwhile, Congress passes more stringent laws requiring all citizens to carry “internal passports” –used for all transactions from banking to medical care to purchasing gasoline. This pushes the Organization to more extreme measures, culminating in bombing a new supercomputer (for processing internal passports) housed in the FBI’s Washington headquarters. To carry this out, The Organization uses a truck filled with explosive chemical fertilizer. To finance its intensified level of operations, it starts counterfeiting as well. Trained as an engineer, Turner becomes responsible for bombs, communications and counterfeiting.

Soon, Turner’s superiors invite him to join “the Order,” an elite mystical cadre within the Organization. Its grey-hooded members reveal to him that white supremacy is divinely ordained and that Aryan terrorists are “the instruments of God.” As the struggle continues, the Organization’s leaders realize that only the System can win a war of attrition and accordingly step up their approach. In an all-or-nothing effort, they concentrate their entire force in Southern California and, through inside agents, trigger an insurrection within the armed forces stationed there. In the resulting chaos, the Organization manages to establish regional sovereignty, fending off the System by seizing nuclear warheads and threatening to use them. After setting up free zones in major American cities, it nukes Tel Aviv, saving a few remaining missiles for the Soviet Union. This, in effect, kills two birds with one stone, devastating communism and subverting the System’s control in America. The story ends with an inadvertent allusion to Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove”: Turner flying a suicide mission to the Pentagon with a nuclear warhead strapped to his crop-duster. The editorial notes confirm that, because of Turner’s noble sacrifice, the Aryan race successfully purges every other race from the face of the planet. Thus begins the New Era—a cartoon version of xenophobia with pointed consequences for the American political landscape of the 1990s.

Pierce’s hatred of other races is tautological. He accuses others of conspiracy and degradation, when he himself is the worst offender. The Turner Diaries depicts both Jews and African-Americans as stereotypes; Pierce even writes in dialect to further ridicule them. In lieu of social or historical analysis, Pierce invokes God to justify his beliefs. His stance toward the social movements of the 1960s and 70s is wholly reactive:

I remember a long string of Marxist acts of terror 20 years ago, during the Vietnam war. A number of government buildings were burned or dynamited, and several innocent bystanders were killed, but the press always portrayed such things as idealistic acts of “protest.”

There was a gang of armed, revolutionary Negroes who called themselves “Black Panthers.” Every time they had a shootout with the police, the press and TV people had their tearful interviews with the families of the Black gang members who got killed — not with the cops’ widows. And when a Negress who belonged to the Communist Party [a reference to Angela Davis] helped plan a courtroom shootout and even supplied the shotgun with which a judge was murdered, the press formed a cheering section at her trial and tried to make a folk hero out of her.28

“Women’s lib” was a form of mass psychosis which broke out during the last three decades of the Old Era. Women affected by it denied their femininity and insisted that they were “people,” not “women.” This aberration was promoted and encouraged by the System as a means of dividing our race against itself.29

…the knee-jerk liberals have forgotten all about their “radical chic” enthusiasm of a few years ago, now that we are the radicals.30

As a tactician, however, Pierce is coldly logical and utterly clearheaded. For starting a terrorist cell, he advises in the essay “A Program for Survival” (1984) published under his own name, a general three-phase program for Aryan supremacy comprised of:
1. cadre building;
2. community building;
3. community action;
4. make propaganda as militant as possible to attract only the most committed element;
5. operate on a “need to know” basis;
6. communicate either by meeting face-to-face or through short coded messages;
7. separate into “legal” and underground units (like Shin Féin and the I.R.A.);
8. “…[O]ne of the major purposes of political terror, always and everywhere, is to force the authorities to take reprisals and to become more repressive, thus alienating a portion of the population and generating sympathy for the terrorists.”
9. “…[T]he other purpose is to create unrest by destroying the population’s sense of security and their belief in the invincibility of the government.” 32

If the term “community action” sounds benign, however, The Turner Diaries shows just what Pierce means by that.

Pierce’s tactics and ideology would be adopted both by Robert Mathews’ group, The Order, and by Timothy McVeigh. Among other things, they anticipate baiting law enforcement officials to use excessive force and exploiting the overkill as movement propaganda.

Bob Mathews founder of The Bruders Schweigen confronting an anti-racism protester.

The Bruders Schweigen

We just want to be a nameless, white underground.

—Robert Mathews33

Bob Mathews was a man with a mission. As an eleven-year-old boy in Phoenix, Arizona, he joined the John Birch Society. Later he became interested in Robert DePugh’s Minutemen. Mathews then started a group of his own called the Sons of Liberty. He also converted to the Mormon faith.34 Under the guidance of fellow Mormon Marvin Cooley, Mathews became a tax resister. In his 1973 W-4 tax form he claimed ten dependents as a single, unmarried man—by that reducing his tax burden to zero. This improbable claim quickly alerted IRS agents, who soon brought him to trial. There, Mathews had a rude awakening when only one of his militia friends agreed to vouch for him as a character witness. Shortly after this, a second friend killed himself, his wife and another couple in a bitter domestic dispute. Disillusioned, Mathews left Phoenix and resettled in Metaline Falls, Washington.35

After taking an apartment, the industrious Mathews soon managed to earn enough money to purchase and clear his own 60-acre plot of land. He found a wife and seemed to settle down. Eventually, his parents and two brothers, once estranged by his extremist views, moved up to Washington as well. Then, in 1978, after four years of relative calm, Mathews read William Galey Simpson’s Which Way Western Man? which left a deep impression. He learned about William Pierce’s National Alliance. By 1981 Mathews discovered William Butler’s Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations in nearby Hayden Lake. Although he had reservations about Butler, he nonetheless attended Aryan Nations events. Around this time, he conceived the “White American Bastion” by which Aryans would become the racially self-conscious political force of the Pacific Northwest. This idea echoed Butlers “10 percent solution,” except that Mathews felt numbers alone would be enough; he did not, at this time, envision the need for a separate government. To this end, he began advertising his “Bastion” plan in the Liberty Lobby’s magazine, The Spotlight. Ultimately, the ads did not pan out; after all his efforts, only one couple moved there. He increasingly resented the apparent docility of most whites and condescendingly called them “sheeple”—sheep people. He also read and absorbed the lessons of The Road Back, an instruction manual for running an underground terrorist group; Essays of a Klansman by Louis Beam, which laid out a point system of awards for Aryan Warriors; and The Turner Diaries. After this, Mathews established his leadership by confronting rowdy counter-demonstrators at Spokane, Aryan Nations rally. Before long he had assembled a small, but hard-core circle of friends and Aryan Nations members around him. He stressed that the time for talk was over. Now was the time for action. In a bizarre ceremony, each swore a loyalty oath before a six-month-old baby, pledging to secure the future propagation of the Aryan race. Before long, the group was planning armed robberies and counterfeiting schemes.36

On October 28, 1983, World Wide Video, Spokane’s only XXX-rated pornography store, became the group’s first target. After days of talks and building up their nerve, they netted a grand total of $369.10. If serious, they were going to have to play for bigger stakes. That Thanksgiving, unbeknownst to Richard Butler, Mathews’ friend Gary Yarbrough began printing their first counterfeit $50 bills on the Aryan Nations printing press. He had a hard time getting the color right, though. Police picked up Mathews’ right-hand-man Bruce Pierce (no relation to William Pierce) on December 3 when the group tried to pass the phony money. With Pierce in jail, on December 18 Mathews pulled a one-man bank heist in desperation. During his getaway, a dye-pack exploded in the loot bag, staining him and the cash red. He managed to clean most of the $25,952 with turpentine and bailed Pierce out of jail. The gang continued to rob banks and restaurants, but soon graduated to armored cars. They set up a system under which they would “tithe” most of the stolen money to other racist groups, setting aside part for their own operation and dividing the remainder as “salaries.” Several men quit their day jobs and began to think of themselves as revolutionaries. With their stolen money, they began to build up an arsenal.37

Meanwhile Pierce had, on his own initiative, ineffectually bombed a Boise synagogue. This breach of security enraged Mathews, but their troubles were just beginning. Aryan Nations member Walter West had begun to spout off in local bars about a new white guerilla group. West also had a reputation for beating his wife, Bonnie Sue, and Order member Tom Bentley had taken a romantic interest in her. Mathews directed Bentley and three others—James Dye, Randy Duey and Richard Kemp—to kill West. Sunday, May 27, 1984 Kemp and Duey brought the unsuspecting West to a remote logging road in the Kaniksu National Forest where Dye and Bentley waited hiding, having already dug a grave. Coming from behind, Kemp struck West’s skull with a three-pound sledgehammer. When this failed to kill him, Duey finished him off with his own Ruger Mini-14 automatic rifle. After that, Bentley moved in with Bonnie Sue; Mathews also began keeping a mistress of his own, Zillah Craig.38 West was neither black nor Jewish, but his murder marked a turning point. The Order had crossed over into lethal violence.

Outspoken radio talk show host Alan Berg specialized in agitating racist listeners. He could be rude, arrogant and insulting, but he was a man of conviction. With his program commanding more than 10 percent of the Denver audience, he nonetheless regarded his provocations as mostly show business. Not so Bob Mathews. He made Berg Number Three on his hit list—after Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Norman Lear, acclaimed television producer and liberal political activist.39 When Mathews stated that the time had come to “take out” Berg, opinion was split within the group. Some felt they were not yet ready, but Mathews refused to wait. His goal was to start a race war; if he were martyred in the struggle, the propaganda would be invaluable. When Mathews asked for volunteers, Bruce Pierce demanded to be the triggerman. Pierce pictured himself as “a true Aryan Warrior.” According to Louis Beam’s “point system,” one needed a full point to become this. Killing a Jew (i.e., Berg) was worth one-sixth of a point; killing the US President was worth one full point. At 9:20 p.m. Monday, June 18, 1984, Pierce gunned down Berg in his driveway as he was climbing out of his Volkswagen Beetle. David Lane and Mathews watched from a Plymouth parked nearby. Detectives quickly found .45 caliber shells from the 12 rounds that riddled the victim’s body. This was no ordinary slaying: the killer clearly wanted to “send a message” to the public. Based on the shells and slugs, investigators quickly identified the murder weapon as an Ingram MAC-10 machine pistol, a weapon of choice for right-wing gun buffs.40 Investigative Division Chief Don Mulnix therefore wasted no time in calling the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and the BATF in on the case.41

Again desperate for cash, Mathews planned the Order’s next heist. Thanks to a disenchanted Brinks Company employee, he learned of a regularly scheduled truck—often loaded with millions of dollars—that took an especially vulnerable route north of Ukiah, California. Mathews put together a crew and thanks to careful planning by newly recruited Richard Scutari, pulled off the heist without a hitch. This time they netted $3,800,000. The only problem was that Mathews left behind a pistol registered to his follower Andrew Barnhill. Before long, federal investigators had tied the robbery to the Berg slaying. Their prime suspects belonged to the Order. Meanwhile, Mathews promptly tithed much of the take to his favorite charities: Richard Butler’s Aryan Nations, William Pierce’s National Alliance, Frazier Glenn Miller’s Carolina Knights of the KKK, Louis Beam, Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance, Bob Miles’ Mountain Kirk and Dan Gayman’s Church of Israel.42 With the FBI closing in, he set his sites on the next target: Morris Dees. His preliminary plan called for kidnapping and interrogating Dees, then flaying him alive.43 He also tried to contact the Syrian government to fund his war against the Jews.44 Finally, he gave his group a provisional name, taken from a book about Hitler’s Waffen SS: Bruders Schweigen, which refers to “the Silent Brotherhood.”45

On October 1, 1984, Tom Martinez went on trial at the US District Court in Philadelphia. Martinez was charged with helping pass the Order’s counterfeit bills. Shortly before the hearing, his attorney warned him that the FBI had already linked the Order to the Berg slaying and the Brinks heist. Martinez lost his nerve and turned state’s evidence.46 Based on his tips, the FBI stepped up its manhunt, nearly apprehending Mathews and key member Gary Yarbrough twice. Mathews found safe houses for the Order on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. On October 23 Martinez led FBI agents to the Capri Motel in Portland where he was to meet Mathews and Yarbrough—ostensibly to discuss the Dees kidnaping. They caught Yarbrough, but Mathews got away, his right hand wounded.48

The Order regrouped on Whidbey Island. Knowing things were at an end, Mathews drafted a declaration of war on ZOG and an Aryan Declaration of Independence, which newspapers in every state were to receive. The Bruders Schweigen would no longer remain underground. The end, however, was nearer than Mathews could have ever known. On December 4, the FBI received an anonymous tip that Mathews and a dozen others had gone to Whidbey. Alan Whitaker, special agent-in-command at the Seattle FBI office, quickly assembled SWAT teams, a Hostage Rescue Team and reserve agents. By Friday, December 7, he deployed them around the Order’s three safe houses and evacuated nearby local residents. In the first house Randy Duey gave up without a fight. Next, counterfeiting expert Richard Merki surrendered with his wife Sharon and an older woman, Ida Bauman. Merki had taken care to burn as much evidence as possible before giving up. Meanwhile, in the third house Mathews refused to respond to negotiators. The FBI then brought in Duey and Merki who urged him to surrender. Mathews, however, demanded that Idaho, Washington and Montana be set aside as an Aryan homeland before he would talk. Meanwhile, his partner, Ian Stewart, gave up, but refused to confirm whether Mathews still had women or children inside with him. Next SWAT teams forced their way in, but Mathews sprayed them with machine-gun fire from above, shooting through the floorboards. They retreated. The following day the FBI brought a helicopter to hover above the house; Mathews sprayed it through the roof. At 6:30 p.m., the FBI command post issued orders to lob M-79 Starburst flares into the besieged building. Within twenty minutes the house went up in a firestorm. Sunday morning, investigators, sifting through the debris, found Mathews’ charred remains next to a blackened bathtub.48

The federal government’s case against the Order had become the government’s biggest since the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaped Patty Hearst. In the wake of Mathews’ death, the group itself dissipated, but its influence did not. Seattle US District Attorney Gene Wilson put together a massive racketeering case against the remaining members, consisting of sixty-seven separate counts. On April 12, 1985, a federal grand jury indicted twenty-four members on racketeering and conspiracy. When the trial began that September, twelve pleaded guilty. Prosecutors convicted ten more that December 30. After police captured Richard Scutari in March 1986, he too pleaded guilty. In spring 1988, the government sued ten of the movement for sedition, including the leaders Richard Butler, Bob Miles and Lois Beam. This jury, however, acquitted everyone.49 After these events, William Pierce declared that America was not yet ready to embrace the revolution he had outlined in The Turner Diaries. He instead bought up enough American Telephone and Telegraph (ATT) stock to force a corporate phase-out of ATT’s affirmative action policy.50 Pierce’s renunciation of terrorism, however, was disingenuous, simply part of his strategy to separate the movement into underground and aboveground wings.

In the end, Robert Mathews succeeded in becoming the kind of martyr figure that Pierce deemed necessary for a popular revolution. Gordon Kahl had come first, but he was a lone individual. There had been other paramilitary groups too, like the Covenant, the Sword and Arm of the Lord (CSA) or Frazier Glenn Miller’s Confederate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.51 Yet these functioned more like gangs of thugs, while Mathews’ Order quickly developed into, a model terrorist cell. Although Mathews had even drawn recruits from these other groups, he was the one who managed to take them from talk to action.

Weaver family and Kevin Harris make the cover of a Spokane newspaper after winning the
wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against the federal government for the Ruby Ridge shootout.

Ruby Ridge

In 1989 at an Aryan World Congress meeting, a biker identifying himself as Gus Magisono befriended former Green Beret Randy Weaver. Since his time in the military, Weaver had adopted Christian Identity beliefs and moved his family to an isolated cabin near Naples, Idaho. Overlooking Ruby Creek, the news media later came to call this place Ruby Ridge.

That fall, when Weaver was almost broke, Magisono encouraged him to sell sawed-off shotguns to right-wing militants.52 After Weaver sold his first two, “Magisono,” a.k.a. Kenneth Fadeley, identified himself as a federal operative and threatened to turn him in unless he agreed to spy on Aryan Nations meetings. The FBI had promised Fadeley a reward if Weaver either complied or was arrested. In short, the US government had entrapped Randy Weaver.

Weaver, however, refused and warned Aryan Nations of the plan.53 In turn, the federal government indicted Weaver on firearms charges in December of 1990 and arrested him the following January. He posted a $10,000 bond and was released. The BATF set a court date for February 20 but sent Weaver a summons dated March 20. Six days before he thought he was supposed to appear in court, Assistant US Attorney Ron Howen issued a warrant for his arrest.54 March 20, however, came and went; Weaver ignored the summons and stayed holed up in his cabin.

August 21, 1992, six US marshals, part of a SWAT-like team called the Special Operations Group, surrounded the cabin on Weaver’s isolated twenty-acre property. They kept clear of the house itself for fear of being seen. One marshal threw pebbles near the cabin to distract Weaver’s dog. It started barking. Weaver, his fourteen-year-old son Sammy and a friend, Kevin Harris, grabbed their guns, thinking the retriever had found game. They followed him as he chased the marshals. Randy Weaver split from the others and, spotting a figure in camouflage gear, shouted a warning and ran back to the cabin. As the others began to follow, Marshal Art Roderick shot the dog. Sammy Weaver shot back. Then he continued running. After another burst of gunfire from the concealed marshals, Sammy Weaver fell to the ground dead, shot in the back. Harris returned fire. That exchange left veteran Marshall William Degan dead. It remains unproven exactly who shot whom in this exchange, but clearly Ron Howen had prematurely authorized use of excessive force to arrest Randy Weaver.55

The remaining five officers immediately contacted the US Marshals Service in Washington, DC, which in turn called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI mobilized its crack Hostage Rescue Team, headed by Richard Rogers. It brought in agents from around the country. By the day’s end, Idaho governor Cecil Andrus had called a state of emergency, by that authorizing the use of both the National Guard and state militias to capture Weaver. The next day, about four hundred military and police specialists had converged on Ruby Ridge with a helicopter, “humvees” (a military vehicle used in “Desert Storm”), armored transport and personnel carriers, and communications equipment. This force blockaded the Weaver’s property. Rogers had drawn up special “Rules of Engagement” for the operation, authorizing agents to shoot any adults carrying weapons on sight.56

About 6:00 p.m. that day, Weaver finally decided to venture out to reexamine his dead son, whom he had carried to a small shed near the cabin. Harris and Weaver’s daughter Sarah came with him. As he tried to enter the shed, a bullet ripped through the soft flesh under his arm. All three ran back to the cabin. Vicki, Weaver’s wife, held open the door, a baby in her arms. As they raced inside, a federal sharpshooter’s bullet passed through Vicki Weaver’s head, killing her instantly and severely wounding Harris.57 Fearing for their lives, Harris and the remaining Weavers refused to go outside for the next nine days. During this time Harris’s condition grew critical. By the barricades, a hundred local residents kept a vigil for those trapped inside and began to protest the paramilitary assault. Finally, Weaver agreed to surrender only after another former Green Beret, Bo Gritz, and a local Baptist minister, Chuck Sandelin, assured him that he and his family would go unharmed. 58

About one month later, Randy Trochmann, Chris Temple (publisher of a Christian Identity newspaper, The Jubilee) and several others who stood vigil during the siege formed a group called United Citizens for Justice. They proposed to expose government abuse of power and to form chapters in every state to protect fellow “patriots.” The organization, however, fell apart after only a few months.59 Another, more ominous organizing effort followed. This meeting, called “the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous,” took place on October 22 at Estes Park, Colorado. Besides Trochmann and Temple, Louis Beam, Richard Butler and other prominent members of the patriot movement attended.60 Their purpose was to mobilize the far right in the wake of Ruby Ridge. To do so, they decided to focus on anti-government sentiment and to downplay racism, which had been too divisive. As they re-prioritized Jews and blacks as “secondary” enemies, euphemisms replaced racist epithets in movement propaganda. In this, they took their cue from David Duke’s successful campaign for the Louisiana legislature. Identity pastor Pete Peters observed:

Men came together who in the past would normally not be caught together under the same roof, who greatly disagree with each other on many theological and philosophical points, whose teaching contradicts each other in many ways.61

All agreed that they must take extreme measures to check the tyranny of the federal government. Beam stated:

When they come for you, the federals will not ask if you are a Constitutionalist, a Baptist, Church of Christ, Identity covenant believer, Klansman, Nazi, home schooler, Freeman, New Testament believer, [or] fundamentalist….those who wear badges, black boots, and carry automatic weapons, and kick in doors already know all they need to know about you. You are the enemy of the state.62

They concluded that small, unorganized armies would be the most effective countermeasure. Thus, the contemporary militia movement was born. As Morris Dees notes, “At Estes Park, the movement changed from a disparate, fragmented group of pesky—and at times dangerous—gadflies to a serious armed political challenge to the state itself.”63

Ron Howen later tried to prosecute Weaver and Harris. The jury, however, in what The New York Times called “a strong rebuke of force during an armed siege,” acquitted the two of all the serious charges: murder, conspiracy and aiding and abetting. They found Weaver guilty only of failing to appear in court and violating the terms of his bail.64 The Weaver family and Kevin Harris later filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against the federal government. On August 16, 1995, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the Justice Department had reached a $3.1 million settlement with the Weavers. Yet the government, as customary in such cases, admitted no wrongdoing.65 Under a government probe, however, E. Michael Kahoe, who supervised the siege for the FBI, admitted shredding documents detailing the shoot-to-kill orders.66 Clearly the FBI and the BATF, under the Clinton administration, had overstepped their authority to such an extent that extremist warnings of a nascent police state began to seem credible. Tactically, the encounter furnished the far right with invaluable propaganda. Even so, just as the Weaver case was being tried, the BATF blundered again—with even more horrible consequences.

Second part of the video “Waco, the Big Lie” by Linda Thompson.


On April 19, 1993, the FBI and the BATF launched a concerted, paramilitary assault on a heavily armed and fortified compound in Waco, Texas. They used gas, tanks, and helicopters to incinerate and destroy a complex that belonged to the Branch Davidian religious group and had been under siege for 51 days. When the government ended the siege, they had killed Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and seventy-five of his followers. Of these, all but nineteen were women and children.67

Branch Davidians grew out of Victor Houteff’s Shepherd’s Rod Church in the 1960s. Shepherd’s Rod was a Seventh Day Adventist church; Adventists believe in the “Second Coming” of Jesus, which entails the fiery, apocalyptic destruction of the earth from which only true believers will be spared. After her husband and Branch Davidian founder, Ben Roden, died in 1978, Lois Roden became the new prophet, pronouncing that the Holy Spirit was female.68

David Koresh was born as Vernon Wayne Howell on August 17, 1959. He joined the Davidians in 1981, moving to the Mount Carmel Center. Howell became popular with the other Davidians and by 1984 began to emerge as the sect’s new spiritual leader. This led to a dispute with Lois Roden’s son George who ejected Howell from Mount Carmel. Many other Davidians followed him and set up a community on rental property in Palestine, Texas. In 1985 Howell visited Israel where he claimed to have a visitation from God who instructed him to study and to teach the prophecy of the Seven Seals from the Book of Revelations. During the same period, he also claims God told him to create a “House of David,” in which many wives would bear his children. His offspring would become the rulers of a new, purer world. Although the Davidians were apocalypticists, they were not racists like Christian Identity adherents; the congregation was racially and ethnically diverse.

After his mother’s death, George Roden challenged Howell’s leadership of the new group. He went so far as to dig up a coffin at Mount Vernon, daring Howell to raise the corpse inside from the dead. A gunfight resulted after Howell snuck onto the property to photograph the coffin. US District Judge Walter A. Smith sentenced Roden to six months in jail after Roden had threatened to infect him with herpes and AIDs. With Roden out of the way, Howell urged the country to put a lien on Mount Carmel for sixteen years of unpaid back taxes. By paying these off, Howell legally regained possession of Mount Carmel on March 22, 1988. In 1990 he changed his name to David Koresh, after the Old Testament King David and Cyrus, the Persian king who freed the Jews in Babylon.69

When Koresh declared in 1989 that God had commanded him to take the sect’s married women as his wives, follower Marc Breault became angry and left the group. In a 1990 affidavit he described Koresh as “power-hungry and abusive, bent on obtaining and exercising absolute power and authority over the group.” He took up the role of “a cult buster” and encouraged over a dozen Davidians to sign affidavits against Koresh. The charges included statutory rape, tax fraud, immigration violations, illegal weapons possession and child abuse. In 1991 Breault informed David Jewell that his young daughter Kiri would soon be eligible to become one of Koresh’s many wives. Jewell sued for custody in January 1992 and Jewell’s estranged wife surrendered the child voluntarily.70 In October of that year a Waco Herald-Tribune reporter contacted Assistant US. Attorney Bill Johnson about an exposé he was writing about Koresh, called “The Sinful Messiah.” It would detail the Davidian’s alleged child abuse and arms buildup.71

The BATF felt pressured to take action at Waco. On one hand, Jewell and the local media had raised charges of child abuse within the compound; on the other, due to charges of inefficiency, racism and sexism—not to mention the Ruby Ridge debacle, the BATF faced possible budget cuts and reorganization. Clear and decisive action at Waco might clear up both problems at once. Instead what resulted was a fifty-one-day siege that cost the lives of four BATF agents and that culminated in the death seventy-six Branch Davidians. As in the Ruby Ridge incident, the FBI failed to follow standard agency rules of engagement. Instead, after Davidians shot one marshal, agents received orders to shoot on sight. Reports suggest that although the Davidians were heavily armed, they would have complied with regularly served search warrants—as they indeed had done in the past. By beginning with a siege, the FBI and the BATF may have unnecessarily escalated the entire confrontation. FBI Director Louis J. Freeh later suspended Larry Potts and reprimanded dozens of other federal employees for the botched standoff at Ruby Ridge.72 Potts had overseen both Ruby Ridge and Waco. After this outcome, popular resentment ran deep. In a fund-raising letter, the otherwise mainstream NRA characterized BATF agents as “jack-booted government thugs” who wear “Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms.” That letter caused President George Bush to resign his NRA membership, stating, “Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor, and it offends my concept of service to my country.”73 In response to both Waco and Ruby Ridge, in October 1995 Janet Reno set forth new rules of engagement procedures for all federal law enforcement. These directives restrict the use of deadly force to a last resort and prohibit changes, even under extenuating circumstances.74

Right-wing propagandists were quick to exploit Waco—notably Linda Thompson. Calling herself “Assistant to the US Commanding General NATO” with a “Cosmic Top Secret/Atomal Security Clearance,” Thompson produced an inaccurate and misleading two-volume video set on the massacre called “Waco: the Big Lie.”75 Ironically, because of “race mixing” many of Thompson’s supporters would have otherwise targeted the Davidians themselves. White supremacist Timothy McVeigh nonetheless used Waco to justify the Oklahoma City bombing.

U.S. Air Force personnel from alongside civilian firefighters to remove rubble
from the explosion site of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City

On April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded at Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people and wounding about 500 others. As for loss of life and sheer destruction, this was by far the worst terrorist action in US history to date. Nineteen of the victims were children, most from the building’s day care center. In the wake of the World Trade Center bombing, the Clinton administration was quick to blame Arab terrorists, but then had to retract this accusation as it became clear the perpetrators were, after all, American. As in The Turner Diaries, the bomb consisted of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil; the target was a building used by the FBI. One Aryan Nations group had already targeted the Murrah building in 1983. A key member of that group, in fact, was Richard Wayne Snell, executed in Arkansas on the very day of the 1995 bombing.76 Before his death, Snell warned, “Look over your shoulder, justice is coming!”77

Shortly after the bombing, a state trooper stopped a yellow Mercury sixty miles outside Oklahoma City to check a missing license plate. He arrested the driver after finding a Glock semiautomatic pistol and a five-inch hunting knife inside the car. The driver turned out to be Timothy McVeigh, a twenty-seven-year-old veteran who had received a Bronze Star in operation Desert Storm. With an identification number from a mangled axle found in the wreckage, investigators soon linked McVeigh to the bombing. They traced the axle to a Ryder truck from Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas. Shop owner Eldon Elliott identified McVeigh as the man who had rented the truck on April 17. The FBI found McVeigh’s fingerprints on fertilizer receipts as well. Other evidence suggested that the brothers James and Terry Nichols may have been involved as well. Once in police custody, McVeigh said little, conducting himself like a prisoner of war.78

The radical right, in fact, had earmarked April 19 as a symbolic date. The Militia of Montana (MOM) called for a “national militia day” to commemorate not only Snell’s execution but also the Waco tragedy.79 Telephone records show that McVeigh called William Pierce’s unlisted telephone number in West Virginia one week before the bombing.80

McVeigh went to trial on April 24, 1997 in Denver, Colorado. Michael and Lori Fortier, the prosecution’s chief witnesses, recounted how McVeigh had diagrammed his plan on their kitchen floor with soup cans six months before the bombing. On June 3 the jury found McVeigh guilty of conspiracy, two bombing charges and eight counts of murder for the federal agents killed in the blast. During the penalty phase of the trial, McVeigh’s defense team changed its tactics. Instead of insisting on McVeigh’s innocence, they stressed his outrage at the Waco massacre, as a justification for taking 168 lives. Morris Dees, however, disputes the far right’s putative “eye for an eye” logic:

The fact that lives were lost during both the Waco debacle and the Weaver incident does not make those tragedies morally equivalent to the Oklahoma City bombing as the militias have suggested. Viewing the Waco incident from the perspective of the government’s complicity, the deaths were by accident. Viewing the Oklahoma City disaster from the perspective of the bomber’s responsibility, the deaths were by design. And even if one were to buy the thoroughly discredited militia line that the government started the blaze that engulfed the Davidians, a crucial distinction would still remain. The FBI pleaded with Koresh and the Davidians to come out of their compound for fifty-one days. The Oklahoma City bombers struck without warning.81

McVeigh received the death penalty on June 13. He remained stoic as he heard the verdict and, leaving the courtroom, flashed the “victory sign” to his family. He was executed on June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols went to federal trial on September 29, 1997. Unlike McVeigh who received a sentence of life imprisonment after the jury deadlocked on the death penalty. For this reason, Nichols was tried again by the state of Oklahoma—which had declined to prosecute McVeigh—in 2004. That jury also balked during the death penalty phase and, for 161 counts of murder, Nichols received an equal number of consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.

Armed militia member portrayed as patrolling the U.S. border.

The Militia Movement

Before the Oklahoma City bombing, few Americans knew of the militia movement. Suddenly, Ted Koppel’s Nightline, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time magazine all featured stories about it. For the first time, the mainstream public heard eccentric figures clad in camouflage gear warn of black helicopters, an invading strike force of Nepalese Gurkhas, secret tracking devices installed in their car ignitions, and the construction of massive crematoria in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Oklahoma City. All of this was supposedly the work of a global secret government that had even orchestrated the Oklahoma City bombing as a pretext to crack down on Patriot groups. Richard Abanes assessed the movement shortly thereafter:

This loosely knit network of perhaps 5 to 12 million people may be one of the most diverse movements our nation has ever seen. Within its ranks are college students, the unemployed, farmers, manual laborers, professionals, law enforcement personnel and members of the military….Interesting, patriots have no single leader. The glue binding them together is a noxious compound of four ingredients: (1)an obsessive suspicion of the government; (2) belief in anti-government conspiracies; (3) a deep-seated hatred for government officials; and (4) a feeling that the United States Constitution…has been discarded by Washington bureaucrats.82

Reporters have described the militia trend as paranoid. It is largely an expression of middle-class rage—not of the broad middle class itself, only a tiny, disaffected extreme. Since the onset of the Reagan Revolution, .5 percent of the population has consolidated its hold over almost 40 percent of total national assets. With the gap between rich and poor turning into a gulf, the middle class has seen its incomes shrink and its prospects for a higher standard of living disappear. It is further enraged by economic agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Mexican “bailout.” It views gun control and environmental restrictions as government “meddling” in their private affairs. Many militia members are “weekend warriors” who simply enjoy dressing up and marching around; others, of course, fully intend to use their weapons.83

Robert DePugh’s Minutemen, formed in the early 1960s, were the first contemporary, paramilitary group. Nonetheless, it was Ruby Ridge which gave birth to a national militia movement. During the standoff, sympathizers and local citizens had gathered outside the Weaver property to protest the government’s handling of the case. The resulting negotiations threw Bo Gritz into the limelight; after the Weaver incident, his Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events (SPIKE) program took on a bigger role in training militia groups. Meanwhile, Louis Beam introduced the idea of leaderless resistance at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous in Colorado. Beam argued that the patriot movement imitate “the communists”; it should discard traditional, military “pyramid structure” in favor of small, independent cells, impervious to infiltration by federal agents.84 Other protesters formed the United Citizens for Justice in October 1992 to protect citizens from “overzealous government.” That organization soon fizzled, but one member, Randy Trochmann, moved back to Noxon, Montana to form the Militia of Montana (MOM) with his father, Dave, and his uncle, John. The Trochmanns all have ties to Christian Identity. Unlike other militia groups, MOM concentrates on publishing training and propaganda material.85 Its titles include the M.O.D. Manual (a home guide to guerilla warfare), The Road Back (reclaiming America from the New World Order) and the instructional video Invasion and Betrayal (a survey of New World Order conspiracies). MOM members have had armed encounters with local police, but their primary significancy has been to spread the “militia gospel.”86

The Michigan Militia, founded by Norman Olson and Ray Southwell, is one of the movement’s best known. Six months after it was founded in 1994, brigades had sprung up in sixty-three of the state’s eighty-three counties. National attention focused on the Michigan Militia when investigators learned that suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing may have attended the group’s meetings. University of Michigan janitor Mark Koernke (“Mark from Michigan”) is the militia’s chief propagandist. He inveighs against the Federal Management Agency (FEMA) as a wing of the “shadow government” and has produced a two-hour video America in Peril: a Call to Arms that outlines the whole gamut of current conspiracy theories. In keeping with “need to know” tactics, most other militia groups prefer to operate in relative secrecy. Daniel Junas described how militia ideology differs from region to region in Covert Action Quarterly:

the militias vary in membership and ideology. In the East, they appear closer to the John Birch Society. In New Hampshire, for example, the 15-member Constitution Defense Militia reportedly embraces garden variety U.N. conspiracy fantasies and lobbies against gun control measures. In the Midwest, some militias have close ties to the Christian right, particularly the radical wing of the anti-abortion movement. In Wisconsin, Matthew Trewhella, leader of Missionaries to the Preborn, has organized paramilitary training sessions for his church members.87

Claiming that the New World Order controls 50 percent of the United States, US Representative Helen Chenoweth (Idaho) has lent official credence to such otherwise crackpot theories. In line with so-called Wise Use doctrine she also declared “spiritual war” on environmentalism and introduced a bill requiring all arms-bearing federal agents to obtain permission from local sheriffs before entering a state.88 Tactical anti-environmentalism began in Catron County, New Mexico with the Country Rule program. Here, attorney James Catron succeeded in passing an ordinance that declared that the country government supersedes federal law, including such questions as whether cattle may graze on federal lands. With this precedent, some 100 more western counties have followed suit.89

The biggest militia confrontation to date came in March 1996 when members of a group calling itself the Montana Freemen planned to kidnap and execute a judge and a second government official. Previous Freeman actions had included tax resistance, counterfeiting and impersonating government officials. FBI agents intercepted two members who were bringing a truckload of weapons from North Carolina to a compound they called “Justus Township” near Jordon, Montana. After this, sixteen other members, lead by Russell Dean Landers, holed up in this community for what would become an 81-day siege, the longest in American history. During that time, a total of 633 agents worked in twelve-hour shifts with sometimes as many as 150 agents surrounding the compound. After Ruby Ridge and Waco, FBI director Louis J. Freeh had decided to exercise extreme caution. Only after seventy-one days, did the FBI cut electrical power to the compound. Some criticized the agency for wasting time and money, but this approach paid off on June 13 when the FBI ended the armed standoff with no loss of life. Freeh declared, “The message that comes out very clear to everybody—if you break the law, the United States government will enforce the law. It will do it fairly but firmly.” Attorneys Kirk Lyons and David Holloway from the CAUSE Foundation in North Carolina will represent the Freemen in court. The CAUSE Foundation calls itself a civil rights organization for right-wing activists. Randy Trochmann declared that the trial would provide an ideal platform for militia propaganda.

Although the federal government made egregious mistakes at the Ruby Ridge and Waco sieges, these were exceptions. Nonetheless, the far right has aggressively exploited these events, turning its criminals into heroes. This might tempt Americans to forget that law enforcement officials have routinely risked and lost their lives to keep otherwise unregulated paramilitary groups in check. No one has turned the dead BATF or FBI agents into martyrs. Morris Dees notes that no other country in the world tolerates private armies that build bombs and train with assault weapons; local police seldom enforce state laws that forbid these armies.90 Moreover, he warns of a racist component in the tolerance extended to these groups:

It would be interesting to see the reaction of the state attorneys general if the militia groups operating today were all located near large metropolitan cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, and were comprised only of blacks. If law enforcement’s violent reaction to the Black Panthers of the 1960s is any example, I seriously doubt if black militia units training with assault weapons, distributing recipes for building bomb, and preaching hatred for the government would be tolerated.91

Any analysis of the constitutionality of the militia movement entails two questions: i) the right to bear arms and ii) the right to form private militias. While the constitutional right to bear arms is unclear and subject to debate, the Constitution expressly prohibits forming private militias. A militia may consist of the citizenry at large, just as the patriot movement claims. It fails to note, however, that only Congress can call up a militia, which, in turn, remains subject to government regulation:

Private citizens cannot simply band together, saying “Okay, we’re a militia. We’re here to protect our rights against what we believe is a tyrannical federal government.” The militias of today’s patriot movement are functioning outside constitutional boundaries. They are unconstitutional militias. The Constitution stipulates, “Congress shall have the power…To provide for calling forth the militia…To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia…reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of officers, and the authority of training the militia.92

Alarmed by the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, the Clinton administration tried to pass the Omnibus Counter-Terrorism Act of 1995. It intended this legislation to allow the FBI more leeway to collect information and to conduct surveillance without prior court authorization. The act did not pass. Appearing before the Senate, Morris Dees advised lawmakers simply to enforce existing laws; the FBI did not need such sweeping powers. Most important, Dees reminded his audience, although they should never accept misconduct by federal law enforcement agencies, they should never take effective law enforcement for granted. It forgets that even before Ruby Ridge the government had peacefully resolved dozens of standoffs. Since then, it acknowledged its mistakes and has taken steps to insure that they will not happen again.

Tea Party in Washington D.C..


The Clinton Administration’s decision to limit deadly force significantly helped defuse the militia movement in the short term. The long-range impetus behind the militias waned for other reasons as well. The first, and most obvious, is that overturning the Federal government was never an achievable goal from the outset. However much ideological heat can be produced by stoking such fantasies could never drive a full-blown, right-wing revolution. Second, the logic of globalization, once so tempting for extremists to condemn as a conspiracy, has inexorably come to be accepted as part of twenty-first century social reality. Nonetheless, the extremist right continues to exert a disproportionately large ideological influence both domestically and internationally, though no longer in the form of an underground movement. The Tea Party represents the most recent expression of its disaffection, the roots of which can be traced back to the ongoing decimation of the middle class and the economic and social dislocation wrought be global capitalism. The progressive left has responded to these conditions as well, most notably through the Occupy Movement, which re-asserts the principle of communal public space and property against the logic of ongoing privatization. It is notable that how wealth is allocated is what fundamentally moves the populist right and left. Domestically, an ever-smaller elite lays claim to ever-more profits. Internationally, the distribution capital is beginning to include Third World economies rising out of the conditions of neo-colonialism. These are the underlying conditions of the Great Recession of the 2000s, which has so dramatically reduced the size and political clout of the middle class. The mandate, then, for the Tea Party has become to transform government, not overthrow it. It casts the proposed transformation as returning to the values of the founding fathers, even when such proposals blatantly contradict fundamental Constitutional principles. Embedded in the idea of such a return is the assumption that this will lead to a restoration of a once vibrant middle class. For example, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s recent assessment of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to Baptist ministers in Houston, a speech that reaffirmed Constitutional separation of church and state is one such “return.” Santorum said the Kennedy’s speech made him want to “throw up.” What is perhaps most alarming in this is, apart from its vehemence, that it signals a perceived feasibility of merging church and state. For the immediate future it seems that the battle over such issues will be waged by debate within the ranks of the Republican Party – and not with weapons from remote and isolated survivalist compounds.

"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
-Malcolm X
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:44 pm ... d-beliefs/

John Miller

Politics of Hate in the USA, Part II: Right-wing Mysticism and Beliefs

The following text, which is the second of three installments, traces back to a conversation I had with Mike Kelley in 1994, “Too Young to be a Hippy, Too Old to be a Punk.”1 Christophe Tannert at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin had invited us to discuss underground political and aesthetic culture in the US for the first issue of Bethanien’s Be Magazin. One year later, I followed this up with a narrative account and analysis of the subject, “Burying the Underground.” Meanwhile, a series of sieges, armed standoffs, and bombings made Americans increasingly aware of a growing polarization between the US federal government and what was hardening into a grassroots militia movement: Ruby Ridge (1992), Waco (1993), Oklahoma City (1995) and Fort Davis, Texas (1997). I began to see this as a right-wing counterpart to militant leftism. In fact, the right seemed to be mirroring tactics that had previously belonged to the leftist underground. This led me to write a complementary essay, “Heil Hitler! Have a Nice Day!, the Politics of Hate in the U.S.A.” By 2001, the militia movement had run out of steam. When al-Qaeda terrorists staged the September 11 attacks, however, these so closely resembled events described in William Pierce’s pseudonymous manifesto, The Turner Diaries, that I had initially suspected the radical right. Although unemployment and economic dislocation drove the militia movement, the Great Recession has not provoked a similar response. Instead of overturning—or seceding from—the federal government, the far right, now exemplified by the Tea Party, wants to work from within the political system by downsizing government and converting it to a states’ rights model. This shift is evident in the current Republican debates leading up to the next presidential election, where candidates have tried to turn “moderate” into a pejorative term.

John Miller

Continued from “Politics of Hate in the USA, Part I: Repressive Tolerance”


Conspiracy Theory

Modern conspiracy theory traces its roots to the French cleric Abbé Barruel. In 1797 Barruel wrote an account of the French Revolution focused on the Jacobins. Behind the Jacobins he saw a conspiracy of three secret societies: the Order of Templars, the Order of Freemasons and the Illuminatti.2 In 1806 the retired army officer J.B. Simonini praised Barruel’s analysis in a letter to him, but pointed out “the omission” that Jews had founded both the Freemasons and the Illuminatti for world domination.3 In his book Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, the Scotsman John Robison further argued, “Nothing is more clear than that the design of the Illuminatti was to abolish Christianity.”4 Many in the United States, clergymen especially, greeted the French Revolution with suspicion. In May1798 the Reverend Jedidiah Morse warned of a Jacobin-derived plot against American political and religious institutions. Soon after, journalists exposed the Robison book as fraudulent. By the end of 1799 the Illuminatti affair was, for the time being, over.5

Around 1891 the novel Biarritz, written by Prussian postal worker Hermann Goedsche under the pen name Sir John Retcliffe, gained notoriety throughout Europe. What captivated many of its readers was a sensationalistic chapter entitled “In the Jewish Cemetery in Prague.” In it, elders from the twelve tribes of Israel gather at the grave of the most venerable rabbi and discuss the progress of their plot to take over the world. This text was reprinted as a pamphlet called “The Rabbi’s Speech” and distributed throughout Russia and France. In time, readers came to accept this story as fact and it became the basis for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols purport to be a transcript of lectures given by leading Jews at a 1840 world congress in Cracow, Poland.6 They were pieced together between 1872 and 1895 from various sources: the writings of Barruel, Simonini, Goedsche plus books by Maurice Joly and Gougenot des Mousseax. 7 James Ridgeway has summarized them as follows:

The Protocols argue that people are incapable of governing themselves, and only a despot using armed force can govern effectively….[The Jews have plotted their] rise to power by pitting the Gentiles against one another until, eventually…[they] will be able to enlist the masses in overthrowing their indolent gentile leaders. Thereafter the masses will be kept under firm control through an efficient government that will banish unemployment, apply taxation in proportion to wealth, and promote education. During this messianic age the Jewish masters will shrewdly promise, but never deliver, liberty.8

Although London Times correspondent Philip Graves showed parts of the Joly’s book had been plagiarized in the Protocols, they too became accepted as fact. Shortly before the October Revolution, the czar’s secret police published another version in an attempt to smear its opponents.9

The Jew Bolshevic Emblem surrounded by the
Symbolic Serpent in the Protocol book.

In the 1920s Henry Ford widely distributed the Protocols in the United States. His weekly newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, included them as part of a series on “the Jewish international conspiracy.” According to the Independent, Jewish influence was everywhere. Jews forced William Howard Taft to break a commercial treaty with Russia (thereby weakening the czar). They controlled Woodrow Wilson’s administration, particularly through Bernard Baruch, chair of the War Industries Board. (Wilson initiated the League of Nations, forerunner to the far right’s much hated United Nations.) Communism itself was a Jewish plot. The Independent also charged that Paul Warburg intended to control the US financial system with the Federal Reserve. Ford later anthologized the entire series as The International Jew and distributed the book worldwide. Half a million copies circulated in the US alone. In Germany, it became a cornerstone of fascist propaganda. In 1927 Aaron Sapiro sued the Independent for libel in its series “Jewish Exploitation of Farmer Organizations.” Although the lawsuit ended in a mistrial, Ford closed the newspaper.10 During this highly publicized case, the Independent’s editor, William J. Cameron, took full blame for the newspaper’s policies. Wilson and the Warburg family also challenged Ford’s accusations. Ford retracted them, claiming his employees had published the material without his consent. Yet, in 1938, Ford accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, becoming the first American to be decorated with that medal.11 Christian Identity expert Michael Barkun has noted the irony of Ford’s anti-Semitism:

The so-called “pseudo-agrarian” movements…beginning in the 1890s…sought to blame rural and small-town social dislocations on an urban, plutocratic conspiracy. More often than not, this cabal was identified as explicitly Jewish, and it became a convenient scapegoat for those troubled by departures from traditional social values. It was ironical that Henry Ford, himself an agent of some of these changes…became…one of the principal voices for an anti-Semitic politics of resentment.12

In the 1930s a new religious revival swept across the US, reviving, among other things, the anti-Semitism Ford had espoused earlier on. Just as a convulsive modernization left Germany open to Nazism, so economic turmoil and rapid urbanization drove many Americans to fundamentalist religion. With fire and brimstone preachers grimly warning of the coming apocalypse, paranoia and racism were overlaid on these beliefs. Three figures dominated the fundamentalist movement: Gerald B. Winrod, William Pelley and Gerald K. Smith.13

The Dearborn Independent newspaper printed by Henry Ford, 1925.

Gerald B. Winrod preached that Christ would soon return for the Battle of Armageddon. He believed that while anti-Semitism is founded in Biblical prophecies, only a “certain element” of world Jewry advocates subversion. The widow of Christian Identity minister Wesley Swift believes that it was Winrod who introduced her husband to British-Israelism, the paradoxical forerunner to the Identity movement that first identified with Jews, then turned anti-Semitic.14 What distinguished Winrod from other preachers was his 1938 bid for US Senate in Kansas. He finished third in the Republican primary elections with considerable support from Mennonite communities and the Ku Klux Klan.15

At the outset of his career, William Pelley had been a supporter of Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations. In 1927, he underwent a sudden mystical transformation, withdrawing from society and experiencing a “rebirth” during which he claimed to have heard voices from other worlds. He came back to public life believing in reincarnation—particularly in the reappearance of “demon souls” as Jews. Later, Pelley embraced the work of “pyramidologist” David Davidson, who was a follower of British Israelism. By integrating Davidson’s work with anti-Semitism, Pelley helped lay the groundwork for Christian Identity. 16 After Hitler came to power in Germany, Pelley founded the Silver Legion—or Silver Shirts as Pelley sometimes called them, after the Brown Shirts. Pelley even claimed that Christ himself had accepted his offer to become an honorary Silver Shirt. In 1942, trying to quash nativist reactionaries, the Roosevelt administration charged both Pelley and Winrod with sedition. Pelley spent fifteen years in prison.17

Like Winrod, Gerald K. Smith was a fundamentalist who entered politics. In 1933 he joined Pelley’s Silver Shirts, then went on to help manage Huey Long’s presidential campaign. After Long’s assassination in 1935, Smith unsuccessfully ran for office himself. He then formed the Union Party with Father Charles Coughlin and Francis Townsend. The Union Party ran William Lemke against Roosevelt in the 1936 election, but received less than a million votes. Smith next moved to Detroit and met Henry Ford who sponsored his radio broadcasts and furnished him with investigators for compiling the “Ford Company Red File,” a list of known or suspected communists. This work inspired feverish visions of Jewish conspiracy in Smith’s mind. He proclaimed, “Communism is Jewish” and speculated that Roosevelt never died, but that Jews had hidden him to later bring him back as “President of the World.” Even after the Second World War, Smith maintained that people had misunderstood Hitler and that the holocaust was a hoax. Despite his bizarre speculations, Smith was a commanding speaker who could rally large audiences. During the Second World War he met with Christian Identity theologian Wesley Swift and converted to the obscure sect that now provides a religious and ideological foundation for many recent hate groups.18 As an agitator, Smith helped politicize the Identity movement; using key Identity figures to forward his own political agenda, he lent coherence to an otherwise fragmented movement.19

Kenneth Goff, a Christian Identity minister and protegé of Minuteman founder Robert DePugh, claims the conspirators have continued to control international politics even today. According to him, Benito Mussolini, Nikolai Lenin and Colonel E. Mandel House (a chief aide to Wilson) laid the plans for the First World War at a conference in Belgium during the early 1900s. After House convinced Czar Nicholas II to abdicate his throne, Jacob Schiff, through the financial firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., engineered Lenin’s rise to power. To cover their tracks, Zionists launched a “disinformation campaign” portraying their allies, the Russian Communists, as anti-Semitic. Goff claims that the international Jewish banking cabal further consolidated its hold on the world economy through marriages between the Loeb, Rothschild and Warburg families. To win sympathy, they fabricated accounts of the holocaust in Nazi Germany and continue to use the charge “anti-Semitic” to disable their critics. The “Jewish” agent Alger Hiss, served on the US delegation to the Yalta Conference and helped arrange to grant the Soviet Union veto power in the United Nations.20 From Goff’s perspective, a secret cabal controls mainstream television, radio and newspapers as well: the so-called “Jews’ media.” Those who subscribe to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have come to call the Federal government the Zionist Occupation Government—or ZOG, for short.

In 1991, Pat Robertson’s book The New World Order became a New York Times bestseller with almost a half million copies in print. The book has effectively legitimated the bizarre ideas of the patriot movement within a broader evangelical Christian community. Although his book simply updates well-established conspiracy themes, Robertson, then unofficially heading the Christian Coalition, disavowed that approach.21 Nonetheless, he claimed to have traced “an invisible cord” of influence connecting “[Woodrow] Wilson…to the JP Morgan bank, to the Rockefellers and the Council on Foreign Relations…to the powerful Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, to the United Nations, to Henry Kissinger…,to the Trilateral Commission, to Jimmy Carter, to George Bush.” Critic Michael Lind attacked Robertson’s implicit racism in the February 1995 New York Review of Books:

Not since Father Coughlin or Henry Ford has a prominent white American so boldly and unapologetically blamed the disasters of modern world history on the machinations of international high finance in general and on a few international Jews in particular.22

Robertson responded, “I deeply regret that anyone in the Jewish community believes that my description of international bankers and use of the phrase “European bankers” in my book refers to Jews.”23 Even so, Robertson quoted the work of well-known anti-Semites Nesta Weber and Eustace Mullins in support of his theories.24 Defenders of the book dismissed its anti-Semitism by pointing out Robertson’s support for Israel. For a dispensational premillennialist such as Robertson, backing Israel does not necessarily preclude anti-Semitism. According to this belief, the Jews must return to Israel before the Second Coming.

Michael Barkun has described how conspiracy theory relies on an inverse logic of credibility: one that stigmatizes ideas bearing the approval of prestigious institutions and that legitimizes, by default, those not associated with such institutions. He links this inversion to British sociologist Colin Campbell’s notion of the “cultic milieu”:

[which] refers to a society’s “rejected knowledge,” beliefs considered unacceptable by such authoritative institutions as conventional religion, universities, the state, and the mass media. Second, the cultic milieu refers not simply to this body of rejected knowledge but to its expression in the form of a “cultural underground,” a “network of individuals, groups, practices, institutions, [and] means of communication.” 25

Clearly, this inverse logic is a compensatory rationalization of otherwise unacceptable social changes. It pertains not so much to active cultural dissent itself as it does to withdrawal from status quo adversity. A disaffected person is always the most susceptible to this form of belief. One can always more easily scapegoat another than confront one’s own failings. Consensus within a cult, moreover, can intensify and seemingly objectify almost any belief. Laird Wilcox, a critic of the radical right, points out that once people enter conspiracy discourse, they become “insulated from outside forces, they listen to themselves and no one criticizes them….You have an internal myth built up by this incestuous feedback.” 26 Political analyst Chip Berlet further observes that once a group establishes this insularity, “instead of engaging in a political struggle based on debate, compromise, and informed consent, . . . [conspiracy theorists only] want to expose and neutralize the bad actors.” 27 Recently, the emergence of the Internet has reinforced this kind of thinking. There, when verification for these ideas is lacking, predisposition—i.e., a fervent need to believe—sanctions them anyway.



Apocalyptic visions sometimes drive radicalism on both the left and right. For example, Walter Benjamin’s conception of jetztzeit (based on the Jewish messianic vision of history) posits a break with the “dead time” of bourgeois society. This idea has become central to the postmodern critique of progress. The Jewish messianic tradition similarly inspired Abbie Hoffman. Myth drives revolutions, in the end, more than rationalism. If the left’s vision is characteristically expansive and utopian, religious fundamentalism and a sense of creeping social deterioration distinguish the right’s sense of the apocalypse. That sense, moreover, is literal, not allegorical. The Book of Revelations prophesies a final Battle of Armageddon; the Catholic Douay Version of the Scripture calls this book the Apocalypse.28 “Revolutionary millenarianism” rejects the gradualism of ordinary political struggle with its demand for immediate and convulsive social change:

It is characteristic of this kind of movement that its aims and premises are boundless. A social struggle is seen not as a struggle for specific, limited objectives, but as an event of unique importance, different in kind from all other struggles in history, a cataclysm from which the world is to emerge totally transformed and redeemed.29

By the end of the Second World War the arrival of nuclear weaponry made apocalyptic biblical predictions technologically possible. Thus, if the prospect of thermonuclear annihilation did not produce enough anxiety by itself, some further saw “the Bomb” as the instrument of religious prophecies. In 1971, future President Ronald Reagan warned the California State Senate:

Ezekiel 38 and 39 says that Gog, a northern power, will invade Israel. Gog must be Russia. Most of the prophecies that had to be fulfilled before Armageddon can come have come to pass. Ezekiel said that fire and brimstone will be rained upon the enemies. That must mean that they’ll be destroyed by nuclear weapons. 30

This was the same man who joked “Start bombing in five minutes” and initiated the “Star Wars” defense system. His Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, ordered the clear-cutting of national forests thinking that, in the not-too-distant future, no one would be left to enjoy them anyway. As the Reagan Revolution pushed forward (or backward), author Hal Lindsey published a series of bestsellers interpreting global politics according to the Book of Revelations. These include The Rapture, The Terminal Generation, There’s a New World Coming, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon and The Late Great Planet Earth. The last title, in which Lindsey interpreted current events according to the biblical Seven Seals, sold more than 18 million copies. 31

Fear of a coming apocalypse sparked a survivalist movement across America. Christian Fundamentalists, however, are not prone to survivalism because they believe in the rapture, i.e., that Christ will appear and bring them to heaven for the Tribulation. In contrast, historic premillenialists such as Identity Christians expect to actively battle the Anti-Christ during Armageddon.32 Because urban centers would be the first to go in a missile strike, survivalism took root in the countryside. Just as air-raid sirens and fallout shelters sprouted up all across America during the 1950s, people today take matters into their own hands by stockpiling freeze-dried foods, water, clothing and weapons. Survivalism, however, is at root anti-social. It signals that one has somewhat abandoned normal social intercourse as an adequate basis for personal and public life:

[T]he act of radical withdrawal can engender a siege mentality, a sense that one is surrounded by enemies and that the battle is even now beginning. Thus survivalists are prey to the self-fulfilling prophecy, in the sense that their very preparations may lead them into actions that set them at odds with political authorities.33

Dug in and braced for the Bomb, some start to regard a nuclear holocaust as a solution instead of a problem.

Despite the very real threat of nuclear weaponry, Apocalypticism is symptomatic of forces that are, by default, excluded from its mythology. Its radical themes and iconography distract discussion from the root causes of rural crises:

To most of us, apocalyticism, at least in its thoroughgoing manifestations, is so spectacular, so potentially destructive, that is difficult to look beneath its surface….As one can see from the history of it, it nearly always arises in times of suppression, chaos, fear, or disadvantage. As such, its first appearances are a register of the degree of social and psychological pain people are suffering.34We are dealing with frightened people caught in the jaws of history, not kooks.35

Film still from Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising.

Left to Right Militants

Much of the political instability of the 1990s concerns the disappearance of a familiar foe: Communism. During the Cold War, Americans of all persuasions found themselves ready to unite against a common enemy, putting aside even their longstanding xenophobia. The period’s two ultra-right organizations, the John Birch Society and the Minutemen, focused their ire almost exclusively on the Soviet Union. Yet, by the end of the 1980s, the Eastern European Communist bloc was falling apart. On September 11, 1990, President George Bush proclaimed the triumph of Western capitalism with the unfortunate choice of words, “new world order”:

We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment….Out of these troubled times…a new world order can emerge; a new era—freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace, an era in which nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.36

Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, outlined its specific implications for US foreign policy:

[The New World Order] means that the US and other democratic nations agree to be governed by a rule of law whereby any country breaking that law is treated much as criminals are in each country. They are tried and, if found guilty, punished. The process will be carried out in the same manner that police and courts enforce local laws.37

Among conspiracy theorists, these statements resurrected fears of a secret, global cartel. In mainstream America the old xenophobia vigorously reasserted itself through a return to isolationism and bigotry. Ironically, from the standpoint of nuclear threat, this was the worst possible time to turn to isolationism. The Soviet nuclear arsenal fell into far less reliable hands, making the possibility of a nuclear holocaust now more likely than during the Cold War.

The success of 1960s and 70s progressive social movements left many on the right feeling that by the end of the millennium, American society will have fallen apart completely. The result has been a strident white, male backlash. A sense of going from persecutor to persecuted has created some strange identifications. Neo-Nazi propagandist Gary Lauck compared his exile from Germany with Lenin’s exile. Conspiracy theorists likened the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City to that of the Reichstag fire, seeing it as a plot to discredit the militia movement. Moreover, right-wing militants often adopt rhetoric and tactics from the very leftist activist groups they blame for social degeneracy. The name of David Duke’s National Association for the Advancement of White People, for example, mocks the venerable NAACP. Another group, calling itself the Men’s Rights Association, claimed that after feminism’s inroads into power, “Hard working men are reduced to the position of donkeys.”38 White Aryan Resistance (WAR) leader, Tom Metzger, explains his own political orientation vis-a-vis the legacy of the New Left:

We began to think a little broader and look into some of the left-wing positions, and we started evolving something that can’t be called right-wing. It can’t be called Marxist and it’s not really…The word populist has been ruined by the right wing, by the manipulations of [Willis Carto’s] Populist Party. We don’t accept that. We began to take on a lot of the positions of the left, and we started recruiting people from the left.39

Metzger is trying to reformulate National Socialism for the 90s; the Brown Shirts too were populists. Even so, as Catherine McNicol Stock explains, populist rural politics do not fit neatly into a conventional left/right opposition:

In its members’ contempt for the federal government, profound antiauthoritarianism, mockery of big business and finance, dedication to complete local control of the community, and desire to establish wilderness compounds, the new rural radicalism of the 1990s sounds surprisingly similar to the counterculture rhetoric of the far left in the 1960s. In fact, in northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and the rural Northwest it is not uncommon for gun-toting paramilitary leaders to live next door to latter-day hippies and marijuana growers. The…Murrah Federal Building [bombing] reminded some observers of the 1970 bombing of the University of Wisconsin’s Army-Math Research Center by a member of the local Students for Democratic Society.40

Some SDS-ers, like Lyndon LaRouche, have even switched camps, from left to right.41 New rightist groups, nonetheless, stridently oppose the social ethos of the left. Overall, their intent is the “resublimation” of culture: to turn back the advances of the previous thirty-odd years. This resublimation characteristically takes the form of a crackdown rather than increased compassion and understanding. If an “eros effect” drove, up to a point, the left movement, a politics of hate drives that of the right.42 A key figure in this broad ideological shift was not an ideologue at all, but a delusional schizophrenic: Charles Manson.

MSNBC docu-drama that follows Charles Manson at the Spahns Movie Ranch
and the final days leading to the 1966 Tate/La Bianca murders.

Healter Skelter

Responding to an early morning call on August 9, 1969, Los Angeles police officers discovered grisly evidence of what would become the most publicized crime of its day: the slain bodies of Steve Parent, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate Polanski at 10050 Cielo Drive in Bel Aire. Scrawled in blood on the front door was the word “PIG.” Assailants had shot Parent, Frykowski and Sebring with a .22 caliber pistol. They stabbed everyone but Parent with a bayonet. Tate, seven months pregnant, received multiple wounds in the abdomen. The next evening, other police investigators found Leno and Rosemarie LaBianca dead in their Los Feliz home, pillow cases tied over their heads with cords. Knife wounds covered their bodies. An ivory handled carving fork protruded from Leno LaBianca’s stomach; the word “WAR” was carved into his torso. “DEATH TO PIGS” was printed in blood on the north living room wall; “RISE” on the south wall and “HEALTER SKELTER” (sic) on the refrigerator in the kitchen. About ten days earlier, music teacher Gary Hinman had met a similar fate in his Malibu home. His living room wall bore the phrase “POLITICAL PIGGY,” also in blood.43

Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi believed that these three crimes were all the work of Charles Manson and a group he had formed around himself called “The Family.” Because Bugliosi had little direct evidence implicating Manson—whom he considered the ringleader, he had to show that the group, at Manson’s bidding, had conspired to commit a series of premeditated murders. In other words, he had to unravel and articulate Manson’s idiosyncratic vision of Armageddon. Drawing on the conservative breakdowns of the 1960s, Manson prophesied that black people all over the world would soon rise up and slay their white oppressors. Meanwhile The Family would retreat into caves around Death Valley. After the purge, they would return to reclaim their rightful position of power and regenerate the white race. Manson, of course, would rule the world. He had seen the coming apocalypse prophesied in songs from the Beatles White Album: “Helter Skelter,” “Blackbird,” “Piggies,” “Sexy Sadie,” “Revolution” and “Revolution No. 9.”44

Charles Manson grew up a perpetual outsider—moving from foster homes to reform schools to prisons—with only brief interludes between. It was during his last such period that he ran completely amok, leaving a remarkably deep impression on the disaffected elements of American society. As an aspiring rock musician, he once brought The Family to live with Beachboy Dennis Wilson. Wilson’s friend Gregg Jakobson unsuccessfully tried to interest producer Terry Melcher (then married to Candice Bergen) in Manson’s music. Manson took Melcher’s indifference as a personal affront. Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate were unlucky enough to have taken over Melcher’s lease at 10050 Cielo Drive; revenge was clearly one motive for the killings there. Although Wilson had downplayed his opinion of Manson’s talent to Melcher, the Beachboys later recorded his song “Cease to Exist” as “Never Let Your Love Die.”45

Other Family members had tenuous links to parts of the counterculture as well. Before hooking up with Manson, Bobby Beausoleil knew film maker Kenneth Anger and played Lucifer in Anger’s film Lucifer Rising.46 At the Hinman murder scene Beausoleil drew a bloody paw print on the wall in an attempt to implicate the Black Panthers—and by that precipitate “helter skelter,” the black uprising. Manson had also bragged about “killing a Black Panther.” It turned out, however, that the man in question, drug dealer Bernard Crowe, had never been a Panther—nor did he die after Manson shot him. Although Manson was a white supremacist, he regarded Black Panthers and Black Muslims as “the true black race,” i.e., as groups destined overturn the corrupt white establishment. The erosion of traditional patriarchal underpinnings was just one sign of that corruption; Manson believed that women should eventually be re-subordinated to men.47

When The Family moved to the abandoned Spahn Movie Ranch, its cultist activities and beliefs intensified. The ranch once served as a set for Westerns starring, among others, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Johnny Mack Brown, and Wallace Beery before it fell into disuse. There, Manson combined techniques derived from Scientology with LSD and group sex to indoctrinate new members into his cult. This combination effectively broke down initiates’ sense of self and severed earlier familial and social identifications. Psychically leveled, they bonded absolutely to their charismatic leader. Oddly enough, the resulting social structure bore an uncanny resemblance to the “primal horde” postulated by Sigmund Freud in Totem and Taboo; The Family’s very name parodied the nuclear family.

Throughout Manson’s murder trial, Family women kept a vigil outside the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles. Imitating their leader, they carved first crosses, then swastikas into their foreheads. After the guilty verdict, all those convicted shaved their heads. Later, various Family members either stated outright or implied that the group had been involved in an additional 20-30 murders, including that of Manson’s own “hippie attorney,” Ronald Hughes. Officials never solved most of the other cases. Of those convicted, all involved in the Tate-LaBianca slayings remain behind bars.

Inside prison, the Aryan Brotherhood purportedly contacted Manson during the 1970s.48 On the outside, various subcults, of all political persuasions, celebrated—and continue to celebrate—the Manson myth. Yet, after twenty-eight years, all but two Family members have renounced their former leader. Charles Watson (who had once called his victims “just blobs”) and Susan Atkins became born-again Christians. Only Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sandra Good remain unreformed—and, of course, Manson himself.

The Family outside the courthouse during the trial of cult leader Charles Manson,
having shaved their heads in protest.

Manson and the Radical Right

Undoubtedly, part of The Family’s appeal during the tumultuous 1970s had been its promise to purge the established order of its hypocrisy, by—ironically—replacing repressive tolerance with outright repression. Throwing the status quo into sharp relief, Manson did manage to expose something of its arbitrariness. Family members cynically understood murder as a deliverance from the world’s evils—that “when you stab someone, it feels good when the knife goes in.” This absolutism, however deranged, came across as a potent antidote to the hippie movement’s growing complacency, particularly “flower power’s” shallowness.

More psychopathic than ideological, Manson’s deeds and posturing nonetheless carried a political charge. They became a symbolic screen onto which other left extremists could project their own fantasies. Before she went underground, Bernadine Dohrn told an SDS convention, “Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson.” Jerry Rubin echoed her cavalier adulation, “I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV.” Tuesday’s Child, an underground newspaper that called itself “the Voice of the Yippies,” made Manson its Man of the Year.49 This misguided adulation of Manson registers the extent to which cynicism had overtaken the movement. Manson’s popularity as a cult figure thus marks the beginning of a shift from left to right in the underground paradigm.

In at least three respects The Family anticipates the survivalist movement and the racist religious sects of the 1990s. First, its apocalyptic racism prefigures the white backlash to affirmative action and civil rights. As racist and sexist social structures began to break up, many white men saw themselves as a new, specially persecuted minority. They blamed their declining standard of living on the social and economic ascendence of women and minority groups. Echoing Manson’s delusional cosmology, William Pierce’s influential novel The Turner Diaries offers a futuristic vision of an African-American takeover of the white population and an ensuing race war. Although it is fiction, this book later served as a template for all-too-real terrorist acts.

Second, The Family exemplifies how a terrorist cell can be modeled on the “intentional community.” This term denotes a community brought together for a deliberate purpose: overriding the refractory social and economic forces that typically bring diverse groups of people together. In the United States, early intentional communities include the Amish and the utopian communes of the nineteenth century. More pertinent, though, are the hippie communes out of which the Family emerged. These favored the group over the individual; their goal was to abolish egoism. With few individualist ambitions, these communal groups might then fall prey more easily to gurus and con artists. A fundamental motivation for the hippie commune, moreover, was dropping out, which meant breaking with mainstream society and constructing an alternative culture. Although Manson was no hippie (he could be construed as an anti-hippie), he took this principle to an extreme. Self-styled prophets Jim Jones, David Koresh and those of the more recent Heaven’s Gate cult—though not pointedly right-wing—have followed in his wake. The Family, however, was homicidal, not suicidal. More recent racist Christian groups, such as Aryan Nations and The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), update the hippie tactic of dropping out through the rubric of survivalism. Like The Family, they are militant—more so in ultimate objectives. They differ tactically in that Manson only wanted The Family to instigate a race war, not actually wage one. In The Turner Diaries, William Pierce outlined a similar role for the Order:

Finally, the far right believes in the subjugation of women. Although he relied almost exclusively on women to carry out his plans, Manson believes this too. Ironically, his own lifestyle obliterated even the most rudimentary semblance of home and family which, for the right, define femininity. Where Manson differs most significantly from the recent hate groups is that he was not overly concerned with anti-Semitism, populism or Constitutionality.50

Christian Identity

In present-day America, the Christian Identity Movement codifies a hatred and paranoia analogous to Manson’s. The movement’s precursor was, oddly enough, a philo-Semitic theology: British-Israelism. John Wilson, the son of a radical Irish weaver, set forth this belief in an 1840 book entitled Lectures on Our Israelitish Origin. Edward Hine definitively reshaped Wilson’s doctrine in his 1871 book Identification of the British Nation with Lost Israel.51 It construed Anglo-Saxons to be the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel and also belonging to God’s chosen people. As a millenarian belief, British-Israelism survived through a combination of specificity and vagueness, leaving its predictions open to constant revision. It was highly decentralized and subject to variation. As the Zionist movement came to the fore in Britain, aspects of the belief took on a low-key, anti-Semitic inflection. Because Anglo-Israelites believed that both the House of Israel (the Anglo-Saxons) and the House of Judah (the Jews) must return to the Promised Land before the Second Coming, Zionist exclusivity presented an obstacle to their redemption.52

British-Israelism first came to the United States around the late 1870s. Joseph Wild of the Union Congregational Church of Brooklyn was one of its first American preachers. Under the doctrine then, America—or Manasseh—would play a subordinate role to Britain in salvation. In the US, however, what had been philo-Semitism mutated into outright anti-Semitism via a focus on racial origins. A combination of Victorian-era pseudo-science and specious scholarship continuously defined and redefined these, progressively denigrating Jews. In the 1930s Howard B. Rand emerged as a key popularizer of British-Israelism. He founded the influential Anglo-Saxon Federation of America. Rand’s group embraced James Larratt Battersby’s The Holy Book of Adolf Hitler, which portrays der Führer as a religious saint. Among other things, it advocates polygamy to better propagate the Aryan race.53 Rand made Detroit the Federation headquarters and it was there where he met a fellow believer: William J. Cameron, the former editor of Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent. Having written and edited much of The International Jew, Cameron sometimes lectured on “Biblical economics” to church audiences. As a professional publicist he aided in spreading the belief as a vehement anti-Semitism.54

More than any other, Wesley Swift was the figure around whom a fully-formed Christian Identity belief—with no remaining ties to Britain—coalesced. A friend of Gerald K. Smith, Swift successfully popularized Identity in right-wing circles through a combination of extremist religious, racial and political platforms. Swift’s theology embraced a Manichaen world view which merged religion and politics. It reinterpreted the book of Genesis, postulating a “two seed theory,” according to which both Adam and the Devil, as the serpent, impregnated Eve. It construed the name “Adam” to mean “showing blood in the face.” This ability to show shame or embarrassment is what supposedly distinguishes the Aryan race from others.55 Anglo-Saxons are therefore the “Adamic race,” while Jews are “spawn of the Devil” and thus, absolutely demonized. Yet, this portrayal creates an obvious contradiction. On one hand, Identity warns of an overwhelming Jewish threat; on the other, it claims that Aryan supremacy is inevitable. Other races, or “mud people,” are “pre-Adamic,” i.e., created by God before he perfected the first full-fledged human beings.56 Because Christian Identity churches view the United States as “God’s Country”—or more specifically as New Israel, Jews no longer play any part in the End Days. The return of the True Israelites to the Promised Land presages Armageddon, the ultimate battle between good and evil prophesied in the Book of Revelations. Identity followers believe they had already reached this stage during the Revolutionary War. Again, it is Michael Barkun who clarifies the radicalization and separatism that arise from this twisted logic:

Since the essence of conspiracy theories is their claim to parsimony—explaining all evil through single causes—the incorporation of satanic paternity into already existing theories of a world Jewish conspiracy gave to the theory ultimate parsimony: everything that was or is undesirable in the world has come from a single source. If that source is destroyed, the world will be perfected and the millennium will begin. Further, as with all conspiracy theories, this one defies falsification. A plot of such cunning is presumed to be able to mislead those who would try to detect it, so that any evidence that appears to contradict the theory must necessarily have been fabricated by the conspirators themselves. Paradoxically, as far a conspiracy theorists are concerned, the more innocent the putative conspirators appear to be, the more clearly they are implicated, for their apparent innocence is taken to be proof of their complicity. Thus the theory becomes a closed system of self-referential ideas, from which all contradictory information has been excluded.57

Moreover, Richard Abanes warns against the dangers Manichaenism presents in the Christian Identity movement:

A Manichaen world view…becomes dangerous if combined with militancy. For militant Manichaens, persons outside the realm of absolute good are seen as utterly evil opponents who must be destroyed. When militancy and Manichaenism are blended with apocalyptic ideas about the world’s end being near, the potential for violence grows very great.58

Swift founded his church in Lancaster, California in 1946 and later changed its name from the Anglo-Saxon Christian Congregation to Church of Jesus Christ Christian (as opposed to Jesus Christ, King of the Jews). He had also been involved in an attempt to revive the California Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and later headed the California Anti-Communist League. During the 1960s he was reputed to have formed links with paramilitary groups: the California Rangers and the Christian Defense League.59

William Potter Gale, a retired lieutenant colonel who had served under General Douglas MacaArthur in the Phillippines, joined Identity in the 1950s and became active in the Christian Defense League as well. Heading the League was yet another Identity preacher: Richard Girnt Butler.60 Gale became one of the few to attempt to systematically articulate Identity doctrine in his 1963 pamphlet “The Faith of Our Fathers.”61 More recent figures with Identity links include Tom Metzger, David Duke, Pete Peters and Robert Miles.

Barkun assesses the status of the movement:

Identity is, even by the standards of American sectarianism, a tiny movement. Accurate estimates of its size are impossible to obtain because of its decentralized character. It has no denominational structure, merely shifting and overlapping groups with family resemblances to one another. However, even the guesses have placed its maximum size at no more than one hundred thousand, and it may be less than half that. Further, there is no evidence Identity can attract large numbers of new members, although it has proselytized among small populations of the alienated (e.g., skinheads and white prison inmates). Consequently, it cannot look forward to a foreseeable future as a mass movement.62

Even so, it exerts a disproportionately large ideological influence. James Ridgeway notes:

Identity theology provides both a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism, and an ideological rationale for violence against minorities and their white allies.

Identity followers have little use for fundamentalist Christians on the New Right (who, in turn, view Identity theory as heresy). The fundamentalist belief in “rapture”—the instant during the last days of the world when God will suddenly appear to protect his true believers and call them bodily into his presence—seems absurd to Identity worshipers. An Identity Christian isn’t about to wait for God to save him; he puts more faith in….direct political action.63

The movement brought together many otherwise antagonistic factions. As its name implies, the psychological basis of Christian Identity concerns identity formation and reinforcement. This process typically requires the construct of “otherness” to fortify a sense of self. The belief has come into prominence just as so-called processes of globalization have most dramatically challenged accustomed identities and social roles. In contrast to these uncertainties, Christian Identity guarantees a pan-historical selfhood. Real-life identities, however, are historically variable; one period’s distinguishing features may, at another, become insignificant. An aggressive ambivalence also marks the belief. Although its hostility arises from the paranoid suspicion that the Jews may really be God’s chosen, a latent Anglo-Israelite identification with Jews persists. More devout Identity Christians, for example, assiduously copy the dietary and sexual codes of orthodox Hasidim.

Christian Patriots Defense League paramilitary training at Illinois compound, May 1981.

Aryan Nations

Aryan Nations began when Richard Butler took over the California Christian Identity Church upon the death of its founder, Wesley Swift. Butler’s lackluster preaching, however, made him unpopular with Swift’s old congregation. As a result, Butler moved the church to Hayden Lake, Idaho. Under the slogan “one God, one Nation, one Race,” he augmented the church with a political wing: Aryan Nations. Butler reasoned that other races had their national homelands, so why not Aryans? He proposed a ten-percent solution, where one-tenth of the United States would be set aside for the exclusive use of Aryan Christians. The Aryan Nations were to consist of the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Butler planned to develop a congregation of 144,000 as foretold in the Book of Revelations. The movement would continue to expand until it could take control of this area through sheer numbers.64

To this end, Butler inaugurated a program of annual Aryan World Congresses, to attract and consolidate white racist groups internationally. He initiated the Aryan Brotherhood, a program of prison recruitment, but this was more trouble than it was worth. He soon abandoned it. Aryan Nations congregants began harassing Jewish and African-American locals. One day Sidney Rosen came to work to discover swastikas and the slur “Jewish swine” spray painted over his Hayden Lake steakhouse. Rosen put the property up for sale and closed his business within a year. Posters soon appeared in nearby Couer d’Alene and Spokane,Washington showing a target with a black man’s silhouette, the words “Official Running Nigger Target” printed underneath.

One early morning in June 1981, Butler and his wife awoke to a loud explosion. Outside, Butler saw smoke pouring out of Aryan Hall. Someone had targeted him. Butler suspected the Jewish Defense League, but the bombing remains unsolved. Shortly after that he built a 29-foot guard tower at Aryan Hall and a sentry post with a sign “Whites Only” at the property’s entry gate. Rocky Mountain News reporters Kevin Flynn and Gary Gerhardt described the new atmosphere inside the compound as “an offbeat blend of Walden Pond and Berchtesgade, there was insular affection intermingled with fortress mentality among the people there.”65

In September of 1982 a citizens’ group called the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations formed to combat racist harassment. It successfully sponsored a bill making it a state crime to harass or intimidate anyone because of race. The penalty for such a crime was set at five years in prison with a $5,000 fine.66 Even so, through the annual Aryan World Congresses, Aryan Nations has continued to serve as the focal point for a growing extremist movement.

For the most part, the kind of right-wing religious militancy espoused by the Christian Identity movement or Aryan Nations belongs to another era. Instead, the sentiments that once drove radical separatism now instead seek to transform the mainstream. Witness Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s recent assessment of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech to Baptist ministers in Houston, a speech that reaffirmed Constitutional separation of church and state. Santorum said it made him want to “throw up.” What is perhaps most alarming in this is that it signals a perceived feasibility of merging church and state. Separatism is no longer necessary. Part III of this essay, “Posse Comitatus/ Grassroots Rebellion/ Secret Societies” will examine the open conflicts that took place between the radical right and the U.S. government in the form of seiges and stand-offs during the 1990s.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:24 pm

Christian IdentityImage

Americans are amazingly tolerant of diverse religious beliefs. The federal Constitution incorporates the right of dissenting opinion as a basic prerequisite for a democratic republic. Respect for differing religious beliefs is a widely held core American value. Religious con men, charlatans, self-appointed messiahs, frauds, thieves, bigots, crack-pots and cranks have flourished in America as nowhere else. Consulting encyclopedias of religious sects show that America -- and the Los Angeles region in particular -- has produced more religions, sects and cults than any other region of the world. Some minority beliefs can become vastly more influential than mere numbers alone would suggest.

One such religion is Christian Identity. Incorporated in Los Angeles in 1948, Wesley Swift's Church of Jesus Christ Christian was initially an racist sect which became Christian Identity. The central belief in Identity doctrine is the existence of two races on earth: a godly white race descended from Adam and a satanic race fathered by Satan.

ImageSwift, a Klan leader and preacher at Amy Semple McPherson's Foursquare Church in Los Angles, was never able to make much of a success out of his doctrine, but it attracted several people who became central to what was later named "Christian Identity": San Jacinto Capt, William Potter Gale and Richard Girnt Butler.

Capt was a California Klan leader and a believer in British Israelism, a doctrine which holds that the Israelites of the Bible are not the Jews, but rather Aryan/Anglo-Saxons. Gale was a stock-broker and former Army officer who briefly served on Gen. MacArthur's staff in the Philippines. Gale in turn recruited Butler to Swift's church during the 1950's. In 1970, Swift died, triggering a dispute between Gale and Butler. Ultimately, Butler assumed control and moved the church to Idaho, where he renamed it Aryan Nations - Church of Jesus Christ Christian.

The function of religion in the lives of these four men was to provide a theological justification for their racism and anti-Semitism. Stated another way, racism and anti-Semitism were their religion. William Gale claimed to have chosen the term "Christian Identity" in 1965, when it was adopted as the name of a newsletter. In Gale's mind, the Identity movement was the glue to hold together racist ideology in the United States. Though he died almost unnoticed in 1987, Gale is the central figure and inspiration for America's present white supremacist movement and Identity doctrine is his legacy to that movement.

Relying mostly on preaching, teaching, radio broadcasts and taped sermons, Gale never left much of a written record behind him. This has led to a consistent undervaluation of the central role William Potter Gale played in the formation of Identity, the Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, The Committee of the States, the Unorganized Militia and all the rest of the panoply of militant white supremacy in the United States today.

The War of Republic Versus Democracy

Baldly stated, the white supremacist movement seeks to undermine federal authority and bring about the collapse of the United States of America. The destruction of federal power is the prerequisite to establishing a new racial nationalist state. It is highly unlikely that such a thing is within the means of the small number of militant racists, but it is certain that they will continue to use all means at their disposal to pursue that unrealistic goal.

These means include bombings, sabotage, undermining discipline in the armed forces, counterfeiting, tax evasion, bank robbery, subversion of local governments and law enforcement, fraud, and attempts at nuclear, chemical, biological and psychological warfare. Instances of all of these acts have occurred and -- with the exception of an incident involving nuclear or chemical material -- each of these tactics have been employed in the last twelve months.

Two stories filed with the Associated press on April 6, 1996, "From Bombers To Fed-Fearing Freemen, Outlaws Seek Haven In Wild Northwest" and "Beyond Militias: Extremism's Many Faces Vex Anti-Terrorism Efforts" by AP writer David Foster list the following dozen incidents:

-A pipe bomb exploded outside an office of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash. Ten minutes later, gunmen robbed a nearby bank and set off a bomb as they left. No one was injured. The methods and a letter left behind bore similarities to past crimes blamed on white supremacists.

-A shed packed with explosives, ammunition and guns exploded 60 miles east of Portland, Ore., breaking windows in nearby homes. Shredded bomb-making literature rained down like confetti. A federal firearms charge was filed against the shed's owner, a self-described survivalist.

-Willie Ray Lampley called himself a "prophet of the most high' and vowed holy war against Jews, gays, abortion doctors and the government. Now Lampley, 65, is standing trial in Oklahoma, accused of plotting with three others to blow up abortion clinics, gay bars and the offices of civil-rights groups.

-Saboteurs derailed an Amtrak train near Phoenix in October, killing one person and injuring 78. No arrests have been made, but a note at the scene, signed by "Sons of the Gestapo," railed against federal heavy-handedness at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

-In December, a fertilizer bomb fizzled outside an Internal Revenue Service office in Reno, Nev. Two tax protesters were charged in the bombing attempt. One pleaded guilty, and the other faces trial in June.

-Two men accused in January of netting more than $250,000 from a string of Midwestern bank robberies may have used the loot to finance a white supremacist militia, officials said. In court papers, one defendant listed his occupation as "revolutionary" and called himself Commander Pedro of the Aryan Republican Army.

-The standoff that began March 25 between the FBI and Montana Freemen, anti-government activists who set up their own government, wrote millions of dollars in bogus checks and threatened to kill anyone who interfered.

-Right-wing extremists were suspected of stealing explosives in five states.

-A tax protester was charged with plotting to blow up an IRS center in Austin, Texas.

-A white supremacist in Ohio tricked a medical lab into mailing him vials of bubonic plague bacteria.

-And, of course, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City.

The violence of the movement has frequently been ascribed to "loners" and their acts described as "isolated incidents." While the violence may be committed by small groups, and separate attacks are rarely coordinated by a central authority, the pattern of this violent attack upon society comes from a shared and consistent set of beliefs. White supremacy is not monolithic. It has factions and clear distinctions can be drawn between them. The largest and most active faction has adopted the name "Christian Patriotism."

Christian Patriotism

Christian Patriotism is the result of the confluence of the far-right tax resistance movement, regressive Populism, and Identity doctrine. The Christian Patriot branch of white supremacy traces its explosive growth back to the rise of William Potter Gale's Posse Comitatus, a virulently anti-Semitic paramilitary movement which began operating publicly in 1968. Founded on the principle of all-out resistance to federal authority -- which has marked all white supremacy since the rise of the Ku Klux Klan at the end of the Civil War -- the Posse carries the notion of anti-federalism to new extremes.

ImageMost racist politics has its legal and philosophical roots in the "property rights" and "states rights" clauses in the Constitution. These sections of the Constitution were a compromise necessary to enlist the cooperation of the slave-holding states in replacing the unworkable Articles of Confederation with the federal Constitution. The exaltation of the rights of property over the rights of people is a common denominator of the entire right wing of American politics.

Right-wing political movements and establishments have been the norm, rather than the exception, in America since the founding of the Republic. The Anti-Masonic movement of the early 1800's spawned the modern school of history as conspiracy. Anti-Masonic theories -- particularly those which created the myth of the Bavarian Illuminatti's responsibility for nearly everything that has gone wrong for aristocrats, landowners, reactionary Christian hierarchies, and other inhabitants of the far right since the French Revolution -- mutated in the late 1800's from traditional Christian religious anti-Semitism into the virulent racist anti-Semitism which formed the core of international fascism's support for the Nazis rise to power.

The book which started the Illuminatti myth, John Robison's 1797 Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of Freemasons, Illuminatti and Reading Societies, is still popular fare among the politically paranoid. I have in my collection of right-wing literature several flyers promoting Robison's Proofs prepared and distributed in 1996 by Ben Hinkle, the leader of a Northwest Washington Populist Party splinter group called Citizens for Liberty.

Robison's fictional view of history as a Satanic conspiracy has become a paranoid pinball, banging around in history for over two hundred years and picking up momentum from the bumpers and flippers of each succeeding wave of reaction against social progress.

Towards the end of the 19th century, traditional religious anti-Semitism suddenly mutated to an explicitly racist form: the "two seed" theory. This theory is the central tenet of Identity doctrine and the basic justification for Christian Patriots' racism and anti-Semitism. The essence of the "two seed" theory is that there are two races on earth: one godly and one satanic.

In an anonymous document titled, "Our de jure county government," and attributed to the Justus Township Freemen, there is an example of "two seed" theory: must understand that "Baal", is the false chief god of the Canaanities,[sic] the descendants of 'Cain', a.k.a., the "jews", none other than "Satan", the father of Cain.

ImageAccording to the racist and anti-Semitic "two seed" theory, the white "Adamic" peoples descended from the union of Adam and Eve. But there was also another race beginning with Cain whose father was not Adam, but Satan -- who mated with Eve in the guise of a serpent. The descendants of Cain became known as the Jews. The Adamic peoples became the Aryans or Anglo-Saxons. The Pre-Adamic (non-white) races were not human at all, but descendants of the "beasts of the fields" described in Genesis, without souls and no more than cattle in the eyes of their Aryan betters. All three races could interbreed, but the non-Adamic blood acted like a poison to exterminate the Aryan race. In the eyes of white supremacists, race-mixing became a Satanic plot to exterminate God's chosen people, the white race.

By the "two seed" theory, Jesus was not a Jew, but an Aryan. The Adamic (Aryan) people were the lost tribes of Israel, fled to northern Europe and later became the Christian nations. There are many corollaries to the "two seed" theory which provide justification for racists to claim God's favor:

- Jesus was a Christian (Aryan), not a Jew.

- White superiority is ordained by God and slavery is not repugnant to His sight.

- The Jews are the literal "spawn of Satan" and intent on the extermination of all Christian (i.e. Aryan or Anglo-Saxon) peoples.

Needless to say, these opinions are in direct contraction to most established Christian doctrines.

The merging of the Illuminatti and "two seed" theories combined race and religion into a doctrine of hate and intolerance at a time that Western society was beginning to accept notions of cultural assimilation and cross-fertilization as normal and healthy. The conspiratorial viewpoint -- with the Satanic Jewish Illuminatti as the focus of fear and dread -- has spawned a substantial occult body of literature. These books are rarely seen or read outside of extreme right wing circles, but they continue to be circulated, quoted and adapted to the present day.

ImageNesta Webster, a British fascist and anti-Semite, revived Robison at the turn of the century and recast his book in explicitly anti-Semitic terms. At about the same time, the wholly fictitious The Protocals of the Elders of Zion also appeared. The Protocals are an anti-Semitic forgery which claims to provide details of a Jewish conspiracy for world domination. This short book continues to be a staple of anti-Semitic literature and is frequently included in neo-nazi and Christian Patriot books, such as Phillip Marsh's The Complete Patriot.

ImageAfter the defeat of Nazism, the Jewish Satanic conspiracy was recast as anti-communism in a book by American Col. John Beatty, Iron Curtain Over America. Canadian writer William Guy Carr contributed Red Fog Over America and other conspiracy books which emphasized the role of the Illuminatti. In the 1960's the John Birch Society retold the tale in a sanitized version -- the Illuminatti are replaced with "Insiders" -- in Gary Allen's None Dare Call It Conspiracy. The third printing of Allen's book states that over 5,000,000 copies were printed.Image

These are only a few of the books, but these titles trace the literary descent from Robison to the present day. Most of these books, with the exception of Nesta Webster's which are quite rare, can be found in almost any town in America. They frequently show up at rummage sales and used book stores. Many of the titles in the anti-Semitic canon have never gone out of print.

The most recent resurgence of the Robison Illuminatti mythos is Rev. Pat Robertson's The New World Order, which draws on both Robison and the more explicitly racist anti-Semites Nesta Webster and Eustace Mullins. One of the more irresponsible statements contained in Robertson's tome is the claim that both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels learned of communism from a "communist rabbi" who was "linked" to the Illuminatti. This passage can be found on pages 69 and 70 in The New World Order. The only "link" mentioned in Robertson's book is that the "communist rabbi" was Jewish.


Excerpted from: Christian Patriots At War with the State

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:28 pm

Profile: Wesley Swift

One of a number of semi-official ‘Christian Identity’ logos. ... ey_swift_1
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:34 am ... er_US.html

Support for Hitler (or Fascism) in the United States

by jsmog, 12/18/2004

Radical Reference,


We've forgotten what a terrible time of upheaval the Great Depression was. If we think of World War II as just a continuation of World War I, it diminishes what a powder-keg America was in the 1930s. An enormous range of political activists tried to seize on the discontent of millions of unemployed, from the furthest right to the furthest left. Strange bedfellows and stranger enemies were made; Communists attacked Trotskyites, Nazis tried to undermine fellow fascists. Behind much of the crisis, which I won't discuss here, was the deadly war (and war it was) between the labor unions and the great industrialists. While there was no real danger of America becoming either a Soviet state or a Fascist one during the 1930s, the energy of the labor/management struggle during the Depression created an opportunity for the Fascists and the Communists to nearly destroy Europe and did enormous damage to the liberals in the United States, to say nothing of the fate of the Jews.

There was support for both Hitler and Fascism in the United States, and much of it was contrary. Some Fascists were anti-Hitler, and the German Nazis took pains to avoid the American Fascists, who brought unwanted attention to the Nazis most brutal anti-Semitic and anti-Labor policies in Europe.


The German American Bund was formed in July 1933 from the ashes of previous German American societies. Wilhelm Bohle, a German undersecretary of state, organized the Nazi support for Germans abroad, consisting of agitation among German immigrants and German Americans, cooperation with other anti-Semitic groups, and direct espionage. His assistant was the spy Dr. Ignatz Griebl, the leader of the "Friends of New Germany". Griebl was later an organizer of German Americans in the New York Republican Campaign Committee in 1936, when Alf Landon was the Republican candidate. He also organzized a spy ring, which was broken up by the FBI and Griebl fled the country. (Heym 1938, 7, 40-42) The Bund was divided into three parts or "Gau": A Gau in Los Angeles, directed by Hermann Schwinn, one in Milwaukee, directed by George Froboese, and one in New York City, directed by Fritz Kuhn, a former employee of Ford Motor Company in Detroit. You'll see the name of Henry Ford again soon. The three Gau were subdivided into 93 locals or "ortsgruppen". The Department of Justice estimated that there were 8,000 members in the Bund, although they may have started with as many as 25,000. (Heym 1938, 8 ) Still, it was discovered after the war that the Nazis had a mailing list of 250,000 German Americans with relatives still in Germany, and a master file of over eight million German American names. (Hoke 1946, 299)

At first, the Bund operated under the radar. The German government actually wanted the Bund to take it easy on the marching, Red-baiting and beating of Jews in the street, as they were trying to keep the United States from becoming too involved in European politics, while they also conducted espionage. The Bund operated German language schools with a Nazi theme, and several divisions of Hitler Youth. They ran four weekly newspapers, all under the moniker Weckruf und Beobachter, in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. (Heym 1938, 16-17, 21) That was, until 29 March 1936, when Fritz Kuhn took over the leadership of the Bund. (Higham 1985, 4-6)

Fritz Kuhn was supposed to play down the rabid Nazism of the Bund, and did so at first; Kuhn and Dr. Griebl even spoke on the radio in favor of the Republican candidate for President in 1936. The Bund also supported the failed campaign of Reverend Gerald Winrod of Kansas to the Senate and the successful campaign of Fred Gartner to the Fifth District of Congress from Philadelphia. They also had ties with Mayor Hague of Jersey City, one of the most anti-labor cities in the U.S. at the time. (Heym 1938, 30, 32) But Kuhn soon returned to his old ways. Non-Aryans were excluded from membership, and the press, always looking for a good story in the 1930s, turned most Americans, even German Americans, against the Bund eventually. Even at its peak, the Bund boasted only about 100,000 members out of the millions of German Americans. The press especially liked to mock the 22 Nazi camps run by the Bund, especially after a parade at Camp Hindenburg, near Buffalo, which was reviewed by the German Ambassador, Hans Dieckhoff, on 8 August 1937. (Heym 1938, 13-14) Fearing more bad publicity, the German government withdrew financial support of the Bund after a rally of 1150 uniformed storm troopers at Madison Square Garden two months later, on 3 October 1937. (Heym 1938, 9; Higham 1985, 8 ) The Garden banned the Bund from any more rallies through 1938, and the Gau in Milwaukee was ejected from the Federation of German-American Societies. In October 1938, Manfred von Killinger, the German Consul General in San Francisco, who was also accused of arranging the murder of a German minister of state and helping to set fire to the Reichstag in Berlin, may have accidentally set off a large explosion on the Nazi liner "Vancouver" in Oakland. Ironically, the Nazis had set up a new group in America, the Deutsch-Amerikanischer National Verband, the same month. Their slogan was "my country, right or wrong." (Heym 1938, 10, 12, 37) Fritz Kuhn also continued to attract attention; on 22 February 1939, he organized a rally for Washington's Birthday at Madison Square Garden in New York; 22000 members of the Bund, other Fascists and curious onlookers showed up with 2000 police to protect them from protests outside. (Higham 1985, 8-9) But by Christmas, Kuhn was finished, sent to Sing Sing for larceny after large amounts of the Bund's finances were discovered to have disappeared into his accounts. By then the Bund had been reduced to about 20000 members. (Higham 1985, 9; Lavine 1940, 138) Edward James Smythe, the pro-Fascist leader of the Protestant War Veterans, organized a joint meeting of the Klan and the Bund in August 1940, which came to naught; in April 1944 Smythe was charged with sedition and fled to Canada, where he was caught, deported, and released after a mistrial in January of 1945. Amazingly, he made a comeback to publish The Defender, a racist newsletter in Kansas with a circulation of 50,000. (Hoke 1946, 184-186, 193)


Although it was savaged in the press as a silly "cocktail putsch" at the time, the actions of the American Liberty League came as close as the United States has come to overthrowing the elected President in a coup d'etat. After the extent of his New Deal plans to end the Great Depression became known, many of the wealthy industrialists in the country considered President Franklin Roosevelt at the minimum a "traitor to his class" and a pawn of "Jewish Communism". They formed the American Liberty League, no gathering of crackpots, but a roll-call of the most powerful American capitalists, a list which reminds me of the credits before a PBS show...including J.P. Morgan, the DuPonts, Andrew Mellon, the Rockefellers, E.F. Hutton, and Joseph Pew of Sunoco. The value of the Liberty League, according to one estimate, was 37 billion 1938 dollars! (Archer 1973, 31) At the time, DuPont and Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors were in control of the powerful anti-labor National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) With the help of Joseph Pews, NAM subsidized the Sentinels of the Republic, the first industrial group to declare "the New Deal is Communist" and to openly decry the "Jewish threat". (Seldes 1943, 80, 97)

During July of 1933, two men claiming to be representing the American Legion (of which we'll hear more later) came to Major General Smedley D. Butler, looking for a man to help rally the members of the "bonus army", a group of disgruntled World War I veterans estimated at 500,000 men. These men stated that they were planning to combine the American Legion, the Bonus Army and the Veterans of Foreign Wars into a new group based on the Croix de Feu, a powerful Fascist veterans organization in France. Just a few years before, the Bonus Army had been dispersed from Washington by Douglas MacArthur. The plan of the Liberty League was to descend upon Washington with this "army" and install Butler in a position as the Director of National Security, essentially making him an "assistant President" to "help" President Roosevelt. In reality, Roosevelt would have been a mere puppet. (Archer 1973, 24-25; Seldes 1947, 210) Although it was censored from published versions of later Congressional testimony, they indicated that the DuPonts were willing to finance weaponry for the entire army. (Archer 1973, 161)

When he realized what the men wanted, Butler was aghast. He called on James Van Zandt, the head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in concern. Van Zandt was also approached by representatives of the Liberty League and quickly rebuffed them. Butler wanted to go to Congress and the press, but needed evidence, so he continued to meet with the men from the Liberty League, while an editor friend assigned reporter Paul French of the Philadelphia Record and the New York Post to investigate. Butler drew more names and information from the men, and thinking that he was nearly ready to "come around", they offered him $18000 in cash on 24 September 1933. The meetings continued for another year, until French broke the story on 20 November 1934. (Archer 1973, 139, 178)

When questioned by Congress, Van Zandt corroborated the plot, along with Douglas MacArthur, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr., and the former Commander of the American Legion, Hanford MacNider, who were also approached by agents of the Liberty League. (Archer 1973, 176)

Nearly unknown today, Smedley D. Butler is a real hero in many respects. He turned down money and power in the service of his country, and also continued to speak candidly about his career in the Marines. He went on the radio to continue the attack against the Liberty League and groups like it, and staged a speaking tour in 1935. He wrote a book, War Is a Racket, in which he made the following statement: "I spent 33 years [in the Marines] and during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism...I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested." (Archer 1973, 209, 219; Seldes 1947, 212)

Butler refused an attempt to draft him for a run against Roosevelt in 1936, but Butler did succeed in getting Congress to pass a bonus bill for the World War I veterans over Roosevelt's veto. (Archer 1973, 227) Thus rather than lead them into treason, he gave the "Bonus Army" the just due it had been demanding since 1919.

With their candidate soundly defeated, the American Liberty League collapsed after the election of 1936. (Archer 1973, 229) This was the end of the true Fascist uprising in the United States. Many groups continued, as we shall see, but they were never able to muster great monetary or logistical support from industrialists again, as they had in Germany, Japan and Italy. As a political force, anti-Semitism didn't work, as the Jews were already integrated into American society, unlike in Europe; racial hatred in America was more successfully directed against blacks, a lesson the German American Bund and other American Fascists learned (fortunately) too late. After the collapse of the Liberty and the assassination of Huey Long, the contest for control of the American government moved from brute unconstitutional force to political oratory. (Ward 1935, 56)


What? You might ask how the venerable American Legion fits into a discussion of Fascism and Hitler. Well, in 1922, before the Fascists had even taken control in Italy, Colonel Alvin Owsley, then the Commander of the Legion, declared that the Legion was poised to fight "Soviets, anarchists, I.W.W.'s, revolutionary socialists and every other 'red'." Owsley invited Mussolini to speak at almost every yearly convention of the Legion. "Do not forget," he said, "that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States." This was real Fascism; "What comes nearer true Fascism is this kind of violent anti-labor activity, carried on not by hired strong-arm men or state troopers but by volunteers in the nature of vigilante groups." (Bingham 1935, 186) Owsley, incidentally, was later a minister to Ireland and then Denmark. (Seldes 1943, 109-111) The Legion was not unique, either; even the Daughters of the American Revolution supported a rather gentle description of Fascism in their 1934 Handbook. (Seldes 1938, 150-151)

Members of the American Legion committed violent anti-labor acts all through the 1920s, and any pro-union posts were expelled. The Legion endorsed the anti-labor Christian American Association, a Ku Klux Klan front, in the middle of the war during May 1943; they also accepted 20 million dollars from NAM. Their involvement with the Liberty League and the plot to take control of the American government has already been described. Indeed, the hold of the industrial elite on the Legion did not end until after World War II, when unions organized a drive among their own Legion members to throw out the Legion leadership, one post at a time. (Seldes 1943, 114-115, 117, 120)


Today the charismatic Father Charles Coughlin is barely remembered, but along with Huey P. Long, he was a real American Fascist. At first, amazingly, Coughlin was an energetic backer of Franklin Roosevelt. As a Catholic priest, he hated the Ku Klux Klan and the local Detroit Fascist Gerald L.K. Smith; he attacked Wall Street bankers for their oppression of the working people and used as his motto "Roosevelt or Ruin!" throughout the 1932 Presidential election. But he was not Union man; Father Coughlin used his power to arrange for a Ford Company Union to keep the CIO and the AFL out of Detroit. Henry Ford, of course, was an early supporter of Hitler beginning in 1922, a charge never denied by Ford. (Seldes 1943, 130, 136) Coughlin's Radio League of the Little Flower, started in 1930, had a radio audience of between three and 15 million regular listeners. (Lavine 1940, 117-119) Father Coughlin's Guild of Saint Sebastian claimed to have 400,000 members. (Piller 1945, 76)

But then Coughlin broke with the New Deal, and formed the Union Party with his old Detroit nemesis, the Fascist Gerald L.K. Smith. They supported William Lemke as the Union candidate in the 1936 Presidential election; even so, Lemke received only 891,858 votes, a good measure of the extreme right-wing support in the country at the time, when over fifty million voted. (Hoke 1946, 129; Lavine 1940, 124) Still, Coughlin as a Catholic could not really ever be a true Fascist leader. (Bingham 1935, 188) The remarks he did make were enough to get him attacked his own Archbishop and by the Vatican itself. (Carlson 1943, 57)

In 1937, Father Coughlin was associated with the Committee for Constitutional Government, organized by newspaper publisher Frank Gannett (now the publisher of USA Today), who distributed more than 760,000 books. The CCG also included the famous Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Father Edward Curran, an old supporter of Coughlin and founder of the American Rock Party. (Piller 1945, 17-19) The Committee for Constitutional Government also included Dr. Edward A. Rumely, who served a year in prison during WWI as a German agent (until he was pardoned by President Calvin Coolidge), newspaper syndicator Samuel McClure, a propagandist for Mussolini and Italian Fascism who spent two years in Italy, and former Senator Edmund Burke of Nebraska and a former Khaki Shirt. Under pressure from his constituents, the Reverend Dr. Peale later resigned. (Hoke 1946, 225; Seldes 1947, 213) Peale formed Guideposts in 1944 to support Republican Thomas_Dewey in his race against President Roosevelt that year. (Piller 1945, 22)

In May 1938, Father Coughlin became even more seditious, urging his followers to form platoons of 25 men each; and thousands did as he asked. He attacked the very nature of democracy, holding up the Fascist governments of Italy and Germany as models to be copied. His platoons peddled his Fascist rag Social Justice on street corners, selling about 300,000 at its peak; although Coughlin claimed to have a mailing list of over one million readers. (Higham 1985, 72) Even in a sophisticated city like New York, the Christian Front often started street fights with blacks and Jews; the police would occasionally join in until Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine cracked down. (Lavine 1940, 88, 97-98, 129) By then the Christian Front was operating in New York City with a small group called the Paul Revere Sentinels, including Father Curran (another Catholic priest with fascist inclinations) and William Goodwin, who later ran for Mayor of New York. Father Curran tried to make his mark with a raucous pro-American rally on 30 October 1938 at the Biltmore Hotel. (Piller 1945, 27-28)

Finally, Coughlin's show was kicked off of WMCA in 1939; the station was picketed for months by the Christian Front to no avail. In January 1940 seventeen members of the Christian Front were tried for sedition. The charges were dismissed but more damage was done. Social Justice stopped printing in the spring of 1942, not due to outside pressure but because of financial improprieties. (Hoke 1946, 123-124; Piller 1945, 30)


The first Fascists in the United States were European; Italian Black Shirts and German Brown Shirts. But without the industrial support (after the collapse of the Liberty League) and the jealous nationalism surfacing in Europe, these groups soon failed. The homegrown Fascist, however, were a more threatening kind of animal, although most of them were in the game more for financial gain than any political power. (Ward 1935, 55) "These 'shirt-movements' were too obvious imitations of European Fascism to be genuine; they were all rackets of one sort or another, and an American Fascism will unquestionably be so indigenous as not even to call itself Fascist or recognize itself as Fascism." (Bingham 1935, 186) True enough; the closest America ever came to a dictator, Huey Long of Louisiana, himself said "Fascism in America will arrive on an anti-Fascist platform." (Seldes 1938, 192) He was referring to the Communists, although he could just as well have been looking in the mirror, until a young dentist put a bullet in him. As Norman Thomas, the perennial Socialist candidate for President during this period said, "Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Dr. Townsend suggest the kind of appeal which the Fascists will use." (Thomas 1936, 148)

A real character in this Fascist mileau was William Dudley Pelley, the founder of the Silver Shirts. Pelley was a failed newspaperman who went to Hollywood and wrote sixteen scenarios for the silents. Although he later claimed to be persecuted by Hollywood Jews, Pelley left the screenwriting life after he had a dream in April 1928 of dying and being led by angels into the afterlife. Shortly thereafter he began a pseudo-religious white supremacy rag, The New Liberator. (Lavine 1940, 178-180) A few years later Pelley had relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, and formed the Silver Legion of America. The day after Hitler became Chancellor of the German Reich in 1933, Pelley created the Silver Shirts. (Heym 1938, 35; Lavine 1940, 182) Even as estimated by other Fascists, there were never more than 10000 Silver Shirts; Pelley was much more important to the Fascist movement with his Skyland Press, which according to some distributed one million publications a year. (Lavine 1940, 185) During the war he received a sentence of fifteen years in prison for sedition. (Hoke 1946, 222-223)

Another Fascist group, the Khaki Shirts, was started by Major L.I. Powell, a former aide to William Pelley in 1932. The Khaki Shirts were completely American in their fascism, and even encouraged Jews to become members. Like Father Coughlin, though, anti-Semitism soon became part of their program. Art Smith, a leader of the Khaki Shirts, once accused an anti-Fascist of murder, and was corroborated by Samuel Wein, one of his "Jewish generals". When Wein later recanted his testimony, he claimed in court that Smith had threatened "he would kill all the Jews in America" if Wein didn't cooperate. "Did you believe that?" the judge asked Wein with incredulity. "Well, I didn't want to be the first," Wein replied. (Thomas 1934, 192)

Dudley Gilbert, a New York socialite, took control of the Khaki Shirts and remolded them into the American Nationalists in April 1935. He claimed to have 500,000 members by that summer. According to anti-Fascist researcher Harold Lavine, "American Nationalist, Inc., never had five hundred members, to say nothing of five hundred thousand." (Lavine 1940, 67-68)

Perhaps the most violent and colorful group of homegrown Fascists was the America First Party of Gerald L.K. Smith in Detroit, not to be confused with the America First Committee we'll be looking into later. (Piller 1945, 76) Smith started out with Huey Long in Louisiana, and tried to pick up the pieces of Long's Share the Wealth movement after his assassination. He started the pro-Fascist Nationalist News Service. (Hoke 1946, 222-223) He ran for President in 1944, and received less than 2000 votes out of 50,000,000 cast. Then a year later he tried to disrupt the United Nations conference in San Francisco during May 1945. (Piller 1945, 85)

There were a mulitude of other racists jumping on the Fascist bandwagon. Joseph P. Kamp printed over two million copies of his anti-labor pamphlet, "Join the C.I.O. and Help Build a Soviet America" which he advertised with the Ku Klux Klan. Millionaire John Kirby in Houston began publishing the anti-black, anti-labor Christian American in support of "right to work" legislation. The anti-black, anti-Semitic Commoner Party was started by wealthy farmer James Shipps in Conyers, Georgia. Even during the middle of the war, the pro-Fascist Citizens USA Committee was formed in Chicago during 1943. (Piller 1945, 35, 48, 56, 67) Former Congressman John Hoeppel of Arcadia, California, kicked out of office for selling appointments to West Point, started the pro-Fascist newsletter National Defense during the war, and Dr. A.J. Lovell, the leader of the pro-Fascist National Kingdom, part of the racist Anglo-Saxon Federation, gave a rousing anti-Semitic anti-Hitler (!) speech at the Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles on 10 July 1944. (Piller 1945, 97, 99)

Perhaps the oddest Fascist group were the National Blue Star Mothers of Pennsylvania, not to be confused with the normal National Blue Star Mothers supporting the troops during World War II. Under pro-Fascist Agnes Waters, the National Blue Star Mothers of Pennsylvania used franked envelopes provided by sympathetic Congressmen and also obtained casualty lists; she had her friends mail vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Roosevelt letters to the bereaved parents of recently killed soldiers. Waters was linked to Gerald L.K. Smith in 1944, and also to the National League of Mothers in 1939, another fake group started by Father Coughlin, whose membership was claimed to be in excess of 500,000. (Hoke 1946, 172-173; Piller 1945, 115)

It should also be noted that there was a significant Fascist movement in Canada under Adrien Arcand, a former aide to Premier Duplessis of Quebec. (Heym 1938, 4) Just as Asheville and then the Midwest had the Silver Shirts and the Khaki Shirts, in Quebec they were called the Blue Shirts. (Haider 1934, 234)

However, none of these movements were ever taken seriously. The Fascists were considered crackpots until the fall of France. (Lavine 1940, 7) During the late 1930s, the press liked to talk about the "fifth column", an expression that arose during the Spanish Civil War, when a Fascist said during the siege of Madrid, "We have four columns of soldiers and the fifth column will rise up from within Madrid to help us." (Lavine 1940, 4) I've included the following long comment by Lavine about the fifth column, partly because it is amusing but mainly because it show the paranoid upheaval of the country during this dark time:_"Once again the words reverberated: "Fifth Column." And now the horror mounted to hysteria. Members of Jehovah's Witnesses, an innocent group of religious fanatics who refuse to salute the Stars and Stripes because their religion forbids the worship of symbols, were mobbed in the streets. A foundry worker in Sparta, Mich., killed his neighbor because "he was in the Fifth Column." In Sapulpa, Okla., it was decided that Technocrats were Fifth Columnists, and one was actually jailed. An Erase-the-Fifth-Column, Inc., was formed in Los Angeles. Jeff Davis, self-styled King of the Hoboes, appointed One-Eye Connolly, the hobo gate crasher, to watch for the Fifth Column on freight trains riding the rods. Some fifty women, meeting in New York, started an organization pledged to shoot down German parachutists, with the acting regional director of the National Legion of Mothers as their head. The Erie County, New York, American Legion mobilized to keep Fifth Columnists from crossing the border at Niagara Falls. In this uninhibited mood of emotionalism the Fifth Column soon came to include everyone you didn't like. The Communist Party, USA, whose hatred for Leon Trotsky was gargantuan, assailed the Trotskyites as Fifth Columnists, adding that JP Morgan, whom it also doesn't like, was one too. Dorothy Thompson found the Fifth Column lurking "in our great industries...the line taken with them is that Nazism represents the logical quintessence of industrial--as opposed to financial--capitalism." A fellow publicist, Thomas F. Woodlock, of the Wall Street Journal, found it elsewhere--in John Dewey's theories of progressive education. New Dealers caught the Fifth Column marching in the ranks of the G.O.P. Republicans saw it slithering up the White House steps. A speaker before the New York State Association of Young Republican Clubs declared: "We must see that no Fifth Column operates in this party." He was referring to Kenneth Simpson [chairman of the Republican National Committee]. As usual, George U. Harvey, New York's most effervescent politico, outdid everyone, including himself. Mr. Harvey announced that " Fifth-Column parachutists" had been landing in the United States for nigh onto two decades. They "don't wear uniforms or bristle with guns," he explained. "They are disguised as so-called 'liberals'..." (Lavine 1940, 5-6)


The America First Committee was a different animal than the German American Bund or the homegrown Fascists, and they were far more powerful. These were Americans from many different backgrounds who shared a desire to end the war with Germany and Japan, but not out of any pacifist streak. The most prominent member to us today would be Colonel Charles Lindbergh, an internationally known figure due to his solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Along with Lindbergh, other prominent members of the Committee included: World War I air ace Eddie Rickenbacker, industrialist Henry Ford, Thomas McCarter, the Director of Chase National Bank, Robert Wood, Chairman of Sears Roebuck, Douglas Stuart, a member of the Quaker Oats family and owner of the Fascist publication Scribner's Commentary, and even Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy Roosevelt's socialite daughter and a distant cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. At its peak, the Committee boasted a following of 5 million members. (Higham 1985, 13) They had friends in high places, too; from Senator Wheeler, who supported the America First Committee by selling them a million franks (the free postage given to Congress and Senate members), and from Senator Lundeen, who was later killed in a mysterious plane crash with the FBI man following him. Lundeen had hired George Viereck as a speechwriter; Viereck was later convicted as a Nazi agent. (Hoke 1946, 105, 108)

George Viereck was also linked to the publishers of the Fascist Herald and Scribner's Commentary in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Scribner's published articles by Lindberghs and many other Fascist apologists, and when the FBI raided the Lake Geneva complex, Fascist Ralph Townsend disappeared into Canada, while several German agents were arrested. (Hoke 1946, 158) The future members of the Committee were not detered. In November 1939, Charles Lindbergh wrote the following for the Reader's Digest: "Our civilization depends on a united strength among ourselves; on a strength too great for foreign armies to challenge; on a Western wall of race and arms which can hold back either a Genghis Khan or the infiltration of inferior blood; on an English fleet, a German airforce, a French army, an American nation, standing together as guardians of our common heritage, sharing strength, dividing influence...we can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races." (Seldes 1943, 149)

The Reader's Digest, not surprisingly, was owned and published by the pro-Fascist and anti-labor DeWitt Wallace. (Seldes 1943, 175) Among the other right-wing, if not outright pro-Fascist publications were the Chicago Tribune, the Hearst newspapers, the newspapers of Frank Gannett, the Scripps-Howard (later UP) Syndicate, and the Washington Times-Herald. (Seldes 1943, 208) Throughout the 1930s, the Chicago Times offered rewards of $1000 to $5000 to prove that certain items in the Tribune were NOT lies. The rewards were never claimed. President Roosevelt himself denounced William Randolph Hearst, the UP Syndicate and the Chicago Tribune for their support of Hitler. (Seldes 1943, 223-224)

Originally, the idea for the Committee began at an amazing 1939 meeting between the German Consul of Boston, the German Consul of San Francisco, representatives of General Motors and Pierre DuPont, Colonel Lindbergh, movie mogul Joseph P. Kennedy, then ambassador to Britain, industrialist Henry Ford, Fascist advertising director Bruce Barton, former President Herbert Hoover, and Senator Vandenberg of Michigan. (Seldes 1943, 75-78) Not all of these men were Fascists, of course, but all of them were interested in making peace between the Fascist powers and the United States. O.K. Armstrong of the American Legion and Lindbergh created the No Foreign War Committee in June 1940, but Lindbergh pulled out by 1941 because the Committee was infiltrated by members of Father Coughlin's Christian Front. The America First Committee was also eventually taken over by members of the German American Bund and the Christian Front, but not before Lindbergh finally destroyed his credibility with the American public in September 1941 by blaming the British, the Jews, and President Roosevelt for dragging the United States into war. (Hoke 1946, 209, 214-216) On 17 December 1941, just a week after Germany declared war on the United States, Lindbergh offered to help negotiate a peace agreement, subjecting him to further ridicule.

One of Lindbergh's closest associates was Lawrence Dennis, a critical figure in the growth of American Fascism. Dennis had been a minor diplomat for the State Department in Romania, Nicaragua and Honduras. Dennis was also an intellectual who wrote numerous books and articles, edited the Fascist periodical The Awakener, assisted Lindbergh with his speeches and helped his wife, the popular columnist Anne Morrow Lindbergh, with her fascist apologia and anti-war book The Wave of the Future. (Dennis 1935, 73; Higham 1985, 56) This book was disturbing to many Americans, including my own grandmother, whose copy I now own; although pacifist in tone, it was openly supportive of the German position, and Colonel Lindbergh's thought that

Dennis himself stated that Fascism was the party of peace. "Fascism has been denounced by the liberals, pacifists and socialists as a war breeder," he said, "yet, at the time this book went to press, it was the latter who, along with the international banking and pro-English interests and sympathizers everywhere, were on record in the Italian-Ethiopian situation as supporting sanctions which could only mean a world war." (Dennis 1936, 282) An odd remark considering his own close ties to major American banks, but for what the Communists and Socialists did for hyperbole, the Fascists in the 1930s seemed to do for mendacity. Just a year before, Dennis stated, "...I see the captains of industry, along with the realistic leaders of radical reaction to prolonged depression, climbing on the fascist band wagon." (Dennis 1935, 63)

The difficulty regarding the Lindberghs, according to my grandmother and other sources, was the enormous popularity of Mrs. Lindbergh, who had suffered through the tragic kidnapping and murder of her child, and for years wrote a popular and interesting column on the Lindbergh's global travels.


The vast majority of American citizens never supported any Fascist group, which explains why none of the movements of the 1930s extended "to effective anti-Fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were too distant, and the domestic radical Right did not present a serious threat. Its motley ranks--the Liberty League, Silver Shirts Legion, German-American Bund, Ku Klux Klan, Father Coughlin, Huey Long, etc.--lacked the programs, funding, organizers, and conditions to develop a substantial following. Native Fascists remained on the periphery of American politics. (Ceplair 1987, 196) Indeed, the most effective anti-Fascist was undoubtedly no single group, but the broadcaster Walter Winchell, who exposed many Fascists and Fascist apologists to his newspaper and radio audience of some 50 million. (Piller 1945, 172)

The opposition to Fascism, of course, was still far more significant and long-lasting than the disorganized Fascists themselves. They were often not heard, however, because of infighting between labor, the Communists, the Socialists, and other splinter groups; in many ways they were as disorganized as the Fascists, a situation the industrialists and the liberals took advantage of. The Fascist apologist Lawrence Dennis was correct when he said "the Communists believe that Fascism is the last kick of dying capitalism." (Dennis 1935, 62) The left, Communist and Socialist alike, focused on the Fascists, ignored the real drive to war, and paid the price. Ironically, some Communists believed that President Roosevelt's concentration of power was the real prelude to Fascism; the "overwhelming dominance of one party". They saw the Socialist and Democratic attacks on Communism as inherently Fascist, and expressed not with cross-burning or anti-Semitic leaflets, but anti-labor violence. (Ward 1935, 58) But the Fascists did not suffer the fate of the far left; first the Trotskyists, and then the Communists (who had condemned the Trotskyites as a fifth column) lost their civil liberties under the Alien Registration Act of April 1940, which made it a crime to organize the overthrow of any government within the United States. By definition, it covered every Communist of any flavor.

The Anti-Fascist Alliance of North America was formed by Italians Americans in April 1923 in reaction to Mussolini. (Ceplair 1987, 183) But most Americans were impressed by Mussolini and how well he organized the Italian economy...until the invasion of Ethiopia. With a small and well-integrated Jewish population, Italian Fascism did not overtly imply anti-Semitism, and there was little indication of the horrors ahead. Industrialists and other powerful figures also supported the Fascists at first, including George Ryan, the President of the New York Board of Education, Thomas J. Watson, the President of IBM, and stockbroker Charles M. Schwab. (Seldes 1938, 191)

"Though Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany spurred activity, Communist determination to control the anti-Fascist groups that formed provoked division, fragmentation, and weakness." There were actions, of course. The National Student League, formed in December 1932, voted an anti-Fascist plank into their platform. The American League Against War and Fascism was a Communist front, with only 20,000 members by 1939, but they organized 1,023 affiliated organizations (in excess of 7 million members), the largest anti-Fascist organization in the United States. At their 2nd congress in September 1934, there were delegates representing 1,807,210 members; at the 3rd congress, delegates representing 3,291,906 Americans and 350,000 in the Canadian League Against War and Fascism. (Proceedings 1936, 50) By May 1933 there were anti-war committees on 90 college campuses, and the AFL not only condemned Hitler's treatment of Jews in October 1933, but recommended a boycott (which was opposed by the Jews themselves...keep reading.) These actions, like them or not, were organized by the Communist Party U.S.A., although the American Federation of Labor had voted to oppose both the Communists and the Fascists in 1928. (Ceplair 1987, 184-188)

Even like today, students were the backbone of the anti-war and anti-Fascist movements (which did not always agree; as World War II was the end result.) 25,000 students organized a peace strike on 13 April 1934, a successful strike that spurred creation of the American Youth Congress. The following year, the student peace strike of 12 April 1935 involved some 175,000 students and 150 schools! Nearly forgotten now, the student movement of the 1930s laid the groundwork for many of the activists for civil rights in the 1950s and against the Vietnam War in the 1960s. In December 1935 the National Student League, a relatively benign group, became the activist American Student Union, with 20,000 members. Along with the AYC, they organized even larger peace strikes in 1936 and 1937. (Ceplair 1987, 189, 193, 195) The strike against war in April 1936 also included the radical ideas of abolishing mandatory ROTC and protesting the Nazi Olympics that summer in Berlin.

The jealous conflict between the Communists and the Socialists was omnipresent during this time. The Jewish Labor Committee was formed, but refused to cooperate with any Communist groups, limiting its appeal. They did, however, publish Nazism: An Assault on Civilization, including essays by Alfred E. Smith and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. At the same time, the End Poverty In California (EPIC) movement was gathering strength in California. Based on the theories expounded by Upton Sinclair in an essay of 26 December 1933, by November of the following year, 1000 EPIC clubs and 100,000 EPIC members existed in California, attacked by both the Communists and the Fascists. When he ran for Governor of California on the EPIC ticket, Sinclair received only 879,537 votes (37.3 percent); yet 29 EPIC candidates were elected to the State Assembly and one to the State Senate. (Ceplair 1987, 190-192)

The zeal of the anti-Fascists was amusing to some: "All over the country were organizations which for years had done little else than spy on anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist and pro-Nazi propagandists in the United States. Perhaps the most energetic of them was (and is) the News Research Service of Los Angeles, whose [undercover] activities once caused an official in the Silver Shirts to complain: "If those Yids ever resigned from the Silver Legion we'd lose half our membership." (Lavine 1940, 7)

And what of Jewish groups, who could see their fellow Jews being oppressed and murdered in Germany? It is difficult to understand their lack of action today, but in the 1930s, most American Jews were intent on assimilating, not creating a situation where their "otherness" could be remarked upon. With many groups struggling for identity during the Great Depression, many American Jews demanded a "normal" life, a life outside the community of International Jewry. It is also important to remember the unique position of the German Jews in the heirarchy of Jews in general; they were the "top of the ladder" in America, the wealthiest and the most powerful, often exploiting and in turn being resented by the great mass of Polish, Czech, Russian and Ukrainian Jews in this country. In Germany, they were the leading financiers, scientists and professionals, considering themselves German first (many fought for their country in World War I) and Jews second. They themselves could not imagine what was coming until it came. (Arad 2000, 114, 159)

The primary organizing body was the American Jewish Committee. Even among fellow Jews, they could find little support, at first, against Hitler. The first anti-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden in March of 1933 was lightly attended, and a conference in May 1933 failed to produce any results in the Roosevelt Administration. Even American Jews on vacation in Germany saw little oppression, due to careful planning by the Nazis themselves, although they did hear from the German Jews themselves as the oppression grew more serious; but ironically, the strongest voice against oppression of the German Jews was Michael William, the editor of the Catholic Commonweal, who begged American Jews not to be fooled by Fascist propaganda. (Arad 2000, 108, 112)

Jewish opposition to the Fascists remained fragmented for two years after Hitler's elevation to Chancellor. A planned boycott of Germany was abandoned when the Nazis threatened to begin a complementary anti-Jewish boycott in Germany. (Arad 2000, 150)

Then came the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935, stripping German Jews of their citizenship, and the "Anschluss" or occupation of Austria on 12 March 1938. Americans of all races and religions read in horror of the brutal treatment received by Jews in Vienna. President Roosevelt called the Evian Conference in France to decide what to do about Jewish refugees; the conference was a failure, but the Nazis could no longer hide their machinations. On 9 November 1938 a young Jew killed the Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris and the next day in Germany began the pogrom of Kristallnacht, with hundreds of Jews killed, thousands imprisoned, and enormous numbers of businesses and synagogues destroyed. Nearly 1000 newspaper editorials appeared in America alone against Germany. (Arad 2000, 180-181, 196, 198) In many ways this was the end of any real public support in the United States for the Fascist.

In retrospect, of course, the growing anti-Fascist sentiment in the United States did not translate into more assistance for European Jews, who soon would be dying in the millions, like the millions of Ukrainians being starved to death by Josef Stalin. By the end of November 1938, 160,000 people in Berlin applied for US visas. Few were granted, and even a bill to admit 20000 refugee children failed in Congress shortly thereafter. (Arad 2000, 199, 203) After the German-Russian Nonaggression Treaty of 1939, the anti-Communists were proven right regarding Russian treachery; but as the backbone of the anti-Fascist movement, without the Communists, the anti-Fascist movement collapsed permanently. (Ceplair 1987, 201)
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:25 pm

Of Tea-Parties and Patriots: liberty for who?

- Dave Strano, 2009


The following article was written and directed towards members of the “Liberty Movement,” participants in the Tea Parties and Town Hall meeting protests. It was originally intended to be handed out at Colorado gun shows, where anarchists have done counter-recruitment against the Minutemen:

As town hall meetings on health care become the targets for disruptive protest and a growing “pro-liberty” movement gains traction and headlines, a full analysis of the situations we are facing as white working class people and an analysis of the strategies of the new “pro-liberty” movement is necessary.

I am authoring this piece as a white working class male that comes from a military family background, and identifies to some extent as being a libertarian. This description of myself is important as it helps color the perspective I am writing from, as any differences in my background, race, or socio-economic status would ultimately change the entire nature of this essay.

This piece is also mainly directed at white working class people that are active within this new movement. The reasons for this are many, as will become obvious as this piece progresses.

On race...

The Liberty Movement resembles the broader Libertarian Movement in a myriad of ways. One of these ways is in racial composition. To be plain and up front, the U.S. Right is mostly comprised of white people. These giant Tea Parties, our demonstrations and meetings are seas of white faces, with small sprinklings of nonwhite faces.

Whiteness is defined in many different ways by many different people. To many, Jews are not white. Up until the mid 1900’s, white skinned people of Irish and Italian descent were not considered white. Some folks still think this way.

I identify, for the benefit of this essay, a white person as any person with pale skin pigmentation that would commonly pass as white in this society. We don’t need to break this down any further. We know whether we’re white or not.

Most whites immediately become defensive when the word race is even brought up. We don’t want to admit we think in these terms. We don’t want to admit that race has anything to do with our lives or what’s going on in this country. We’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist and not talk about it.

We can act like Ostriches all we want. It doesn’t change that our movement is nearly completely white. Let’s admit that, understand that, and move on to understanding what that means for us.

On class...

When people bring up the term “class”, many white working people start to snicker. The calls of “leftist” or “socialist” or “pinko” come to the lips of many at the mere indication that someone may be conscious of class in America. Despite this tendency, especially within the ranks of poor and working whites, most white working people naturally view the world in terms of class, whether they’d admit it or not.

Our realities are shaped by where we stand socially, economically, and politically. The vast majority of whites, like people of all other races, live in precarious social, political, and economic realities. We live paycheck to paycheck. We live off over-extended credit. We live in debt. We don’t own much, if at all, in real estate. We live in stressful situations, where if one part of the chain breaks, we lose everything. Our very existence is one of insecurity and economic disaster.

Most people in the middle and upper classes of white society try to stifle this talk amongst us in the working or lower classes. Political, social, and church leaders try to erase the class line. But for those of us going home at night to trailers, slumlord owned apartments, or dilapidated houses, we tend to not forget the large suburban homes and mansions that these leaders sleep in.

Class exists. Just like race, we can’t make it go away by ignoring it. But why would we even want to ignore it? Our situation as working whites boils down directly to the idea of class.

Our class interests...

I start with the idea that most white working class people want similar things. We, as most people do, want security, freedom, prosperity, comfort, and safety. We don’t want to have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, how we’re going to be able to afford school supplies for our children, or whether or not we will fall victims to a “terrorist” attack. We don’t want to constantly fear losing our jobs or living the rest of our lives in precarious economic situations.

We now live in a country with a huge division between rich and poor. We live with a failed economy. We live in a nearly failed state. The government of the United States has systemically become a monstrous giant of bureaucrats and neo-tyrants. The whole government, every single politician, is part of this corrupt system.

Back home, in our communities, both rural and urban, we are losing our jobs. We are watching our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, dying in deserts and mountains halfway across the world. Our police forces are growing larger, just as our prison populations. We, as working people, are losing everything.

But, there may still be hope for us. White working class people are starting to organize on a national level for what we believe are our interests as a class, as physically manifested with the wave of “Tea Parties” and protests against what many feel to be an impending socialist nightmare in Washington, D.C.

Thousands have mobilized in past months to send clear messages to the politicians in charge of this mess that we won’t take it anymore. And now, we’re mobilizing to shut down what many see as a socialist attempt to take away our health care options and build even more government power.

But what do these mobilizations really mean? And what have we gained by disruptively protesting these town hall meetings on health care reform? Are we gaining ground? Or are we merely paving the way for further future losses?


Typically, political scientists have defined the concept of liberty as a political idea that identifies that a person has the right to act according to their own will and desires. This is how many Americans would like to think about liberty.

At Tea Parties, political meetings, and other gatherings, most white working people keep this image of liberty, of true freedom, deep in their hearts. It tends to motivate how we view the rest of the world and our relationship to it. We see liberty manifested here in the U.S., and the founders of this country dying to ensure it existed.

The other liberty...

Let’s be clear, however about the concept of liberty. We’ve all been duped, plainly and simply. On this land, the concept of liberty as defined in the previous context has never existed. In fact, we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes so tightly, that we can’t even see how the word has changed meaning and been used against us.

Historically, because of the conditions in the United States, the concept of liberty in this country has taken on a much different connotation than the one previously stated. Liberty, in the United States, has become synonymous with the protection of rights to own property.

To many within the white working class, this doesn’t seem like a contradiction. Part of being able to determine our own wills and act in true freedom is being able to own property. We define freedom by the ability to own objects, to own land, to own cars, to own firearms. And we defend this right to own private property to the death.

However, the right to own property is the right that allows for the rich and elites to own everything that we produce. The right to property has become the legal and social basis for the rise in power of those that directly exploit us. Because it’s a protected right to own water resources, because it’s a protected right to own land that you will never live on or work on your own, because it’s a protected right to own a house and price gouge your tenants for rent, because it’s a protected right to own a business and pay your workers next to nothing, because we as white working people have helped protect these rights, we’ve laid the foundation for our own misery.

The concepts of freedom and private property, then, are at direct odds with each other. How can we be free when a corporation owns the rights to our water? How can we be free when a bank owns the land that our houses sit on? How can we be free when all of our food is owned by a field boss? How can freedom exist when a small minority own the very means of our survival?

We’ve become casualties of this way of thinking for centuries. The idea that property protection and liberty are one and the same has allowed for the rich, the political and economic elite, to swindle the rest of us.

In the name of freedom and liberty, we protect the right of 5% of the residents of this country to maintain ownership over 90% of the property and means of survival in this country. Modern liberty has become the freedom to starve, the freedom to lose our jobs without notice, and the freedom to have a bank take back its property from underneath us.

While the rich in this country pillage our paychecks, destroy our retirement funds, and take away our livelihoods, we gladly hand our resources to them. After all, liberty doesn’t exist without the protection of these rich people to own that property. They have the right to even own us, in fact.

By its very nature, the concept of private property has destroyed us and allowed the rich to ride all over us.

And it’s this thinking that has created and shaped our current “Liberty” Movement.

The Liberty Movement

The Liberty Movement, this new manifestation of centuries old U.S. patriotism, has spread across the country like a wild fire. Tea Parties, large mobilizations denouncing a rising “socialism” in this country, were held in cities across the U.S. in the Spring and early Summer.

New organizations on college campuses and within communities have sprung up to continue the organizing efforts. The main enemy is President Barack Obama. His policies resemble a socialist attack on the American way of life, and they must be stopped.

Led mostly by rich politically ambitious organizers these rallies have brought together thousands of mostly white working class participants to start to fight back against this onslaught from the left.

However, many contradictions appear within this framework. Thousands of white working people, people who rely on foodstamps, unemployment payments, and even welfare checks, fill the ranks at demonstrations calling for an end to social services. White working people, full of fear about socialism and an attack on “liberty” (in this case, an attack on the property rights of the rich) turn against their own interests and sell out their own needs to fight the new socialism.

The unpleasant reality for working class and poor people who have participated and still participate in this new movement, is that we’re being used by these rich leaders within the movement to protect their interests, not ours. But that’s nothing new.

A history of playing for the wrong team

The history of the white working class has been a history of being an exploited people. However, we’ve been an exploited people that further exploits other exploited people. While we’ve been living in tenements and slums for centuries, we’ve also been used by the rich to attack our neighbors, co-workers, and friends of different colors, religions, and nationalities.

Since the colonization of the Americas in the late 1400’s, white working people have been the footsoldiers of political and economic elites seeking to dominate and control land, resources, and wealth, all at our own expense.

We have enlisted in armies to slaughter indigenous peoples. We’ve been slave catchers to trap and enslave Africans. We’ve been police officers to terrorize communities of color. We’ve been prison guards to keep other working people locked up. We’ve been settlers, occupiers, colonizers, and conquerors. These roles have done very little to benefit us, on the whole. We’ve been used to benefit a small minority of politicians, bosses, and aristocrats.

The blunt reality is that for the last five hundred years on this continent, white working class people have been used by mostly white rich people to colonize for, kill for, work for, and then better the living standards of those same white rich people, all the while sacrificing our own needs, wants, aspirations, and even lives. It really is as simple as that. No one denies the history of what has happened at working people’s expenses. Wars, poverty, homelessness, wage slavery... these are all ills created by someone, and perpetuated by us... the same workers who suffer these ills.

For some five centuries we’ve been used by the rich among our own race to promote their agenda and suffered because of it. Yet, somehow, we’ve still been convinced that it is in our interests to protect the rights of the rich to own as much property as they can, to protect the right of the rich to even exist, to protect these same rich people who would just as soon see us die for their benefit.

The heart of the matter is that for these five centuries, we’ve been too busy fighting the people who should naturally be our allies against these injustices. The rich whites have used our skin color against us, have used our human nature of fearing living beings different than us against us... they’ve used us against us. They’ve blinded us with these racialist ideas of “white supremacy” and “white pride” and “white nationalism” into fighting other working people of other races, while they sit on the sideline and laugh.

The New Liberty Movement plays directly into this situation, and turns us, as white working class people, against our natural interests as working class people, and against our natural allies. We’re still being used by rich whites to advance their causes, and lose everything that we desire and need.

Of socialism and healthcare

Let’s be plain. Obama is not a socialist. His reforms and the reforms of other politicians are not socialist. They’re not even radical. They’re truly reformist. And they’re truly state-capitalist.

Obama’s policies have not threatened the power structures of this country in anyway. The rich will stay rich. The poor will stay poor. Property will still be just as protected as it is now. Wars will still be waged on multiple continents. The systemic inequities that have created a mess for all working people will still exist.

But while these reforms, like public option healthcare, are not radical and do not fundamentally change any power relationships in this country, they still remain important bread and butter survival policies for poor and working people.

Just like people of all races and backgrounds, most white working and poor people have no healthcare. We’ve seen it disappear. We don’t have access to medical care when we need it. While national healthcare is not the answer to all of our problems, and shouldn’t be our ultimate end goal, it is a short term fix that we, as working class people, could probably use.

However, the red flag of socialism has been waved in front of our faces. We can’t see anything but the closet communist Obama taunting us and attacking our very way of life with these reforms.

And it’s this mentality that divides us from nonwhite working people even more. The vast majority of nonwhite working people are in support of this healthcare reform. They are in support of social service spending. They are in support of legislation that affects their survival as working class people.

We’re divided in a way that is fairly predictable. White working class people, people who have been bought off by the rich, would rather protect property rights that are used against us and our interests than work for healthcare and social services that we don’t like to admit that we utilize and need.

In our class based, capitalist society, white working class people protect property, while nonwhite working people struggle for social services necessary for survival. And thus, we as white working people play for the wrong team. And in the end, everyone besides the rich and the politicians ends up losing.

Let’s be honest. I don’t want the government to control healthcare. But I also don’t want to live in a property based society where I’m denied healthcare because I don’t make enough money. Until we get rid of that property based economic relationship, then I’ll gladly take social services from the state, just to level the playing field a bit between me and the rich boss that steals money from my paycheck, or the rich politician who guts money from our schools to fund occupations of other countries that benefit corporations he owns stock in.

Migrants and other scapegoats

Perhaps the most glaring example of how white working people are playing for the wrong team, and how the new Liberty Movement actively works against the liberty of all people, especially nonwhite people, is the role that the movement plays within the debate on immigration.

One of the attacks leveled at the government by the Liberty Movement is the government’s failure to secure the border. The white populist logic of the movement becomes quite clear at these times.

We have bought into the ridiculous notion that mostly brown skinned immigrants from Mexico or other countries are our enemy, that they are somehow stealing our jobs, that they somehow really threaten us. Let’s get real. Who’s really stealing our jobs?

Even with a generous estimate of the number of illegal immigrants working in the U.S. at 6 million (notice I said working, not living), this stands in stark contrast to the conservative estimate that nearly 50 million jobs will have been lost to outsourcing by 2015 since NAFTA came into affect in 1994. Well, let’s ask ourselves, who’s really stealing our jobs? Poor Mexicans? Or Rich White CEOs?

Leaders of the new Liberty Movement feed us ridiculous ideas of the “invading” brown hordes, and the rich whites that make up the upper echelons of organizations like the Minutemen and other similar groups salivate over our reactions. If we’re busy fighting the Mexicans at the border, and busy trying to round up all the “illegals” then we’re too busy to fight that real enemy, that one that keeps eluding us, the rich and political elite.

Most of us that keep falling for these lines initially might mean well. Heck, we only want to defend our families and our communities... but in reality, we’re weakening them even more, by fighting our real potential allies and diverting our attention from the real enemy.

And why are all these brown skinned immigrants coming here in the first place? Why is there this sudden rush in the last thirteen years to get into this country? 80% of all illegal immigrants have entered since 1994. Why is that? What happened in 1994 that affected working people in Mexico just as it affected us? The passage of NAFTA, a free trade program that benefits nobody but the rich people on both sides of the border!

The new Liberty Movement defends the liberty of rich people to own property, while attacking the liberty of movement of brown working class people. The new Liberty Movement doesn’t protect liberty, it actively attacks it and defends a system that makes liberty for all people impossible.

We’re failing and being used

The new Liberty Movement is not a failure. It’s highly successful for accomplishing what the leaders of this movement want. If our interests as white working class people mirror those of other working people, the interests of the rich and political elite within our own movement mirror those of the rich and political elite within the government. The leaders of our own movement seek to keep the infighting amongst working people of all backgrounds and colors alive. Again, if we’re too busy fighting each other, then we can’t fight them.

We as white working class people are being used at these mobilizations. We’re fulfilling our old role of being foot soldiers for the political elite, for keeping other poor and working people in line. We’ve blinded ourselves again.

How else can we explain the willingness of hundreds of people without healthcare to actively work against legislation that would provide them with that healthcare?

And the worst part is, we don’t really gain anything from this situation. We’re failing ourselves. All of our work within the New Liberty movement, all of our energy, money, and talents are going to reinforce the same predatory economic, political, and social systems that keep us, as white working people, exploited and living in misery as well.

Our allegiances to these leaders, to people like Ron Paul, to people like Alex Jones, our acceptance of their white populist talk, our willingness to attack migrants, to disrupt attempts to provide healthcare to working class people, our willingness to cling to these ideas of the “other” liberty, the protection of property and not of people, are the biggest reasons that we are doomed to continue to live this way. We will continue to live paycheck to paycheck (at least those of us that have jobs) and in constant fear of eviction or foreclosure. We will continue to have to choose between new schoolbooks for our kids or dinner for the whole family. We will continue to see our retirement funds looted, our world destroyed, and our family members being killed in wars. And we will continue to not be able to do anything about it, unless we change our strategy and direction.

Moving forward

If we as white working people envision a world of safe, free, and economically secure communities, then we must act now. We have to start to identify our allegiances to that of our class, and not our race. We must create a revolutionary white identity that can actively work against all forms of domination that ensure that we will never enjoy true liberty.

Migrants and blacks are not our enemies. White rich people are not our friends. We must reverse this paradigm and start to work alongside movements of nonwhite working people against all predatory political, economic, and social systems. This means not just working against the state, but also working against capitalism. The state and capitalism are two faces of the same coin, a coin that must be thrown away.

We also must work actively against white supremacy in all its incarnations. Our future depends on this. If we as white working people want to enjoy freedom, then we must not be used by the rich to deny it to others and ourselves. The more we act as footsoldiers for the rich, the more we ensure that our freedom is also unattainable.

Historically, we as white working people have seen our allegiance become an allegiance to whiteness, to being white. We can relate to other white people, no matter how poor or rich. They’re white like us, and that’s something we can identify with, come to terms with. So of course, our natural enemies become nonwhite peoples.

The only problem with this idea is that we’ve had it wrong for centuries. We’ve been kept blind to the true nature of what is afoot here, as to what’s really going on. Look around us. Who fills the trailer parks with us? Who works in the factories or fast food restaurants with us? Who is beside us working in the fields, picking produce that we’ll never really be able to afford? Is it rich people, especially rich white people? Hell no, it isn’t. It’s brown people, black people, yellow people. It’s people who have different shades of skin than us. They are the people that are in similar situations to us, living paycheck to paycheck, suffering like we do. So why then would we view them as our enemy?

Allegiances, traditionally, are made amongst people who have common interests. In an historical sense, white skinned working people have overwhelmingly believed that our interests are based on skin color. We have to work for the betterment of the race, for our culture, for our identity. The truth, however, could never be further away. Whose interests do these beliefs really serve? White workers? In some sense, the answer may be “yes”. Working for the advancement of the white race at the cost of other races does buy us relative privileges and even some luxuries. In the end, however, we’re still poor, we’re still being used to make other people money. And those people aren’t non-white working people.

We have a stake in creating a new social paradigm and movement that goes beyond the idea of liberty being a protection for property ownership. We have a direct interest in fighting white supremacy, the state, and capitalism. Our freedom is intimately woven into the freedom of all working people. Until we are free as a working class, we will never be free as individuals, no matter what skin color we are.

I don’t want to end on an abstract note. I want to end with a couple concrete steps that white working class people can take to work to build a movement for real liberty.

1. Actively work against groups like the Minutemen, the Klan, the Christian Identity Movement, and others that seek to divide us as working class people from other working class people based on their race, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion. These people are class traitors and ensure that we will never see freedom for ourselves or our families, as they keep us fighting other working class people and not the real enemy: the rich. Disrupt their attempts to organize and to recruit. Make it known they are not welcome at gun shows or other events where you are present. Not joining their organizations isn’t enough, we must actively stop them from organizing at all.

2. Actively work against leaders of the New Liberty movement that organize against nonwhite working class people. Alex Jones, Ron Paul, David Duke, and others are trying to ensure that we will turn on migrants and other people of color rather than turn on rich people, most of whom happen to be white.

3. Organize debtor’s unions and tenants unions in your neighborhood. We must come together with our neighbors to defend each other from foreclosures and evictions. Create networks of people in your neighborhood that can show up and help defend each other and prevent evictions.

4. Refuse to pay any debts you have and organize rent strikes. Don’t pay your hospital bills, your credit card bills, or any other debts you have. Don’t give these people that have been exploiting us any more of your money.

5. Support GI resistance to war and occupation. Many working class people are refusing orders to deploy, and resisting the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan in other ways. Lend them your support at

6. Don’t join the military, help prevent your family members from joining the military. This institution has robbed too many working people of their lives by convincing them it’s their patriotic duty. We must stop falling for this line, and fight for our class, not for the political elites.

7. Follow the examples of other working class people and occupy your workplace if threatened with layoffs or terminations. There have been occupations of workplaces in the U.S. and across other countries as the economic crisis has broadened. These reclamations of workplaces have ended with workers receiving back and severance pay, and sometimes even preventing their workplaces from closing

8. Organize with your neighbors to grow food for your communities. Don’t rely on the economic elites for your food any longer. Starting a personal garden is a good first step, but community gardens can provide more food for more people, and create important community ties and working relationships.

9. Be ready to actively defend your neighborhoods, workplaces, and communities from the police and state forces. Take whatever measures you deem necessary to do so.

10. Don’t get a job as a cop or prison guard. These jobs also reinforce racial divisions within our class, as well as create domestic armies to use against us when we do work toward our own power. Cops are not our friends. The police systemically exist to protect the rich and their property. Prison guards are not any better. Especially with the expansion of the war on drugs to include a war against Meth, many white working class people are finding themselves in prison and on the other side of the bars from their neighbors in guard’s uniforms.

11. Do anything you can to take back resources from the rich. We’ll keep this suggestion intentionally vague. The rich have all the food, all the money, all the wealth, and all the power. Let’s take it back. Any way we can.
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:35 am

Title: The Fallacy of “Neither Left nor Right”: Militia Fever
Authors: Janet Biehl
Date: 1995
Source: Retrieved on 21 September 2010 from

Janet Biehl

The Fallacy of “Neither Left nor Right”: Militia Fever

At a time when the political sands have shifted massively to the right nearly everywhere, when the right is riding high while the left languishes in debris, it is increasingly common to hear the cry “Neither left nor right!” Few right-wingers issue this cry — but then, why should they? Their political label is the toast of several continents today. The fact is that the strongest political winds are blowing many leftists, like the rest of the society, toward conservatism and a glorification of the market.

Although the cry has become more common since the collapse of the Soviet system, it did not originate in this era. Realo Greens were known to define their party as “neither left nor right” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Much earlier in this century, in the interwar years, European fascists who intended to reject both capitalism and communism used a related concept to find their supposed “third way.” During the Spanish Civil War, the Falangists thought of themselves as “neither of the left nor right nor centre,” according to one farmer:

We were a movement with our own spirit, out not to defend the rich but also not to put the poor above the rich. In many points we agreed with the socialists. But they were materialist revolutionaries and we were spiritual ones. What differentiated us most was that we lacked the hatred of capitalism which they exhibited. The marxists declared war on anyone with wealth; our idea was that the right must give up a part in order to allow others to live better.[1]

In recent months the insurgent militia movement has occasioned still more rejections of the left-right dichotomy. In the leftist Nation, Alexander *censored*burn describes a “Patriot” rally in Michigan as “amiable.”[2] The Boston Globe advises its readers that the “Freemen” movement of Montana, with its ties to the militias and to apocalyptic religiosity, is “so far off the generally accepted political scale that terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ do not apply” (3/30/96). Jason McQuinn, formerly editor of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed and currently editor of Alternative Press Review, denounces left and right as two sides of the same problem:

Left and right have both proved their bankruptcy throughout this century. And neither can lay legitimate claim to our loyalties. It’s way past time that both traditions received the scathing critiques they deserve, so that we can take what is best from them and discard what is worthless. It may be true that the left has often added far more of value to the defense of community and international solidarity than the right has ever been able to conceive. But both left and right have ultimately colluded in their support for the two “opposing” sides of capitalist development.[3]

Meanwhile libertarian author and publisher Adam Parfrey objects to leftists who would uphold distinctions between left and right, who “stump for the division of anti-establishment rightists and leftists,” since they are ultimately serving the interests of the ruling system.[4] In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, he argues, the militias have lamentably “become a scapegoat, a justification for intelligence agencies’ headlong rush into technocratic dystopia, where every financial transaction is instantly monitored by computers operated by the Fortune 500 and its omnipotent police force.” Those who criticize the militia movement, like the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Political Research Associates, ultimately serve the conspiracy itself. Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates demands “ideological purification” that “creates divisions between individuals,” while Holly Sklar, in her book on the Trilateral Commission, advances a “crypto-Socialist theology.” So runs Parfrey’s argument.

That Parfrey’s neither-left-nor-right approach has found a congenial home in the pages of McQuinn’s Alternative Press Review reflects the drift of a major American anarchist editor away from the movement’s leftist roots. Meanwhile, some militia members themselves are happy to meet Parfrey and Quinn halfway in their rightward lurch. Bob Fletcher, chief propagandist for the Militia of Montana, is reassuring: “We don’t want to hear about left and right, conservative and liberal, all these bullshit labels. Let’s get back to the idea of good guys and bad guys, righteous governments — the honest, fair, proper, American government that all of us have been fooled into believing was being maintained.”[5]

To some extent, Americans of all political stripes have received a libertarian education. The United States was born in a revolution, and some of its most revered Founding Fathers extolled the right to make one. A too-obvious betrayal of the main pillar of the American promise — the ideal of democracy — could potentially inspire rebellion, even at a time when capitalism is deeply embedded in American social life. Antidemocratic forces that serve the interests of a privileged few rather than the people as a whole find that they must either mask their activities entirely or else stupefy the population by using the mass media. Still, suspicion of government persists, even intensifies today, as the institutions of the American republic are ever more palpably hocked to capitalist masters. Distrust of capitalism has not kept pace with distrust of government, even though corporate rapacity has at times been so extreme as to beget movements like the Populists of the 1890s that cast capitalism’s “creative destructiveness” as a betrayal of the American promise.

It was a year ago this month that the militia movement came to national attention, denouncing “the tyranny of a run-away, out of control government.”[6] In the wake of bungled government attacks on a militant separatist at Ruby Ridge (where an FBI sniper killed two people) and on an apocalyptic preacher and his followers at Waco (in which more than seventy people died), sentiment ran high that the government was out to divest ordinary Americans of their rights as citizens. In particular, the right to bear arms seemed under threat by the passage of the Brady bill, which authorized the beginnings of gun control. These smoldering resentments were intensified by real grievances among working-class people in the American heartland, where global and domestic restructuring was bringing downsizing, declining real wages, and permanent layoffs. Resentments burst into flames, and militia groups were established in at least forty states.

This movement swore to uphold American sovereignty against an array of international forces that seemed intent on diminishing it: the “new world order.” The Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve, international trade treaties like NAFTA and GATT, and the United Nations had all at one time or another been castigated by the left; now the militias saw these institutions as components of a “new world order” subverting American sovereignty. They perceived, and still do perceive, a global conspiracy in which unseen but powerful hands are manipulating the American government and economy.

Conspiratorialism has a long history, as Michael Kelly recently wrote in The New Yorker, one that dates back to the late eighteenth century, when some began to believe that conspirators have been at it for more than two thousand years, perpetuating their plots through a succession of secret and semisecret societies arcing across time and cultures from the early-Christian-era Gnostics and the Jewish Cabalists, and on to the Knights Templars of the twelfth century, the Rosicrucians of the fifteenth, the Bavarian Illuminati of the eighteenth, and from there, through the Freemasons, to the schemers of the twentieth — the Council of Foreign Relations, the Bilderbergers, and the Trilateral Commission. Along the way, step by step toward one-worldism, the plotters have caused everything from the French and Russian Revolutions to the creation of the Federal Reserve, the United Nations, and the Gulf War.[7]

In the nascent militia ideology, black helicopters, the Hong Kong police, microchips inserted under the skin, and programs to change the weather all become parts of the world-conspiratorial plot. An army representing the “new world order,” composed of United Nations troops and inner-city gangs, was soon going to occupy America and reduce its citizens to slaves. The Militia of Montana, one of the earliest and most influential of the militia groups, warns that “the Conspirators to form a socialist one world government under the United Nations are ... at work treasonously subverting the Constitution in order to enslave the Citizens of the State of Montana, The United States of America, and the world in a socialist union.”[8]

The remnant left objects with equal ardor to the ongoing globalization and centralization of social, political, and economic forces, but its warrant is not that these forces are threatening American sovereignty; it makes no appeal to patriotism. Nor would the old leftist analysis perceive a sinister conspiracy manipulating the course of events. Rather, it rightfully argued, a specific social force is siphoning off people’s control over their lives and pulverizing their communities, commodifying social life and despoiling the biosphere, enervating convivial relationships and reducing people to wage slaves when they are at work and to mindless consumers the rest of the time. That system is capitalism.

To be sure, elite planning bodies do exist, according to Holly Sklar, author of Trilateralism, but they are not conspiracies:

Going back to the early 20th century, there are organizations that have placed fundamental role — not conspiracies but elite planning bodies, there’s a fundamental difference — in planning not just U.S. policy but global policy. I want to distinguish how I see the Trilateral Commission from a conspiracy theory. It’s not a conspiracy that pulls puppet strings and controls everything and everybody. It is the single most important international planning and consensus building organization among people from Western Europe, Japan, the U.S. and Canada who represent the interests of global corporations and banks — corporations like Exxon, General Motors, Sony, Toyota, Siemens, etc... Too many think there’s either a grand conspiracy that controls everything all the time, or there are no important institutions whose motives and goals we need to understand. Too many people look at the Trilateral Commission that way. Either it’s a conspiracy or it’s a joke. That’s completely absurd.[9]

Some leftists have apparently suspended this rational understanding of social and economic forces to find a certain sympathy with the militias. The siren song of conspiratorialism, with its facile explanations and its occasional relish for dystopia, makes it all too easy to forget the overwhelmingly structural social forces that have produced misery in the world today. “This is the terrain,” as Philip Smith puts it, “where the Liberty Lobby meets the left, where the Trilateral Commission runs the world, and one-time Vietnam War protesters join militias to fend off the New World Order.” Distinctions between left and right can fall by the wayside, on the “climb toward the speculative heights where Communism and Capitalism are merely facets of the one great conspiracy.”[10] Avowed anarchist McQuinn maintains that while we must always remember our social analysis, we should not shut our minds to conspiracies: he would investigate and expose “the workings of the real world, whether this leads down the road to conspiratorial or structural explanations, or both.” Meanwhile Parfrey, a true conspiratorialist, defends the militias as kindred albeit misinformed spirits, since “the militia man with his Manichean conspiracies and apocalyptic dreams” presents a challenge to the “interlocking network” of government, private corporations, foundations, universities, and media.

Militia Antistatism

Militia members do share some views with traditional leftists, including left-libertarians. Indeed, militia ideology shares with traditional anarchism not only an opposition to a “new world order,” however one may define it, but a commitment to resisting government tyranny in defense of individual rights. In a passage that could have come from any leftist who takes seriously the legacy of the American Revolution, the Militia of Montana states that it intends to “put at odds any scheme by government officials to use the force of the government against the people.

When the codes and statutes are unjust for the majority of the people, the people will rightly revolt, and the government will have to acquiesce without a shot being fired, because the militia stands vigilant in carrying out the will of the people in defense of rights, liberty, and freedom. The purpose of government is in the protection of the rights of the people, when it does not accomplish this, the militia is the crusade who steps forward, and upon it rests the mantle of the rights of the people.[11]

In statements that would not have been outlandish in the traditional left, the militia movement calls for the people to be armed, in defense of individual rights:

The security of a free state ... is found in the citizenry being trained, prepared, organized, equipped to and lead [sic] properly so that if the government uses its force against the citizens, the people can respond with a superior amount of arms, and appropriately defend their rights... Remember Thomas Jefferson’s words that the primary purpose of the second amendment was to ensure that Americans as a last resort would be able to defend themselves against a tyrannical government.[12]

Although the notion is distasteful to many on the left today, calls for an armed people were once well known at that end of the political spectrum. At a meeting of the Second International in Stuttgart in August 1907, the congress adopted a resolution co-authored by Lenin and Luxemburg that called for the establishment of militias:

The Congress sees in the democratic organization of the army, in the popular militia instead of the standing army, an essential guarantee for the prevention of aggressive wars, and for facilitating the removal of differences between nations.[13]

Structurally, as a loose network of small groups rather than a centrally controlled organization, the militia movement calls to mind traditional anarchist movements. The local groups are to be coordinated “using correspondence committees, which is the traditional method.”[14] “These committees do not attempt to act as regional, state, or national organizations, but only to facilitate communications among local units, the sharing of literature, and the building of a consensus for action.” The whole movement “must be committed to the same cause ... but specific tactics should be left up to the individual elements.”[15] In other words, militia members are to think globally but act locally.

Again echoing anarchist opposition to hierarchy and leadership elites, militia ideology advocates a concept of “leaderless resistance.” According to this concept, “All individuals and groups operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction.” Reflecting this decentralization, the movement was organized overwhelmingly through Internet newsgroups and fax networks, which allowed for a wide dissemination of ideas and dispensed with the old former necessity for a demagogic, crowd-stirring leader. The purpose of “leaderless resistance” is “to defeat state tyranny... Like the fog which forms when conditions are right and disappears when they are not, so must the resistance to tyranny be.”[16]

Decentralized in structure, tactics, and action, the movement’s purported aims are decentralist as well. Militia members look with favor upon local political units, indeed define themselves in terms of their locality, denying the legitimacy of political entities beyond. According to the Constitution Society:

The militia, like citizenship, is fundamentally local. We are first and foremost citizens of our local community. The word “citizen” has the same root as the word “city.” Although people may also be concurrently citizens of larger political entities, such as states or the nation, and although those entities may be considered to be composed of their citizens, they are essentially composed of localities, and it is the local community that is the basis for the social contract, although it may be considered to include a certain amount of surrounding territory. Today we would usually identify the locality with the county.[17]

The county as the highest level of legitimate government is a notion that has a long currency in the far right. It ultimately derives from the Posse Comitatus, a white supremacist movement that rejected government authority and called for popular sovereignty. Today a county supremacy movement has brought direct legal challenges to the authority of the federal government over public lands, asserting that these lands should be subject to county control. Talk of direct democracy is scarce, however, in the militia movement. The sheriff is to be the highest elected official — but the nature of his power and his accountability are undefined, leaving open authoritarian possibilities. No inkling do we glean of community self-management, and little is said of self-government in towns and cities, where most people live today.

Here it is instructive to compare militia ideology with libertarian municipalism, the political dimension of social ecology. Social ecology, a legatee of the traditional left, looks to the neighborhood, town, and city as the locale for popular direct democracy. Its first political aim is the development of free, democratic cities through a process of civic education, creating citizens out of present-day constituents and taxpayers, showing disempowered people the power of citizenship in assembly, exercising their powers of self-government, and expanding the latent and existing democratic institutions of the municipality at the expense of the state. As readers of Green Perspectives are well aware, libertarian municipalism calls for these freed, democratized cities, increasingly scaled to human dimensions, to confederate, constitute a dual power, and ultimately eliminate the existing nation-state.

It is a quintessentially social revolutionary process. The militia movement, by contrast, speaks of no such process and proffers no concept of citizenship or civic education. Nor does it explain how society is to be organized — socially, politically, economically — in a county-dominated polity. Instead, the tactical emphasis is on an armed people — and by armed people, it most often appears to mean armed individuals who perform individual actions, like refusing to pay taxes, get social security numbers, or use driver’s licenses or license plates. Its heroes are strong, even Rambo-esque individuals like Bo Gritz, who was David Duke’s running mate in his 1992 presidential campaign for that electoral battalion of neo-Nazis and Klan members known as the Populist Party.

Another such action is to declare a local area, even an individual farm or dwelling, to be sovereign — outside the legal jurisdiction of the United States. An obscure theory (known as “allodial title”) dating from feudal times and advanced in Militia of Montana literature purports to validate claims that individuals who own land outright can be considered sovereign. Hence the so-called “Freemen” enclave in northeastern Montana, renamed “Justus Township,” and dozens of other such enclaves around the country.

When it comes to defining its enemies, militias tend to confuse individuals with institutions. That is, they “take aim” not at a social order but at individuals, threatening to murder members of specific group of people — government employees, simply by virtue of their holding government office. Militias have sent death threats to senators and local officials alike. In 1995 the “Justus Township” members of the “Freemen” placed a million-dollar “bounty” on the sheriff of Garfield County — they said they would try him in one of their own “common law courts” and hang him if he were found guilty. They threatened to hang the county attorney by a rope from a bridge, without even the nicety of a “common law” trial. Two other “Freemen” issued a death threat against a U.S. district judge in Billings. Such tactics are calls not to social revolution but to private acts of cold-blooded murder.


Despite their belief in government at the county level and below, militia members commonly say they uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. To fight the takeover of the United States by the New World Order, the Militia of Montana announced its aim “to defend the Constitution of The United States of America and the Constitution of The State of Montana against All Enemies, Both Foreign and Domestic.”[18] In a country that still basically reveres its Constitution after two hundred years, such language falls well within the range of conventional political discourse. In fact, so ardently do militias champion the Constitution that an influential group within the Militia of Montana call themselves Constitutionalists. To libertarians like Parfrey, the militias’ apparent commitment to civil liberties is a point in their favor. “Militias remain largely defensive,” he writes, “chartered to protest the erosion of constitutional rights... Militias are sure to react as the government continues to overturn the Constitution, discarding the right to keep and bear arms, suffocating the right to free speech, or roping off the right to public assembly.”[19] Progressives may even feel a measure of sympathy for people so committed to upholding the Bill of Rights that they are even willing to sacrifice life and limb.

These assertions of fealty, however, are not what they seem. Militias like that of Montana recruit new members precisely by using such unimpeachable language in the course of championing broadly popular conservative causes like the assault on gun control or environmental regulation or abortion. The Constitution and Bill of Rights that these militia members are actually supporting is not the one that constitutes the fundamental law of the United States today. The latter, Constitutionalists believe, is an illegitimate document. Only the original Constitution, as it came out of the Philadelphia convention in 1787, is valid, in their view, along with the original ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. The Constitution is to be interpreted strictly, as it was originally written, much as fundamentalists read the Bible. And it is to be read in the context of its time, not according to any later judicial interpretations. At the time the original Constitution was adopted, most citizens were white Christian men, enjoying rights with which God endowed them — they were what the militias call “state” or “organic” citizens. It is almost certainly these citizens to which the Militia of Montana refers when it says it is “dedicated to the preservation of the freedoms of all citizens ... of the United States of America.”[20] Since Jews are not Christians, they would not be part of the polity defined by the original Constitution. Contrary to widespread conservative belief, however, the original Constitution gives no preference the Christian religion; the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making laws “respecting the establishment of religion.”

The later constitutional amendments that followed after number ten — like the ones that protected the rights of newly freed slaves and gave the vote to women — were not part of the original Constitution and as such are considered neither legal nor binding. People who gained their citizenship only by these later amendments are called “Fourteenth Amendment” citizens and have rights and duties only under the amended Constitution. The additional amendments, however, invalidated the Constitution, and somehow therefore white males need not obey it or defer to it. Indeed, inasmuch as they were given neither rights nor duties by the Fourteenth Amendment, they are not necessarily citizens under the amended Constitution.

In fact, to disclaim their association with the present governmental system all the more dramatically, a number of militia members have publicly renounced their citizenship. One group that did so explained their reasons to the local newspaper in Ravalli, Montana:

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, [I] solemnly Publish and Declare my American National Status and rights to emancipate absolute my “res” in trust from the foreign jurisdiction known as the municipal corporation of the District of Columbia, a Democracy. Any and all, past and present, political ties implied by operation of law or otherwise in trust with said democracy are hereby dissolved. By this emancipation I return to an estate of primary sovereignty and freedom that preexists all government(s).[21]

Presumably they were returned to the “state of nature” — the ultimate sovereign individual, exempt from the necessity of obeying any laws apart from the “common law,” the governments they set up for themselves, and the Bible. Indeed, white Christian males are supposed to be exempt from paying federal income tax, presumably on the grounds that the IRS was created by a later amendment. Since the “Internal Revenue Code is completely in violation of the Constitution,” individuals have the right to defend themselves against the IRS when it intrudes on their sovereign territory.[22] The IRS, of course, as a tool of the state, would not be part of the moneyless, post-scarcity society toward which social ecologists strive; “taxes” would be relevant only when people in assemblies decided they were necessary in some form and imposed them on a face-to-face, democratic basis. But “Freemen” need not pay taxes for a different reason, as one of those in the 1996 Montana farmhouse siege, Rodney Skurdal, explained in 1994: “[If] we the white race are God’s chosen people ...and our Lord God stated that ‘the earth is mine,’ why are we paying taxes on ‘His Land’?”[23] (Because of his own refusal to pay taxes, Skurdal’s own property had previously been confiscated by the IRS.) If “Freemen” are tax exempt, however, “Fourteenth Amendment” citizens aren’t so fortunate — they must pay the income tax. In fact, an outrageously twisted reading of the very amendments that guaranteed blacks freedom is interpreted to mean that blacks must return to slavery.

In the United States today, overtly racist words are unacceptable in broad political discourse, so that those who wish to express racial hatreds must use code words as a substitute. Most recently, in the Republican presidential primaries, Patrick Buchanan referred to Latinos using the codeword “José” and to Jews by invoking “Goldman Sachs” and “Brandeis students”; he expressed his ethnic preferences not by using words derogatory to blacks but by supporting the flying of the Confederate flag. Similarly, the “Constitutionalism” of the militia ideology is in its essence an oblique vehicle for expressing racism. A large number of white supremacists today use this vehicle, designating themselves Christian Patriots and advocating the “Constitutionalist” exclusion of blacks, Jews, and women from the American polity.

The “Freemen” in the Montana farmhouse, too, are a Christian Patriot or Constitutionalist group, and it is by virtue of these beliefs that they have their own “common law” court system that issues bounties for the “arrest” of county officials. Nor need Christian Patriots obey existing American laws, according to Skurdal.

How many of the People of Israel (Adam/white race) have rejected the words of Almighty God, and rejected their “faith” (surety) in Almighty God, to worship man made laws, “color of law,” such as applying for a social security card/number, marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, insurance, vehicle registrations, welfare from the corporations, electrical inspections, permits to build your private home, income taxes, property taxes, inheritance taxes, etc., etc., etc... Once you have applied for these benefits ... you have voluntarily become their new “slaves” to tax at their will, for you are no longer “free,” i.e., a “freeman.”[24]

At this writing, the “Freemen” under seige by the FBI have given notice that they will defend their sovereign land by force if necessary: “Our Special orders ... is for our special appointed constables and our Lawful Posse to shoot to kill any public hireling or 14th amendment citizen who is caught in any act whatsoever of taking private property.”[25] Here, “Constitutionalism” has become a shoot-to-kill license against people that “Freemen” despise, simply because they despise them.

The militias oppose laws, too, because they are the laws of a state that they abhor. But judging by their pronouncements and their actions, the new political units that would replace the state would be at least as bad as the existing one. The death penalty would remain in place, and private property would be preserved. People would be excluded on the basis of ethnicity, and women would lose the franchise. Environmental conservation, land-use planning, and zoning would recede to dim memory. The individual would be so disencumbered of community responsibilities and obligations that the atomized, self-interest-maximizing, egotistical individual of classical liberal political theory would seem the soul of benevolence by comparison. At the same time, a fundamentalist Christian religion would be established, available to justify any exercise of authority as divinely sanctioned.

Continues at: ... itia-fever
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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:51 pm

US Domestic Terrorism

Montana Militia

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:55 am

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:15 am

Rednecks with Guns and other anti-racist stories and strategies

Author: Dave Onion

Following the election of Obama, many folks involved with a spectrum of different anti-racist work were left dumbfounded by the rise of the aggressive and often explicitly racist white Tea Party movement. Though the Tea Party Movement had been funded in the millions, enjoyed the enthusiastic backing of Fox News and was being manipulated by powerful forces on the right, it was also clear that the right was comfortably engaging with a sector of the North American working class largely abandoned by the broader left. In the throes of economic crisis many formerly enfranchised whites were looking at serious setbacks. In response the left for the most part smugly responded by dismissing the crazy tea baggers while white supremacists and conservatives moved into largely uncontested territory. In looking for exceptions, I decided to check out the John Brown Gun Club, a group of white working class anarchists who before the emergence of the Tea Party movement, had been sowing class struggle and anti-racist solidarity amongst mostly white gun enthusiasts in Kansas. Here Dave Onion interviews long time anti-racist gun slinger Dave Strano.

You were part of the John Brown Gun Club in Kansas and now are involved with Redneck Revolt in Denver. What are these groups are about? What sort of folks were involved and are you coming from politically?

The John Brown Gun Club was a working group of Kansas Mutual Aid, an anarchist collective active in Northeast Kansas from 2002 until early 2009. Kansas Mutual Aid focused on a variety of organizing initiatives and social programs including free food distributions, support for political prisoners and prisoners of war, copwatch and legal support, anti-military recruitment, and firearms and self defense trainings.

The John Brown Gun Club focused on two main program points. We worked to provide skillshares and trainings in the tactical use of firearms within the radical community and also to distribute free anti-racist literature at gun shows in Kansas and Missouri. We managed to table at over 30 different gun shows in a three year period, and distribute hundreds of copies of anti-racist and anti-Minutemen literature during that time period. We even managed to make some close allies with several other gun show vendors, one of which quit the Minutemen. That connection would later prove very advantageous after my move to Denver, as that vendor helped provide some of the first tabling space for the Redneck Revolt project at gun shows in this area.

Kansas Mutual Aid was mostly comprised of working class anarchists, few of who seem to meet the normal demographic of ex-punk and ex-middle class backgrounds. The majority of the folks that made up the John Brown Gun Club working group even went as far as to openly identify as rednecks. Our shared experiences of growing up in poor or working class white communities, in trailer parks and run down apartment buildings, surrounded by redneck culture, made it easy to find commonality.

The term "redneck" started to become part of our political identity. We produced literature specifically targeted toward white working class people, urging them to abandon their kneejerk racism and allegiance to whiteness and to instead build alliances with working class brown and black folks. This effort culminated in a widely distributed piece of literature, "An Open Letter to Other White Working People..." The essay was distributed by the hundreds to attendees at gun shows and later at Ron Paul's "New Liberty Movement" rallies and events.

Kansas Mutual Aid disbanded in early 2009, and I moved to Denver in April of that same year. 2009 was a big year for the Tea Party and their efforts to mobilize and organize. I penned a new essay, "Of Tea Parties and Patriots" and launched a new organizing effort, Redneck Revolt.

Redneck Revolt never has really amounted to more than just my singular efforts at agitation and education, mostly due to the birth of my daughter and my large time commitments to the work of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross. It's a project I'd like to focus on more, especially as the worker's revolts in Wisconsin bring white working class supporters of the Tea Parties into the streets to back the horrific attacks on the broader working class. There is political affinity to be found in the Rocky Mountains with other radical rednecks, but the efforts have been put on hold for the last year.

Another reason that Redneck Revolt hasn't been developed as much as it could be, is that another project I am affiliated with already fulfills half of the mission of the original John Brown Gun Club. The Denver Armed Resistance Committee (DARC) is a working group of the Denver Anarchist Black Cross that focuses on firearms and tactical defense. The group offers a free monthly introductory class through the Denver Free School, as well as multiple live fire exercises throughout the year. DARC is much more formal and better organized than the John Brown Gun Club ever was, but only fulfills half the mission of the predecessor project.

As anti-racists, why would you ever identify as rednecks?

I'll first quote directly from the Redneck Revolt blog:

The history of the term redneck is long and complex. One of the earliest recorded uses of the term comes from the 1890s, and refers to rednecks as “poorer inhabitants of the rural districts…men who work in the field, as a matter of course, generally have their skin burned red by the sun, and especially is this true of the back of their necks”.

In 1921, the term became synonymous with armed insurrection against capitalists and the state, as members of the United Mine Workers of America tied red bandanas around their necks during the Battle of Blair Mountain, a two week long armed labor uprising in the coalfields of West Virginia.

Today, the term redneck has taken on a demeaning connotation, primarily among upper class urban liberals who have gone out of their way to dehumanize white working class and poor people. Terms like “white trash” have come to signify the view among these same upper class liberals of poor and rural whites.

To us, the term redneck is a term that signifies a pride in our class as well as a pride in resistance to bosses, politicians, and all those that protect domination and tyranny.

We're very upfront about our position of being not only opposed to white supremacy, but to the shared culture of whiteness being one that has only been defined by being an oppressor race. What unites white skinned people currently is a shared history of being the footsoldiers of oppression. We want to ensure that as many whites as possible reject this commonly understood idea of whiteness and instead join in a common struggle with workers of all skin colors in a struggle for total and real liberation.

We feel like it's important to understand our backgrounds and roots, to understand where we come from and organize within those communities. It has been stated over and over again from our comrades and allies within black and brown liberation struggles that only whites can help organize within white communities. We wish to step up and start to build a white, anti-racist working class element of the broader working class movements active in the U.S.

The call ourselves rednecks then, to celebrate the history of treason to whiteness and allegiance to the working class that this term once embodied.

We talked earlier about your work tabling at gun shows. What sort of reactions and dialog has come out of that work? What sort of materials did you use?

The efforts of the John Brown Gun Club were definitely more successful than the efforts in Colorado in this area of struggle. In Kansas and Missouri, we were on a first name basis with gun show organizers. After about a dozen shows, the Minutemen actually stopped tabling at shows. Of course, the Kansas Minutemen also almost entirely dissolved during that time period, certainly not solely from our efforts. We were able to build some alliances with gun dealers and other vendors, as I detailed just vaguely earlier in this interview.

However, I don't want to downplay how negative a lot of the reaction was either. We received death threats at more than one gun show. We had consistent moments of loud and explosive arguments during many shows.

There was a specific incident involving members of a Confederate Hammer Skin crew when we tabled in Kansas City that was particularly tense.

The reactions in Colorado, where the Minutemen have had a stronger foothold have been definitely more on the negative side. Unlike Kansas, where we had some direct confrontations, but never from actual members of the Minutemen, we've had Minutemen members threaten to break our arms or mob up on our table threatening to have us kicked out of the show. Despite these reactions, Colorado has a higher percentage of non-white gun show attendees, and the reactions from these gun owning black and brown folks has been amazingly positive.

Our typical table setup has been pretty consistent whether in Kansas or Colorado. We typically have several dozen literature titles, some focusing on firearms and tactical defense mechanics, but the vast majority are typically anti-white supremacy essays and pamphlets. Titles like David Gilbert's "Looking at the White Working Class Historically" and James Murray's "From Chiapas to Montana" have been among the more popular.

However, there isn't a whole lot of radical anti-racist literature out there that is specifically written towards the experiences of white working class people. Most anti-racist literature targeted toward whites is written for folks that already identify as radical, or written by folks that have no frame of reference for what it's like to be a redneck or white working class person. My experience has always been that it's easier and more effective for radical rednecks to craft these pieces ourselves, as we have the backgrounds and experiences to begin to reach folks from these communities.

Our tables usually include some sort of visually appealing graphic heavy display that gives an overview of who we view our real class enemies and allies as, and a small TV with a radical video on repeat. Typically our favorites have been anti-police state documentaries, old Black Panther films, IRA documentaries, or anything that is heavy on gun related imagery. It tends to play better to people than anything that may make us appear as anti-gun liberals.

We also definitely display weapons on the tables, to add some credibility to our organization and our views, and to yet again, illustrate that we're not some pro-gun control liberals. I can't overstate how important it is for us, as anti-racists trying to organize within the white working class, that we distance ourselves from upper-middle class democrats.

So many white anti-racists have been at a complete loss of how to approach the upswell in racist organizing we've seen most visibly inside the Tea Party movement. You've been to some of their gatherings. Can you talk about what sort of work you've done there ?

Throughout 2009 and 2010, I've distributed over 2,000 copies of my pamphlet "Of Tea Parties and Patriots", which is an over glorified open letter to working class whites that have been swept up in the Tea Party fervor. These have met mixed reactions at Tea Party events, but almost always have led to long, drawn out, productive conversations with folks in attendance. I've been to 5 or 6 Tea Party rallies, including a rally that specifically targeted the migrant community here in Denver.

While close comrades from local anti-capitalist migrant organizations have stood across the street holding signs against the Tea Party, I find myself on the other side, distributing literature, engaging in dialogue and causing trouble for the rally organizers.

I won't try to make some argument that my efforts have produced a whole lot, but I've made some interesting contacts, and definitely have seen some folks that were at the last Tea Party event come to support radical, and even pro-migrant events just several weeks later.

We've seen conservatives and fascists speak directly to (and often manipulate) some of the racialized fears of working class white folks who've either felt or fear the sting of the economic crisis. Why do you think anti-racists and voices from the left were so absent in these circles?

Let's be honest about this. The white working class has been completely abandoned to the right wing. The left has pushed white working class folks aside. Most liberals and progressives have very little activity with any sort of working class organizing, let alone white working class organizing.

Working class whites are more often the topic of jokes or ridicule than the target of any organizing efforts from our quarters. And I don't mean to say that the white working class hasn't earned a lot of that derision from the left. They have historically sided with the capitalists and the state and turned on non-white working people at nearly every opportunity.

But we also can't ignore the internal classism prevalent amongst many members of the Left, especially the institutional Left (non-profits, NGOs, etc). The folks in leadership positions are almost always white upper class liberals, and they have done much to cement their class leadership at the expense of working class people of all colors who may or may not be the perfectly educated political machines that the leaders of the liberal left yearn to be.

We, as radical and progressive movements are also quick to push anyone away who doesn't use the right words or does use the wrong words, or anyone that we're suspicious of being tainted by oppressive behaviors or thoughts. Of course, this means that 90% of the working class is automatically an enemy, and the ranks of the Left are instead filled with upper middle class educated academics that know what words are acceptable and anti-oppressive and have the time and resources to have attended a never ending series of anti-oppression workshops and classes.

This is not to downplay the need for these workshops, classes, and even attitudes toward oppression, but we need to be real. If we imagine a broad based people's movement that includes working class people, then we have to be able to meet people where they are at, and make these struggles relevant to their everyday lives.

The last thing a poor or working class redneck that is a paycheck away from being evicted from their rundown trailer wants to deal with is some upper or middle class college educated kid from the burbs talking down to them because they use an offensive word.

We also need to be honest, that the folks that can actually speak to the white working class (namely radical white working class people) are few and far between, and that many are actively silenced and ridiculed for their backgrounds by affluent white organizers. While much has been done to point out the inherently racist issues that plague many progressive and radical organizations, almost nothing has been done to point out the inherent classism that runs rampant on the left.

Folks seem to think that if they have a job as a union organizer, or have a friend that's a union member, or have attended a labor rally they are somehow not classist...

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Re: The Secret Origins of the Patriot Movement

Postby American Dream » Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:44 pm ... community/


November 7, 2009, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Analysis, Opinion | Tags: Conspiracy theories, Denver, Patriot Movement, Skull and Bones, Zionist World Conspiracy


I appreciate you sending me the forwards and other messages. Thanks. Please keep me updated if there are any events, etc, that I can attend or come support.

I do have some things I want to start to dialogue with you about, though.

I feel like I have a lot in common with what your end goals and desires are. We want a safe and secure future. We want an end to a meddling government. We don’t want to have to scrape together pennies just to survive. We want liberty.

However, I think we have far different takes on who the enemy is that we should be fighting. Your literature is filled with comments about Jews and other types of secretive quasi-religious groupings that are trying to control us.

I feel that this analysis misses many key concepts and points about what is really going on here. The world is divided between rich and poor. Those who control property relationships, and those that work to maintain those property relationships. This is something we can see everyday at play in our communities, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, etc.

I would argue that the rich are not made up of any one demographic. They are made up of those that have exploited the rest of us for centuries. You call them Jews. I call them bosses, politicians, and the ruling elite. Most Jews I know are poor and working class. They’ve been hunted down and destroyed for centuries.

If anything, the ruling class created a buffer middle class and managerial class of Jewish people over the last several centuries, so that we, as working people, would fight the Jews, not the real people pulling the strings and controlling our lives.

I understand your want to do something, to confront the people who are merely parasites who ruin the lives of the vast majority of us. However, labeling them Jews or trying to associate them with some mythical cultish organizations does nothing to help this struggle.

First, it marginalizes allies in this struggle. Let’s be real. Jewish folks have historically been a people that struggled against ruling elites. The movements of Jewish workers in this country and others created a base for confrontation with the rich and business owners at the turn of the last century that we can only dream of today. By labeling Jews as the enemy, not only are we adding to the oppressive power of the state structure by helping in the oppression of a people based merely on their ethnicity/religious identity, but we’re also pushing away natural allies in a struggle for a world of liberty and freedom against tyrannical rule. We are harming our own struggle while we also harm other people who are struggling against the same conditions that we are.

Secondly, by pinpointing that cause of our problems on secretive cult-like groups such as the Skulls and Bones, we are creating a mythology that prevents us from strategically understanding the situation we find ourselves in. The Patriot movement’s focus on these types of conspiracy theories only undermines any goals of liberty or freedom it may have. These theories prevent us from having a concrete analysis of our social conditions. We ignore the relationships between those in power and those without power. We ignore the plain realities we see of predatory economic, social, and political models within our own communities. We fictionalize the enemy. If we keep chasing after these cults, then we don’t chase after the power relationships that cause these conditions in the first place.

We chase the Skull and Bones cloak and dagger types. But we don’t chase our own bosses. We chase the NWO but ignore the internal contradictions of global empire. We can never strategically change our social conditions by creating a mythological enemy and trying to fight it.

Lastly, the insistence by the Patriot Movement that immigrants are also an enemy in this struggle will ensure that yet again, our movement is not only marginal and ineffective at creating actual freedom and liberty, but that we are denying that same liberty and freedom to other people engaged in similar struggles as us. If we continue to be the foot soldiers of the state’s form of oppression, especially when it comes to issues on the border, then we must immediately strike the word liberty from our websites, pamphlets, and dvds. We are not fighting for liberty. We are helping destroy it.

I want to work with you and other folks who are genuinely concerned about our futures and who want to build a real movement for freedom and liberty, that is why I opened up this dialogue the way that I have. Let’s work together, because that is what will make us strong. And let’s start fighting the real enemy. The time to take sides is far overdue, and unfortunately, the vast majority of us have chosen the wrong side for our entire lives. I just recently have come to understand how my role in similar Patriot style movements back in Kansas has been a part of strengthening our enemies. I hope more folks will join me in this critical analysis.

In the end, deep down, I cling to the idea that we want similar things, but we’ve been duped into thinking that the current strategy of the Patriot Movement will get us those things, when in reality, it has only kept them even further away from us.

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