|Table of Contents|
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Social context
Chapter 3. Methods
Chapter 4. Militias in Florida
Chapter 5. Structure of Florida militias
Chapter 6. Membership of Florida militias
Chapter 7. Religious ideology of Florida militias
Chapter 8. Political and racial ideology of the militias
Chapter 9. Activities of the militias
Chapter 10. Discussion
Appendix A. Militias in Florida: 1997
Appendix B. White supremacist organizations in Florida: 1997
Appendix C. Mailing lists
Appendix D. List of internet sites
Appendix E. Principles of the NAAWP
Appendix F. Abbreviations
GOD, GUNS, AND GUTS:
RELIGION AND VIOLENCE IN FLORIDA MILITIAS
JOHN KEITH AKINS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA MAY 1998
John Keith Akins
This research would not have been possible without the assistance and support of many people, and it is to them that I offer my heartfelt thanks.
First and foremost, I want to thank my committee, including Drs. John Moore, Diedre Crumbley, Dennis Owen, David Chalmers, and, above all, Brian du Toit. It has been a long road, and they traveled it with tolerance, advice, and humor all the way. No one could ask for a better mentor than Dr. du Toit, nor a more supportive committee.
I also wish to thank Erika Morgan, Lisa Baker, St. "Big Dog" Bernard, Sandy,
Zeke, and the remainder of my associates for their generous funding and technical support.
Special thanks go to Aaron Feigenbaum for sharing his knowledge of both America's current economic situation and Jewish history and traditions.
My friends Matt Baker, Holly Blumenthal, Agazzi Negash, and Janis Weber all offered distraction, support, and advice throughout the entire process. A special thanks goes out to Rod Stubina and Helen Feussner for their invaluable assistance with my new computer. Thanks also to Jeff Lipham, Brian Zacker, Charlie Prieto, and the rest of the bouncers at the Purple Porpoise Oyster Pub for helping me avoid injury and giving me time off from work whenever I needed it.
My undergraduate mentor, Dr. Robin Rhodes, and my former wife, Shelley Burke, provided the inspiration I needed to give both college and graduate school a try.
Susana Gonzalez, a ffiture attorney and currently one of the world's great
bartenders, provided invaluable proofreading and copy editing, and the text is more clear and concise because of her input.
Thanks also to Colonel Dan Daniels, USA, retired, and his colleagues at the
National Association for the Advancement of White People, to the Klanwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith for providing me with vital information I would not have otherwise obtained.
Finally, none of this would have been possible without the assistance and support of Heather L. Hall. Heather helped me maintain a sense of perspective while in the field, helped me stay organized while analyzing the data, and ran errands and brought food while I was writing. Heather, you're the best fhend I've ever had, and I could not have done this without you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I INTRODUCTION .1
Definition of Terms .2
History of the Militia Movement .5
Government Responses .11
Review of Literature .12
2 SOCIAL CONTEXT .32
Economic Factors .33
Manufacturing Industries .33
Social Changes .37
Political Factors .40
Gun Control .40
Surveillance of Citizens .41
Affirmative Action .42
Separation of Church and State .42
Vietnam/Gulf War Veterans .44
The Farm Crisis .45
The Patriot Movement and the Far Right .52
Identity Christianity .52
The Liberty Lobby .54
Common-Law Courts. .54
The Turner Diaries .55
3 METHODS .57
Ethnography/Participant Observation .57
Document Analysis .61
4 MILITIAS IN FLORIDA. .65
World Church of the Creator: The White Berets. .66
Templar Knights of the Ku. Klux Klan .69
NAAWP: The Spartan Legion Militia .70
North Central Florida Regional Militia .71
Central Florida Militia Association .72
5 STRUCTURE OF FLORIDA MILITIAS .74
World Church of the Creator .74
Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan .76
NAAWP: The Spartan Legion .77
Recent Developments .82
North Central Florida Regional Militia .84
Central Florida Militia Association . . .85
Founding .. .85
Organization . .85 Communication .86
6 MEMBERSHP OF FLORIDA MILITIAS .. .88
World Church of the Creator . .88
Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan . . .89 NAAWPT: The Spartan Legion .90
Leadership . .90
Rank and File .. .101
North Central Florida Regional Militia . .102
Leadership .. .102
Rank and File . .102
Central Florida Militia Association . .. .103
7 RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGY OF FLORIDA MILITIAS .106
World Church of the Creator . .107
Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan . .109 NAAWP: The Spartan Legion . .110
North Central Florida Regional Militia and Central Florida Militia
Association . . . .113
8 POLITICAL AM) RACIAL IDEOLOGY OF THE MILITIAS .117
World Church of the Creator . ..117
New World Order/ZOG .117
Race .. .118
Templar Knights of the Ku. Klux Klan . .119
New World Order/ZOG .119
NAAWP: The Spartan Legion . .120
New World Order/ZOG . .120
North Central Florida Regional Militia .125
New World Order/ZOG . .125
Central Florida Militia Association . . .130
New World Order/ZOG . .130
New World Order/ZOG . .132 Race .. .133
9 ACTIVITIES OF THE MILITIAS . .134
World Church of the Creator . . .134 Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan .136 NAAWP: The Spartan Legion .136
National .136 Florida .137
North Central Florida Regional Militia . . .139 Central Florida Militia Association . .141 Summary .141
10 DISCUSSION .144
Militia Conspiracy Theory: The Ideological Octopus. . .144 Potential Militia Recruits . . .147
General Population . .148
Economic Factors . .151 Political Factors . .152 Mechanism of Exposure . .154 Fundamentalism . .155
Conclusions . .159
A MILITIAS IN FLORIDA: 1997 . .162
B WHITE SUPREMACIST ORGANIZATIONS IN FLORIDA: 1997 .165
C MAILING LISTS .. .167
D LIST OF INTERNET SITES .169
E PRINCIPLES OF THE NAAWP .170
F ABBREVIATIONS .182
REFERENCES CITED .183
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. .193
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
GOD, GUNS, AND GUTS:
RELIGION AND VIOLENCE IN FLORIDA MILITIAS By
JOHN KEITH AKINS
Chairman: Brian M. du Toit, Professor Major Department: Anthropology
This research project was initiated in January 1995 in order to establish an
anthropological perspective on the Militia Movement, a social movement oriented around anti-government conspiracy theories. This movement is of interest because of the actions which have resulted from acceptance of its tenets, such as the bombing of Oklahoma City's Federal Building in April 1995 as well as attacks on Amtrak trains, harassment of government officials, and a string of vandalism, robberies, assaults, and murders.
The primary methods used for data collection were ethnographic participant observation and interviews. This was supplemented with data obtained from Militia publications and Internet sites, as well as from correspondence with Militia activists from diverse locations.
Analysis of data revealed that three of the more prevalent sociological theories,
education, massification, and socialization models, do not adequately account for participation in this movement. Education theory holds that right wing political extremism results from insufficient education; data reveal that militia members are actually equally, if not more, educated than the general population. Massification theory states that participation in social movements results from insufficient social connections; this study indicates that militia activists are closely connected to their communities through ties of government, religion, economics, and kinship. Finally, socialization theory claims that right wing extremists and white supremacists are indoctrinated into these perspectives by their parents- there is no evidence to support this model in this case.
Economic, political, and religious social factors do apply, however. Nfilitia
activists tend to be people from a variety of economic classes who are finding it difficult to compete in today's economy because of recent changes in the social structure. They have educated themselves with movement literature and "discovered" rampant corruption and incompetence in government. They blame the economic distress in their lives on corrupt or inept government officials. Recognizing the power of the federal government and the isolation of elected representatives from common citizens, they have determined that the only course of action remaining is to prepare for civil war.
These simplistic conclusions and plans result from the worldview of militia
activists, which is built upon fundamentalist perspective. The fundamentalist religious beliefs of activists in this movement lead them to perceive the world through a dualistic, conspiratorial, and millennial lens. This perspective has encouraged the formation of a movement best classified as one ofprojective politics, a concept pioneered by Richard xi
Hofstadter in 1962.
Once a person has accepted the basic tenets of the militia conspiracy theory, the
new activist realizes that it is a duty, an obligation, to attempt the overthrow of the federal government of the United States. An ethical person in this situation has no choice in the matter; in the eyes of God, the activist is required to oppose the evil, secretive cabal which has gained control of America.
Go up and look legislators in the.jace, because someday you may be
fired to blow it Off
-Samuel Sherwood; United States
Militia Association (Stern 1996: 165)
In October 1992 an assortment of right-wing political activists met in Colorado to discuss possible reactions to the arrest of white separatist Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. From this meeting, the "Rocky Mountain Rendezvous," sprang the Militia Movement. The results of this movement have been varied, and include the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, hundreds of lesser-known bombings, a string of murders and bank robberies, the prolonged siege of the "Freemen" compound in Montana, hundreds of cases of harassment of government officials, and, allegedly, the derailment of two Amtrak trains.
The central organizing principle of the Militia Movement is the belief that the Federal government of the United States has abandoned the Constitution because it has been usurped by a secret cabal of Jewish bankers. These bankers are operating through the United Nations in order to enslave the American people and force the unification of national governments into an oligarchical 'New World Order."
This research was undertaken to establish an anthropological perspective and
through this perspective to answer a key question: Why did the Militia Movement develop at this particular time? Because the movement is so geographically diffused, primary emphasis is placed upon the militias in the state of Florida. This paper will examine the Militia Movement's structure, the composition of membership of the various militias, the ideology of the groups, and the activities which grow out of that ideology. These factors will be compared to factors within the social structure, the context in which the movement developed.
The basic fact from which this study sprang is the existence of the Militia
Movement. In seeking answers to the research question, several independent variables were explored to discover whether common factors can be found in all or most militia members wl-&h explain the existence of this movement. For example, do they have similar education levels? Are they from the same socioeconomic class? What is their geographic dispersal? Age cohort? Gender? In which organizations, groups, or movements were militiamen active prior to joining the Militia Movement? What are their hobbies? Are they veterans? Are they suffering similar socioeconomic stress? What are their beliefs about race? Do they have similar religious practices?
Definition of Terms
In order to facilitate a better understanding of the Militia Movement, it is first necessary to clearly establish the parameters of this research project and to define the terms utilized.
This project was developed to gain a more thorough understanding of armed citizen militias, opposed to the federal government of the United States, and sharing a worldview which grew out of the October 1992 Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. These
groups are connected through a network of social relations, Internet, postal and fax communications, and literature. The Militia Movement can be defined as a subgroup of the larger "Patriot Movement." The Patriot Movement also includes the "common law court" movement, survivalists, theocrats, white supremacists, apocalyptic millenarianists, as well as several "separatist" communities such as the Freemen compound in Justis Township, Montana. A number of excellent studies of the larger Patriot Movement have been published including James Aho's The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism, David Bennett's The Party of Fear: T-he American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, and Philip Lamy's Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy. Although these books provide a description of the context in which the militias developed, they neither examine nor explain the existence of the Militia Movement.
This discussion will argue that the development of the Militia Movement is the result of several structural factors, including education, economics, and politics. These factors are interpreted by activists through a fundamentalist lens and coupled with an appropriate opportunity structure. The three key features of fundamentalism as it applies to this project are nmllenialism, dualism, and conspiratorialism. Working definitions of millenialism, dualism, and conspiratorialism are taken from James Aho's study of Christian Patriots in Idaho and a cross-cultural examination of fundamentalism sponsored by the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Aho 1990,- Marty & Appleby 199 1). For example, Aho defines millenialism in the context of the Militia Movement as the belief that "there is a pervading conviction of cosmic exigency, that the world and thus life itself is in dire emergency, and that the Second Coming is imminent" (Aho 1990: 220). Aho defines dualism in this manner:
Relative to the doctrine of divine transcendence, of a perfected, spiritualized
(male) Creator residing in distant heavens, the material (that is, feminine) world is profanity, unconsciousness, and death.. they represent, among other things, the
assertion of the feminine principle and the loss of masculine control, sensibility,
creativity, consciousness, aggressiveness, and rationality (Aho 1990: 220). Finally, conspiratorialism is defined here as "the psychologizing of history and the reduction of historical events to the conscious intentions of omniscient and all-powerful Benefactors and Malefactors" (Aho 1990: 220). The critical factors of millenialism, dualism, and conspiratorialism are the primary components of the "fundamentalist" worldview of the militiamen and, according to Aho, form the projective lenses through which militia adherents examine and judge the reality in which they find themselves.
At this point, two disclaimers are in order. First, there are misspelled words and errors of grammar present in many of the quotes from militia sources. These have not been corrected and are presented in their published form. Second, the names of militia activists who are not public figures have been altered in order to protect their privacy. Names of organizations and well-known activists, however, are not changed.
In order to more clearly define the Militia Movement as a phenomenon, it will be beneficial to review the history of the movement and the government's responses to its development.
History of the Militia Movement
In 1991, fear of the "New World Order," or "One-World Government," was
exacerbated by the publication of Pat Robertson's book The New World Order. This book expanded the pool of Far Right sympathizers by bringing their message to the Christian Coalition and other fundamentalist Christians (Stem 1996: 141). In this book, Robertson argues that the United States government is deliberately attempting to "outlaw" Christianity and destroy civil liberties. He also writes that the government is being controlled by liberal international elitists. Although Robertson does not label the elitists as Jews, he does make extensive use of 1he Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, an antiSemitic document written prior the Russian Revolution and publicized by Czarist secret police. This document purports to be the summation of a secret meeting of Jewish elders in which they plan to subvert the governments of the world and establish Jewish ascendancy.
During the same year, federal agents of the U.S. Marshal's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) laid siege to the home of acknowledged white separatist and follower of Identity Christian doctrine Randy Weaver and his family. Weaver was accused of illegally modifying a shotgun and selling it to an undercover BATF agent. The BATT wanted Weaver to become an informant and gather information on the Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, but Weaver refused. During the siege, hundreds of "skinheads," neo-Nazis, and members of the Aryan Nations lined the road leading to the Weaver cabin to show their support.
In August of 1992, the siege at the Weaver cabin concluded. By the end of the incident, Weaver's sixteen-year-old son was shot in the back and his wife shot in the face by an FBI sniper.
Outraged at what he perceived as the heavy-handed and unlawful behavior of
federal officials, Christian Identity leader Pete Peters invited a wide and varied group of right-wing activists to a meeting in Estes Park, Colorado. The meeting in Estes Park, known as the "Rocky Mountain Rendezvous," was attended by:
... Richard Butler, head of the Aryan Nations; Louis Beam, another Aryan
Nations leader; anti-Semite Red Beckman; Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America;
and Montana far-right activist Chris Temple ... (as well as) neo-Nazis, Christian
Identity adherents, anti-abortion activists, tax protesters, Ku Klux Klan members,
and others who saw each other as ideological and organizational adversaries
(Stem 1996: 36).
The primary sponsor of the meeting was an organization known as the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group from Hayden Lake, Idaho. The Aryan Nations has a long history of violence in support of anti-Semitic and racist agendas. Aryan Nations members are believers in "Christian Identity," a virulently racist Christian sect which will be discussed at length later in this paper (Schwartz 1996: 188-189).
The Rendezvous, which lasted three days, unified the spokesmen of once disparate and competing factions who then published The Battle Planfor Future Conflicts (Stern 1996: 36). Another critical document circulated, adopted, and published at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous was the article Leaderless Resistance authored by former Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam. At the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, attendees compared and contrasted scores of conspiracy theories, recruiting techniques, and methods of
communication. The result was a synthetic conspiracy theory which explained many, if not all, of the "problems" of contemporary American culture.
The final months of the year saw the publication of Samuel Sherwood's The Little Republics and the organization of the "United States Militia Association" (USMA.) (Stern 1996: 166). This book provides guidelines for the organization of anti-government paramilitary forces; the USMA. became one of the largest of the early militias. It continues to provide information about organization, acquisition of weapons, and survivalismm."
On 19 April 1993, federal agents assaulted the compound of the Branch Davidians, a fringe Christian sect, in Waco, Texas. By the end of the assault, most of the members were dead. "Remember Waco" became a rallying cry among militiamen, and 19 April was designated as "Militia Day."
This year also saw the introduction of the "Brady Bill," a large-scale ban of
automatic and assault weapons and the imposition of a waiting period and background check when purchasing firearms. The publicity surrounding Waco and the Brady Bill brought the Militia Movement into the public eye as militia leaders began airing their views on radio and television talk shows. Most Americans who heard of the militias in this period dismissed the movement as ludicrous- however, many others began forming their own, or joining pre-existing, militias.
In 1993, most of the militiamen had a prior history of involvement in either white supremacist or militant anti-abortion groups. By 1994, however, the Militia Movement began to attract members of the middle class who had no previous association with these movements; many, in fact, who would not have considered associating with white
supremacists in the past.
On 15 February 1994, John Trochmann founded the Militia of Montana (MOM) (Stem 1996: 71). MOM was destined to become the largest clearing-house of militia doctrine and conspiracy theories as well as one of the three largest militias in the country. The largest militia to date, the Michigan Militia, was founded by Norman Olson in April; by the end of the year it had thousands of members scattered throughout dozens of individual units (Stem 1996: 97).
April 1994 also saw the self-appointment of Linda Thompson as the "Acting Adjutant-General of the Unorganized Militia of the United States" (Stern 1996: 133). Thompson, a lawyer, turned her law office into an information distribution center, and established the Patriot Fax Network. She edited and began distributing the videos Waco: 7he Big Lie and Waco H.- 7he Big Lie Continues. These videos criticized the government's activities at Waco and accused the agents of deliberately setting the compound on fire and burning the residents.
Several meetings were hold in 1994 in which militia leaders fleshed out their conspiracy theory, affirmed their ties, and brought new leaders and groups into the movement. For example, on 23 April militiamen and white supremacists held the "Idaho Liberty Network Conference," which was in effect a miniature version of the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous (Stern 1996: 168). In June, Pete Peters was the featured speaker at the "Constitutionalists Networking Center," and shared the podium with ". Xlan members, skinheads, and other racists, The CNC is a white supremacist organization (headed by former Arizona governor Evan Mecham)" (Stem 1996: 117-118).
On 4 July, militia members in Nye City, Nevada attacked Federal agents in the Toiyabe National Forest in a protest over Federal regulation of "disputed" land (Stem 1996: 125). This action inspired the militia-dominated City Council of Catron City, New Mexico, to order all of its white adult male citizens to arm themselves, form a county militia, and ban Federal law enforcement agents from its borders (Stem 1996: 122).
Members of the Virginia-based "Blue Ridge Hunt Club" were arrested in 1994 while in possession of a cache of guns, "homemade silencers, explosives, fuses, blasting caps, hand grenades. (Stern 1996: 136). They also had in their possession a plan for activity which stated ". hit and run tactics will be our method of fighting... We will destroy targets such as telephone relay centers, bridges, ffiel storage tanks, communications towers, radio stations, airports, etc.... human targets will be engaged... when it is beneficial to the cause to eliminate particular individuals who oppose us (troops, political figures, snitches, etc.)" (Stem 1996: 136).
On 8 September, bodyguards for Mark Koernke, a job once held by convicted
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, were stopped by police. In the car were ". . a loaded nine-millimeter clip ... gas masks, two-way radios, night-vision binoculars, and loaded semi-automatic rifles with seven hundred rounds of ammunition. They were also dressed in camouflage and had blackened their faces. Some of the ammunition was armorpiercing" (Stem 1996: 102-103).
"Citizens for Christ," another militia from the Midwest, saw several of its members arrested in September. At the time of their arrest the Citizens for Christ members were holding a "large supply of electric blasting caps, machine guns, ammunition, and
dynamite" (Stern 1996: 135).
In October, United Nations Day protests were held in several major cities. U.N. flags were burned, speeches were made, and the militias gained much-needed media attention (Stern 1996: 99). On 30 December, members of the North American Volunteer Militia of Montana sent a series of messages to various public officials threatening them with violence if the officials continued to carry out their duties (Stern 1996: 80).
The year 1995 was important to the militias because it saw the largest growth in membership and the most publicity for militia beliefs. It began with an armed stand-off between militia men and police officers at the office of Dr. Ellwanger, a veterinarian from Washington. Dr. Eliwanger owed back taxes and refused to pay; when government officials attempted to impound equipment from his office, militia members surrounded the property (Stern 1996: 86).
The same month saw a similar incident involving Calvin Greenup of Montana, who was accused of failure to pay his taxes. When he refused to appear for his court date and retreated to his ranch, officials chose to give him some time rather than attempt to capture him. Greenup sent armed friends to harass the town marshal's wife at home, planned to kidnap and execute public officials, and issued "arrest warrants" for the local judge, County Attorney, and town marshal (Stern 1996: 87-8 8).
Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth, a strong supporter of the Militia Movement issued a statement in February condemning the use of federal law enforcement officials in Idaho. She accused the government of infiltrating Idaho with "black helicopters" (Stern 1996: 213). On 19 April 1995, Timothy McVeigh and an as-yet-undetermined number of
accomplices bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing at least 168 people in the most devastating act of domestic terrorism in American history. A few militiamen quit or went "underground-" despite this, militia membership skyrocketed.
During 1996, the militia movement continued evolving into ever smaller and more isolated units as the concept of "leaderless resistance" became more prevalent. The larger, publicity-seeking militias such as the Michigan Militia and the United States Militia Association splintered into smaller groups. More militias formed each month; by the end of the year there were more than 440 militias nationwide (Roy 1996: 5). The year saw the bombing of the Olympic Park in Atlanta as well as a substantial increase in abortion clinic bombings and mail bombs; FBI investigators have postulated a possible militia connection.
More recently, 1997 saw a continuation of militia growth, with a larger percentage of units going "underground" in "leaderless resistance cells" and fewer members actively courting the publicity of past years.
In response to the Militia Movement, the FBI hired five hundred new agents, and half of these agents are assigned full-time to investigating right-wing groups (Potok 1997a: 1). These agents are utilizing new "guidelines" which "allow more aggressive probes" (Potok 1997b: 4A). Finally, the Justice Department has authorized the FBI to deploy the largest and most extensive wire-tapping operation in American history. The Omnibus Anti-Terrorism Bill, passed in response to the Oklahoma City bombing,
authorized closer cooperation between various federal law-enforcement agencies, established a computer database to track suspected militia members, monitors the Internet, and permits law enforcement personnel to perform surveillance operations without the necessity of a court order. These actions are subject to varying interpretations, of course. On one hand, they can be seen as attempts by the government to protect its citizens from the potential violence of the militias. On the other, they can be seen as proof of the militias' fear of increasing government power. Regardless of the perspective, though, two things are clear. First, as a result of the Militia Movement the federal government has acquired substantially enhanced power to monitor and arrest citizens, with or without probable cause. Second, there are today more groups involved in anti-government activity than there were prior to these responses.
Now that the parameters of this project have been delineated, the terms defined, and the history of the movement explicated, it is time to began seeking an answer to the question of why the Militia Movement developed in this time and place. Has the question already been answered? A review of the published literature concerning the movement will provide valuable data yet, as will become apparent, will fail to answer the ultimate question.
Review of Literature
As of February 1998 there were four significant books in print concerning the Militia Movement. Each book is well-written and informative, yet each also presents a relatively narrow and sectarian perspective on the movement. They all, however, provide
data concerning the structure, membership, ideology, and activities of the Militia Movement.
The most in-depth, detailed, and informative of the four is Kenneth Stem's A
Force Upon the Plain (1996). In this book Stern argues that the movement is organized by and around anti-Sen-&es. Stem, of the American Jewish Committee and former Director of the National Organization Against Terrorism, does not argue that all militia members are anti-Semitic, nor does he argue that they are all racist; however, antiSemitism is at the core of his analysis, and this informs much of his work.
Similarly, Morris Dees' Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat (1996) argues that militias are organized by and around white supremacists. His book is a detailed and informative source which primarily examines the illegal activities of militia members and their ties to such white supremacist groups as the Aryan Nations, the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Dees is the founder and director of the Southern Poverty Law Center and its Klanwatch Project. His book, as could be expected, reflects and propagates the views of Klanwatch.
Richard Abanes, Director of the Religious Information Center of Southern
California, argues in American Militias: Rebellion, Racism and Religion (1996) that the Militia Movement is a result of a specific religious phenomenon. He believes that Identity Christian dogma has overwhelmed all other beliefs in the entire movement and has given the movement a white supremacist leaning. He also examines and attempts to debunk the web of conspiracy theories which lie at the heart of the movement. Because of his intense focus on religion, Abanes fails to examine structural phenomena which could shed further
light on the issue. In Abanes' view it is the nature of many Americans today to accept, with little or no supporting evidence, the message of whatever demagogues they choose to follow.
In Harvest ofRage (1997), Joel Dyer, a journalist from Colorado, traces the roots of the movement to the farm foreclosure crisis of the 1980s. Government mismanagement and corruption coupled with the realities of an evolving global market have forced small farmers off the land of their ancestors and destroyed their way of life. From this perspective, the militias should not be a surprise; they should have been predicted. Dyer, like the other authors, also limits his work by his pre-existing assumptions, and fails to explore militias and militia doctrines which do not arise from the farm crisis.
Each of these books has much to offer, but one can see the limited perspectives of each which grow out of the agendas or lifestyles of their authors. The overwhelming majority of their data were derived frorajournalistic or law-enforcement sources. None of them, according to my data, are inaccurate, they are merely limited in scope. It is important, therefore, to determine what they have to offer and apply it to this study. How can these four books help to answer the research question of this study?
Who first founded the movement, and how much control do they retain? How are militias organized? How do individual militias communicate with each other? How do militia leaders communicate with their followers? All four authors have attempted to answer these questions.
Abanes traces the roots of the movement back to various right-wing groups as
well as white supremacist organizations. Today's movement, though, started in October 1992, at a meeting in Colorado: "Between 150 and 175 'Christian men' hastily convened on October 23, 24 and 25, 1992, in Estes Park, Colorado, to discuss 'how to respond to the Weaver killings.' Presiding over this 'Rocky Mountain Rendezvous' was Pastor Pete Peters, a well-known white supremacist leader" (Abanes 1996: 22).
Kenneth Stem also attributes the birth of the Patriot Movement to the Rocky
Mountain Rendezvous. According to Stern, it was Pete Peters who called together more than 150 "leaders of the far right" (Stern 1996: 35). Peters was a minister of Identity Christianity, and he used the Ruby Ridge incident to call together:
'Men... who in the past would normally not be caught together under the same
roof'--neo-Nazis, Christian Identity adherents, anti-abortion activists, tax
protesters, Ku Klux Klan members, and other who either saw each other as
ideological and organizational adversaries, or would have worried about the effect on their 'mainstream' credentials from participating... Attendees included Richard
Butler, head of the Aryan Nations- Louis Beam, another Aryan Nations leaders;
anti-Semite Red Beckman; Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America; and Montana
far-right activist Chris Temple (Stem 1996: 35-36).
Stern credits the meeting with laying "some of the groundwork for the militias' formation, not only in suggesting structure, but also in solidifying connections between longtime white supremacists and Identity followers, on the one hand, and others, such as Larry Pratt" (Stem 1996: 37).
In Harvest of Rage Joel Dyer also examines the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous as the launching point for the Patriot Movement. Like the other authors, he lists the
attendees, writing of them that "the Rendezvous brought together a collection of men who would normally never sit down together" (Dyer 1997: 83). Dyer quotes Louis Beam's speech which opened the meeting:
The two murders of the Weaver family have shown us all that our religious, our political, our ideological differences mean nothing to those who wish to make us
all slaves. We are viewed by the government as the same--the enemies of the state.
When they come for you, the federal will not ask if you are a Constitutionalist, a
Baptist, Church of Christ, Identity Covenant Believer, Klansman, Nazi,
homeschooler, 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 enemies of the state (Dyer 1997:
This speech set the tone for the entire meeting. Speaker after speaker talked of the need for unity among organizations of the Far Right and the allegedly criminal activities of the federal government.
According to Richard Abanes, "this loosely knit network of perhaps 5 to 12 million people may be one of the most diverse movements our nation has ever seen" (Abanes 1996: 2). He further states that "patriots have no single leader" (Abanes 1996: 2). After the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, the movement grew rapidly: "By early April 1995, there were militia groups in at least thirty-six states. A few, such as the Militia of Montana, craved media attention. Many preferred to prepare for war quietly" (Stem 1996: 96).
The Patriot Movement is difficult to delineate with precision, which is precisely what its founders wanted. According to Stem, the guiding principle of the movement is the concept of "leaderless resistance:"
'Leaderless Resistance' meant something akin to what both the Communist
Party and the Nazis used to call cell structure--a legal, aboveground political group
(protected in the United States by the First Amendment) and an underground to
carry out illegal activities with minimum risk of exposing the entire organization to prosecution. . 'All individuals and groups... operate independently of each other,
and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or
instruction' (Stem 1996: 36).
In Gathering Storm, Morris Dees also addresses militia organization. I-Es book
opens with a discussion of the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous and a speech delivered at that meeting by Louis Beam. Beam, a former Klansman, is now a proniinent leader in the Aryan Nations (Dees 1996: 1-2). Later in the text, Dees lists other notable attendees, categorizing them by their affiliations with white supremacist, anti-Semitic, gun control, Identity Christian, and other organizations (Dees 1996: 49-50). Clearly, according to Dees, the movement was initially launched by racists and anti-Semites:
During that weekend in the Rockies, a network of militant antigovernment
zealots was created. Alliances were formed from diverse factions: Identity, Posse
Comitatus, the Klan, Aryan Nations, reconstructionists and other fundamentalist
Christians, neo-Nazis, tax resisters, Second Amendment advocates, and
antiabortion extremists (Dees 1996: 67).
Dees is also of the opinion that white supremacists have maintained their control of the entire movement, and cites a message from Dr. William Pierce of the National Alliance to his members:
Some of the militia groups in the United States are being badly n misled in the
ideological realm and are in need of some Alliance input. Any member interested in working with a non-Alliance militia group should write to Dr. Pierce, detailing
any past or current contacts he has with a militia group and also mentioning
any opportunity of which he is aware for establishing a new contact with a militia
group in his area (Dees 1996: 202).
This supports Dees' thesis that white supremacists founded that movement and remain in control of the primary ideological sources. Furthermore, they are attempting to bring non-
racially motivated militias into their fold.
An essential element in any social movement is communication. When a
movement is "underground" and attempting to avoid infiltration by law enforcement, communication can become difficult. The Militia Movement has tackled this problem with shortwave radio, a fax network, and the Internet. The militiamen are also avid listeners of right-wing "talk radio" hosts. Shortwave radio has provided a venue for such Militia leaders as Mark Koemke and Linda Thompson. "This little-noticed band, usually associated with international programming, has become a magnet for America's far right, and Koernke was one of its biggest stars" (Stem 1996: 10 1). Stem addresses the issue of talk radio:
Clinton's criticisms of talk radio had some truth, however, AM and FM talk
radio had been helpful to the militias because some of the issues that drove
America's private armies also played well on talk shows. Mainstream media, for
instance, forgot the Branch Davidians after their fiery end. Not so talk radio.
Waco was a huge topic. The talk-show host Rush Limbaugh... also spoke about
concerns that overlapped the militias' agenda... The one mainstream talk-radio
host to whom militia members may listen is G. Gordon Liddy, heard on over two
hundred stations across America (Stern 1996: 222).
Of the Internet, Stern writes that-.
The main communication system of the militias is the computer. Computers, after
all, substitute for a fax machine with the installation of a fax board. But they can
do so much more; they can hook you up with like-minded people around the globe
through bulletin boards and newsgroups on the Internet... Militia members can
even sleep while their computers dial up and download the bulletin boards' news.
In the morning, new information awaits (Stem 1996: 225-226).
Where does this information come from? And where does it go? Linda Thompson runs a bulletin board through which she claims to reach 36,000 people. 'We're a news service,'
she says. 'We use the computer as the end of the fine, not the beginning. We get information in by Federal Express, faxes, and phone, then we put it on the bulletin boards for the widest possible distribution' (Stem 1996: 226). Summa y
In summary, all four authors are in agreement that the Militia Movement was bom at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous in October 1992 in response to the Ruby Ridge incident. They all agree that old-guard white supremacists founded the movement and remain in control of the primary sources of ideology and information dissemination. All agree that the Internet, fax networks, shortwave radio, and talk radio are the methods of communication, and that of all these, the Internet is most important. Three of the four authors closely examine the concept of "leaderless resistance" which is so confounding to law enforcement personnel attempting to track the groups.
Who are the people who comprise the Militia Movement?
Abanes attempts to answer this question. According to Abanes, the adherents of militia ideology can best be classified on the basis of their religious and political orientations:
On the movement's moderate side are conservative Christians dissatisfied by the
current state of American politics. Their primary concern is changing the
government through political activism. More radical participants include both
Christians and non-Christians who deny their U.S. citizenship ... Interspersed
among these two groups are the most dangerous and unpredictable 'patriots-Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and Christian Identity believers (Abanes 1996: 2).
He further states that "within its ranks are college students, the unemployed, farmers, manual laborers, professionals, law enforcement personnel and members of the military." Abanes does not closely examine demographic factors, though, nor does he examine in any detail the economic factors underlying the movement.
According to Kenneth Stem, many members of the United States military are
involved with the Militia Movement (Stem 1996: 158) as are law enforcement personnel (Stern 1996: 236). Stern, much like Abanes, also sees diversity in the movement: "The militia movement is a mass social movement. People who have never given a thought to blacks or Jews were attracted to these groups because they cared about other things-guns, the environment, abortion" (Stern 1996: 246).
Dees, as well, sees a wide range of people in the rnilitias:
They are just the type of people racists and neo-Nazi leaders have long been after.
They are mainly white and middle class. Most hold jobs, own homes, wear their
hair short, don't use drugs, and, for one reason or another, they hate our
government... William Pierce pointed out to his followers in 1994 that 'most people aren't joiners, but millions of white Americans who five years ago felt
cowed by the government and the Jewish-controlled media that they were afraid to
agree with us are becoming fed up, and their exasperation is giving them courage'
(Dees 1996: 4-5).
Later, Dees gives a more comprehensive description of the movement:
With about five million followers, it is a movement that exists at the ftinge of
American life and politics. On its moderate side are the John Birch Society and the conspiratorial segment of televangelist Pat Robertson's audience... On the
movement's more militant side are groups promoting themes of white supremacy
and anti-Jewish bigotry (Dees 1996: 30).
Like Stem, Dees also writes about the militia members within the U.S. armed forces: "The clandestine group, the Special Forces Underground, is buried deep on the
fringes of America's military" (Dees 1996: 212).
Joel Dyer has a slightly different perspective on militia membership. In his view,
the movement grew out of the rural farm crisis and foreclosures of the 1980s:
In the late 1990s, after a decade and a half of crises, the people who live in
the nation's hinterland have finally reached the edge of the abyss. The fertilizer
and diesel ffiel that once enriched the soil and powered the machines that plant and harvest will now be used to destroy their perceived enemies, primary among them,
the federal government (Dyer 1997: 2).
In his research, Dyer spoke with militiamen across the Midwest, asking them about their
lives before the crisis compared to their lives now. He interviewed scores of militia
members, and reports the following:
There is one question I always ask the people I meet in the antigovernment
movement: "What was it that finally made you stop and say, 'This isn't right, I've got to do something about it?... The answers they have given are varied, yet in one
sense, the same: "They took my farm ... .. The IRS took everything I owned."
"Environmentalists wouldn't let me run my cows cause some damn little sparrow they said was endangered lived on my place." "They were going to put me in jail
because I didn't have the money to pay my tickets." "They took away my kids
because I can't pay my child support. I only make five bucks an hour. How can I
pay child support?" (Dyer 1997: 6).
In addition to farmers, Dyer also saw the diversity described by the other authors:
The cartoonish 'Bubba' character that media have chosen to use in their effort
to personify the antigovernment movement is misrepresenting truth and
creating a grave situation... The 'Bubbas' do exist, but they are only a small
feature on the real face of the movement. Doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, and
college professors were all in attendance at the meeting of the Third Continental
Congress in 1997 (Dyer 1997: 164).
Again, there are several points of agreement among the authors. Each states that
the movement draws diverse people and that the media stereotype of ignorant "rednecks"
is inaccurate. Each emphasizes a particular group, though; Dyer sees farmers at the core,
Abanes and Stem see Identity adherents, and Dees sees white supremacists,
What do militia adherents actually believe? What is the motivation which draws them into this milieu? The motivations can be loosely divided into political and religious beliefs, although the distinction is not always clear, particularly to the believers themselves.
The religious beliefs of extremists within the Militia Movement, according to Abanes, lead militia members to the position that:
The end is near and (they) view Washington politicians as evil conspirators laying
the foundation for the soon-to-be-revealed Antichrist, whose reign of terror will end only when Jesus Christ returns to earth in glory. Many white supremacists
also feel the end is approaching. They, however, see the government as a Jewish pawn that must be destroyed in preparation for an Armageddon-like race war. In
this last days scenario, whites emerge victorious from the battle to establish an
Aryan republic in America (Abanes 1996: 3).
The primary religious motivation, though, is Identity Christianity:
Religion has been used for thousands of years to mask hate and prejudice.
'Spirituality' still serves as a convenient excuse for violence and other forms of antisocial behavior. All that is needed is a little false piety, coupled with liberal
doses of self-induced ignorance and blind devotion to 'the truth.' Even the most
loathsome attitudes and barbarous acts can then be attributed to 'serving God.
This holds especially true for believers in Christian Identity, a twentieth-century amalgamation of racism and pseudo-Christian ideas. .. Many Christian Identity
leaders and followers are closely affiliated with patriot movement groups and
various militia spokespersons (Abanes 1996: 154-155).
How influential is Identity in the movement? Abanes believes that Identity is at the core:
By propagating and encouraging ... conspiracy theories within the
patriot/militia movement, Identity adherents have stirred up hatred for the
government, which they hope will galvanize discontented masses into a force able to topple the evil Jewish regime in power. .. In doing so, white supremacists have
created an elaborate maze of racists and non-racists who share a similar
conspiratorial worldview (Abanes 1996: 168).
Dees recognizes the influence of Identity doctrine and is concerned about the
"infiltration" of Identity into the growing fundamentalist movements: "At the time the
militia movement was born, Christian Identity was seeking to form coalitions with
fundamentalist Christians. Its leaders saw opposition to abortion and gay rights as well as
advocacy of home schooling and Bible-based laws as common ground for both groups"
(Dees 1996: 21).
Dyer echoes Dees' analysis of the convergence of fundamentalism and Identity
Christianity. In his view, the two together sit at the core of the Patriot Movement:
Most of the people in the antigovernment movement fall into two
categories: those claiming to be traditional Christian fundamentalists--composed of
the usual denominations--and those who adhere to some or all of the teachings of
the Christian Identity sect. .. The religious terminology used by both
fundamentalist and Identity believers can, at first hearing, give the outsider the
impression that the two groups are very similar. In truth, they are not (Dyer 1997:
The behavior of the adherents of both of the systems, however, can be quite similar.
According to Dyer:
All of these groups... have one commonality--a belief that the Bible justifies or
even demands that they rebel against the current American government. This
belief that the Bible demands rebellion compels these rural warriors to see
themselves as an army of holy patriots rather than as a mutinous force attempting a
coup (Dyer 1997: 79).
All of the authors agree that political and religious beliefs have become deeply
intertwined in the Militia Movement. Further, they all agree that Identity and fundamentalism are being combined in new ways which promote violence.
Each has attempted to understand the conspiracy theory which leads to a belief in the New World Order; they all agree that such a theory exists and was developed primarily at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. There is slight disagreement as to the identification of the specific power group behind the New World Order, but this disagreement probably results from disagreement among the militia theoreticians themselves. Political beliefs
"The glue binding them together," according to Abanes, is:
... a noxious compound of four ingredients: (1) an obsessive suspicion of the
government; (2) belief in anti-government conspiracy theories; (3) a deep-seated
hatred of government officials; and (4) a feeling that the United States
Constitution, for all intents and purposes, has been discarded by Washington
bureaucrats (Abanes 1996: 2)
What else does Abanes have to say about the militia political beliefs? He is concerned about the lack of apparent rationality and the potential for violence.The picture grows more troubling when one takes into account the high levels
of paranoia that abound in the patriot/militia movement. Most patriots, for
example, believe that nearly everyone in the government is out to enslave U.S.
citizens as part of an insidious scheme hatched long ago by a secret cabal of
behind-the-scenes 'internationalists' whose ultimate goal is world domination
(Abanes 1996- 3).
Kenneth Stem also examines the militia belief system. The underlying political belief of the movement, according to Stem, is that the Constitution has been secretly and illegally suspended. How was this done? Through Executive Orders and international treaties: "Conspiracy theorists like the Trochmanns. . ascribed almost magical powers to
executive orders... If executive order were bad, treaties were worse... treaties are proof of a global conspiracy. . 'They've perverted the intent of the Constitution and come up with a bastardized form of illegitimate government"' (Stem 1996: 73-74).
In order to keep the American public from opposing the suspension of the
Constitution the government is attempting to ban firearm ownership, according to militia doctrine. Stern writes that Patriot theorists utilize examples from history to gain support from people concerned with gun control: "Part of the mythology of the militias was the exaltation of the gun into an icon of freedom. History was rewritten to this end" (Stern 1996: 116).
One aspect of militia ideology which is particularly appealing to white supremacists and to members concerned about immigration is the belief that only the original Constitution is legitimate. People granted citizenship through amendments are not legal citizens: ". . there was a fundamental legal distinction between white people, who were termed 'state citizens,' and minorities, who were 'Fourteenth Amendment' citizens" (Stem 1996: 81).
How has this seemingly strange and irrational ideology gained so many adherents? Why do middle-class professionals now associate with Klansmen? According to Stem:
In America in the mid-1990s it is taboo to express overt hatred of
minorities. Disagreement with government, however, is a fine and important
American tradition. What the Wise Use groups and militias accomplished was to
redirect the old-fashioned hatred onto an 'acceptable' target... When that type of
hatred is made acceptable by being transferred to our public servant... a new
strain of bigotry has the chance to thrive in the American mainstream (Stem 1996:
He goes even further in his analysis, taking the perspective of an American concerned with
You have gone to a few meetings when you start to understand that there is more
to this than a few troubling bills making their way through Congress. The
government is against you, coming to take your guns on behalf of hidden forces-Illuminati, elites, bankers, Jews, whoever--that are really in control. Gun control is
only the first step in their elaborate plot to take away your guns, then your rights,
then your freedoms. . ArmlJoads of documents follow to keep you moving further
into the militias' funnel of paranoia (Stern 1996: 142).
What is the basis for militia conspiracy theory? According to Stern, "The
conspiracy theories that underlie the movement are rooted in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (Stern 1996: 247).
Morris Dees also attempts to delineate the Patriot worldview. Dees believes that Identity doctrine is at the core:
Identity isn't just about race or white supremacy. Like the theology of many
fundamentalist and cult religious groups, Christian Identity's worldview
extends into the secular world of politics and provides a tent big enough to
incorporate the views of various extremist groups. It invites individuals who are
extremely antigovernment, anti-law enforcement, antitax, antiabortion, antigay,
antifemninist, anti-medical profession, antivaccination, pro-guns, pro-home
schooling, pro-states' rights, and believers in an international one-world
conspiracy that is about to take over America and the world (Dees 1996: 18).
Like Abanes and Stern, Dees also recognizes the power of gun control laws to
drive people into the Militia Movement: "It wasn't until later in 1993, when the Congress passed the Brady Bill, that the militia movement ignited into a nationwide brushfire" (Dees 1996: 73). "The only way for 'ordinary Americans' to prevent any future 'gun grabs' and atrocities such as Ruby Ridge and Waco, said Trochmann, was to come together under the banner of an unorganized militia" (Dees 1996: 80).
The government is attempting to control every aspect of citizens' lives, according
to militia theoreticians. Dees writes of one of their arguments: "In its various publications and pamphlets, MOM pointed to laws regarding abortion, taxation, and home schooling as further examples of a government out to destroy an honored way of life" (Dees 1996: 8 1).
Dees found a summary of the conspiracy beliefs in a shortwave broadcast by Mark Koernke, who stated that:
I . a secret national police force comprised of National Guardsmen, Los Angeles
street gangs, and Nepalese Gurkhas will disarm the public; a division of Russian troops are bivouacked in salt nines beneath Detroit awaiting orders to rise and
take over the United States; and before the United Nations takes control on behalf
of the New World Order, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
will establish an interim government (Dees 1996: 85).
Dyer outlines several trends among the conspiracy theories found in Patriot Movement literature and summarizes them as follows:
Most of the antigovernment movement's conspiracy theories are used to explain
specific parts of its larger one-world government, aka the new world order
theory, In today's version of this conspiracy, the major players are as follows: the
banks, the Federal Reserve, the M (International Monetary Fund), the World
Bank, the federal government, communism (despite its collapse), the United
Nations, the Trilateral Commission, the IRS, the multinational corporations, the
media, and the world's Jewish population, which acts through various secret
organizations such as the Illuminati and Freemasons (Dyer 1997: 99). Activities
What do militia members actually do on a day-to-day basis? How are their beliefs actualized?
Abanes states early in his book that "each group of heavily armed 'freedom fighters' regularly holds paramilitary training exercises in preparation for what many patriots see as an inevitable showdown with the regime now controlling the nation" (Abanes 1996: 2). In a later chapter, he lists crimes committed by members of the Militia
Movement such as the "numerous individuals harassed and intimidated," "threatening phone calls in the night," and the placement of "contracts" on the lives ofjudges and law enforcement personnel (Abanes 1996: 224-227). He also opens American Militias with a detailed description of the carnage at the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing and warns that the attack by Timothy McVeigh was merely a precursor to more violence as the end of the millennium approaches (Abanes 1996-. 1).
Kenneth Stem chose to open A Force Upon the Plain in the same manner (Stem 1996: 9). In order to demonstrate the activities of militias, Stern first lists a series of incidents in which militia members threaten and harass government employees, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for them to do their jobs (Stem 1996: 94). He later devotes an entire chapter to the explication of felonies and violent acts which have been attributed to the Militia Movement (Stem 1996: 251-258).
Violent crimes committed by militiamen are the central focus of Dees' work. He lists several examples of harassment of public officials (Dees 1996: 119-122) and violent crime (Dees 1996: 209-2 13). He also takes his readers step-by-step through Timothy McVeigh's evolution from a decorated combat soldier in the U.S. Army to a terrorist who bombed a Federal Building (Dees 1996: 149).
Joel Dyer gives a little more detail regarding the non-violent behavior of Patriots, exploring the development of "common-law courts" and "sovereign citizenship." He also examines the Freemen and the well-known Montana Freemen stand-off with federal agents. In addition, Dyer describes the Republic of Texas and gives the details of interviews he held with its members shortly before their encounter with law enforcement
(Dyer 1997: 177-190). Finally, Dyer's book, much like the others, is interspersed with lists of violence and felonies committed in the name of the Patriot Movement.
All four of the authors agree that the movement inspires and incites violence. All agree that the violence thus far is simply a precursor to much greater violence to come. All agree that there is a spectrum of behaviors ranging from paramilitary training and terrorism to "discussion groups" who get together to complain about the government, and every imaginable behavior in between,
This paper will examine the structural relations between militia activists as well as those between activists and the general population. This examination will reveal that the research question (Why did the Militia Movement develop in this time and place?) can be answered through explication of two facets. The first facet concerns the socioeconomic factors which have created a pool of potential converts seething with fear and distrust of the federal government. The second facet concerns the opportunity structure through which these potential converts eventually become activists in the movement.
The pool of potential militia activists has been created through the confluence of three primary factors: educational, economic, and political, all interpreted through a fundamentalist perspective. Current methods used by America's public education systems have left many high school and college graduates without the necessary intellectual skills required for critical thinking. Even many formally educated people today are trained to think in a dualistic manner, leaving them easy prey for demagoguery and unable to grasp
the multi-dimensional complexities of social issues. Economic stressors resulting from rapid technological change have left many Americans insecure about their economic future. Many of these people have been so marginalized by economic evolution that they are incapable of recovering; in turn, they have become resentful, paranoid, and confused. Governmental corruption and mismanagement have also led to a growing distrust of federal officials and contempt for their actions.
All of these issues can be interpreted in many ways, and one these is through a
fundamentalist perspective. As will be demonstrated, the fundamental perspective can be religious, secular, or both. Fundamentalism provides a lens consisting of dualism, conspiratorialism, and millenialism.
The first facet of the problem can demonstrate why many people resent the
government and would be inclined to oppose it. It fails, however, to explain why most people do not become militia members. The second facet of the problem, the opportunity structure, can provide a possible answer.
Without an available opportunity structure activism is unlikely. This is supported by the "Multi-step Mobilization Theory" used by Lazardsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudet in 1948 (Lazardsfeld et al 1948). Applying this model to Idaho Christian Patriots, Aho agrees that "individuals are not generally recruited directly by mass appeals--handbills, ads, or pamphlets--but indirectly through their ties with 'opinion leaders,' influential members of the same local groups as themselves" (Aho 1990: 186). This is true of the Militia Movement--each militia examined in this study had one or two critical members who knew most of the other members in arenas outside of the militia, such as their
churches or places of business. More activists become members after being invited to a meeting by a friend than by any other recruiting method.
In summary, structural factors related to education, economics, and politics, interpreted through a fundamentalist perspective, in combination with an available opportunity structure, have led to the development of the Militia Movement.
In the last year there literally have been hundreds of earthquakes in
several parts of the United States. They 're not even reporting all the earthquakes
that are taking place. .. .Part of a plan done by the New World Order advocates many years ago spe c ically spe cified that by the year 2 0 00 to maintain proper
control there must be an eradication of billions of people from the fice of the
earth in one way shape or manner or another... It was called the plan 2000. We
have five years and they will be at the 2 000 point... Talking about weather
control. .You can do devastating things worldwvide when you control the weather.
-Bob Fletcher, MVilitia of Montana
spokesman (Stem 1996: 145)
In order to frilly understand the rise and growth of the Militia Movement, one must first understand the social context from which it sprang. This chapter will examine several crucial aspects of American society which may have affected the Militia Movement; the militia perceptions of these changes will be reviewed in subsequent chapters. Among these are changes in the economy which have led to increasing uncertainty and insecurity among the working and entrepreneurial classes, changes in the academic preparation of young adults in the public schools, and increasing public awareness of government corruption and mismanagement. In addition, there has been a rise in fundamentalist thinking worldwide which provides a unique perspective through which to interpret the educational, economic, and political factors.
Any viable economic system must continually evolve, adapting itself to new
technologies and new situations. The necessity of this change, however, does not mean that the new forms are equally beneficial to all participants in that economy. Those left behind by changes in the economy may become insecure about their future, leaving them resentful, angry, and even violent. This is occurring today in America as technological advances, corporate restructuring, and the trend toward globalization accelerate the shift in the American workplace as it changes from a manufacturing- to a service-based system. This economic insecurity, found in both manufacturing industries and agriculture, cuts across traditional class lines as workers, managers, and business owners find themselves unable to adapt.
The recent changes in America's economy which have led to insecurity and underemployment on the part of the industrial work force are pnmanly caused by technological advances, the "globalization" of markets, and increased investment in the stock market by the middle class.
Increased investment in the stock market, spurred on by the advent of middle-class participation due to lowered interest rates and mutual funds, has created pressure on corporations as investors demand increased short-term profits. The demand for shortterm profit fuels a drive for heightened efficiency in order to increase the rate of return for investors. This drive for efficiency has led to two significant types of changes:
organizational and technological.
One method utilized by corporations in the quest for increased efficiency is the development and implementation of continual technological advances, which in turn lead to changing requirements and decreasing opportunities for labor in the manufacturing industries. Whereas the primary difference between management and labor was once mental as opposed to physical work, today's blue-collar worker is now required to have technical training and skills in order to function. This has led to increased competition between blue-collar workers, as those few who have the necessary training take higherpaying jobs from those without. It has also created decreased confidence in job security, according to economists- ". . recent years have been almost universally characterized as an era of rapid change... As change and uncertainty is now endemic in many organizations and settings, job insecurity is a major cause for concern in the future" (Hartley et al 1991: 199). The technological changes are advancing so rapidly, in fact, that both vital worker skills and methods of corporate organization of five to ten years ago are considered obsolete in today's market: "Organizations are restructuring, introducing new technologies, internationalizing their production, experiencing rapid changes in products, markets and fashions, and providing some employees with less secure employment" (Hartley et al 1991: 200).
Corporate restructuring, or "downsizing," has led to two major changes:
Outsourcing" or subcontracting work and a shift from full-time to part-time employment. This helps corporations save money by paying fewer or no benefits to their workers (Feigenbaum 1997: 1). The reduction in the amount of health-care benefits paid by
corporations coincided with skyrocketing medical insurance and health care costs. As a result, many workers today are unable to afford adequate coverage, this further increases economic and personal insecurity.
Another evolving aspect of the economy contributing to worker insecurity is the opening of global markets. Treaties, such as the North, American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), coupled with advances in transportation and communication technologies, have accelerated the trend for manufacturing companies to shift their factories to Third World countries, which is advantageous to the corporations in two ways. First, they are able to reduce labor costs by paying foreign labor substantially lower wages than demanded by American labor. Second, the corporations locating their factories in foreign countries are not subject to American laws concerning environmental protection and worker safety, which also combine to reduce production costs. This results in a further reduction in manufacturing jobs within the United States and aids in the shift from an industrial- to a service-based economy.
The drive for technological advances has, on the other hand, led to the
development of new "high-tech' 'industries. Although many of these maintain their manufacturing base in the U. S., the jobs available in these industries tend to be either "high-end" or "low-end-" employees are either very highly paid or paid subsistence wages, with few or no jobs in the middle.
All of these factors lead, ultimately, to insecurity on the part of the labor force.
One traditional method used by young adults to regain security and remain competitive in
the job market is to attend either college or technical school. The result is that America today has more "educated" or "skilled" laborers than ever before, though high-paying entry-level jobs are at their lowest level of availability. Most of these people, therefore, are still unable to find employment they consider suitable: "Most service industries had high concentrations of underemployment... resulting in lower overall earnings and wage rates, and higher underemployment rates" (Sheets et al 1987: 123) While unemployment is no higher than in the past, underemployment has become endemic.
Corporate restructuring and mergers have also led to significant changes in
agriculture. Farming combines such as Cargill, ConAgra, and Iowa Beef Packers have obtained a virtual monopoly in agriculture and are squeezing more and more small, independent farmers out of the market (Dyer 1997: 112). As early as 1980, seven companies controlled "96 percent of U.S. wheat exports, 95 percent of U.S. corn exports, 90 percent of U.S. oat exports, and 80 percent of all the sorghum leaving the United States" (Gilmore 1982: 24). This emerging monopoly, combined with a 46 percent drop in crop prices in 1985, rising interest rates during the later 1980s, and the implementation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreement, led to a massive crisis among small farmers during the late 1980s which continues unabated to this day (Dyer 1997: 139-145). This farm crisis, long forgotten by many Americans, has led to the loss of "between 700,000 and 1 million small- to medium-sized family farms since 1980" (Dyer 1997: 15).
At the same time that farmers are losing their land, blue-collar workers are losing their manufacturing jobs, and college graduates are increasingly underemployed, more efficient manufacturing methods and increased capital investment have made an increasing number of products available. The increase in products in combination with increasingly effective mass media and its concomitant advertising bombardment leads people to desire more and more items which they do not "need." Their inability to afford these luxury items leads to depression, anger, and resentment towards those who can afford them and those who produce them (Feigenbaum 1997: 2).
Resentment and depression stem from many other sources as well: "Gone are the old certainties and stabilities of family life, marriage, community, religion and work. Instead, many people face considerable change and uncertainty in their relationships, in their place of living, and in their employment" (Hartley et al 1991: 200). First and foremost, though, is the loss of hope that today's young adults will have the same opportunities as their parents. Most Americans probably shared the expectations of the Reagan Revolution that the policies of Presidents Reagan and Bush would result in an expansion of the middle class. However:
While President Reagan presented the nation's economy as improving people's
conditions, facts also pointed at a regression and declining economic strength. (By
1989, income distribution between rich and poor was back to the level it was in
1947). The assumption behind the 'supply-side' approach Reagan advocated did
not materialize, as the supply of goods and services did not result in the anticipated
increased consumption, new markets, and new prosperity (Kiewe & Houck 1991:
In summary, American manufacturing workers and farmers believe they are facing an insecure future. This insecurity is the result of rapid technological advances, increased pressure for short-term profits, the accelerating globalization of markets, and the continuing shift of America's economy from industrial- to service-based companies. Insecurity on the part of the middle and lower classes fills many workers with resentment, frustration, and anger.
Evaluating the effectiveness of an educational system is difficult, if not impossible. It is almost always controversial. For the purposes of this study, the effectiveness of the system overall is not as important as the effectiveness of the system today compared with the same system in the decades prior to the advent of the Militia Movement. Are there significant changes in the education of American citizens which can help to explain the rise of this movement?
One possible standard of comparison is the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT),
administered by the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), Scores on the SAT began dropping yearly in 1963; the pace of the mean scores' decline accelerated rapidly during the 1980s (Sowell 1994: 47).
By 1993, high school seniors were scoring so poorly that most did not qualify for college admission. Rather than make changes in the educational programs, the solution offered by CEEB was to modify the scoring process by raising the mean score. I 10 points
on each section, or 220 points overall (Associated Press 1995: A5; Editorial 1994: J4).
This is a clear indication that high school graduates today lack the basic skills in mathematics, reading, and writing demonstrated by high school graduates of ten years ago. More than that is implied; since the process of decline began in 1963, it is clear that the graduates of ten years ago lacked the skills of their predecessors twenty years in the past.
If high school graduates are entering college with less qualifications than in the
past, are colleges making up for their deficiencies? Not in Florida. Beginning in 1995, the Board of Regents of the Florida State University System initiated a program designed to force undergraduate students to rush through college as fast as possible. The core requirements were altered in such a manner that college graduates no longer receive the same breadth of courses and exposure to a variety of arts and sciences as students prior to the changes (Kenyon 1995: 8). Do they get a modified degree? No. Today's graduates receive the same degree as their more broadly educated predecessors.
Young adults are being forced into the job market with declining academic skills and with less training and preparation for critical thinking and decision-making than in the past. This is not to glorify the past and reminisce about a "golden age" of education which never existed; it is simply recognition that today's young adults are not as well-educated as those of yesterday. There are two results of this, one direct and the other indirect. First, the new graduates are less prepared to compete in today's economy, which leads to the frustration discussed in the previous section. Second, because graduates are poorly trained in the sciences and in critical thinking, young adults are more likely to accept
demagoguery and less likely to question issues of dogma.
Although the federal government has attempted to control, if not eliminate, the
militias, actions taken by all three branches have had some positive effect on the spread of the movement. Many law enforcement efforts to gather information on the Militia Movement and its activists have "proven" the synthetic conspiracy theory's veracity. For example, in the eyes of the militiamen, the government is attempting to infiltrate and destroy them. The fact that the government is actually attempting to infiltrate and destroy militias makes it difficult to argue with this perception. Other actions demonstrate to the Far Right that the government is under the control of sinister forces who want total control of the United States. Finally, some governmental actions have affected the movement by creating or amplifying divisions between ethnic or social groups within the population. This section will briefly review some of these actions.
On 3 0 November 1993, President Clinton enacted the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (P. L. 103 -15 9), which sought to limit access to handguns and created a national waiting period between time of purchase and time of acquisition of handguns. This was followed the next year by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (P. L. 104-208), signed into law on 30 September 1994. These laws represent the most recent examples of a trend initiated at the state level to restrict firearms ownership and to
reduce access to "assault" and automatic weapons.
Surveillance of Citizens
In 1995, President Clinton announced the introduction of the Omnibus AntiTerrorism Bill (H. R. 1710), which capitalized on the public's fear of domestic terrorism (Lacayo 1995: 1). This fear was instilled in the public by the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (McGee 1995: W10). The bill is designed to give federal law enforcement agents increased ability to monitor private citizens through three primary means: First, the rights of accused criminals are reduced. Second, law enforcement agents are authorized to search property and monitor telephone lines without warrants. Finally, law enforcement personnel are authorized to arrest accused criminals with far less probable cause than previously required (Matthews 1995: 10). The bill was signed into law on 24 April 1996 and is designated P. L. 104- 132, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
Welfare reform has become a significant issue in recent election campaigns.
Politicians, particularly from the Republican Party, are using the issue to gain the support of increasingly disgruntled middle class taxpayers. The long-term effect of this seems to be a growing wedge between social classes and racial groups as politicians, such as Senator Jesse Helms and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, speak in public of "welfare queens" and "freeloaders" (King 1995). Former Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan
gained support from many on the right wing, including militia members, when he railed against welfare. This has become such an important issue that the Democratic Party and President Clinton have jumped on the bandwagon and instituted "welfare reform' 'laws.
An equally controversial topic is the repeal of Affirmative Action programs.
Portrayed by many Republican politicians as "reverse discrimination," Affirmative Action programs are under attack nationwide. The most notable action on this issue to date was Proposition 209 in California, which ended racial categories in the state. Nfinority admissions to California universities abruptly declined as a result, particularly to law schools and graduate programs.
This is another topic utilized by North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms to gain
support: In one of his campaigns he used a commercial which shows a white man with a dismissal slip from his factory. A narrator's voice states that the man lost his job and can no longer support his family because of unfair racial quota laws.
The question of Affirmative Action is stirring up racial animosity which cuts across socioeconomic class boundaries as a result of demagoguery on both sides of the issue.
Separation of Church and State
Numerous issues have been brought before the public concerning the relationship between church and state. Among these are abortion rights, prayer in public schools, the teaching of Biblical "Creation7' in science classes, and the teaching of the Bible in public
In Florida, at least one school district has voted to begin teaching classes about the Bible in its public school system (Rosza 1997). The head of the local school board insists that this will be a challenge to the "artificial boundary between church and state" invented by "liberal secular humanists." The course will teach that the Bible is an authentic and valid history and will be used to proselytize among students, according to the school board's spokesman. The spokesman is a member of the American Family Association, a prominent Christian fundamentalist lobbying organization.
Several state legislators in Florida have attempted to instate policies which will, in effect, make Christian doctrine part of state's educational program. Among these legislators is Dan Miller, who opposes any federal educational guidelines and supports "local control" of the curriculum (White 1997). At a meeting of Christian activists, Miller promised to support them in their battle to teach "Creationism' 'instead of evolutionary theory.
Another relevant issue in Florida is the repeated attempt by the Legislature to mandate, or at least permit, Christian prayer in public schools (Kaplow 1997). Bills concerning this issue are introduced into the Legislature annually, Usually defeated by narrow margins, they are immediately invalidated by the judiciary as unconstitutional on those occasions when they are approved.
Perhaps the most divisive issue in the church/state arena is that of abortion rights. Recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the rights of women to abort their fetuses have enraged the "pro-life" movement. Some have responded with violence directed at
clinics which provide abortions and the doctors who perform them. The Christian Coalition, a leader in the anti-abortion movement, has recently adopted a new tactic for reducing the right to abortions: "The Coalition's executive director, Ralph Reed, determinedly 'surfed the mainstream,' to use his term, by suggesting that the GOP should not press for a constitutional ban on abortion, but instead should seek incremental legal steps to change abortion policies" (The Christian Century 1996). This reflects Reed's extremely successful "stealth candidate" policies to gain control of school boards at local levels. Use of these tactics has enabled the Christian Coalition to change political systems "from the bottom up" rather than the reverse.
Vietnam/Gulf War Veterans
Many veterans of the Vietnam War returned home to face a populace that did not support them and factions which actively opposed them. They were the first American soldiers to lose a war, despite the fact that they were far better equipped and armed than their adversaries. This has led many Vietnam veterans to conclude that they were "sold out" by America's political leaders who "would not let us win" the war. Lack of support and adequate leadership during the war, abuse from citizens upon their return, and inadequate medical care from the Veteran's Administration in the intervening years has created a pool of resentment toward the federal government among many Vietnam veterans.
Veterans of the Gulf War have also become resentful of their government. Sent overseas with the apparently overwhelming support of their peers and government, the
veterans returned home to face a mysterious array of illnesses designated "Gulf War Syndrome." The federal government and its Veteran's Administration have denied the existence of such a condition, claiming that the veterans' health problems are coincidental. When Congress investigated the Department of Defense to determine if chemical weapons were used against American soldiers, it was revealed that the Pentagon "lost or misplaced" its logs for the very days which veterans insist that chemical exposure occurred.
Most of these veterans were not Regular Army soldiers; they were Reservists and National Guardsmen who left their homes and careers behind to do their duty, with the promise that they would be compensated and cared for if they incurred injury. Their belief that this promise was broken by the federal government has created a deep sense of anger and resentment among many Gulf War veterans.
The Farm Crisis
During the 1970s the Department of Agriculture began advising independent
farmers to expand their farms, to take out huge loans to purchase more land and modem equipment: "The rate of inflation was running several percentage points above interest rates, so banks and government lenders, such as the Farm Home Administration (FmHA), were encouraging farmers to borrow as much money as possible" (Dyer 1997: 15). In 1979 the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, raised interest rates in order to slow inflation. As a result, "property values collapsed at the same time the interest rates on the farmer's loans climbed out of sight" (Dyer 1997: 15). This led to a massive crisis in which farmers lost property which, for many, had been in their family for
At the same time, a small coterie of agricultural conglomerates such as ConAgra and Cargill, in order to consolidate farms and increase their holdings, began paying farmers less money for their crops than it cost the farmers to grow them. This practice is a flagrant violation of both the Clayton and Sherman Anti-Trust Acts, the Packers and StocAyards Act, and the Robinson-Patman Act. Violations of these laws have enabled the conglomerates to control the industry and drive independent farmers from their land.
The federal government has failed to enforce its own laws regarding these matters. Lobbyists from "Cargill, Continental, ConAgra, Archer Daniels Nfidland, and the rest" have determined the policies of both Congress and the Department of Agriculture for years (Dyer 1997: 119). The monopolization of agriculture has continued unabated; coincidentally, the multi-national agricultural corporations are also substantial contributors to Congressional and Presidential election campaigns.
This has created enormous desperation, fear, anger, and resentment among
farmers. Midwestern farmers are committing suicide at a far higher rate then the general population (Dyer 1997: 32-33). They blame the government for their plight, and with good cause. These farmers do not need an elaborate conspiracy theory to explain what was done to them--they need only look at the reality of their lives. Whether through intent or incompetence, the federal government has permitted well over a million farming families to lose their property and their way of life (Dyer 1997: 15).
The term "corruption" is relatively broad and ambiguous when applied to political matters. It is used to describe both specific illegal acts and "business as usual" political behavior. In the context of this study, corruption applies to the trading ofpoliticalfavors for money or status by government officials. The term is applied here to illegal and secretive bribes, legal or quasi-legal campaign contributions, or even "gifts," which tend to result in laws which benefit a select few to the detriment of the population at large or in the selective enforcement of laws.
Corruption is a reality in government, but as far as this study is concerned what is vitally important is the perception of corruption, rather than the documentation of actual illegal or immoral acts. According to Frank Anechiarico: "Corruption is a problem and corruption control a constant challenge for all governments, Corruption undermines citizens' confidence in and commitment to the commonweal and can even destroy the legitimacy of the political system" (Anachiarico & Jacobs 1996: xiii). This loss of confidence in government has become endemic among most Americans. Norman Ornstein wrote in 1993, one year after the birth of the Militia Movement, that "ABC News asked voters in mid-1992, 'Do you think the overall level of ethics and honesty in politics has risen, fallen, or stayed the same during the past ten years?' A full 60 percent said it had fallen; only 9 percent believed it had risen" (Ornstein 1993: 7). This is echoed in another series of polls:
The most disturbing trend in American public life today is found in the answers to
a poll question asked regularly by the Roper organization: Do you think you can
trust the government in Washington to do what is right most of the time? In 1964,
76 percent of Americans polled answered yes. Today, that number has plunged to
an abysmal 19 percent (Sabato & Simpson 1996: ix).
It is not surprising that Americans are losing confidence in the integrity of their elected officials-, after all, we have a Senate which has refused to expel a single member since the Civil War, over 130 years ago, regardless of misbehavior or misconduct (Dewar 1995: v). Further, Time recently reported that twenty-three U.S. Army Generals have been accused of criminal activities since 1995. Of these, not a single officer was tried in court; all twenty-three were allowed to retire with full pay and benefits. Actions such as these demonstrate to a suspicious public that high-level government officials are free to disregard the laws of the land (Time 1998:8).
Americans are not only losing confidence for general reasons. They see specific acts in which government officials show marked favoritism to wealthy or high-status constituents. For example, studies indicate that "white-collar" crime causes far more damage to society than "street crime:"
The economic losses suffered by consumers and government as a result of
corporate crime... dwarfed the losses taken from street crime victims by the
nation's car thieves, burglars and robbers. As for physical hazards. . 'far more
persons are killed through corporate criminal activities than by individual criminal
homicides' (Burnham 1996: 212).
Despite this fact, the Department of Justice rarely prosecutes white-collar criminals. According to researcher David Burnham: "The record is clear. Political campaign contributions, personal bribes and other direct and indirect favors have frequently influenced important Justice Department decisions about the enforcement of law" (Burnham 1996- 233), This does not go unnoticed by members of society who are not so
Certain major scandals have rocked American government and demonstrated clearly to the American public that its leaders are exempt from the very laws that they create, enforce, and judge. The most recent significant disclosures revolved around the collapse of several savings and loan associations, of which researchers have stated: "Political corruption was at the very heart of the thrift debacle" (Calavita et al 1997: 86). Despite illegal and quasi-legal actions on the part of elected officials costing taxpayers millions of dollars, not a single Senator or Congressman was charged with a crime.
Whether governmental corruption has actually increased or whether corruption is simply being reported more frequently is a debatable point. What is clear, however, is that the American public is growing increasingly concerned about the corruption. Citizens are becoming distrustful and, some have become contemptuous to the point of insurrection.
Since the 1970s there has been a marked increase in fundamentalist thinking and religious practice worldwide (Caplan 1987: 5-6). Although the term "fundamentalism" was first applied to a specific religious movement within American Christianity, crosscultural studies have expanded the usage. According to Lionel Caplan, fundamentalism "may refer equally to militantly orthodox sections within the Jewish population in Israel, separatist and nationalist elements in the Sikh community, Tamil 'liberation' movements in Sri Lanka, or FEndu groups opposed to foreign missionary influences in India" (Caplan 1987: 1). Other scholars agree with Caplan and have attempted to delineate the specific
factors of a belief system which can be used to classify systems as fundamentalist.
A five-year study commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, T-he Fundamentalism Project, initially describes fundamentalism in terms of conflict. According to the authors, the conflicts of fundamentalists include five distinct aspects of fighting. First, they fight back: "fundamentalists begin as traditionalists who perceive some challenge or threat to their core identity, both social and personal. ... They react, they fight back with great innovative power." Second, theyfight for: "What they fight for begins with a worldview they have inherited or adopted and which they constantly reinforce." Third, theyfight with: "Fundamentalists fight with a particularly chosen repository of resources which one might think of as weapons." Fourth, they fight against: "Fundamentalists also fight against others. These may be generalized or specific enemies, but in all cases, whether they come from without or within the groups, they are the agents of assault on all that is held dear." Finally, they '~fight under God--in the case of theistic religions. .. Particularly potent are those fundamentalisms whose participants are convinced that they are called to carry out God's or Allah's purposes against challengers" (Marty & Appleby 1991; Vol. 1: ix-x).
The final volume of The Fundamentalist Prolect lists five ideological
characteristics of fundamentalism. The first of these is reactivity to the marginalization of religion: "to qualify as genuine fundamentalism in our understanding, a movement must be concerned first with the erosion of religion and its proper role in society." The second is selectivity. Fundamentalists select specific aspects of traditions to defend, specific aspects of modernity to embrace, and specific aspects of modernity to oppose. Next is "a
dualistic or Manichean woridview... in which reality is considered to be uncompromisingly divided into light, which is identified with the world of the spirit and of the good, and darkness, which is identified with matter and evil." Fourth is absolutism and inerrancy: "They steadfastly oppose hermeneutical methods developed by secularized philosophers or critics. .. fundamentalists employ their own distinctive strategies of interpretation, including 'hardened' and 'updated' traditional approaches, designed in part to reify and preserve the absolutist character of the sacred text or tradition." The final ideological characteristic is millenialism and messianism: "History has a miraculous culmination. The good will triumph over evil" (Marty & Appleby 1991; Vol.5: 405-407).
Other scholars have taken differing approaches to the study of fundamentalism. Mortimer Ostow, for example, examined fundamentalists from a psychological perspective. He concluded, among other things, that:
..fundamentalism may be described as a derivative of apocalyptic thinking, in
which the destructive phase consists of condemnation and rejection of the outside world and the rebirth phase consists of reorganization into an egalitarian, populist,
fraternal community inspired by a charismatic leader. .. Individual or group
discontent. .. frequently challenges self-love and self-esteem. The discontent
initiates a tendency to seek relief by invoking an illusion that the real present can be overcome, rejected, destroyed, and replaced by a reborn world (Cohen 1990:
Richard Hofstadter also studied fundamentalism and its effects. He concluded that fundamentalism is at the core of most movements of projective politics, and that the phenomenon has three distinct features: dualism, conspiratorialism, and miillenialism (Hofstadter 1962).
For the purposes of this study, the key elements of fundamentalism are the
conspiratorialism described by Hofstadter and the dualism and millenarianism described by Hofstadter and The Fundamentalist Project. Additionally, The Fundamentalist Prqj ci' s conceptualization of perpetual conflict is vital to understanding the Militia Movement.
The Patriot Movement and the Far Right
As stated previously, the Militia Movement can be classified as a relatively recent development, a smaller, subordinate element of the larger and pre-existing "Patriot Movement." The Patriot Movement encompasses a variety of Far Right concerns, including the Christian Identity sect, the common-law court system, and several white supremacist organization. This section will explore some of the Patriot elements which were influential in the formation of the Militia Movement.
Christian Identity is a religious sect relatively unknown outside of the western states in which it thrives. There is no central body for either doctrinal dissemination or control, but a number of small, rival churches. The largest and most powerful of these is the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, led by Richard Butler of Hayden Lake, Idaho. The Church of Jesus Christ Christian is the religious body of the Aryan Nations, a militant white supremacist group with members nationwide but headquartered in a compound in Idaho.
The central precept of Identity is that the "Aryan" or "white" race is the group
actually referred to in the Bible as the Israelites, God's "chosen people." Over time, the nefarious Jews have manipulated societies worldwide and insinuated themselves into this role. In reality, according to Identity doctrine, all people alive today are either descendants of Adam or of the "pre-Adamic" race. Aficans, of course, are the preAdamites and are therefore not truly human. Of the descendants of Adam there are two divisions--Jews and Aryans.
The "true" humans, God's chosen, are "white." Whites are the offspring of Adam and Eve after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Jews, on the other hand, are the offspring of Satan. In Identity doctrine, the story of Eve's temptation by Satan is a euphemism; what really happened was that Satan entered the Garden, raped Eve, and impregnated her with his spawn, Cain. Cain, of course, was the first murderer of the first true Israelite, Abel. All of history since the Garden of Eden has been a constant struggle between the children of God (whites) and the children of Satan (Jews). The children of Satan have enlisted the proto human blacks as their foot soldiers, as "cannon fodder" in the battle for ascendancy.
Identity adherents believe, therefore, that it is their duty to God to destroy the
seedline of Satan in the final battle of Armageddon, and members are expected to own and become proficient in the use of firearms in support of this goal. The Identity leader Richard Butler and his second-in-command Louis Beam were key organizers of the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous and were instrumental in the birth of the Militia Movement.
The belief that history has been guided by the forces of good in opposition to the forces of evil, and that there are real entities behind these forces, indicates the
conspiratorial nature of the belief system. The expectation of a final battle at the end of history demonstrates that the sect is millenarian. Finally, the belief in absolute good, represented by Aryans, and absolute evil, represented by Jews, shows that Identity doctrine is dualistic in nature.
For a more thorough examination of the Christian Identity movement, readers are referred to Michael Barkun's Religion and the Racist Right (Barkun 1997).
The Liberty Lobby
The Liberty Lobby is a right-wing organization founded in 1955 by former John Birch Society member Willis Carto (Schwartz 1996: 252). The Liberty Lobby has been a major influence on Far Right politics, particularly since the 1980s. The organization publicizes its radical anti-Semitic beliefs through a weekly newspaper, Ae Spotlight, as well as through the broadcast of a radio talk show, Radio Free America. In addition, the Liberty Lobby publishes the journal of a subsidiary organization, the Institute for Historical Review, a pseudo-academic group which argues that the "Holocaust" is a fraud perpetrated by Jews in order to gain money and sympathy. 7-he Spotlight has become the most widely circulated and cited source of information in the entire Militia Movement.
Another element of the Patriot Movement is the "common-law court" system. Adherents of this system believe that English Common Law is the actual basis of all legitimate legal systems, and that the federal government is operating without lawful
authority. They believe that the Magna Carta and other documents provide for a system of "citizen-controlled" courts which can issue warrants, judge cases, and dispense justice (usually in the form of death sentences). Common law, in their view, applies to "sovereign citizens," or "true" Americans who have renounced affiliation with the pretenders in Washington who have usurped the government. They believe that all federal law enforcement is illegal, and that the highest legal authority rests with county sheriffs.
In practice, the common-law court movement has led adherents to file false liens against government officials, liens which have destroyed credit and created legal nightmares in several counties. Followers refuse to use driver's licenses, to pay taxes, to use license plates on their vehicles, or to respond to the census. While most of this activity has occurred in western states, the movement has recently gained converts in Florida.
7 he Turner Diaries
The most important single document in the Patriot Movement is the novel The Turner Diaries, written by Dr. William Pierce of the National Alliance. The National Alliance is a white supremacist organization currently headquartered in West Virginia (Roy 1996: 3 7). -The Turner Diaries relates the story of a soldier in a revolutionary cell engaged in a guerilla war of liberationn' against the Zionist Occupation Government which is secretly controlling the United States. The guerillas use terrorism, torture, and bombings in order to further their cause, and fund their operations through theft.
The book inspired a violent crime spree during the 1980s; the organization which committed these crimes, The Order, actually took its name from the novel. During the 1990s, The Turner Diaries became the favored reading material of Timothy McVeigh, who duplicated an incident from the novel when he bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. It has virtually become required reading for militia activists.
There is no single factor which can be said to have "caused" the development of the Militia Movement. Social behavior is too complex and society too intertwined for such a reductionist explanation. Various aspects of a culture, though, can contribute to the rise of social movements, and tl- s is certainly the case with the militias. All of the previously discussed factors, the pre-existing Patriot Movement, the rise of fundamentalism, awareness of governmental corruption and incompetence, declining educational standards, and the changing economy in America have all contributed in one way or another to the Militia Movement. The contributions of each of these cultural facets will be explored in the chapters that follow.
It is easy to go down into Hell; night and day, the gates of dark Death
stand wide; but to climb back again, to retrace one's steps to the upper air-there's the rub, the task.
Data for this study were collected through a variety of means, including
ethnography and participant-observation, ethnographic interviews, document analysis, and correspondence. Each of these methods will be discussed below.
The most useful method employed for data collection in this study was participantobservation and ethnography. Participant-observation is the primary anthropological method for the collection of qualitative data, and provides a conceptual framework "for the elicitation and study of indigenous categories. Participant-observation is a global conception on the use of culturally and linguistically sensitive categories and interactions with the members of a society" (Herdt and Boxer 1991: 172). It is participant-observation which permits the anthropologist to understand both the efic and the emic perspectives of the subject population, to gain insights into the subject's view of him or herself (Harris 1991: 20). According to Heather Hall, ethnography is a method for the description of 57
culture and "has the primary goal of understanding the diversity of interpretation of experience as it is perceived by other people" (Hall 1996: 21). It is "a process of study in which the researcher discovers varying perceptions and interpretations of reality through the voice of the participant" (Spradley 1979- 3),
From March through November 1995, ethnographic data were collected from the North Central Florida Regional Militia, through participation in weekly meetings and through three episodes of participation in field training (Akins 1995: 14)
Data concerning the National Association for the Advancement of White People's Spartan Legion were collected from April 1996 through November 1997. This included attendance at biweekly field training and meetings, multiple social events (both formal and spontaneous), five rallies or protests, the NAAWP's Second Annual White Fights Rally, and attendance at "allied" groups' events, including a Ku Klux Klan Naturalization Ceremony. At all of these functions, I participated as a member. I joined the NAAWP Spartan Legion Militia in May 1996 and served as an officer of the organization from July 1996 until July 1997, and continued to associate with members on a social basis until November 1997.
The Ku Klux Klan group affiliated with the NAAWP was the Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from Port St. Lucie, Florida; ethnographic data were collected from this group at a Naturalization Ceremony, two Klan rallies in White City, and three social gatherings.
Contact was made at one of the Klan rallies with members of the World Church of the Creator's White Berets Militia. Data were collected from this group at two social
gatherings, one Klan rally in which they participated, a protest, one weekend of field training, and a camping trip with several members. I joined this group and served as a member from October 1996 through June 1997.
The final group from which ethnographic data were collected in significant
quantity was the Congress of Florida Militias, centered in and around Winter Haven. Data from tl iis group were collected at two social gatherings, a White Rights Rally, a Militia Day function, and repeated attendance at a church in Tampa which is organized around the Patriot Movement.
Ethnographic interviews differ from sociological or psychological interviews in their range and depth. The ethnographic interview is "designed to flow like a casual conversation, so that this form of interview leads to a more relaxed and open exchange. This semi-structured interview incorporates open-ended questions in order to facilitate interactive conversation, which will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the cultural reality through the more thoroughly detailed and explicit explanations acquired" (Hall 1996: 25),
The ethnographic interview does use a standardized format of questions, but the questions are not designed to glean "yes or no" answers. The format is constantly updated and revised with the accumulation of new data and insights, which frequently lead to unsuspected research topics. One potential problem with this method is that it can complicate comparative statements between subjects because new questions and topics
appear in later interviews which were not present earlier in the study.
During the period March through November 1995, ethnographic interviews were conducted with the official spokesman of the NCFRM, as well as with five rank-and-file members (Akins 1995: 14).
Between April 1996 and November 1997 ethnographic interviews were conducted with David Duke, the founder, Paul Allen, the current President, and Dan Daniels, the Field Commander of the NAAWP. Additional interviews were conducted with four of the Spartan Legion officers and four of the NAAWP Jacksonville's "local leaders." Further interviews were conducted with eleven rank-and-file members.
The Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan provided three ethnograph-ic interviews, one with the leader of the Klavern, one with a rank-and-file male member, and the last with the first woman initiated into this Klan.
Interviews were conducted with three members of the WCOTC; one with a
Reverend in the Church, one with the leader of the West Palm Beach White Berets, and one with a rank-and-file member of the White Berets.
Finally, interviews were conducted with four members of the Congress of Florida Militias. One was conducted over three sessions with Shelton Sizemore, a prominent leader of the movement in Florida. Another brief telephone interview was conducted with Mark Cody, the founder and leader of the Congress and author of its principle documents; the other two were with two rank-and-file members from Winter Haven.
Much of the communication between different factions of the Militia Movement is conducted through the U.S. Postal Service, as is the communication between the movement's leaders and followers. It is important, therefore, to gain access to this flux of mail, which includes newspapers, tabloids, newsletters, fliers, and magazines.
Study of each piece of mail can be tedious; it can also be rewarding. Not only can one glean the obvious data, such as ideology and scheduling, but one gains access to the letters written to editors by individual members. Further, a network can be traced by examination of advertisements for various groups in the circulars of other groups. During the period of study, mail was received from the list of groups appearing in Appendix C. By July of 1996 each day's post carried an average of 12 varied pieces of mai-l.
While studying the NCFRM in 1995, "circulars, fliers, underground newspapers, personal notes, and other unofficial documents" were provided by a number of members. In addition, "the unit's spokesman also provided a plethora of official doctrinal and publicity statements" (Akins 1995: 14).
The NAAWP's militia members receive two newspapers monthly. The first, NAA 9T News, is published in New Orleans by Paul Allen and sent to all NAAWP members. The second, The Eagle Forum: NAA WP Battleground, is published in Winter Haven by Dan Daniels; circulation was limited to militia members. In addition to these two newspapers, most of the local NAAWP groups publish a monthly newsletter. These were collected from the Tampa, Winter Haven, and Jacksonville NAAWP groups. Finally, as part of my duties while serving in the Spartan Legion Militia, 1 gained access to
enrollment records, training plans and reports, telephone lists, and mailing lists.
The Ku Klux Klan publishes a number of newspapers and newsletters. Among
these, The ff1hite Patriot and The Kourier stand out because of their wide circulation and comprehensive listing of events; subscriptions to both were obtained in May 1996 and continue to the present.
The WCOTC publishes a monthly tabloid, The Struggle, which was received from July 1996 through July 1997. In addition, anyone on their mailing list receives two to four additional mailings monthly; most of these are announcements of upcoming events, solicitations for funds, or announcements calling the followers' attention to current events of note.
No list of militia publications would be complete without mention of Dr. William Pierce's The Jurner Diaries or The Spotlight, a publication of The Liberty Lobby. The Turner Diaries is a novel written during the 1970s which details a militia-like guerilla war conducted by white "patriots" against the increasingly oppressive Federal government. It is widely circulated at gun shows and Preparedness Expos, and was the favorite book of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The most widely disseminated, widely cited, and widely discussed document in the entire movement, however, is The Spotlight. It captures the spirit of conspiracy theory, renders the theories into language anyone can comprehend, and ties the general, abstract aspect of the theories into concrete, real-life details. It lists events, advertises organizations, books, and videos. The Liberty Lobby sells its mailing lists to other "patriotic" groups, which helps weave the communications web tighter and tighter.
Because the Patriot Movement is so dispersed geographically, it is all but
impossible to collect significant ethnographic data from each and every unit. Further, most of the units will break up within 18 months of their founding, and either evolve into something new, merge with another group, or split into two or more new groups. It is more practical, therefore, to communicate with large numbers of people through correspondence. This permits the researcher to take time preparing questions, and permits the informant to think about and fully answer the question (or to decline answering, which was not uncommon). Data collected through correspondence were not as in-depth, and lacked the qualitative aspects of interviews or participant-observation. They did, however, provide an opportunity to gather additional data.
During the period January 1995 through November 1997, correspondence was conducted on a regular basis with one member of the NCFRM, four leaders of the NAAWP, a leader of the WCOTC, and a leader of the TK/KKK.
Furthermore, isolated or sporadic correspondence occurred with a second member of the NCFRM, two members of the NAAWP, a leader of the WCOTC, two members of the Congress of Florida Militias, and a wide range of leaders and members of militias throughout both Florida and the entire United States.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Internet to the Patriot
Movement. The Internet has become the primary means of communication between
militias, and the primary source for the formulation and dissemination of movement ideology. Militia ideology is disseminated through home pages, chat lines, and BBSs. A partial listing of relevant home pages is found in Appendix D.
Data were downloaded from the Internet on a regular basis. This was the result of monthly monitoring of a list of websites, occasional visits to chat rooms, and weekly monitoring of BBSs.
MILITIAS IN FLORIDA
We must secure the existence Of our people and afuture for white
-'Tourteen Words; "David
Lane (Schwartz 1996:66)
According to the Kianwatch Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center militias first began appearing in Florida in early 1994 (Wood 1997: 1). During the last few months of 1994 and early 1995, several of the new militias began banding together for informational and logistical support and held a series of meetings which they designated the "Congresses of Florida Militias." These were held in Winter Haven and sponsored by the Central Florida Militia Association.
During 1995 and 1996 the militias began attracting the attention of both the public and of law enforcement. There were several arrests of militiamen in Florida. Some of these arrests were for robberies of banks and businesses, others for vandalism, assault, and murder. Still others involved the harassment of government officials. The movement has grown so rapidly in Florida that by the end of 1996 there were at least seventy-two separate and distinct militias of varying size operating within the state (Klanwatch 1997:
The militias in Florida are similar to each other in many aspects. They all subscribe to the New World Order conspiracy theory developed at the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous and communicate via Internet, mail, and social connections. The primary difference between the militias in Florida is in their attitudes and beliefs concerning racial and ethnic minorities, and they can therefore be classified by their position on an ideological spectrum with violent white supremacists on one end and integrated militias unconcerned with racism on the other end.
In order to understand the variety that exists within the Militia Movement in
Florida, five specific militias have been selected for close examination in this paper. These groups range from the racist and violent White Berets Militia of the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), through the Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (TK/KKK) and the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAVvT), all the way to the North Central Florida Regional Militia (NCFRM) and the racially inclusive Central Florida Militia Association (CFMA).
This chapter will serve as an introduction to each group by briefly describing the salient features of each militia in question; subsequent chapters will examine them in greater detail in order to examine the crucial factors which will aid in answering the research question.
World Church of the Creator: The White Berets
The West Palm Beach area of Florida is home to the local chapter of the World Church of the Creator, a "skinhead" organization which sponsors its own militia, This
tnilitia is known as the "White Berets," and its members have been repeatedly arrested on charges of vandalism, assault, and harassment. They are armed with standardized handguns supplemented by an assortment of rifles, shotguns, and, allegedly, at least one automatic weapon.
For those readers unfamiliar with the phenomenon, skinheads are young men (and, rarely, women) between thirteen and twenty-five years of age who shave their heads as a symbol of group unity. They typically congregate in "gangs" or "clubs" and have a history of violence. There is no central leadership, and skinhead gangs have recently been targeted for recruitment by such groups as the National Alliance, the Aryan Nations, and the Nationalist Movement who see the energy and youth of skinheads as a resource for the future (Schwartz 1996: 277). White Berets militiamen wear the standard skinhead uniform: white or black T-shirts with racist slogans, red suspenders, and black combat boots with white laces.
The WCOTC is a relatively new organization, built upon the ruins of former
Florida legislator Ben Klassen's Church of the Creator which gradually collapsed between 1993 and 1996 following Klassen's suicide and several devastating lawsuits initiated by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the Anti-Defamation League, at its peak between 1989 and 1992 "the Church of the Creator... was one of the most violent organizations on the radical right" (Schwartz 1996: 198).
Matt Hale, currently a law student at the Southern Illinois University, took the reins of the Church in 1995 (Nailen 1996: 9). In 1996 he changed the name by adding "World" and began re-asserting control of the local chapters. Hale reorganized the
WCOTC into five branch offices which serve as intermediates between the national office and the local groups.
The West Palm Beach chapter serves as both a local group and the Southeast Regional Branch office. It is headed by the Reverend Guy Lombardi. Lombardi's assistant, Thomas South, leads the White Berets Militia for the branch. South's Berets have a training compound near Tampa, built upon the farm of a member's family. This compound has an obstacle course, firing range, and wooded "training area."
Members of the WCOTC, or "Creators," absolutely reject Christianity, calling it a slave religion which aids in the domination of the "white race" by Jews. The founder, Ben Kiassen, explained this philosophy in his 1981 White Man's Bible:
Yes, it was the eternal parasite upon the back of mankind, the Jew, who wrote the
White Man's so called "Holy Book," invented his religion for him, disseminated
and propagated it first among the Romans, and now has poisoned the White Man's
mind with this primitive, poisonous superstition in order to control his mind,
control his destiny, and to destroy the great White Race itself (Klassen 1981: 3 01
Klassen called for a new religion, "Creativity," based on race, built upon "facts" determined through "reason"' and the study of history. Creators believe that each race has its own distinctive nature and that combining or mixing these natures is disastrous. They believe that America is on the verge of a race war which they eagerly anticipate. The group's motto is "RAHOWA," an acronym for racial holy war. The WCOTC Creed states that "What is good for the White Race is the highest virtue; what is bad for the White Race is the ultimate sin"' (Klassen 198 1: 11). Of all the militias within Florida's borders, the White Berets appear the be the most violent racists and anti-Semites.
Members have been charged repeatedly for attacks on minorities, they wear swastika and "SS" tattoos, and boycott minority-owned businesses.
Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Kla
The TK/KKK are located in Port St. Lucie and lead by J. D. Alder, who has
recently become familiar to many Americans through frequent appearances on The Jerry Springer Show, a daytime television talk show. The TKIKKK is an independent Klan unit, owing no allegiance to any national-level organization. Alder is in close contact with other notable Klan leaders, however, as well as other groups such as the NAAWP, the National Socialist White People's Party (NSWPP), the National Alliance, and the Nationalist Movement.
Although some of Alder's followers have been arrested for vandalism and
harassment, the primary activity of his group seems to be seeking publicity. As mentioned previously, he is a frequent guest of T'he Jerry Springer Show and has also appeared on talk shows hosted by Geraldo Rivera, Montel Williams, and Sally Jesse Raphael. The Klavern, or local group, hosts two annual events: The "White Khristmas in the Park" and the "White Pride Day." Both of these events are held in White City Park. Alder invites as many members of the press as he can contact to his events and appears on television news shows throughout Florida each year. Whenever possible, the TKJKKK also burns crosses at its ceremonies.
Alder's Kiavern was selected for examination in this project because Alder has formed his group into a militia, adopted standard militia rhetoric, and abandoned as
"useless and ineffective" old-style Klan doctrine. Although the beliefs and rhetoric of the TK/KKK is clearly of a racist and anti-Semitic nature, members only occasionally act upon these beliefs in any practical or violent manner.
NAAWP: The Spartan Legion Militia
The National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP) is a national organization founded by David Duke and currently headed by Paul Allen. It is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has chapters in several states including Florida. Until his recent replacement by Ray Thomas of Tampa, the Florida chapters were under the leadership of Dan Daniels of Winter Haven. Daniels also founded and commanded the "Spartan Legion Militia," the paramilitary wing of the NAAWP.
Florida is home to fifteen local NAAWP chapters which sponsor four significant units of the Spartan Legion. One of these units is the NAAWP's "airborne" unit which practices skydiving and "airmobile" operations from its base in the Eagle Lake/Winter Haven area. The Spartan Legion in Florida was an original member of the Central Florida Mlitia Association (CFMIA) and a participant in the Congress of Florida Mlitias. In 1995 the Spartan Legion was cast out of the CFMA because of its racist and anti-Semitic orientation.
The largest NAAWvP chapter in Florida is the Jacksonville group which carries eighty-five members on its rolls, including twenty members of its Spartan Legion unit. Jacksonville members attend all public meetings of the city government and avidly speak out on several issues. They have also gained media attention with several incidents. One
of these was the attempt to get the city's tourism department to sponsor and promote the Third Annual White Rights Rally. The city, of course, refused; NAAWP members protested and threatened to file suit in court. In another incident, a newspaper reported that the NAAWP was maintaining their telephone "hotline," complete with racist and antiSemitic messages, on the property of a local school without the school's knowledge or permission.
Although several members have police records and some have served time in either jail or prison, none have been charged with any crimes related to their involvement with the NAAWP. The public face of the NAAWP is not clearly racist. The organization claims to be concerned with white heritage and correcting the excesses of reverse discrimination which stem from Affirmative Action programs. In reality, it will be demonstrated, the NAAVVT is both racist and anti-Semitic, as are its members.
North Central Florida Regional Militia
In 1994 a splinter group from the Bradford County Nfilitia formed the North
Central Florida Regional Militia (NCFRM) in Gainesville. The NCFRM is organized in "membership circles," with the leaders and most militant members in the inner circle. The inner circle is surrounded by active paramilitary members, in turn surrounded by members who regularly attend the open and public "discussion" meetings. The outer circle is composed of sympathizers and fiends who occasionally attend the public meetings.
The NCFRM is composed of University of Florida faculty and staff, local
businessmen, farmers, and blue- and white-collar workers. Several members are also
jointly enrolled in another organization, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) which teaches that if Jews had been armed and organized the Holocaust could not have occurred. The NCFRM is also a member of the Central Florida Militia Association (CFMA) and participated in the Congresses of Florida Militias.
The NCFRM professes to be all-inclusive and tolerant, actively seeking minority members. Several members of the outer circles are reported to be Jewish, and other minorities have been observed at public meetings. However, the group's primary published source of information is the Liberty Lobby's Spotlight, referred to by the AntiDefamation League as the most anti-Sem-itic publication in America today.
Central Florida Militia Association
The CFMAk is an umbrella organization founded by Mark Cody in 1994. The Association has seventeen member units which operate independently but share information and consult on tactics and strategy (Daniels 1997b: 2). The annual Congress of Florida Militias (CFM[) is sponsored by the CFMA; this is a gathering in which member units discuss and agree on policies and doctrines.
The CFMA claims to be racially inclusive. One of the platforms members must swear to, in fact, is support for Israel. Members are generally devoutly religious and in opposition to most aspects of modernity, including abortion, homosexuality, evolutionary theory, and drugs. They teach that in order to effectively fight "the enemy" members must put aside their differences and seek the aid of men, women, children, minorities, nonChristians, and anyone else opposed to the New World Order.
These five units were selected for close examination in this project because they represent distinct points along the ideological spectrum of racism and anti-Semitism. At one end of the spectrum resides the White Berets, a notoriously racist and actively violent group. Farther along are the Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, ostensibly racist but not actively so. Next comes the Spartan Legion, which publicly professes to be racially inclusive but is in actuality covertly racist and extremely anti-Semitic, although it has never been accused of actively participating in any form of racist violence. The next group is the NCFRM, which attempts to be inclusive and tolerant, yet circulates The Spotlight, a clearly and openly anti-Semitic publication. At the far end is the CFM which is racially and ethnically integrated and will refuse membership to units or individuals suspected of racist beliefs.
Subsequent chapters will examine in more detail the structure, ideologies,
membership, and activities of these groups, comparing and contrasting them with each other and examining their adherence to and interpretation of the standard militia conspiracy theories.
STRUCTURE OF FLORIDA MILITIAS
Have any of us been told that the secretaries of state, the secretaries of the
treasury, the heads of the CIA, the heads of the National Security Council, the
heads of the Federal Reserve Board and countless others are in agreement that
American sovereignty is to be "eroded piece by piece "? When has there ever been a referendum for all of the people to decide whether they want to discard
our Constitution in favor of a one-world government ? The clear answer is
-Pat Robertson (1991)
In order to answer the primary research question and determine why the Militia Movement developed, an understanding of the structure of militias is required. This chapter will examine the structure of each of the five selected militias to consider answers to the following questions: How was each militia founded? How are they internally organized? How do they communicate internally and with each other?
World Church of the Creator
The World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), heir to the Church of the Creator,
was initially founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a former Florida legislator. The WCOTC is a "sldnhead" organization--its members are almost all young, white males who shave their heads and wear jeans, combat boots with white laces, and red suspenders.
Kiassen resigned as leader of the WCOTC in 1992 and appointed Mark Wilson as his successor. Wilson lead the group until 1993, when he was replaced by Richard McCar-ty. Shortly after appointing McCarty, Kiassen committed suicide. A lawsuit filed at that time by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought about the alleged dissolution of the group, but it was reorganized and resuscitated in 1995 by Matt Hale, a law student at Southern Illinois University (Nailen 1996: 9).
The WCOTC has five "branch offices" which control subordinate units in at least nine states. The local chapter in Florida is in West Palm Beach and is led by the Reverend Guy Lombardi, who also serves as leader of the "Southeast Branch."
Most of the chapters have a militia unit, the "White Berets." White Berets are alternately described as either a militia or as the "Security Element" of the chapter. The White Beret unit in West Palm Beach is led by Thomas South, who has established a training compound near Tampa complete with obstacle course, firing range, and wooded training area. South has arranged for his unit to be armed with a standardized handgun; in addition, most members own a second weapon such as a shotgun, rifle, or assault rifle.
The WCOTC communicates with its members and allies through the books of Ben Klassen, which include Nature 's Eternal Religion, The White Man 's Bible, and Salubrious Living, as well as the Church newsletters, The Imperium, The Struggle, and,
formerly, Racial Loyalty. Most of the local groups sporadically mail out their own newsletters concerned with local issues and events. The WCOTC has a website on the Internet, as does the West Palm Beach chapter.
On two occasions, members of the WCOTC were observed reading The Liberty Lobby's The Spotlight, which available data indicate is the primary source of information for the entire Militia Movement.
Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
The Templar Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (TKIKKK) are located in Port St. Lucie, and are only one of approximately twenty Klaverns throughout Florida. The organization is headed by I D. Alder, who also holds the rank of Brigadier-General in the NAAWP's Spartan Legion. Alder has become familiar to many Americans through frequent appearances on The Jerry Springer Show, a daytime talk show.
The TK/KKK is an independent Klan unit owing no allegiance to any national-level organization. Alder rules his Klavern with an iron fist; no dissention is permitted. He has no chain of command, no assistants. It is simply Alder leading his followers.
Communication between Alder and his followers is through a newsletter titled The Fiery Summons and regularly scheduled meetings.
Alder is in close contact with other notable Kians leaders in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. In addition to his Klan activities, Alder also works closely with groups such as the NAAWP, the National Socialist White People's Party (NSWPP), the National Alliance, and the Nationalist Movement. Rallies sponsored by the TKJKKK also feature the distribution of several publications, including The White Patriot, T-he Turner Diaries, and The Spotlight.
NAAWvP: The Spartan Legion
The National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP) is a large organization, with chapters in all fifty states, Canada, and England. It was founded in 1980 by David Duke with the ostensible purpose of opposing Affirmative Action programs in order to restore "equal rights" for European-Americans (Schwartz 1996: 265). The motto of the NAAWP is "Equal rights for all--Special privileges for none."
The NAAWP is organized hierarchically. Local chapters are under the State-level leadership; these, in turn, are organized into Regional Leaders which report directly to the National Office and its President, Paul Allen. There is a further division into NAAWP chapters and Spartan Legion M\ilitias. The Spartan Legion is composed of members from several local chapters who also train as part of the militia, and falls under the command of either the State or Regional leadership. All Spartan Legion Militias are ultimately under
the command of the Field Commander, Lieutenant-General Dan Daniels, who also serves as the Vice President of the National Office. Nation
Paul Allen assumed the Presidency of the National Association for the
Advancement of White People in 1991 after the founder, David Duke, left the group in order to pursue his political career in Louisiana. For several years the National Office shared space with Duke's personal and campaign offices but eventually moved into its own office.
The National Office is responsible for recruiting new members through mass mailings, and therefore purchases mailing lists from a variety of right-wing and white supremacist groups and publications. Allen is in frequent communication with a wide range of white supremacist leaders and organizations; he often speaks at the rallies and meetings of other groups and invites their leaders to speak at NAAWP functions.
The National Office also produces and sells a variety of merchandise, including NAAWP caps, keychains, shirts, T-shirts and tanktops, sweatshirts, greeting cards, stickers, and books. Profits from the sale of this merchandise ostensibly go directly to the NAAWP coffers although Dan Daniels reported that evidence indicates Allen spends this money for his personal use.
From his National Office in New Orleans, Allen controls his Regional Leaders-,
they were known as the Western, Central, and Eastern Regions until recently. In October 1997 the Eastern Region was divided into a fourth, the Nfid-Atlantic Region, under the leadership of Reno Wolfe of Jacksonville, Florida. He also "manages all International
operations of the NAAWP (and) provides Policies" (Daniels 1997a: 3).
Allen's Vice President and Field Commander of the Spartan Legion Nfilitia is
Hiram "Dan" Daniels, who is located in Eagle Lake, Florida. Daniels organizes the Militia on both the national and local levels. He is responsible at the national level for creating and disseminating militia doctrine concerning recruiting, training, standardizing equipment and weaponry, and the appointment of officers. He makes frequent "inspection tours" about the country, visiting Spartan Legion Militias wherever they are located. Florida
Because he is located in Florida, Dan Daniels takes a close personal interest in the Spartan Legion units in this state and serves as State Director of the NAAWP Local Chapters as well as Local Leader for the Eagle Lake Chapter. He is also actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the Legion's "airborne" unit which is stationed in the Winter Haven/Eagle Lake area.
Within Florida's borders the NAAWP has local chapters in Auburndale, Eagle Lake, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Miami, Ocala, Pensacola, Pierson, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tampa, West Palm Beach, White City, and Winter Haven. Each local chapter is headed by a "Local Leader" who reports to the State Director (Daniels' "second hat"). The state was initially under the supervision of the Eastern Regional Director; recent changes have left most of Florida in the Eastern Region but separated part of North Florida, particularly Jacksonville, into the newly formed MidAtlanticRegion.
The Spartan Legion has significant militias in Fort Pierce/White City, Jacksonville, Ocala, Tampa, and Winter Haven/Eagle Lake. There are also smaller militias, still in the formative stages, in several other towns. The Spartan Legion was initially formed in late 1994, and at the time of its inception was a member unit of the Congress of Florida Militias (CFM). In late 1995 the Spartan Legion was asked to leave the CFM because of its alleged racist and anti-Semitic orientation.
The Jacksonville Chapter, where much of the ethnographic data were collected, has approximately eighty-five members, a typical meeting will see fifteen to twenty in attendance. The Jacksonville Militia carries twenty members on its roster; five to seven usually attend the bimonthly training session or meetings. The unit is armed with Chinesemanufactured SKS assault rifles, as well as personally-owned rifles and handguns.
The Jacksonville unit of the Spartan Legion Militia is commanded by a Colonel
appointed by Daniels. He is assisted by an Executive Officer with the rank of LieutenantColonel, a staff consisting of Medical, Public Relations, and Administrative Officers, all with the rank of Major, and two Platoon Leaders, both Lieutenants. The remaining members are all Sergeants and are divided evenly between the two platoons.
Communication between the President and his followers is primarily through The NAA WP News, a monthly newspaper published by Allen from the National Office in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ae NAA WP News is typically twelve or sixteen pages in length. It features editorials by Allen and Dan Daniels, updates on the activities of Duke, NAAWP
events listings, merchandise advertisements, and reprints of articles of interest from the mainstream media and a long list of white supremacist publications. It also features derogatory cartoons emphasizing the alleged low intelligence of blacks and the alleged corruption and insidious nature of Jews.
Typical headlines in The NAA WP News include the following:- 'Negroes whine if not in movies" (Issue 80), "The Gathering Storm: How White Americans- thru their unwisdom, carelessness and good nature--allowed the wicked to bring on the Coming American Race War" (Issue 90), "Black criminals forced into law-abiding White neighborhoods" (Issue 91), and "Black soldiers rape White women" (Issue 94).
Another line of communication between Allen and his followers is his book The Coming American RACE WAR, which is sold at rallies, meetings, and through the mail. The central theme of Allen's book is that liberal policies toward blacks have led blacks to become lazy, criminal, and dependent; he also cites "scientific proof" that blacks are genetically inferior, claiming that "the majority of blacks are mentally retarded." He further writes that "The NAAWP is necessary to defend White rights, take to the streets, call a general strike, shut this country down if necessary for white survival," and "NAAWP calls for White America to organize on a wartime basis (arm every white and unleash the police)" (Allen 1993: 208-210).
A final means of communication from the National Office is through the
NAAWP's website, located on the ange~firexcom server. This server is well-known for hosting white supremacist sites. The Internet is increasingly popular among NAAWP members, and several of the chapters in Florida have their own webpages as well.
All members of the Spartan Legion receive, in addition to Ae NAA WP News, a
monthly mailing of The Eagle: NAA WP Battleground. This is published by Daniels and is much more virulently racist and anti-Sernitic than The NAA WP News. It typically runs eight pages in length and contains editorials, advertisements, event announcements, cartoons, and articles about current events. Typical headlines read "Equal Rights for Aryans" (Issue 85), "Israelis choose war and murder over peace" (Issue 86), "Communist Clinton's Black Hillary Substitute and Clinton's Look-alike Black Bastard Mullato Son" (Issue 89).
The NAAWP Jacksonville Chapter publishes a monthly newsletter which usually runs four pages, with six on occasion. This is circulated to all members of the groups, whether they are in the militia or not.
At the NAAWP's Second Annual White Rights Rally, several other publications
were distributed. Among these were the novels of Dr. William Pierce, The Turner Diaries and Hunter, 7-he Spotlight, The While Patriot, and Resistance.
Near the end of this research project the NAAWP was forced to undergo
significant reorganization. A 14 May 1997 broadcast of the American Broadcasting Corporation's Primetime Live exposed several falsehoods promoted by the leaders. Among these were the group's close ties with KKK groups, the blatant racism expressed by some members in private, the criminal records of several key members, and the Spartan Legion's preparations for a race war. Exposure of the leaders on this show resulted in the
loss of approximately seventy percent of the organization's membership (Allen 1997b: 1). Further, law enforcement officials became much more interested in the activities of the Spartan Legion, which led to massive desertion from the ranks.
This data, therefore, reflects the NAAWP between April 1996 and OctoberNovember 1997 but may not reflect the current confusion in the group. Changes since this period include the firing of Dan Daniels and his replacement by Ray Thomas of Tampa, Florida, a lawsuit against Paul Allen for control of the group's finances; the "temporary" suspension of all Spartan Legion activities; the cancellation of the Third Annual White Rights Rally; massive loss of both membership and revenue; and the organization of a fourth Region.
Most of the group's activities at this point revolve around recruiting new members and attempting to draw former members back into the fold along with a new mass-mailed fund-raising campaign. It remains to be seen whether the NAAWP will remain a significant force of the Far Right or if it will dissolve from the force of its own organizational inadequacies.
In the meantime, the research results from prior to the shake-up remain indicative of the organization, membership, beliefs, and activities of the group's ideal state. The organization evolved into the state in which I found it over a period of several years, and the changes were not instigated by the NAAWP. Only the deliberate activities of a wellfunded and professional group of investigative journalists were able to infiltrate and disrupt the NAAWP.
North-Central Florida Regional Militia
The North Central Florida Regional Militia (NCFRM) was founded on 10
November 1994 in Gainesville, Florida. The NCFRM was initially formed as a splinter group from the Bradford County Militia (Johnson 1994- 1). The unit made its first public appearance on 17 December of that year in the plaza of the Alachua County Courthouse to protest United Nations Day.
The NCFRM is organized in concentric circles of membership. The inner circle is the leadership, surrounded closely by the actual armed and training militia members. The next circle includes members who attend the weekly meetings but do not participate in paramilitary training. The final circle includes sympathizers, friends, and guests who attend the meetings but have not committed to membership.
Members of the NCFRM are encouraged to subscribe to 7-he Spotlight, which has become the primary source for the dissemination of militia doctrine nationwide. Issues are distributed and circulated at meetings. The leaders are also frequent readers of most of the militia BBSs on the Internet; they download, copy, and distribute literature to both members and guests at their meetings. This has the effect of maintaining contact with militias nationwide and insures that the unit's doctrines do not stray from the remainder of
The NCFRM is a member unit of the Central Florida Militia Association (CFMA), and both their leader and their official spokesperson have attended each of the Congresses of Florida Militias (CFM). As a result of their membership in the CFMA the NCFRM is in frequent communication with other militias throughout Florida.
Central Florida Militia Association
The Central Florida Militia Association (CFMA) is an umbrella organization with seventeen member militias (Daniels 1997b: 2). Founded in 1994 by Mark Cody, the CFMA is the sponsor of the Congress of Florida Militias (CFM), a regular gathering in which member militias agree on policies, share information about the New World Order, and coordinate activities.
The CFMA is not a commandnd" it is a cooperative organization which helps to
ensure that member units work together for a common cause. Because it is not commandoriented, the CFMA's fifteen to seventeen member militias retain autonomy.
One of the CFMA's members is the North Central Florida Regional Militia. The Spartan Legion of the NAAWP was once a member but was dismissed because of its racist and anti-Semitic orientation.
Communication between militias within the CFMA is primarily through Internet BBSs and regular personal meetings, augmented by the Congresses.
Three of the five militias examined were founded by apparently charismatic leaders: The WCOTC by Ben Kiassen, TK/KKK by J. D. Alder, and the NAAXVP by David Duke. The other two, the NCFR1\ and the CFMA, were founded by groups of men in response to the turmoil within the movement. NCFRM was a splinter group from the Bradford County Militia, and the CFMA was an attempt to bring ideological and organizational unity to disparate and quarreling militias in Central Florida.
Three of the five are organized hierarchically, with a strong leader at the top, assistants on a level beneath the leader, and followers or rank-and-file members at the bottom. The TK/KKK almost follows this same pattern; Alder merely skips the middle level of organization. The CFMA, primarily an umbrella organization, is organized as an information distribution center and sponsors meetings for open discussion and debate between equals. This method of organization reflects the pattern described by Anthony Wallace in his article "Revitalization Movements:" "Converts are made by the prophet... A small clique of special disciples clusters about the prophet and an embryonic campaign organization develops with three orders of personnel: the prophet, the disciples, and the followers" (Wallace 1956: 273).
Four of the five groups studied circulated The Spotlight and considered it a
significant source of information. The only exception to this was the CFMA. Its founder, Mark Cody, rejects The Spotlight because of its blatantly anti-Semitic orientation. Despite this, many members of CFMA units read The Spotlight regularly. While none of the groups directly distributed 7he Turner Diaries, individual members of each group were observed either reading or discussing the novel favorably.
Each of the five has established means of communication with other groups,
usually through attendance at other groups' meetings or rallies or through the exchange of newsletters. Each publishes its own newsletter or newspaper and distributes these internally. Each groups holds regularly-scheduled meetings at which the leaders lecture the rank and file.
MEMBERSHIP OF FLORIDA MILITIAS
Let us make no mistake about it--there is a powerful deliberate crash
program in force to niggerize America! The niggerization of America is
undoubtedly the most important ominous fact of contemporary history and
strangely one of the least realized by the victims themselves--the White Race.
-Ben Klassen (Klassen 1981: 23)
In seeking an answer to the research question and attempting to determine why the Militia Movement developed at this point in time it is vital to understand who leads the militias as well as who joins them. This chapter will therefore examine militia membership and, where possible, demographic factors, in order to determine if the answer to the question lies with the nature of the activists themselves.
World Church of the Creator
The West Palm Beach chapter of the WCOTC has a fluctuating membership,
referred to as "Creators," of between twenty and thirty members. They are all males of European descent, ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-nine, with the mean at twentyone. At least two of the members are married; both have children. Most members are either unemployed or work in minimum-wage service-industry jobs.