The militias: armed … dangerous … Republican
by Tim Wheeler
Excerpted from an article in Political Affairs, the theoretical journal of the Communist Party USA.
Lurking in the background of the 1996 elections is a menace rarely spoken about by the candidates — the white supremacist armed militias who proclaim they are preparing for a “race war” in the United States.
There was a flurry of media coverage of the armed militias in the weeks after the April 19, 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City and the arrest of suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, linked to the Michigan militia. But since then, the story has virtually disappeared.
Yet there is some evidence the militias may have grown. “Militias and support groups with racist ties are present in 22 states, up from nine states in 1994,” says a Klanwatch Intelligence Report published after the Oklahoma bombing that killed 168 people.
Many militia leaders and members may not be aware that their militia colleagues have links to the white supremacist movement.
The report, prepared by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, warns that 224 armed militia groups have sprung up in 39 states.
Michigan alone has 30 militias followed by California with 22, Alabama and Colorado with 20 each. Missouri and Texas each have 14 militias and Florida has 13.
These militias, mostly white males, practice paramilitary warfare in the woods with automatic weapons, missiles and explosives.
There is ample reason to believe the tentacles of these cults reach into high places. Take, for example, Republican presidential nominee, Bob Dole. When he finished his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention in San Diego, he invited all his Republican presidential rivals to join him on the platform, among them Patrick Buchanan.
Dole had taken steps to block Buchanan from speaking at the convention fearing a repeat of his 1992 convention tirade calling on the Republicans to wage a “cultural war” against immigrants and people of colour.
Yet here was Dole inviting Buchanan back into the fold. Dole needs Buchanan to rally all the disgruntled gun and anti-abortion fanatics, the race-baiters and the labor haters.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America (GOA), served as co-chair of Buchanan’s presidential committee and Pratt is closely tied to the militias. Buchanan was finally forced to remove him. But even after Pratt was out, GOA agents kept popping up — in Buchanan’s New Hampshire committee, in his Virginia and Florida operations.
Just how dangerous is Pratt? In October 1992, the most violent racists in the nation convened a meeting at Estes Park, Colorado at the invitation of Christian Identity cultist Pete Peters.
Pratt attended this meeting as a guest speaker. An estimated 160 racists were there, including Tom Metzger and Louis Beam, leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. Also in attendance was John Trochman, Neo-Nazi founder of the Militias of Montana and a frequent speaker at Aryan Nation conclaves at Hayden Lake, Idaho.
Beam, a former Klan Grand Dragon and the founder of the paramilitary Texas Emergency Reserve, expounded on his “leaderless resistance” strategy, calling on his followers to form “phantom cells” in which “small or even one-man” paramilitary units carry out terrorist acts.
This strategy may have been in place on April 19, 1995 when the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed. McVeigh made at least two telephone calls to Elohim City, an enclave of the Christian Identity cult in northwest Arkansas, just days before the fatal blast.
At a recent meeting in Branson, Missouri, Pratt urged the armed militias to seek “common ground” with Christian fundamentalists “through their shared beliefs on abortion rights, gay rights, home schooling and Bible-based laws.”
It shows that Pratt and his cohorts have a well thought-out strategy for infiltrating other groups to widen their influence and win converts to their fascist agenda. Klanwatch warns that these groups have shifted their tactics in an election year, putting their violent agenda on hold until after November 5.
Charles Schumer, Democrat member of the House of Representatives from New York, and 60 other Democratic House members wrote to House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Republican, Georgia) days after the Oklahoma City blast asking for hearings on the armed militias. Months passed and finally in July 1995 Schumer and eight other House members convened an unofficial hearing.
Schumer told the gathering:
When hundreds of innocent people were killed in Oklahoma City, apparently by a man with ties to the militia movement, Congress should have immediately responded with hearings. Instead we got silence.
Last week I invited Speaker Gingrich to participate in this public forum or send Republicans to join us and again we were stonewalled … The GOP (Republican) leaders are either out of touch with the fears of the American people or afraid to upset the radical fringe of their own party.
Schumer blasted Senator Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania) for convening a hearing on the militias “which quickly disintegrated into a soap box for the wacky right, lending legitimacy and exposure to the militia movement generally.”
Indeed, the Republican leadership later convened ten days of sensationalised hearings on the siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, in which scores of federal agents, Davidians and children died.
The Oklahoma City bombing took place on the second anniversary of the Waco tragedy and was probably in revenge for that disaster.
Among the witnesses who testified at Schumer’s unofficial hearing was Karen Mathews, elected county clerk recorder for Stanislaus County, California.
On November 12, 1993, members of an extremist anti-tax group invaded her office and demanded that she remove a $416,000 IRS lien against one of the group’s property. She refused, explaining that she had no jurisdiction over this federal tax claim.
She received anonymous calls threatening her life. Gunmen fired into the County Clerk’s office. On January 30, 1994, she was attacked and beaten inside her garage, slashed with a knife, kicked and punched. Her attacker placed a pistol to her temple and pulled the trigger several times.
My assailant said that I was a messenger to all recorders. That if we did not begin to do our duty and record their documents, this could happen to them too. He reminded me that I would be easy to kill.
Rep. Pat Williams, (Democrat, Montana) testified on the menacing activities of the Militias of Montana and their links to anti-environmental outfits such as “Wise Use” and the union busting National Right to Work Committee.
These groups, he charged, “are being funded by American and foreign corporations”. Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the neo-fascist founder of the cultist Unification Church, is bankrolling many of the extremists in Montana, he said.
Where does the money … come from? Chevron, Asarco, Louisiana Pacific, Boise Cascade, Potlatch, British Petroleum … People moved from the Reagan Administration under [former Interior Secretary] Jim Watt back out West and helped form these groups.
People who make presentations to these groups have been elected recently to the United States Congress … and are presenting the same kind of legislation.
They were assigned to ram through “extremely right-wing legislation” aimed at grabbing tens of millions of acres of federal lands, Williams said, eliminating all federal curbs on mining, oil extraction, timber and grazing, even in and near the national parks.
Noranda, for example, planned to open an enormous cyanide heap-leach gold mine within eyesight of Yellowstone National Park. Tens of billion of dollars in profits for the richest transnational corporations are at stake. Loretta Ross, spokesperson for the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal, told the hearing the armed militias “enjoy the support of a lot of politicians … Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, Missouri Congressman Mel Hancock, former Alabama Governor Guy Hunt, and current Governor of Mississippi Kirk Fordice.”
Ross, too, singled out Larry Pratt, “the most direct connection between Congress and the far right.” Pratt, she charged, is closely linked to House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Majority Whip Tom Delay and Senator Phil Gramm, all Texas Republicans.
Pratt meets regularly with former Green Beret extremist Bo Gritz, militia leader Mark Koernke, and Vampire Killer leader Jack Mc Lamb who seeks to recruit white police officers and members of the armed forces into the militias.
Finally, on November 2, 1995, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime convened a one-day hearing on the armed militias. Rep. John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the Republican majority for coddling the extremists.
Perhaps it is because some of my colleagues, most notably Helen Chenoweth of Idaho, have well documented close ties to these groups.
In addition, recent newspaper articles have linked … Armey with Larry Pratt, the president of Gun Owners of America, who also has strong ties to violent paramilitary groups around the country. Thus, it appears that these groups have a strong voice in the highest echelons of government.
Rep. Peter T. King (Republican, New York), himself a right-winger, warned that the “Republican Party runs the risk of marginalising itself and being perceived as a party of lunatics” if it does not break its links with the militias.
King endorsed federal legislation to outlaw private armed militias. Already, there are laws on the books in 25 states outlawing private armed militias — laws that Republican dominated state governments are not enforcing.
There is simply no place in a democratic society for private armies. The disturbed members of these private armies consider themselves to be descendants of the Minutemen who fought the British at Lexington and Concord but their true antecedents are the brutal paramilitary street brawlers of Weimar Germany who helped pave the way for Hitler’s rise to power.
There is a close link between the agenda of the armed militias and Gingrich’s Contract on America. The House approved a bill titled “Expanded Privilege of Property Rights.”
This so-called “takings” bill, blocked in the Senate, would have forced the government to compensate property owners for any federal law or regulation that affects property values — a measure warmly supported by giant corporations and by the armed militias.
It would make environmental, job health and safety regulations — as well as gun control — so costly that the federal government would be forced to abandon them.
Gingrich & Co. pushed through “product liability reform” to severely limit awards granted to consumer victims of unsafe and defective corporate goods and services. The measure would have forced consumers to bear the court costs if they lose their lawsuit.
Dole and Gingrich also supported repeal of the Brady handgun bill and the ban on assault weapons.
They attempted to ram through a national “Right to Work (for less)” union-busting measure and Sen. Dole’s omnibus repeal of all federal affirmative action laws. Both these measures were blocked by a timely grassroots mobilisation led by the AFL-CIO.
Buchanan and Pratt are members of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) whose members include former Lt. Col. Oliver North, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum and former Gen. Jack Singlaub of the World Anti-Communist League.
It is bankrolled by wealthy corporate owners like the Coors brothers and Amway Corporation owner Richard DeVos who also bankroll the Heritage Foundation.
Skipp Porteous, director of the Center for First Amendment Studies, obtained a secret CNP memo written by Rep. Mark Souder (Republican, Indiana), a member of CNP, laying out the ultra-right’s strategy that led to prolonged federal government shutdowns twice last winter.
“Hold firm. This is our big chance,” said the memo written on September 19,1995.
Instead, the two shutdowns showed the people just how far these extremists will go to destroy benefit programs like Medicare to pay for new tax give aways for the rich.
As Dick Armey told the Moonie-owned Washington Times, “The Contract will be seen as the first national realisation of the counter-revolution.” Pat Buchanan, Larry Pratt and their armed militia confederates are a long way from achieving the evil power of Hitler’s stormtroopers.
The democratic principles of the American people run deep. Millions understand that multiracial unity is the bedrock for the defense of democratic rights in the United States.