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the militias are back…

August 12, 2009
tags: ,

…according to the Southern Poverty Law Center95-05-24-militias.

Almost a decade after largely disappearing from public view, right-wing militias, ideologically driven tax defiers and sovereign citizens are appearing in large numbers around the country. “Paper terrorism” — the use of property liens and citizens’ “courts” to harass enemies — is on the rise. And once-popular militia conspiracy theories are making the rounds again, this time accompanied by nativist theories about secret Mexican plans to “reconquer” the American Southwest. One law enforcement agency has found 50 new militia training groups — one of them made up of present and former police officers and soldiers. Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. “This is the most significant growth we’ve seen in 10 to 12 years,” says one. “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”


But why is this happening, now?

“This frequently happens when elections favor the political left and the society is seen as moving toward greater social equality or away from traditional societal hierarchies,” Chip Berlet, a long-time analyst of the radical right at Political Research Associates, said in a June newsletter. “In this scenario, it is easier for right-wing demagogues to successfully demonize liberals,” immigrants and others.

“The current political environment is awash with seemingly absurd but nonetheless influential conspiracy theories, hyperbolic claims and demonized targets,” Berlet concluded. “And this creates a milieu where violence is a likely outcome.”

What the article warns most of all is the ‘mainstreaming’ of these movements.

A remarkable aspect of the current antigovernment movement is the extent to which it has gained support from elected officials and mainstream media outlets. Lawmakers complaining about the intrusiveness of the federal government have introduced 10th Amendment resolutions (reasserting that those powers not granted to the federal government remain with the states) in about three dozen states.

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry raised the prospect of secession several months after Obama’s inauguration — a notion first brought up there in the ’90s by the militia-like Republic of Texas. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she feared that the president was planning “reeducation camps for young people,” while U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, warned of 17 “socialists” in Congress. Fox News host Glenn Beck, who has called Obama a fascist, a Nazi and a Marxist, even re-floated militia conspiracy theories of the 1990s alleging a secret network of government-run concentration camps.

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