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Pot, Meet Kettle: JBS Rips Sovereigns as ‘Paranoid’ Conspiracists

By Leah Nelson on March 2, 2012 - 1:55 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

A note to right-wing extremists: When the John Birch Society (JBS) condemns your movement as a “fringe group” whose followers are “paranoid” “conspiracy theorists” who “occasionally go off the deep end … when confronted with reality,” it’s time for some serious soul-searching.

An article published yesterday in The New American, JBS’s magazine, used exactly those terms to describe the “sovereign citizens” movement, whose radically antigovernment adherents generally believe they don’t have to obey most laws or pay taxes. Outlining the movement’s basic principles and citing the 2010 slayings of two West Memphis, Ark., police officers by sovereign citizens during a routine traffic stop, the article warned that sovereigns have a “twisted and confused” perception of reality and should be avoided entirely.

Strong words indeed – especially considering their source’s own tenuous grasp on the difference between fantasy and truth.

Famously described as “paranoid” and “idiotic” by William F. Buckley Jr., the intellectual architect of postwar conservatism, the JBS is best known for accusing President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a secret communist and for opining that fluoridated water is a communist plot to poison America. These days, it frets about door-to-door gun confiscations, FEMA concentration camps and martial law; claims the Federal Reserve is a massive conspiracy “born in secrecy and secrecy has been its byword ever since”; and warns of plans to create a “North American Union” that will subvert U.S. interests and destroy the Constitution.

The article’s author is New American politics and economics correspondent Bob Adelmann, who in 2010 wrote, “In America, the freedom fight, at least on the surface, seems to heavily favor the armed citizen,” and warned, “There are some who doubt that many will stand, in that final moment, if necessary, to defend their own lives, liberties, and property.”

Fittingly, Adelmann ended his article on sovereign citizens with a quote from Gary North, a leading Christian theocrat who once urged anti-abortion organizations to band together and form a movement that might eventually force “a political and military” confrontation.

“Fringe groups that take up arms against the state attract people without good sense,” North said of sovereigns. “It is wise to avoid them.”

  • Peter Hockley

    “More conspiracy theories: the whackwingers are now floating the idea that President Obama killed Andrew Breitbart. Gee, they took longer to think up that one than I thought they would.”
    Man they were floating that one within the first 24hrs of his death!

  • Reynardine

    In fact, back in 1985, Oliver North was drawing up plans for those, basicly for people like us. Whether any were made, I don’t know, but this constant accusation that we’re planning to do it to them looks like either paranoid projection or outright DARVO to me.

  • Aron

    Hey Jason,

    Care to show us where those dreaded ‘FEMA camps’ might be? And also show your sources. (Alex Jones is not a legitimate source.)

  • Jason Wilson

    And face it! Neither side is always correct. Right or left. Supporting all of the views of someone or something just because they are right or left has gotten us into the mess we are in right now.

  • Jason Wilson

    Well NDAA and poor communication from the government about heavily secured FEMA camps (which are real reguardless of what your local news station might say) are the cause of the paranioa. It is now legal for the government to indefinitly detain American citizens without a trail. Obama claimed that there will be a trail for American citizens but the NDAA does not. So why would they pass this? I think we need a better explanation. Because at this point the radical and insane paranoid extremist have a chance at being correct. Not saying I completly agree, but it should be food for thought. After all you are liberals right?

  • Aron

    Rey and Kiwi:

    ‘One of Us! One of Us! Heeheeheeheehee!!!’

    The writing really is surprisingly good. The commentary, well, it’s not quite HateWatch…

    Unless you consider Jason the average SPLC commenter.

  • Reynardine

    Aron, you have ruined me as a human being. I have become addicted to Cracked.

  • Kiwiwriter

    That Cracked link is a howl!

  • ModerateMike

    “But the Federal Reserve is often very bad indeed, in the way it operates and the specific actions it takes.”

    How so? I don’t have a problem with ideas simply because they come from the right; rather, I take issue with the way that the right spends so much time demonizing people and organizations without getting into the specifics of their grievances. Just once, I would like to hear statements from the right that start like this: “The Fed should not alter the discount rate because…” or “Instead of changing the reserve requirement for banks, the Fed should…”.

    So how could the Fed operate better? What specific actions has it taken that were wrong, and what should have been done instead? I don’t have answers to these questions…but if you do, Dan, you have my attention.

  • Reynardine

    Aron: Just checked out your Cracked link. I cracked…up.

  • Aron

    You know your movement firing on all (read NO) cylinders when even gets in on the fun:

  • Walterius

    To paraphrase the immortal words of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, “It’s finally gotten weird enough for me.”

  • Reynardine

    C. M.: Men that age can and do drop dead when they indulge in overeating, substances, and rage. It’s particularly likely when, after such a règime, they take it into their heads to become weekend athletes. Breitbart, in the last tape made of him, literally appeared insane, but whether from an excess os spleen or of something more I don’t know. In the event, the autopsy is not completed, at least the last I heard; chemical analyses were pending. Of course, if he was a substance abuser, I imagine his near retinue would as soon it didn’t come out, and if the chemical analyses return positive, they will immediately say President Obama poisoned him.

  • Charles Everett

    The best book on the formation of the Federal Reserve and it’s founders and machinations is “The Creature from Jekyl Island by G. Edward Griffin.

  • CM

    What I find perplexing about Breitbart’s passing is the fact that his own website immediately reported that he died of “natural cause.” There’s nothing natural about a 43-year-old suddenly dropping dead. What are they covering up?

  • endif

    And as for the Obama Killed Breitbart myth, it predicates on the notion that Breitbart was about to release some old incriminating video.

    This video, specifically, which is available on the web and has been for years.

  • endif

    Concerned Citizen said,
    “I am at a loss of words. The JBS are a bunch of hypocrites. Does anybody care what they really have to say about anything? Who cares about the JBS?”

    We have a GOP candidate running for President right now that parrots JBS nonsense word for word. A candidate that has been a Representative from a large wealthy state for decades.

    Ron Paul. This is why they are relevant.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    All you have to do is look at his physique and behavior to see that this man was heading for a serious heart attack at some point.

  • Reynardine

    Further elaborations on conspiracy theories: Andrew Breitbart was murdered by the President because the former had tapes showing the latter, in his college days, talking to “silver ponytails”, which means he was conspiring with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to take over the country for Communism. Breitbart and his CPAC audience both appeared to be on some kind of unpleasant stimulant drug at the time he made these accusations, but William Shirer described quite a similar scene in “Berlin Diary”.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    ““born in secrecy and secrecy has been its byword ever since”

    But it wasn’t.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “I don’t quite understand why people accuse the Fed of being undemocratic.”

    It’s undemocratic to a large part because of the secrecy. Imagine if the DoD were run like the Fed: the Joint Chiefs being appointed to 14-year terms and thereafter being essentially unaccountable.

    The point I am trying to make, and I’m not doing a good job because it is getting lost, is that not everything the far right says about the fed is a lie or a conspiracy theory.

    The quote in the original article was that the Fed was “born in secrecy and secrecy has been its byword ever since”. I claim that that is a true statement. Or at the least, a reasonable person may believe it to be true.

    What I am saying is, when you attack the right, do not do so on issues for which they reasonably can be seen as correct.

    The far right is very wacky in many beliefs, particularly about fiat currency and the gold standard. But the Federal Reserve is often very bad indeed, in the way it operates and the specific actions it takes. These things do not become virtues simply because fringe groups are also opposed to them.

  • ModerateMike

    I don’t quite understand why people accuse the Fed of being undemocratic. Each member of the Fed’s Board of Governors must be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, serving a 14-year term. The positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman within this board require Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation as well. I suppose one could argue that given the considerable power of the Fed with respect to setting monetary policy, the organization’s leaders should be chosen by popular vote. That might make the Fed more “democratic”,but would that also make it more effective? I am only speaking for myself, but if I ever feel dissatisfied with the Fed’s performance, I am content to take that up with the President and the members of the Senate who confirmed the Board.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Dan, you asked about the Federal Reserve so I’m going to post a link to this very helpful source to a site which refutes some of the major conspiracies about the Fed.

    You have to remember that many of the people who are saying “audit” the Fed would like it eliminated, to be replaced by private banks which would have no oversight whatsoever.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Ruslan, since you bring up the movie (have not watched it nor do I know much about the author), is it, in your opinion, biased against Soviet Union in that many believe Stalin’s crimes against humanity dwarf those of National Socialism?”

    The Soviet Story was produced by Latvian nationalists who have a difficult situation: They want to celebrate their nationalist heroes, but those heroes were famous for fighting in the SS and slaughtering the Jewish population of Latvia. After the war, the CIA courted many emigres from these countries and taught them how to present their history. They would claim, “We were against Hitler and Stalin!” Of course they had a strange way of fighting against Hitler. Joining the Waffen SS and its other auxiliary units is a strange way to fight Hitler. In any case, it took literally decades to teach these pigs how to walk on their hind legs, meaning to prevent them from occasionally letting loose with talk of “Judeo-Bolshevism” and getting them to praise liberal capitalism.

    In any case, the film is rife with historical errors. For example, it cites documents which allege collaboration between the NKVD and Gestapo, but these documents were actually forgeries circulated by an anti-Semitic Russian nationalist organization known as Pamyat. It also falsely claims that Engels advocated a “revolutionary holocaust” when in fact Engels never used such a word and did not advocate what they claimed. That is among other idiotic lies in the film. Some people who were quoted in the film complained that their quotes were taken out of context as well.

    As for the claim that Communism has killed more than fascism, this is simply false. There is no way to say otherwise unless you blame all deaths in wars involving Communists on the Communist side, and count deaths which occur all the time in the non-socialist world as “killings”.

    As for your attempt to equate Communism and neo-liberal capitalism, it is simply wrong. Only by moving beyond capitalism can we have a system which can limit resource use. Capitalism requires constant short-term profit, ergo it can never solve this contradiction.

  • Deep Ecology

    Ruslan, as an advocate of deep ecology, our group is opposed to both capitalism and communism.

    Both systems pursue the same end result, infinite exploitation of natural resources to provide for exponential growth of humans material need and both increase complexity. Organizational methodology differs between the systems, with one representing soft totalitarianism and the other hard.

    In studying the 20th century and genocide, communism took far more human life than did fascism, however left out of the equation is the byproduct of capitalism and Western economic expansion (destruction of indigenous peoples), in that while not an explicit goal of resource exploitation was an accepted byproduct.

    Why in your opinion has neo-liberalism replaced fascism, communism and pure capitalism as the world-wide norm in both governance and the economy?

  • Reynardine

    More conspiracy theories: the whackwingers are now floating the idea that President Obama killed Andrew Breitbart. Gee, they took longer to think up that one than I thought they would.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Deep, I think you need to read up more on Communism. A capitalist central bank is really irrelevant in terms of revolution and moving society to another mode of production.

  • Deep Ecology

    Ruslan, since you bring up the movie (have not watched it nor do I know much about the author), is it, in your opinion, biased against Soviet Union in that many believe Stalin’s crimes against humanity dwarf those of National Socialism?

  • Dan Zabetakis

    ” The Federal Reserve was not some conspiracy and without it America could not have become a world economic power. ”

    Now hold on there, buckaroo. Are you refuting the Bircher quote that “secret” and “secrecy” are bywords of the Fed? Isn’t that a true sentiment? How many times has the Fed been audited? How much oversight are they subject to?

    Secondly, are you asserting that there is no other possible currency system, no possible other means of constituting the Federal Reserve, no possible enhancements of control or accountability, that could have allowed the advancement of US economic power following WWII? That the Fed is unimprovable? That’s a profound statement.

    “Hundreds of small banks failing every five years or so isn’t good for the economy.”

    And is the Federal Reserve, as it has been implemented, the _only_possible_ solution to this problem?

    The point is not whether fiat currency or the Federal Reserve are good or bad policies. It is whether the Birchers are makign true statements when they accuse the Fed of being undemocratic (it is) and of operating in secret (it does).

    It does not do us any good to dismiss the far right for statements that a reasonable person could see as true.

  • Deep Ecology

    Ruslan, strange comment vis a vis the Federal Reserve from a self-admitted Marxist. What aspects of doctrinaire communism have you decided to jettison and what do you keep?

    BTW, I like your commentary while not always agreeing with you. In an earlier post I was genuinely curious as to whether you agreed or disagreed with Ruben and Reynardine about the dangers posed by the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP. Still am.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I am at a loss of words. The JBS are a bunch of hypocrites. Does anybody care what they really have to say about anything? Who cares about the JBS?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I’m not surprised the JBS is promoting the ridiculous film “The Soviet Story.” It’s right up their alley.

  • ModerateMike

    Would JBS members prefer to return to an era when a bank panic could cause their life savings to become worthless? Instead of ranting about how the Federal Reserve came into existence, why can’t they be specific about what they feel the Fed’s mission should be, where they feel it falls short, and how it could be improved? Or, perhaps they believe that banks can manage well enough on their own? If so, how? If anyone in JBS is reading this, consider this your homework for the week, and please include references.

  • Reynardine

    “Why are you demonizing me? Quit making fun of my horns!”

  • CM

    The Birchers have been putting on a PR push to try to stop people from calling them extremists:

    “Even today the liberal media has continued to try to demonize the John Birch Society and label it as ‘ultraconservative and extreme right-wing.’” (Yuri Maltsev, “The Soviet Story,” JBS website, April 9, 2009

    The attack on sovereigns strikes me as just part of that strategy: Find someone whose beliefs seem even more ridiculous and say, “See? Those are the real extremists.” Next they’ll probably try to argue that sovereign citizens are really left-wing, not right-wing.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Typically the JBS would claim that unsavory groups such as the KKK or American Nazi Party were in fact Communist agitators. On the other hand, peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators, including MLK Jr., were also labeled Communist agitators as well. The JBS actually sold a video about these claims. If I can remember the title I will post it here. It may even still be for sale.

  • ernie1241

    Periodically, the Birch Society makes these sorts of statements to make it appear that they are an entirely respectable “educational” organization — and not political extremists.

    However, the reality is that most of the extremist organizations which the JBS has attempted to distance itself from (such as Minutemen, Ku Klan Klan, American Nazi Party and other neo-nazi groups such as Aryan Nations, Willis Carto enterprises etc.) have always had JBS members in their ranks. In fact, the JBS is the only “educational” group that I know of that has ever publicly acknowledged that it had such people from its ranks whom it had to expel.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Isn’t that what we progressives call, well, sort of… true?”

    No. Do not be tricked by Austrian school populism. The Federal Reserve was not some conspiracy and without it America could not have become a world economic power. Hundreds of small banks failing every five years or so isn’t good for the economy. As far as our present problems, the Fed is really irrelevant.

    As for JBS, I think they’re just a little upset that sovereigns are cutting into their mailing lists.

  • mattcarmody

    The fact that many of these fringe groups are targets for infiltration by either active-duty government agents or informants working for the USG might be the more logical reason for this warning.

  • Erika

    you know, I think there is a technicaly difference between conspiracists, paranoid conspiracists, and the just plain paranoid.

    The John Birch Society probably qualifies as the “just plain paranoid” – its only natural therefore that sovereign citizens would therefore be part of the grand Communist conspiracy

  • Martin Finnucane

    @Dan Zabetakis

    True re: Fed Reserve, but the Birchers follow that with “they’re secretly trying to smear and defile our sacred honey from the Mountain Top” or somesuch. Progressives follow it with “secretly serving the interests of finance capital” etc.

  • Gregory

    More like, Chickens welcome back to the roost.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    Yes, very amusing.

    But this belief of the JBS: “… the Federal Reserve is a massive conspiracy “born in secrecy and secrecy has been its byword ever since””

    Isn’t that what we progressives call, well, sort of… true?

  • Aron


    That’s just WAY too funny!