From theories about black helicopters and secret concentration camps to proposals for "untaxing" oneself, the publications of the so-called "Patriot" movement offer a glimpse into the bizarre and conspiratorial thinking of the extreme right.
While militias, common-law courts and other Patriot groups make wide use of the Internet, radio and even television programming, it is in their periodicals that they reveal themselves most fully.
"Colloidal silver generators," "sovereign" license plates, American Liberty Currency and the secret plans of the United Nations — all these topics and many more are discussed in publications that range from the cheaply produced newsletter of former Green Beret James "Bo" Gritz to the full-color, glossy magazine Media Bypass.
Advertisements in all these periodicals help the movement to create a network that offers the reader a radically alternative lifestyle, even ways of finding romance.
Here, in alphabetical order, is a survey of some publications by and about the Patriot movement. Although there are literally scores of such periodicals, along with hundreds of Web sites and broadcast shows, these are among the most influential.
· The masthead of The American's Bulletin, published by Robert Kelly in Central Point, Ore., proclaims the tabloid as "America's Source for the Uncensored Truth."
Recent articles have included "Militia Meets with FBI: Progress, or Prelude to Persecution?" by Ron Cole, the former commander of the Colorado First Light Infantry who is serving time in federal prison for possession of illegal machine guns; "Meet the IRS: America's Enemy Within;" and "New Currency for America! Silver is Back! Sound Money is Here!" touting a "silver-backed currency" issued by NORFED, an acronym for the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act.
There are ads for sovereign license plates and videos on the "New World Order," taxes, the IRS and the United Nations. You'll also find a plea for donations for the children of imprisoned Kansas "Freeman" Ronald Griesacker, convicted on fraud charges after he tried to pass more than $2 million worth of bogus documents .
· Bo Gritz's monthly newsletter, called Center for Action S.P.I.K.E., is a mishmash of articles on Gritz's latest paramilitary training, his war stories and religious topics such as the 12 tribes of Israel and the Song of Solomon as "an excellent study guide for Love, Sex, Marriage and Romance."
The back pages of the newsletter are devoted to the sale of a series of 12 videos on his paramilitary training, which is called SPIKE, short for "Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events."
Gritz grew famous in the antigovernment movement after negotiating white supremacist Randy Weaver's surrender to federal authorities during the 1992 standoff at Weaver's cabin atop Ruby Ridge, Idaho. He established the Center for Action (dedicated to "putting accountability back into government") in 1989, followed in 1993 by his SPIKE training.
Gritz's writings are replete with antigovernment code words. A single paragraph in an article on Bill Clinton in the January 1999 Center for Action touched on several of those Patriot obsessions. "The CFR, Trilateralist, Bilderberger elitists who control Clinton and put him in office, want to keep him as President through the Y2K dilemma.
"Clinton will declare the emergency allowing martial law until a global panacea is applied. This leaves Al Gore unsullied to carry the new world odor [sic] banner for the Antichrist."
· Billed as "The Uncensored National News," Media Bypass, published by Tree Top Communications in Evansville, Ind., carries a mix of articles ranging from those written by well-known conservative columnists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell to those involved in the sovereignty and antigovernment movement.
Republic of Texas "president" Jesse Enloe recently contributed an article on the infiltration of Patriot groups by informants. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh wrote a follow-up letter to his June 1998 essay "Hypocrisy."
Past issues have featured stories on militias, the Freemen common-law adherents, the "coverup" surrounding the death of Clinton aide Vincent Foster, the 14th Amendment, globalism and a "closer look" at the Oklahoma City bombing.
The April 1999 edition was touted as a "special tax issue." Articles offered advice on how to stop withholding ("there may be a way to do it forever"), an essay on the money lenders who purportedly control America and an offering on how socialism through hidden taxes is a way for the government to control its citizens.
The magazine also hawks books such as Mass Mind Control of the American People, The New World Disorder, Red Sky: Learn About ... America's Soon-To-Happen Civil War, Food Shortages and How to Survive, Detention Camps for Christians and Patriots, The Computer I.D. Chip for Your Body, and The Illuminati — Secret Societies.
· The Patriot Report, published by The Present Truth in Sallisaw, Okla., features a grab bag of conspiracy theories. Grainy photocopied pictures offer "proof" that concentration camps are being built in the United States and that black helicopters roam the skies over America, tracking patriotic citizens.
Articles announce that martial law is a certainty; offer a laundry list of the people who were friends, associates or otherwise connected to Bill Clinton who have "mysteriously" died; and present the assertion by an alleged Russian defector that Soviet troops are secreting small nuclear devices throughout our nation.
Ads and videos are a conspiracy buff's dream. You can buy "colloidal silver generators," books on how to form a militia or survive the New World Order, even a "blood electrifier — a quality product you must have to survive the biological war & diseases coming to America."
Readers even can arrange to meet their future life partner by responding to an ad proposing "The Ultimate Preparedness, Having a Like Minded Mate to survive the uncertainties of the future." Just write the "Patriot Matchmaker."
· The Spotlight, a tabloid published by the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby in Washington, D.C., may be America's best read conspiracist publication. The self-described "Voice of the American Majority" contains feature stories on Mexican immigrants taking American jobs, "Trilateralists" and "One Worlders" plotting to revise history and reorder the planet, and even presents "evidence" allegedly linking the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, to John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Ads scattered throughout the newspaper and grouped in its classified section offer something for everyone, including the overt white supremacist. A January 1999 classified offered an audiotape detailing the need for more women in "our Movement."
Entries in the datebook portion of the same issue included an America First meeting, with former Klan leader David Duke and longtime white supremacist Ed Fields as speakers; a seminar sponsored by Scriptures for America, a leading ministry of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity theology; and a "White Pride Rally," with a Florida Klan leader as the contact person.
· When Taking Aim, the publication of the Militia of Montana (MOM), debuted in 1994, the Noxon, Mont.-based newsletter became one of the first Patriot periodicals of substance. It was published by one of the country's most prominent militias, which was led by John Trochmann — a man constantly in the public eye during the period of militia growth in the mid-1990s.
Trochmann testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing, describing the militias as a type of giant neighborhood watch program and hinting that the federal government was actually responsible for the Oklahoma City tragedy.
Although MOM is still active, it has lost much of its former clout. The articles in Taking Aim are dry, with heavy emphasis on government activities but lacking the lure of the usual conspiracy angle.
But MOM continues to excel in one area — marketing. Although the last two pages of Taking Aim are usually devoted to the sale of a variety of books and tapes designed to appeal to the average Patriot, its parent organization doesn't stop there.
MOM's 30-plus-page "Preparedness Catalog" hawks everything from chemical/biological suits to books on sniper training, "the demonic roots of globalism" and how to disappear completely. MOM, in the words of some movement critics, has turned "Pay-triot" indeed.