Reality Show Celebrates Hate Group Leader as American Patriot

In a move that is sure to endear it permanently to America’s nativist extremist demographic, the Outdoor Channel last night featured hate group leader Glenn Spencer on “Border Battles,” a recently debuted reality show about “what it takes to protect our nation’s borders from drug smuggling, illegal immigration and terrorism.”

Spencer is the racist, anti-Semitic head of American Border Patrol (ABP), a nativist group that uses high-tech sensors, infrared video cameras mounted on model airplanes, and ATV-mounted vigilantes to monitor, track down, and confront migrants on Spencer’s ranch along the Arizona-Mexico border. He’s held high-profile nativist gatherings on his ranch and played host to Shawna Forde, the Arizona Minuteman leader now sitting on death row for her role in the slayings of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father during a 2009 home invasion. He also has his own record of run-ins with the law.

But somehow, none of this made it into “Border Battles.” Instead, the show presents a glowing portrait of Spencer as an American patriot risking his life to do a job the U.S. government refuses to.

“Extreme times can give rise to extreme measures,” booms a voiceover at the beginning of the show. “Glenn Spencer is the president and founder of the American Border Patrol. He believes the US government is failing to stem the tide of illegal immigration and the invasion of drug traffickers. Now, his mission is to stand sentinel on the border and report what he sees, even if that means placing his own life at risk.”

The 30-minute episode intersperses footage of Spencer cruising his ranch on an ATV and demonstrating his high-tech gizmos with “re-enactments” and dramatizations of dark-skinned men leaping from the backs of pickup trucks, aiming high-powered rifles and skulking about menacingly, all backed by music worthy of an episode of “24.”

Breaking for commercials advertising ATVs, rifle components and testosterone supplements (really), the show lionizes Spencer as a man “set on a personal crusade by the unchecked lawlessness he witnesses on the U.S.-Mexico border.” His views, the voiceover concludes, “are based on stark reality.”

Er, not really. In fact, Spencer is a vitriolic Mexican-basher who may have done more than anyone to spread the myth of a secret Mexican conspiracy to re-conquer the Southwest (an effort supposedly known as “la reconquista”).

He believes that “Jews do, in fact, control the media,” which they use to spread “clever pro-illegal alien propaganda.” And in the past decade, he’s had two run-ins with the law, both of which were based on paranoid fantasies.

In 2003, thinking he was hearing noises outside his Sierra Vista, Ariz., home – presumably the sounds of “illegal aliens” heading north – he grabbed a gun and started shooting into the dark outside. He managed to hit a neighbor’s garage, among other things, and was charged with four felonies. (The charges were eventually reduced to a single misdemeanor.)

In Feb. 2011, he was convicted of disorderly conduct, threatening and intimidation, and assault after he threatened to unleash his dogs on a man he took to be a drug smuggler because he was parked on the side of the road and talking on a cell phone at a supposedly “famous pick up spot.” The man turned out to be the son of a neighbor Spencer accuses of having a “religious vendetta” against him or possibly being involved in illegal activity himself. (The source of Spencer’s accusation of religiously motivated “hate” is that the neighbor and his son are Baptist, and some Arizona Baptist churches have outspokenly opposed Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant SB 1070.)

The Outdoor Channel did not respond to requests for comment about its decision to showcase Spencer. Presumably, it doesn’t much care: After all, American Border Patrol isn’t the only radically anti-immigrant group to be featured on “Border Battles.’

A different episode of the show centers on Texas Minutemen President Shannon McGauley, a former bail bondsman whose group as recently as 2005 boasted ties to “Stormfront patriots,” apparently referencing the well-known white supremacist website. McGauley, whose group is listed as the Texas chapter of Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project (American Border Patrol is listed on the Minuteman Project’s website as a “supporting organization,”), has also appeared on “Political Cesspool,” a screamingly racist radio show that has featured Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and leading lights of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

None of this is even remotely hinted at in the blurb on “Border Battles’” website, which describes the Minutemen as a “civilian border watch organization” and McGauley as a “minuteman near El Paso TX” who has video of the “dramatic events” that unfolded when he “gets caught in a stand off with drug smugglers” and “foils them at every attempt.”