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August 12th, 2009
05:57 PM ET

SPLC Report: Return of the Militias

An FBI investigator looks over gunshot holes in the door of the U.S. Holocaust Museum on June 11.

An FBI investigator looks over gunshot holes in the door of the U.S. Holocaust Museum on June 11.

Southern Poverty Law Center

Click here to download the full report, "The Second Wave- Return of the Militias"

The 1990s saw the rise and fall of the virulently antigovernment "Patriot" movement, made up of paramilitary militias, tax defiers and so-called "sovereign citizens."

Sparked by a combination of anger at the federal government and the deaths of political dissenters at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, the movement took off in the middle of the decade and continued to grow even after 168 people were left dead by the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building — an attack, the deadliest ever by domestic U.S. terrorists, carried out by men steeped in the rhetoric and conspiracy theories of the militias.

In the years that followed, a truly remarkable number of criminal plots came out of the movement. But by early this century, the Patriots had largely faded, weakened by systematic prosecutions, aversion to growing violence, and a new, highly conservative president.

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. oldeafcoot

    You might want to do some fact-checking on that militia story from the Southern Poverty Law Center. If there are any active militias in the Pacific Northwest they are deep underground. I understand that people at S.P.L.C. are paid to scream at shadows, buy I think that you would have great difficulty finding a militia group in Oregon/Washington that consists of more than say, two people.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:49 am |
  2. Denise

    One thing that is not mentioned when reporting about these 'militia' groups is the fact that the government that they aspire to preserve is not the one 'as we know it' today. Many of those groups aspire to bring back the Constitution as it was interpreted by the Founding Fathers in the late 1700s when times were much simpler and less complicated, and they definitely don't believe in the current banking system (the FED). Basically, everything that the current government stands for; they dislike.

    But, I think there is an even bigger picture that we are missing here. This health care bill has struck a real nerve with many Americans. These town hall meetings have become a way for ordinary Americans to vent their frustrations at a government that, for the past 8 and a half years, has refused to listen to their sentiments. (I don't remember President Bush holding these kinds of meetings?!) The scary part of this whole scenario is that if these militia groups can find a way to harness this anger, they will gain power and further recognition relating to the legitimacy of their ideology. Obviously, there is a segment of the American public that has not been listened to, and they are getting their chance now. It suggests that the American people are actually quite divided. Eventually, this divisiveness is going to rear its ugly head, and it may be starting with this health care bill.

    I would suggest that the government really listen to these people and take their opinions to heart, or else there could be some dire consequences down the road if they don't. I am not saying that the passage, or failure, of the health care bill should rest with these people, but the Obama administration should also recognize that with abrupt and resounding change usually comes some lasting resentment.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  3. graciella

    stupid americans blame the govt, not the rogue corporations, for making obscene profits and screwing consumers, policy holders and employees (remember ENRON, GM, AIG, Allstate??) runaway capitalism IS the problem. health(?) insurance companies have caused the healthcare crisis – they put the problelm on the backs (broken) of this country.

    August 13, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  4. Clayton Kitchin

    Why is the Southern Law Poverty Center allowed to appear on an esteemed news program and level such inflammatory accusations without one fact to back up what was purely onion? Talk about stoking the fires of fear. Average Americans are alarmed by run away government spending and are voicing their frustrations. Now all of a sudden we supposedly have these militias that are massing in opposition to a "Black President". Look out, or you too might get hit with the Race card. If you do not support massive government or the Presidents agenda, you must obviously be a racist according to the spokesman from the SLPC. I thought Anderson Cooper was above promoting unfounded hate mongering. White people with guns in America are not necessarily haters, most of them are just Americans.

    August 13, 2009 at 6:08 am |
  5. Amber Rose

    The SPLC is nothing more than a radical left group who has been antagnizing, and makeing money for years. I am sure that Dees and his comrads are all worth a million.
    They are the true enimies of our constitution. They are ready to silence with their propaganda any group that is showing opposition to their socialist agenda. This is by far a more dangerous organization than any militia could hope to be.
    The people are voicing their opposition to our nation becoming socialist, since that is what we now have in the white house. How dare this radical left SPLC try to use their propaganda. The American people are waking up to what is going on. CNN is a party to all of this. That is why they have chosen to ban the talk show hosts, and invite the socialist representing the SPLC.

    August 13, 2009 at 3:50 am |
  6. Larry

    The Left always accuses the Right of 'fearmongering', of distorting facts and using fear to persuade.
    So I put on this show, and what do I see? The same thing, but much worse than anything I've seen before. The attempt to tie in people who want smaller gov't with violence, fringe groups, and one crazy guy (the abortion-doctor killer) and thereby paint all on the Right w/the same brush was disgusting. This is why most of the media have lost respect from people.
    I mean, come on-first, a long review and sobbing interview w/the wife of a killer; then an interview w/someone from some Left-Wing organization who throws out codewords to scare his fellow Lefties, w/video of 'miklitias' training in military outfits??? All the time insinuating that this is how to view the Right?
    THAT'S fearmongering.

    August 13, 2009 at 3:05 am |
  7. Mike in NYC

    The SPLC can work out in the open because they have the full support of the state and the media, with the coercive power of those institutions behind them.

    The venom they have directed at those who wish, for example, to protect their nation's borders is a good measure of the nobility of their agenda. Defending the "rights" of non-citizens over those of citizens is certainly not what I would call noble.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  8. elZorro

    ,,,Well said/writen Mr. GH!

    August 12, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    The SPLC does a excellent job with their research and conclusions on the various groups forming to "protect" the Constitution. The SPLC does more to protect the people and the Constitution than these groups ever will with their secrecy and their agendas. The SPLC work in the open, make their research open to all, help protect citizen rights, and take about an equal amount of scorn from others as the ACLU does. The groups the SPLC has described in this report seem to only believe in constitution rights for themselves and the others who agree with them – much like the Puritans who came to America for religious freedom only to show later that it was for their religious freedom not everyone's religious freedom. Today with all that is going on in the world, it is even more important than in the past for us to stand together under the Constitution which protects us all and not just a group of citizens.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  10. Stefan, Ca

    Wonderful article, you have wealthy businessmen funding hunts on private lands from the Dakotas to the southern swamps and rocky mountain states. Conversations of how to avoid taxes and blasting those representing the majority of voters by these confederated criminals.
    Coupled with young angry veterans and the blackwater thugs and you have a bigger powder keg then the 1990's.As the writer exposed the liberatarians agenda, that is what these thugs hide behind, and they march to demented fools. They have more in common to desrtuction of the constitution then holding it and following it.

    August 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  11. Patricia, Maryland

    The SPLC performs its work out in the open. The identities of its participants are not hidden. Members of this organization do not use violence or bring physical harm to others. They do not break the law in performing their work. Actually, they defend people's rights. They work within the "system." I don't see how this might translate into being an "agent of tyranny."
    Organizations whose members seek to abridge the rights of others, act in secret, don't want their identities known, indulge in violence, and have no respect for the law or legitimate authority I would perceive as being "agents of tyranny." They seek to impose their unelected will on all of us.

    August 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  12. GH

    This is, as it has always been, all about a group of people who see themselves superior because of their lighter skin, and who fear the loss of what they see as their traditional, rightful place on the totem pole of American culture, and will kill to keep it. They are angry, arrogant, selfish, egotistical, paranoid, and unwilling to share. I've always believed that the race war the supremacists and militias fear will come, is the same one they themselves want to start - and a black man in office is the perfect excuse. God did not create the world in just one color or culture. It is my hope that this country will keep an intellect and a heart open enough to see through this hateful hype.

    August 12, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  13. Mike in NYC

    Potok and Co. are never ones to miss an opportunity to drum up business for themselves.

    Truth be told, the founding fathers would probably regard the agendas of the militias as genuinely patriotic, and entities like the SPLC as agents of tyranny.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  14. Patricia, Maryland

    There is nothing "patriotic" about individuals who will not accept the will of the American People as expressed in the voting booth. We have a legally elected government, and President Obama won by a much more decisive margin that George Bush did in both 2000 (in which he did not win the popular vote) and 2004. The use by this movement of the term "militia" is a misnomer, given that these "militias" possess no authority granted by the government that would afford them any legitimacy under the U.S. Constitution. They amount only to street gangs, bent on destroying our legitimate government, and with it our freedom to elect whom we choose, by sedition, if not outright treason, and should be dealt with accordingly.

    August 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  15. Michael C. McHugh

    The Republicans always stir these things up against every Democratic president by launching scare campaigns. It's always just another version of the McCarthyism of the 1950s. They did it constantly against Clinton in the 1990s, even though he was a DINO and more a moderate Republican than a Democrat. Appeasing the Republicans didn't do him any good. If Obama does that, there will not be a chance to pass any major reforms again for a generation.

    August 12, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  16. Dennis Adams

    Stop the spending in Washington ! Have you seen the debt ??

    August 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  17. WALTER ZAHLMANN

    Want to solve the health care issue;; offer the same coverage to all legal Americans that our Senators and Representitives have along with the President and VP------–and if not

    Then all government employee's--ALL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE'S--–MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN WHAT IS OFFERED TO US AMERICANS WHEN THE BILL IS PASSED. NO EXCEPTIONS

    SIMPLE

    August 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  18. derry

    interesting that a woman who spoke at Specter's town hall yesterday is arguing again at Grassley's meeting in Iowa today...bused there by insurance company??

    August 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm |