Other Things the Neo-Militiaperson Believes In?
Last Updated March 26, 1996
Commentators have often had a hard time characterizing the neo-militia movement because of a lack of hard data. For instance, who knows how many people might belong to neo-militia groups in the United States? No one. Some groups are secretive, while others inflate their numbers: getting a solid estimate is an almost fruitless task. Are there 30,000 nationwide? 50,000? No one can say.
For much the same reasons, there have been no opinion polls of the militia. Other than what their leaders publish, put on videotape, or say in interviews, how can one get a feeling for what the neo-militia movement believes? While it is possible to come away with a reasonably coherent view of their political ideology through these sources--and this is covered in another essay--other elements of the militia mindset remain obscure. To get at these elements requires a few tricks, a little peripheral vision, and a sharp eye. But some of the results might be surprising.
The pro-militia magazine Media Bypass offers us one way to catch a glimpse of the mindset. For its November 1995 issue, this right-wing magazine conducted a poll of its membership. Because virtually everybody who responded announced that they were in favor of the neo-militia movement, it is not a wild leap to assume that their answers to other questions will also reflect the opinions of the militia. Here are some of the results:
1. "If the presidential election were held today, who would you vote for?"
Pat Buchanan 48% Charles Collins 11% Phil Gramm 5% "Bo" Gritz 4% Alan Keyes 3% Ross Perot 3% Irwin Schiff 1% Colin Powell .5% Pat Robertson .5% Others/no preference 24%
Here respondents exhibit a preference for the extreme right, with Pat Buchanan the only major candidate getting any sizable percentage of the vote, extremist Charles Collins coming in second. The low showings for Phil Gramm and Colin Powell are noteworthy; Bob Dole, the Republican frontrunner (as of November 1995) does not even make the list.
2. "Favorite talk-show host"
Chuck Harder 15% Tom Valentine 8% Rush Limbaugh 8% William Cooper 6% G. Gordon Liddy 6% Derry Brownfield 5% "Bo" Gritz 5% Jaz McKay 5% Others/no preference 42%
Again, a telling set of replies. Note that tied for second with Rush Limbaugh--the most popular radio commentator in America--is Tom Valentine. Haven't heard of Valentine? This is hardly surprising, for Valentine largely inhabits the world of "patriot" shortwave radio, although his show is heard on a couple AM stations. Valentine hosts Radio Free America, that is, when he isn't selling his "alternative" health messages such as "The Truth About Shark Cartilage." Valentine's broadcasts are sponsored by the anti-semitic (and pro-militia) publication The Spotlight.
3. "Would you abolish the IRS?"
Yes 91% No 1% No response 8%
This shouldn't turn many heads, I suppose. The neo-militia movement--and its tax-protester forebears--have long claimed that the 16th Amendment was foisted illegitimately upon the American people.
4. "I would replace the income tax with..."
A National Sales Tax 41% A Flat Tax 32% Tariffs 8% Retain income tax/other/none listed 19%
5. "Do you favor..."
The death penalty 92% The federal reserve 1% School prayer 88% Citizen militias 99% The United Nations .5% Foreign aid 2%
Again, not a surprising list. Many "patriots" believe the federal reserve is run by a clique of moneyed interests, largely Jews, while most all of them believe that the United Nations intends to take over the United States and impose a socialist tyranny.
One sneaky way to get at what the movement believes in is to look at what people who try to sell to the movement think they believe in. In other words, who advertises to the movement?
In short, the answer to this message is: cranks. Publications that cater to the neo-militia movement and related "patriot" groups tend to be chock-full of advertising aimed to attract people who--to put it charitably--are susceptible to the notion that mainstream repositories of information are keeping secrets from them. Less charitably, the ads target people who are a few bricks shy of a load.
Illustrating this point is not only easy but highly entertaining. Here are some summaries of ads from among the larger pro-militia publications such as The Spotlight and Media Bypass:
Comments from the author of this essay are in bold.
These advertisements are generally aimed at people who will believe anything. Health supplements that will cure cancer, ways not to pay your income tax, revelations about the New World Order or various other conspiracies; in short, crackpot products. Presumably these ads actually have a modicum of effectiveness, or they would not keep reappearing. Knowing this provides a little more insight as to why these people might believe that there is a "New World Order" conspiracy with designs to take over the United States.