Message for Students
We would like personally to thank you for taking the time to visit The Militia Watchdog. This website contains a great deal of information about subjects that are of great concern to all Americans. We hope you find the material in it useful, eye-opening and interesting.
The main reason for this letter is because many students--high school and college alike--are asked to write papers, reports or essays on the militia movement, white supremacy, right-wing extremism, terrorism or related subjects. It is very common to turn to The Militia Watchdog as a resource for such assignments.
This page, then, is designed to help you use the Militia Watchdog more efficiently as a resource for assignments and reports. The rest of this web page consists of two parts. Part One provides specific information to students about how to use the Militia Watchdog as a resource, including things to do and things not to do. Part Two answers some of the questions that are very frequently asked by students.
We are always interested in comments from students and teachers/professors alike in how to improve this page. Please let us know.
Part One: How to Use this Website
Part Two: Frequently Asked Questions
Section 1: Personal
Section 2: The Extreme Right (general)
Section 3: White Supremacy
Section 4: The Militia Movement
Section 5: The Sovereign Citizen Movement
Section 6: The Tax Protest Movement
Section 7: Miscellaneous
Usually during the school year we get at least a letter a week which goes something like this: "Hi, I'm doing a report on the militia movement, can you please send me everything you have on it, and please send it quickly, because the paper is due Tuesday."
Unfortunately, we simply cannot respond to requests like this! There are a lot of reasons, especially the following three:
If you want to ask us something by e-mail:
Please help us continue to help students by making it easy on us.
That's a good question! It's a big website. Luckily, there is a detailed Table of Contents which lists every single item on the website. Sometimes the titles may not give you enough information and you'll have to browse a bit to find out what they're about.
Here are some of the resources on this webpage that may help you to do a report on particular subjects:
Common Law Courts/Sovereign Citizens
In general, the Militia Watchdog contains only a limited amount of information on white supremacist activity that is not connected to other types of right-wing extremist activities. This is largely because so many other people, with more resources than the Militia Watchdog, cover this area. However, the website does contain some items of interest.
That really depends on what you want to study. The Militia Watchdog Links Page contains links to literally hundreds of other sites, including other sites which are against extremism and racism, as well as sites created by extremists themselves. When you are visiting extremist sites, please keep in mind that the information contained in them may not actually be accurate. Also be aware that many such groups attempt to create websites which are much more friendly and mild than you might think they would be. This is often done on purpose, in order to create a nice image.
One great site to visit is the home page of the ADL.
You need to be careful about contacting extremist groups if you are a student. Some might attempt to recruit you into their movement. Others may wish to use you as a tool or even threaten you. Talk to your teacher or professor before attempting this, particularly if you are a high school student.
There are many groups out there which oppose racism, anti-government extremism and right-wing extremism. Some of these are listed on the Links page and some of them are listed on the Organizations page. Some of these groups may be willing to help you or to talk to you. However, please be considerate when contacting them and do not ask them to do your work for you. The less you ask of them, the more likely they will be to help you.
There are a lot of books on the area of right-wing extremism available. Here is a list of some basic books on the subject. Books marked with an asterisk (*) may be more suited for college students than for high school students.
In addition, students may be interested in reading the following:
Generally speaking, use this format: "Why I Like the Spice Girls," [Article Author], The Militia Watchdog website, spicegirls.asp. If the author is someone other than Mark Pitcavage, use that name. If no author is cited, you need not put an author. If your teacher or professor prefers some other format, use that format instead.
REMEMBER: Copying from the Militia Watchdog without citation is PLAGIARISM, which is a form of THEFT.
Probably not. The Militia Watchdog Mailing List is limited to people who have a professional interest in the subject of right-wing extremism, such as, for example, police officers, journalists, prosecutors, etc. Generally speaking, the only students who are allowed on the list are graduate students who are working on a thesis or dissertation on a related subject.
Part Two: Frequently Asked Questions
Section 1: Personal
The Militia Watchdog website was created by Mark Pitcavage, who is now the National Director of Fact Finding for the Anti-Defamation League. The site is primarily a collection of his research efforts from 1995 through 2000, until he joined ADL.
The Militia Watchdog began originally as a series of questions and answers about the legality of the militia movement. This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) was written by Sheldon Sheps, a Canadian, and Mark Pitcavage in 1995. They decided to put it on the (then still new) World Wide Web. Mark Pitcavage created a little page called "The Militia Watchdog" to showcase the FAQ. However, by that timethe summer of 1995the entire country had been rocked by the horrible April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Lots of people thought that a militia group had done it (this was not true) and there was for the first time a general realization in the United States that we had a problem with these so-called "militia" groups. People everywhere were searching for information about them. So Mark Pitcavage decided to expand the Militia Watchdog to help provide this information, and that is how the Militia Watchdog was born.
Section 2: The Extreme Right (general)
The Militia Watchdog uses this definition of "extremist":
For instance, lets say that you are a communist. You believe, among other things, that nobody should own any private property. This is a belief that very few Americans share. If you ran for office as a communist, you would be very unlikely to win. If you contributed money to the Communist Party, it would still probably not have very much success. If you wrote your Congressional representative, asking that he or she abolish private property, that person would probably ignore you. This is because your goals are simply ones that most people do not believe in. Compared to them, you are extreme. You would be an extremist.
Note that being an extremist is not by itself bad or good. It is simply a term used to describe how far one is from the political mainstream. However, there are dynamics that sometimes can cause people who are extremists to commit violent or illegal acts. For instance, if you have tried all of the normal political ways of getting your goals accomplished, and you have failed at every one of them, you might decide to try a radical or violent way of getting your goal accomplished. A white supremacist, say, who is fed up that most Americans are not sympathetic to his beliefs, might decide to blow up a building to attract attention to his cause.
In regards to the definition of "right wing," I provide the below section primarily for high school students. College students should already be familiar with this material.
Generally when we talk about politics we tend to create a political "spectrum" which ranges from very left wing to somewhat left wing to moderate to somewhat right wing to very right wing. Im going to simplify things extraordinarily and say that people who are on the left tend to support the working classes (workers, farmers, etc.) and oppose the upper classes (big business, the rich, etc.). They tend to support governments that actively work to make society better, rather than governments which dont get involved much in society. They tend to be sympathetic to issues such as the environment, reducing military spending, creating programs to help minorities, and supporting a womans right to an abortion.
People who are on the right, on the other hand, tend to support small and large business owners, property-owners, etc. They tend to believe that government interference usually makes matter worse, not better, and that people should be responsible for their own lives rather than depend on the government to give them everything they need. They tend to be sympathetic to such issues as the rights of property-owners, tax reduction, opposition to abortion, maintaining a competent military, and reducing the size of government. However, right-wing ideology can also tend towards authoritarianism as well; the result is fascism.
In the United States, people who are on the extreme right wing fall into several broad categories. Some are basically fascist in nature. They want to establish an authoritarian government, possibly even some sort of dictatorship, which will be founded on their version of Christianity. Some who are fascist in nature are also extremely racist, and want to remove or even eliminate blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians and other non-white peoples in the United States. Others are basically anarchist in nature. Anarchists are people who oppose all governments. In the United States, these people are so anti-government that they oppose virtually all forms of government, including laws, rules, regulations, taxes, court orders, etc. Their vision is one where "every man is a king," basically ruling himself. Some of these people are white supremacists, too. Right-wing extremists tend to share the following additional beliefs: opposition to all forms of gun control, opposition to all abortion, hatred of gays and lesbians, strong support of property rights, hatred or fear of foreigners, and/or the United Nations, and isolationism. This does not mean that the reverse is necessarily true, that, for instance, someone who is opposed to gun control is a right-wing extremist. It simply means that right-wing extremists tend to include these beliefs among their strongly held ideals.
In the United States, right-wing extremists tend to fall into several broad categories (discussed in more detail below and elsewhere on the website): white supremacists, common law/sovereign citizens activists, tax protesters and militia members or sympathizers. Also included are extreme anti-abortion activists and extreme property rights activists. In addition, there are many people who are not very easily categorizable.
Please understand that this is simplified a great deal and covers some very complex issues in a very short amount of space, just in order to get across some basic concepts and ideas.
There are a lot of different definitions of "terrorism" that various people and organizations use. However, a simple and useful one is this: Terrorism is the use of violence or threat of violence, outside the context of a war or military conflict, to accomplish political goals through fear and intimidation.
In the United States, there is a great deal of criminal activity caused by extremists which does not really fit into the category of terrorism. However, there is terrorism, too. White supremacists, for instance, who want to establish a "white nation" frequently commit acts of terrorism. So too do people who are simply very, very opposed to the government of the United States (the Oklahoma City bombing is an example).
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between an act of terrorism and a hate crime. A "hate crime" is typically a crime of violence against members of a particular religious, ethnic or social group committed by people who oppose that group. For instance, vandalizing a Jewish synagogue is a hate crime. So too is killing a man just because he is gay. But that may not be terrorism, because there is no real political goal behind the act, just a great deal of malice and hate.
There is more than one way to categorize such groups, but here are some commonly accepted categories:
Hate groups are groups which are opposed to certain types of people just because of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference. For instance, the Ku Klux Klan, which is anti-black and anti-Semitic, is a hate group. The Nation of Islam, which is very anti-Semitic, is also a hate group. The most common targets of hate groups in the United States consist of African-Americans, Jews, homosexuals, Hispanics, and to a lesser extent, other recent immigrant groups and Catholics.
The "patriot" movement is a name given by themselves to a group of organizations and individuals who more or less share the same extreme right wing beliefs. They call themselves "patriots" to suggest that they are the people who really support America the way it was intended to be. It is a loose movement a great deal of variation, but includes white supremacists, common law activists, militia sympathizers, tax protesters, and others, many of whom use similar terms such as "constitutionalists." The primary focus of the "patriot" movement is anti-government in nature.
Section 3: White Supremacy
A movement consisting of right-wing extremist groups that have as the explicit centerpiece of their ideology the dominance of the white race. The white supremacy movement is the oldest wing of the "patriot" movement, although also the smallest. In its modern form the white supremacy movement dates back to the second Ku Klux Klan formed in 1915. The primary targets of the movement have been blacks and Jews, although Hispanics, homosexuals and other minority groups have been added.
Some confusion has been thrown into the use of the term "white supremacy" thanks to the supremacists themselves. This is largely for two reasons. The first is that many supremacists claim that they are not supremacists because they do not believe that whites are "better" than blacks. This is a deliberate misreading of the term "supremacy" to mean "superiority." Even if some white supremacists believe in the equality of the races (which very few in fact do), they still share the belief that supremacy, i.e., power, belongs in the hands of the whites. A second source of confusion is the deliberate use of the term "separatist" instead of "supremacist." Some white supremacists will claim that they are actually simply "separatists," meaning that they wish to live apart from people of other races or backgrounds. However, when they are questioned, it usually becomes apparent that their views are indistinguishable from those who do not use the label.
Today the white supremacists can be largely divided into three subgroupings: 1) traditional supremacists, centered around the various Klan groups; 2) supremacists linked to Christian Identity; and 3) supremacists with other belief systems, including Odinism, Neo-Nazism and the beliefs of the Church of the Creator, among others. Racist skinheads could arguably be called a fourth subgroup. Common among many such groups is the adoption of Nazi paraphernalia and symbols.
There have been more than one "Ku Klux Klan." The first Klan was started in the ex-Confederate states of the South and Kentucky shortly after the Civil War, in opposition to the Reconstruction state governments established by the victorious Union that threatened white supremacy. The Klan consisted of conservative whites determined to stop at nothing to destroy Reconstruction governments they viewed as illegitimate and to restore and maintain white supremacy. It became the most violent and radical anti-government extremist group this country has ever known. It faded away during the 1870s as conservative white Southerners retook control, often violently, of those states. The name of the group is thought to have derived from the Greek word kuklos, meaning "circle."
The second Klan began in 1915 when a fraternal organizer started a group called the Ku Klux Klan following the success of D. W. Griffiths movie Birth of a Nation, which glorified the original Ku Klux Klan. Within a few short years the Klan had spread to every state in the Union and had reached a membership in the millions. The incredible growth of the Klan can be attributed to a reaction against a rapidly changing social milieu that included World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution and Americas first "Red Scare," the prohibition movement, labor struggles, massive immigration from Eastern Europe to the United States, internal migrations of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North, suffragism, and other social stresses. The new Klan was generally more anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish than anti-black, and its violence, though disturbing, did not compare to that of its predecessor. During the 1930s the Klan precipitously declined, until by 1940 its membership was perhaps as low as 40,000. The second Klan is basically the forefather of todays Klan groups.
The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s caused a moderate increase in membership, which dropped once more in the following decades. However, from the 1950s through today, there is no one "Klan" but rather a large collection of various small, independent groups using variants of the Klan name. Membership is very low, probably well under 10,000. Many Klan members have embraced Christian Identity. In the late 1990s, they have seen a moderate surge of activity, including marches, rallies, cross-burnings, hate crimes and major criminal activity.
Groups or individuals which adopt Nazi regalia and symbols, and venerate Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Some such groups want to establish some sort of vaguely National Socialistic regime in the United States, although generally speaking American Nazism has diverged considerably from the German Nazi ideology of the 1930s-40s. Neo-Nazi groups tend to fall into one of three categories: 1) Christian Identity groups (such as Aryan Nations), 2) Odinistic groups (which adopt modern variants of ancient Norse mythology), and 3) groups that have some other religious or spiritual background, including atheism. The most well-known Neo-Nazi groups in the United States are Aryan Nations, the National Alliance, and the National Socialist Movement. These groups are very small in number, but are among the most hate-filled extremist groups in the country.
Skinheads are a subculture in Western Europe and North America drawn largely from white, working-class youths, dating back to the early 1970s in Great Britain. Skinhead culture emphasizes body distinction (shaved heads, tattoos), dress (suspenders, steel-toed boots, laces, jackets), music (ska and oi), substance abuse (generally beer), and violence (from soccer hooliganism to hate crimes). Skinhead culture was not originally particularly racist (there was originally a considerable West Indies influence), nor is it today, but there is a substantial minority of skins who are white supremacist and who claim that "purity" and "love of race" are the most important aspects of being a skinhead. Racist skins are often called "boneheads" by non-racist skins (many anti-racist skins call themselves "sharps," from "Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice," a group which formed in New York City). Originally developing in the British Isles, skinhead culture spread to Europe and to the United States and Canada. In all three areas, they were recognized as a potential source of recruits for Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In the United States many white supremacist groups, including White Aryan Resistance, the Aryan Nations and the National Alliance, among others, have targeted skinheads, with some success. Racist skinheads have been responsible for an increasing number of hate crimes in this country, including vicious murders.
Christian Identity is a hate-filled religious sect descended from British Israelism (a strange set of beliefs centered around the notion that the descendants of the Israelites mentioned in the Bible are in fact white Europeans. There are still British Israelists in the United States and Canada, but in North America these beliefs generally evolved into Christian Identity. One other sect with British Israel beliefs was the late Herbert Armstrongs Worldwide Church of God), which has come to dominate much of the leadership of the extreme right in the United States today. Among its beliefs are the notion that Jews are descended from Satan (through a mating of Eve and the serpent) and that non-white races (called "mud peoples") stemmed from a separate "creation" than that which made Adam and Eve. The most famous Christian Identity group is Aryan Nations, but the belief system can be found in groups ranging from the Klan to the Montana Freemen to the Militia of Montana to the Fully Informed Jury Association. The sect is small, possibly as small as 30,000 believers, but it is disproportionately influential in the extreme right. This is rather unfortunate, as Christian Identity believers tend to be among the most radical and committed members of the anti-government extremist movement. Its members have committed every conceivable crime, from white collar crimes to bombings and bank robberies to assassinations.
Though small in number compared to the other segments of the "patriot" movement, white supremacists are the most radical and appear the most likely to commit illegal and violent acts. The types of crimes associated with white supremacists range from minor hate crimes and vandalism through white-collar crimes involving frauds, bogus checks, counterfeiting and the like, to major violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder. Among the major white supremacists groups are the various Klan groups, the National Alliance, the Church of the Creator, White Aryan Resistance, Aryan Nations, and various other neo-Nazi and Christian Identity groups.
Section 4: The Militia Movement
A "militia" is a group that is part of the so-called militia movement.
The militia movement is an extremist movement based on armed, paramilitary groups which exploded onto the scene in the mid-1990s. The movement used the rationalization that the American people needed armed force to help defend themselves against an increasingly tyrannical government that was becoming the puppet of a socialist globalist conspiracy called the "New World Order." These armed groups were called militias, both to evoke the image of the Minuteman of the Revolution and to try to claim legitimacy by asserting that these paramilitary groups were the statutory "unorganized militia" of federal and state law.
The catalysts for the militia movement are many, but most center around a fear of gun confiscation and the role such confiscation would play in their various one-world conspiracy theories. The major events working to spark the movement include the Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs, the Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Manufacture Ban. A variety of personalities became active in promoting the movement, including John Trochmann, a friend of Randy Weaver who founded the Militia of Montana; Linda Thompson, a lawyer from Indianapolis who produced a controversial videotape on Waco and operated a popular "patriot" computer bulletin board; Mark Koernke, a University of Michigan janitor and short-wave radio personality; Larry Pratt, the head of the radical Gun-Owners of America; and Pete Peters, the Colorado Christian Identity minister; among others. The first groups began forming at the end of 1993; by mid-1994 there were a variety of such groups in many states across the country. While some print and media journalists noted the emergence of this movement, in general little attention was paid to the phenomenon until late 1994, when civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League released reports on the militia movement.
The militia exploded into prominence, however, in April 1995 when early (and generally erroneous) reports indicated that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the Oklahoma City bombing suspects, had belonged to a Michigan militia, or that militia groups were in some way directly connected to the bombing. As a result, nearly every newspaper and television station began looking at local militia groups. By and large, the intense publicity caused the movement to grow, as many would-be sympathizers heard about the existence of the movement for the first time. Militia growth appears to have been steady throughout 1995 and the first half of 1996. The primary illegal activities among militia groups are related to weapons and explosives. Militia groups in Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, California, and a number of other states have seen members arrested for possession of illegal weapons and/or explosives. Currently, the militia movement seems to be stagnant.
The militia movement claims to be the "militia" mentioned in the Constitution and federal and state law, but they are not (for more information, see the Militia FAQ). They are private, unregulated paramilitary groups.
Currently, there is no federal law regarding paramilitary groups. Of the fifty states, about 80% have some sort of law prohibiting such groups. These laws fall into two types. Most states have laws which only prohibit paramilitary training designed to cause civil disorder. In other words, in one of these states you would be breaking the law if you conducted paramilitary training for the purposes of blowing up a building, but not if you were doing it for no particular purpose. Other states have laws which prohibit any paramilitary group that is formed without the permission of the state government. Occasionally these laws have been enforced, but in general, most states have not bothered to enforce them.
No one knows. People in the movement tend to give inflated numbers, in order to make their movement seem larger, and at the same time, because they are so paranoid, will refuse to allow people to actually count their numbers. Some militias in reality consist of only one person. In addition, groups go in and out of existence all the time, and there are a great many people who are part of the "movement," without being "card-carrying" members of any one particular group. Lastly, there are some groups which are "underground," and which few people even know exist. All these factors together make it impossible to state with any real degree of certainty how many militia groups there are. The number of groups is certainly in the hundreds. The number of members and strong sympathizers is probably in the low to mid tends of thousands (i.e., 30-50,000). This is just a crude estimate.
Sometimes, but the answer is actually pretty complex.
The first wave of publicity given to the militia movement was generally created by reports on the subject by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, two organizations formed to oppose hate groups, which had come across the infant movement in their usual monitoring of white supremacist and racist groups and activity, due to individuals active in both the militia and white supremacist movements. Not surprisingly, their reports emphasized the ties between militia groups and white supremacy, an emphasis picked up on and even exaggerated by the media, for whom the term "militia" soon became more or less synonymous with "white supremacist."
In a way this was unfortunate, because it led people to underestimate the very powerful non-racist sources of support (largely gun-related) for the movement and because it allowed militia members to counter uninformed charges of racism by pointing to minority members in their own ranks (among which Ohio Unorganized Militia spokesman J. J. Johnson was by far the most prominent).
In reality, the connection between the militia movement and white supremacists is a very complex one, which operates on at least five different levels. To begin with, there are a relatively few explicitly white supremacist militia groups. Northpoint Tactical Teams, led until his recent demise by Christian Identity minister Nord Davis, is an example of such a group. A second, somewhat larger category includes militia groups led by white supremacists or with strong white supremacist ties but which do not have white supremacy as their main focus. The best example of such a group would be the Militia of Montana. A third category consists of those groups which are not explicitly white supremacist but which either call for alliances with them or which tolerate the white supremacy movement. The fourth grouping includes those militias which may have racist or white supremacist members, but only coincidentally. That is, Member Y of Militia X may be a racist, but that is not why he is in Militia X, nor is Militia X explicitly racist. The last group includes those militias free of any or all connections with white supremacists or racists and which may even be openly critical of the same. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the third and fourth categories are the ones into which the majority of militia groups fall. Some have argued that the militia movement has grown more extreme (and thus more racist) in the past couple of years, as many of the more moderate members dropped out after the Oklahoma City bombing.
The militia movement has many people who could be called "law abiding citizens." However, many members conduct criminal activity. The most common is the collection of illegal weapons and explosives. Sometimes these illegal arsenals are stunning in their size. Since militia members tend to believe a) that they have the right to own whatever sort of weapon they want to, and b) they need to arm themselves to oppose a current or future tyrannical government, it is thus very easy for many of them to decide to acquire illegal weapons such as machine guns, fully automatic weapons, silencers, sawed off shotguns, explosives, etc. Some members go further than collecting weapons and actually plan to use them. In the past few years, different militia groups have plotted to bomb various government buildings, to attack U.S. military bases, and to commit other acts of terrorism. As a result, though the militia movement contains some of the more "moderate" members of the "patriot" movement, it also includes many people willing to commit criminal acts.
Section 5: The Sovereign Citizen Movement
Sovereign citizens are adherents to a philosophy (derived from an older extremist group called the Posse Comitatus) which says that there are two types of citizens. There are "Fourteenth Amendment citizens," who are subject to the laws and taxes of the federal and state governments; and "sovereign citizens," who are subject only to "the common law." Sovereign citizens claim that they have absolute mastery over all their property (including freedom from taxes, regulations, ordinances or zoning restrictions), that they essentially do not have to pay taxes (aside from tariffs and a few other insignificant taxes); that they are not citizens of the United States but are "non-resident aliens" with respect to that "illegal corporation;" that the only court which has jurisdiction to try them for any matter is a "common law court;" that they can never be arrested or tried for a crime or matter in which there is no complaining victim; as well as various other notions. Typical signs that someone is a sovereign citizen include the use of punctuation between their middle and last names (i.e., John Wayne; Doe), a refusal to have a social security card or any paper, license or document related to automobile ownership or driving, a refusal to use zip codes, and the displaying on various items from envelopes to paper money to time cards to forms of the phrase UCC 1-207 (a section of the Uniform Commercial Code), or variants thereof. Sovereign citizens are often also known as state citizens, freemen, constitutionalists, preamble citizens, common law citizens or various other names.
The sovereign citizen movement came from the tax protest movement of the 1950s and 1960s (see below for more on that movement). A number of tax protesters had come up with the idea that they did not have to pay taxes because they were not in the "jurisdiction" that was governed by the United States federal and state governments. Instead, they were in a "jurisdiction" that was governed only by the "common law." Now, there is really such a thing as "common law." Somewhat simplified, it refers to precedents made by judges during various court cases which were used as law. Great Britain and her colonies in America both used "common law" systems to supplement "statutory" (or legislature-made) law. In the United States, much of the "common law" has been replaced by various federal and state laws over time. However, the tax protesters and their descendants had a different version of what the "common law" really meant. They somehow imagined that it referred to a non-existent form of government in which there really was no government interference at all: no taxes, no regulations, no laws, no court orders, etc. They believed that this utopian system was gradually replaced (through conspiracy) with the system that we have today, which they believe is not legitimate.
The major extremist group which adopted these bizarre theories was a group called the Posse Comitatus, which started in 1970 and lasted until the late 1980s. Over time, the Posse and its descendant groups developed this notion of two separate jurisdictions into an elaborate political philosophy. It is this philosophy which groups like the Montana Freemen and the Republic of Texas believed in.
Many sovereign citizens are racist. One reason for this is that many people in the sovereign citizen movement are also believers in Christian Identity. The Montana Freeman are a good example of this combination. However, the ideology itself is not racist and does not imply racism. In fact, in some states such as North and South Carolina, there are African-American groups which have adopted the sovereign citizen philosophy.
The main reason that sovereign citizens sound so strange is that their ideology has convinced them that our current government is an illegitimate government which replaced the valid one. In order to prove this, as well as their other strange legal and historical theories, they tend to search through old law books, old statute books, law dictionaries, legal codes, and other documents in order to find proof. Consequently, they will often cite strange terms such as "allodial title," "refusal for cause without dishonor" and "admiralty jurisdiction." Making it even worse is that their use of such terms will often involve a drastic change in definition or in the accepted use of such terms. Thus sovereign citizens might quote from the "Uniform Commercial Code," a set of state laws established to regulate the way commercial transactions are made, in a criminal case that has no connection whatsoever to the Uniform Commercial Code.
The sovereign citizen movement is extremely dangerous because its members generally do not believe that our government is legitimate. Thus many of them will do whatever it takes to get rid of that government (including establishing their own, such as the Republic of Texas). They are also so anti-government in general that they will fight against virtually all regulations, laws, ordinances or licenses. This puts them in constant conflict with local, state and federal governments. Sovereign citizens commit crimes that range from very minor offenses such as driving without a license up to major offenses such as assaults on court clerks up to extraordinary crimes such as aggravated kidnappings and armed standoffs.
Section 6: The Tax Protest Movement
A tax protester is a member of the tax protest movement, which is a movement consisting of people who dont simply want to avoid paying taxes, but generally claim they should not have to pay them. For most of the past several decades, there have been two tax protest movements. A left wing tax protest movement, created largely by opposition to involvement in Vietnam, argued that people should not pay taxes because the taxes were being used to support a large military force that was being used in unjust wars. They opposed what they called "war taxes." These left wing tax protesters peaked in the early 1970s and again in the 1980s under the Reagan administration, but largely died out in the 1990s.
The second tax protest movement, which is the one important to this discussion, is a right wing movement started in the 1950s and 1960s. It has concentrated on interpreting the Constitution, U.S. law and the tax code in such a way as to claim that most people do not have any obligation to pay income taxes. In other words, the motivating force behind the right wing tax protest movement was to find "loopholes," actual or manufactured, which would allow people to claim that they had no tax obligation.
An excellent example of this activity can be found in the movements claims about the Sixteenth Amendment, which they assert was never legally ratified. They argue that Ohio was not legally a state when it ratified the amendment, which allowed income taxes, thus the Sixteenth Amendment is not valid, thus they do not have to pay income taxes. Other tax protest claims have suggested that filing tax returns violates ones Fifth Amendment rights, that taxes apply only to corporations and not to individuals, that the income tax is completely voluntary, or that the taxes apply not to "income" but to "profit," with the latter term extremely narrowly defined.
A defining characteristic of the modern right wing tax protest movement has been the formation of organizations that sell ways to avoid taxes. Typically, these organizations grow very quickly, amassing considerable sums for their founders, then collapse as the leaders are arrested on various fraud and tax charges. Examples of such groups include the Your Heritage Protection Association, the Pilot Connection Society, and the Save-a-Patriot Fellowship. Today the tax protest movement is closely linked to the "sovereign citizen" movement. This is not surprising, considering that it was the tax protest movement which probably gave birth to the Posse Comitatus, whose ideology is the basis for the sovereign citizen movement.
All the time. However, there are millions of Americans and only so many Internal Revenue Service employees. Thus some do not get caught for many years, while others unfortunately slip between the cracks and are never caught. Most tax protesters, though, eventually run afoul of the law. At that point they have to decide whether to give up and pay their taxes or to risk fines and imprisonment. A great many end up going to jail. Still, the fact that there are always at any given time a number of tax protesters who seem to be operating with impunity often convinces others to join the movement, because it looks as if it is successful.
Well, perhaps the most noteworthy "danger" is the irritating fact that everybody elses taxes are made higher because some people refuse to pay. But beyond that, tax protesters commit a variety of tax-related crimes, as well as frauds (such as selling people kits that they promise will "untax" them). Tax protesters have also committed a variety of violent crimes, from assaulting IRS agents all the way to blowing up IRS buildings.
Section 7: Miscellaneous
A term used to describe those individuals in the "patriot" movement who perpetrate scams and frauds against other people, usually fellow members of the movement. It also refers to people who attempt to make money by selling various products and "kits" to members of the movement. By far the most numerous of the "patriots for profit" are the people who cater to would-be tax protesters. Groups such as "Your Heritage Protection Association" (which boasted of from 20 to 30,000 "dues-paying" members in the early 1980s) and the "Pilot Connection Society" (which in the early 1990s would "untax" its reputed 5,000 members for $1200 plus 10% of their debt to the IRS) have flourished in an atmosphere consisting of a combination of paranoia and gullibility.
By far the most striking example of a "patriot for profit" group, however, has been Roy Schwasingers "We the People." Schwasinger and his agents claimed that the United States government had been bankrupt since 1993, rendering all transactions since then invalid, and that it had lost a class-action suit to this effect in the Supreme Court, which rendered a judgment against the government in the hundreds of trillions of dollars in gold. Delta Force commandos had been sent to recover this gold, now overseas. The average participant in the class-action suit would receive around twenty million dollars. Congress had designated the group "We the People" as the official agency to process the claims. For only $300, "We the People" would handle a claim and allow the person who pressed it to receive, eventually, millions of dollars. Actually, the only millions of dollars were those that the multi-state group took in. Thousands of people paid their $300 in order to become part of the class-action suit, despite the incredible nature of the claims made by "We the People."
Members of the "patriot" movement are particularly susceptible to frauds like this because they distrust the media, the government, lawyers and virtually every other authority who might warn them against such frauds. They are also obsessed with privacy and they believe that there are many wealthy people (like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys) who became wealthy through little known tricks and strategies. Thus they are predisposed to listen to all the "wrong" people and ignore the warnings of all the "right" people. This is one way in which members of the "patriot" movement are not victimizers but victims.
Groups like the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party are very disturbing. Many such groups are racist or, especially anti-Semitic. Some, too, are increasingly becoming anti-government. They are also susceptible to paranoia and conspiracy theories. The fact that this website concentrates on right-wing extremists rather than other forms of extremists does not mean that the other flavors of extremism are somehow good or desired.
One interesting phenomenon present today is growing set of ties between different strands of extremist groups. For instance, in Florida white separatist and black separatists have marched together. Other black extremist groups or cults, such as the Moorish Nation and the Washitaw Nation, have adopted much of the "sovereign citizen" ideology. And interestingly, many catalogs of materials offered for sale by extremist groups contain many of the same videos, whether the catalog is for militia sympathizers or black nationalists.
The anti-abortion movement has not been discussed in very much detail here, because much of it is separate from other extreme right-wing groups covered on this website.
The anti-abortion movement is a very large movement dedicated to stopping the practice of abortion. The majority of members and sympathizers work entirely within the system, using moral suasion, lobbying, protests and similar means to achieve their goals. A minority practice civil disobedience. A smaller minority still constitute an extreme faction of the movement who are willing to use illegal and violent means, including terrorism, to stop abortion. The most common targets for such individuals are abortion clinics and the doctors and staff who work in them. Crimes ranging from arson to assault to assassination have been committed by zealots who believe that pro-abortion people are murdering millions of babies each year.
Two factors about the relationship between the anti-abortion movement and the "patriot" movement immediately stand out. The first is that the connections between the two tend to be between the extremist fringe of the anti-abortion movement and the "patriots." The most extreme of the anti-abortionists look to the militias and other groups for support and for recruits. The second factor is that although to be in the anti-abortion movement does not mean that one is also in the "patriot" movement, the reverse is generally true. Virtually the entire "patriot" movement (save for a small group of libertarian types) is anti-abortion. This has resulted in some extremists using violent tactics against abortion providers. For instance, the Phineas Priesthood cell which committed bank robberies in the Spokane, Washington, area in 1996, bombed an abortion clinic in one robbery as a diversion. Such acts are likely to become increasingly common.
Here are a list of things that could be done. See whether or not you agree with them, and if you do, how they could be accomplished.
There is a good guide published by the ADL called No Place for Hate: 101 Ways You Can Beat Prejudice that has some excellent suggestions.
Perhaps too we should remember something we should NOT do. We should try very hard to avoid the sort of mistakes that were made at places like Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. Because of these mistakes, not only were innocent lives lost, but these events served as a catalyst which caused far greater problems, including greater loss of life, down the road.