ADL Special Reports: Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies
- Index / Summary
- Part One: Anger in the Mainstream
- Part Two: Anger on the Fringes
- Download a PDF of this report (.97MB)
- Press Release: Report: Rage Grows In America Conspiracy Theories Fuel Anti-Government Fervor (11/16/2009)
Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies
The Resurgence of the Militia Movement
Of the different groups and movements mentioned in this section, the militia movement, which formed in 1993-1994, is the oldest and largest. Militia groups are armed paramilitary groups of varying sizes that organize and train in preparation for possible future armed resistance to an encroaching “New World Order” conspiracy that seeks to render the American people disarmed, defenseless slaves.
One of the effects of the tide of anti-government sentiment that has swept the United States since the election of Barack Obama has been a sudden and surprising resurgence of the militia movement. The movement peaked around 1996 and then fell into a long decline before beginning a modest recovery in the mid-2000s. In 2007, there were only around 50 militia groups in the United States, many in the Midwest, the movement’s strongest base of support.
However, beginning in 2008, militia groups once more began to proliferate, and their expansion accelerated in 2009 following the inauguration of Obama. As of late 2009, there are over 200 militia groups across the United States, and it seems likely that the number will continue to increase.
While anti-government anger has certainly spurred the rapid growth of these groups, modern technology has also played a role in the ability of militia groups to form and recruit, especially the use by militia groups of social networking sites such as MySpace to spread their message and recruit new members (and inspire new groups to form). One result of these developments, though, is that the 2009 version of the militia movement is more loosely organized than its predecessor, and many of the individual groups are considerably smaller. Many militia groups have no more than around 10 regular members. Some groups are essentially “Web only” and conduct little real world activity.
In addition to the groups, there are increased numbers of people who identify with the militia movement, and may even attend various trainings or events, but do not officially belong to any particular group. These unaffiliated members now make up an important part of the movement.
The militia movement is a major source of anti-Obama and anti-government hostility, and a major audience for the extreme conspiracy theories revolving around FEMA, martial law, and gun confiscation. Because the militia movement has had a fairly strong association with criminal activity, especially related to illegal weapons and explosives, or conspiracies to use them, the resurgence of this movement is a matter of some concern to law enforcement.