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Right-Wing Populism

What is the Patriot Movement?

Adapted from Berlet & Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort

The Patriot movement is bracketed on the reformist side by the John Birch Society and the conspiracist segment of the Christian Right, and on the insurgent side by groups promoting themes historically associated with White supremacy and antisemitism. A variety of preexisting far-right vigilante groups (including Christian Identity adherents and outright neonazi groups) were influential in helping to organize the broader Patriot movement. The Patriot movement, however, drew recruits from several preexisting movements and networks:

  • Militant right-wing gun rights advocates, antitax protesters, survivalists, and far-right libertarians.
  • Christian Patriots, and other persons promoting a variety of pseudo-legal "constitutionalist" theories.
  • Advocates of "sovereign" citizenship, "freeman" status, and other arguments rooted in a distorted analysis of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth Amendments, including those persons who argue that a different or second-class form of citizenship is granted to African Americans through these amendments.
  • White racist, antisemitic, or neonazi movement, such as the Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, and Christian Identity.
  • The confrontational wing of the antiabortion movement.
  • Apocalyptic millennialists, including those Christians who believed the period of the "End Times" had arrived and they were facing the Mark of the Beast, which could be hidden in supermarket bar codes, proposed paper currency designs, implantable computer microchips, Internet websites, or e-mail.
  • The dominion theology sector of the Christian evangelical right, especially its most militant and doctrinaire branch, Christian Reconstructionism.
  • The most militant wings of the antienvironmentalist "Wise Use" movement, county supremacy movement, state sovereignty movement, states’ rights movement, and Tenth Amendment movement.
  • Multiple themes intersected in the Patriot movement: government abuse of power; fears about globalism and sovereignty; economic distress (real, relative, and anticipated); apocalyptic fears of conspiracy and tyranny from above; male identity crisis, backlash against the social liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and more.

    The Patriot movement, using conspiracist and producerist rhetoric, identified numerous scapegoats. Each unit, and in some cases each member, could pick and choose from the following list:

  • Federal officials and law enforcement officers;
  • Jewish institutions;
  • Abortion providers and pro-choice supporters;
  • Environmentalists and conservation activists;
  • Gay and lesbian rights organizers; and
  • People of color, immigrants, and welfare recipients.
  • The contemporary Patriot Movement began to emerge during the G.H. W. Bush administration and continued to grow under the Clintonadministration. Both presidents were seen as liberal globalists in the eyes of the Patriot movement.

    Read More.

    A Progressive Response:

    How Should We Respond to the Patriot Movement?

    How Should We Respond Specifically to the Tea Parties?

    Other Sectors of the Right



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