The Institution for Social Ecology (ISE), founded by Murray Bookckin, recently hosted me on a panel at their 2019 annual gathering. I spoke about experiences I had working against the Patriot/militia movement in Oregon in 2015 and 2016, who were espousing a program of Far Right decentralization. This posed special challenges to left-wing decentralists — like social ecologists and anarchists.
My presentation lasts about 20 minutes, and it starts around right after the 30:00 mark.
(I answer some questions too, and around 1:38:20 i explain some of the intricacies of cattle ranching politics, which i found fascinating.)
I have a new peer-reviewed journal article (my first!), which I co-authored with Chip Berlet: “Rural Rage: The Roots of Right-Wing Populism in the United States.” This analysis of the U.S. Patriot movement is part of the “Forum on Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World” published by the Journal of Peasant Studies. It includes 243 endnotes, if that’s your kinda thing, and there is free journal access to the entire forum for the rest of 2019.
My extensive timeline, with a summary, of U.S. Alt Right and related Far Right activity imn 2018 is now up!
“While 2018 was not the banner year that 2017 was for the Alt Right and others on the Far Right, it was still a period of intense activity.
The Alt Right’s winning streak, which started in 2016, ended ingloriously in March 2018 with the collapse of one of its largest groups after a sex scandal, coupled with the cancellation of Richard Spencer’s failing college lecture tour. The movement has been in the doldrums since. Some Alt Lite groups—including Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer, but especially the Proud Boys—had an unexpected comeback earlier in the year between the spring and fall.
In addition a large number of Far Right candidates, ranging from neonazis to veterans of armed Patriot movement occupations, entered the Republican primaries. Some advanced to the November general election. The one-year anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville rally appeared to be a peak month of action for the Far Right, with many groups feeling the taboo against public demonstrations had expired. But the action that attained the most visibility, the Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington, DC, was a dismal failure.”
See the full timeline and summary at Political Research Associates.
“Twenty-three years ago, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a powerful homemade truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The death toll reached 168, and about 850 were injured. McVeigh’s act was retribution against the federal government for its attacks on the paramilitary Far Right. Looking back, the bombing apparently forced changes in how armed Far Right insurgents are treated by the federal government—a change which may have led to the hands-off policy against armed encampments led by the Bundy family in Nevada in 2014, and Oregon in 2016. Today, the Bundys walk free. One of them, Ryan Bundy, has announced he will run for Nevada governor. But do they owe their freedom, celebrity, and success to McVeigh’s murderous attack?”
Read the full article at Political Research Associates
“As the far right becomes more vocal around the country, the Trump administration is not the only arm of government serving its interests. Some members of Congress are closer to fringe right-wing groups than they might care to admit. In February, Oregon Representative Greg Walden introduced a new, vaguely titled bill, “Resource Management Practices Protection Act of 2017” (H.R.983). This bill might look benign at first glance, but in fact, it is a codification of structural racism, a political gift to right-wing paramilitaries, and a double standard in favor of the radical right.
The bill would exempt fires set in the course of agricultural work from a federal arson charge that can trigger enhanced sentences under a draconian terrorism act. It is the delivery of a promise that Walden first made on the floor of Congress just three days after the start of the armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in January 2016. With this bill, Walden is trying to make a “carve-out” for a group that is largely white and right wing from unfair mandatory minimums that affect many people, especially people of color and Muslims. The bill entrenches the notion that certain groups of people can be sentenced under a wide-ranging “terrorism” act that subjects them to brutal heightened sentences — while exempting others, who are white and firmly installed on the far right end of the political spectrum.”
Read the rest at Truthout
I started working on this report two months before the Malheur occupation – which threw quite a wrench in the thing. But now it’s finally finished. A joint project from Political Research Associates and the Rural Organizing Project, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement explains the Patriot movement’s national structure and goals; shows its decades-old history in Oregon; looks in-depth at six Oregon counties where Patriot movement organizing is strongest today; explains why the rural Oregon economy is in bad shape; and offers concrete suggestions—including numerous examples from the last year—of how Oregonians have counter-organized against this movement.
Spencer Sunshine, with Jessica Campbell & Rural Organizing Project, Political Research Associates, Daniel HoSang, Steven Besa, and Chip Berlet, Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement (Somerville, MA: Political Research Associates & Rural Organizing Project, October 2016), 188 pages.
Available in PDF and HTML (free), and softcover ($15+postage).