Conspiracies and Terror
Another factor driving the expansion of the radical right over the last decade or so has been the mainstreaming of formerly marginal conspiracy theories. The latest and most dramatic example of that may be the completely baseless claim that Agenda 21 — a United Nations sustainability plan that was signed by President George H.W. Bush but has no mandatory provisions whatsoever — is part of a plan to impose socialism on America and strip away private property rights.
That claim has been pushed heavily by, among others, the John Birch Society, a conspiracist Patriot organization that was exiled from the conservative movement a half century ago after claiming President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist agent (see story, p. 24)."Last year, the Republican National Committee passed a plank opposing Agenda 21 and describing it as a “destructive and insidious scheme” to impose “socialist/communist redistribution of wealth.” The state of Alabama passed a law barring any policies traceable to Agenda 21 without “due process.”
The radical right last year produced more than its fair share of political violence. Most dramatically, a neo-Nazi gunman stormed into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, murdering six people before killing himself. In Georgia, meanwhile, officials arrested 10 people, most of them active-duty military, who were allegedly part of a plot to take over the Army’s Fort Stewart, among many other things. The group is accused of murdering two former members suspected of talking.
Then, this January, an Alabama high school student was arrested for allegedly plotting to attack his black and gay classmates and bomb his school. Former friends of the student said he and a group of up to 11 other students regularly shouted “white power” and gave stiff-arm Nazi salutes in the halls of their Seale, Ala., school but were ignored by school officials and security officers.
These were only the latest incidents of just over 100 domestic radical-right plots, conspiracies and racist rampages that the SPLC has counted since the Oklahoma City bombing left 168 men, women and children dead in 1995.
Now, it seems likely that the radical right’s growth will continue. In 2012, before Obama’s re-election and the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the rate of Patriot growth had slackened somewhat, although it remained significant. Anger over the idea of four more years under a black, Democratic president — and, even more explosively, the same kinds of gun control efforts that fueled the militia movement of the 1990s — seems already to be fomenting another Patriot spurt.
Even before the election last year, self-described Patriots sounded ready for action. “Our Federal Government is just a tool of International Socialism now, operating under UN Agendas not our American agenda,” the United States Patriots Union wrote last year in a letter “sent to ALL conservative state legislators, all states.” “This means that freedom and liberty must be defended by the states under their Constitutional Balance of Power, or we are headed to Civil War wherein the people will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.”