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by Chip Berlet - Political Research Associates
paper is adapted from the forthcoming book, Too Close for Comfort:
Repressive Populism, Conspiracist Scapegoating, Apocalyptic Millennialism,
and Fascism, by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons.
Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," in The
Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1965); David Brion Davis, ed., The Fear of Conspiracy: Images
of Un-American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1971); Richard O. Curry and Thomas M. Brown,
eds., "Introduction," Conspiracy: The Fear of Subversion
in American History, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972);
George Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia
in American Politics (Los Angeles: Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1983);
and Frank P. Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race,
Conspiracy, and Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1985); Chip Berlet, "Three
Models for Analyzing Conspiracist Mass Movements of the Right," in
Eric Ward, ed., Conspiracies: Real Grievances, Paranoia, and Mass
Movements, (Seattle, Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment
[Peanut Butter Publishing], 1996.); Kathleen M. Blee, "Engendering
Conspiracy: Women in Rightist Theories and Movements," in Ward, Conspiracies.
3 On Christian
right fears of a liberal secular humanist conspiracy, see Chip Berlet
and Margaret Quigley, "Theocracy & White Supremacy: Behind the
Culture War to Restore Traditional Values," chapter in Eyes Right!
Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, Chip Berlet, ed. (Boston, South
End Press, 1995) p. 60-61. On growing right/left conspiracism, see Michael
Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June
19, 1995, pp. 60-70. For radio conspiracism, see Leslie Jorgensen, "AM
Armies," pp. 20-22 and Larry Smith, "Hate Talk," p. 23, Extra! March/April
1995; Marc Cooper, "The Paranoid Style," The Nation,
April 10, 1995, pp. 486-492; William H. Freivogel, "Talking Tough
On 300 Radio Stations, Chuck Harder's Show Airs Conspiracy Theories," St.
Louis Post Dispatch, May 10, 1995, p. 5B; David McHugh and Nancy
Costello, "Radio host off the air; militia chief may be out," Detroit
Free Press, 4/29/95, p. 6A.
Berlet, "Who's Mediating the Storm? Right-wing Alternative Information
Networks," in Linda Kintz & Julia Lesage, Culture, Media,
and the Religious Right (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
Phillips, "The Politics of Frustration" The New York Times
Magazine, April 12, 1992, pp. 38-42.
criticism of the original academic idea that a conspiracist "radical
right" is somehow far outside the electoral system (called centrist/extremist
theory or the pluralist school), see Michael Rogin, The Intellectuals
and McCarthy: The Radical Specter, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1967),
pp. 261-282; Curry and Brown, eds., "Introduction," Conspiracy,,
pp. vii-xi; Leo P. Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant
Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Philadelphia:
Temple University Press, 1983), pp. 237-257; Margaret Canovan, Populism (New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981), pp. 46-51 179-190; Jerome L.
Himmelstein, To The Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism,
(Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990), pp. 1-5, 72-76, 152-164.
Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political
Power in the United States, (New York: Guilford, 1995), pp. 5-6,
40-41; Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An American History.
(New York: Basic Books, 1995). pp. 190-193 See Schoenberger, ed., The
American Right Wing; William B. Hixson, Jr., Search for the American
Right Wing: An Analysis of the Social Science Record, 1955-1987,
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 10-48, 77-123, 273-292. For
statistical data that refutes some of the claims made by centrist/extremist
theory about the social base of the "radical right." This thesis
is developed at length in the forthcoming Too Close for Comfort.
Lind, "On Pat Robertson: His Defenders", The New York Review
of Books, April 20, 1995, pp. 67-68; Jacob Heilbrunn, "On Pat
Robertson: His Anti-Semitic Sources", pp. 68-71; Frank Rich, "The
New World Order," New York Times, Op-Ed, Journal, 4/27/97.
generally Himmelstein, To The Right; Diamond, Roads; Diamond, Spiritual
Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (Boston: South End Press,
1989); Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between
Theocracy and Democracy, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1997); Berlet
and Quigley, "Theocracy & White Supremacy," in Eyes
W. Grupp, Jr., "The Political Perspectives of Birch Society Members;" and
James McEvoy, III, "Conservatism or Extremism: Goldwater Supporters
in the 1964 Presidential Election;" both in Robert A. Schoenberger,
ed., The American Right Wing: Readings in Political Behavior,
(New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969). Charles Jeffrey Kraft, A
Preliminary Socio-Economic & State Demographic Profile of the John
Birch Society, (Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates (PRA),
Kelly, "The Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June
19, 1995, pp. 60-70.
in his New Yorker article, writes of this seepage phenomenon from
alternative to mainstream in terms of conspiracist anti-government allegations.
Weiss, "Clinton Crazy," New York Times Magazine, Feb.
sheets and reports from The Maldon Institute, on file at Political Research
Associates, (PRA). The Maldon Institute in 1993 claimed financial support
from "public-spirited foundations including the Allegheny Foundation,
The Carthage Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith...." In
1993 Maldon Institute board members included three noted conspiracists:
Dr. D. James Kennedy, a leading Christian right activist and founder
of the Moral Majority. Kennedy endorsed a book that alleged the Illuminati
Freemasons and Jewish bankers were behind US liberalism's attack on morality;
[see Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, p. 60. On endorsement, see back
cover of William T. Still, New World Order: The Ancient Plan of Secret
Societies, (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1990).]; Raymond Wannall,
past president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and
a former assistant director of the FBI. Wannall led a campaign to justify
the acts of government agents charged with illegally spying on the left
based on the FBI's conspiracist view of countersubversion; [W. Raymond
Wannall, "KGB Into the Breach," Nightwatch: Special Report,
Security and Intelligence Foundation, 1987, on file at PRA. M. Wesley
Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agent's Exposé, (Boston, MA:
South End Press, 1995), pp. 101-102; Donner, Age, pp. 70-71.]; Robert
Moss, a journalist who gained fame suggesting that Soviet agents secretly
controlled a network of left and liberal groups in the US; [See footnotes
to Moss articles in Broken Seals, Western Goals Foundation, no
date: note 77, Robert Moss, Daily Telegraph (London), December
4, 1978, p. 6; note 100, Ibid. June 18, 1979, p. 6.].
good short summary of the Illuminati/Freemason and Protocols conspiracies
and their role in the contemporary racist right can be found in James
Ridgeway, Blood in the Face (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press,
15 Johnson, Architects
of Fear, pp. 169-173; Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 84-87,
M. Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, pp.
109; see also: Diamond, Roads, pp. 246-248; William Martin, With
God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, (New
York: Broadway Books, 1996), pp. 194-198, 331-333, 344-347.
Stormer, None Dare Call it Treason...25 Years Later, paperback,
(Flourissant, MO: Liberty Bell Press, 1992 (hardcover, 1990)).
18 Martin, With
God on Our Side, pp. 194-197; Dallas A. Blanchard, The Anti-Abortion
Movment and the Rise of the Religious Right, (New York: Twayne
Publishers, 1994), p. 97. Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto,
revised, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982 (1981)), pp. 117-130;
Franky Schaeffer, A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality,
(Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), pp. 15-25, 76-78; John W.
Whitehead, The Stealing of America, (Westchester, IL: Crossway
Books, 1987), pp. 31-59; Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind,
(Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1980), pp. 141-179.
A. Lewis, "Group Behind Paula Jones Gains Critics as Well as Fame," New
York Times, 1/18/98, p. 18.
letter from Rutherford Institute, received in 1997, on file at PRA.
W. Whitehead, "God's Love Through Christ," tract, no date,
on file at PRA.
Rutherford Institute: Responding to a Need," no date, on file at
Chuvala, "A Nation on the Edge?," Rutherford magazine,
August 1995, p. 9.
and Criminal: Linda Thompson's views of our government leaders," Rutherford magazine,
August 1995, pp. 14-17.
W. Whitehead, "Violence: The Spirit of Our Age," Straight Talk
column, Rutherford magazine, August 1995, p. 13.
Weyrich, "Fear & Appression: American Birthright?" perspective, Rutherford magazine,
August 1995, p. 16.
W. Whitehead, The Stealing of America, (Westchester, IL: Crossway
Books, 1987), pp. 31-59.
pp. 106-127. The Rutherford Institute published a pamphlet based on a
1993 speech by Whitehead where he urges Christians to confront the enemy
behind the "illegitimate acts of the state," by using tactics
ranging from education to civil disobedience. John W. Whitehead, "Engaging
the Culture," pamphlet, The Rutherford Institute, circa 1993.
Diamond, Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times,
(Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1996).
35 Diamond, Facing
the Wrath, pp.110-11. Extensive quote used by permission of the
author. Copyright 1996, Sara Diamond.
36 Clarkson, Eternal
Hostility, pp. 92-93.
Clarkson, citing: John Whitehead, "The Separation of Church and
State: Myth or Fact?" speech at Third Annual Conference on Christian
Reconstruction, May 13, 1983.
Clarkson, citing: Whitehead, Ibid.
Clarkson, citing: Jerry Sloan and Tracy Jefferys-Renault, Without
Justice For All: A Report On The Christian Right In Sacramento and Beyond, Planned
Parenthood of the Sacramento Valley, 1993, p. 70.
Clarkson, citing: Chuck & Donna McIlhenny, When the wicked Seized
a City: A Grim Look at the Future and a Warning to the Church. Huntington
House Publishers, 1993, pp. 49-50.
Clarkson, citing: John Whitehead in Gary DeMar, Ruler of the Nations:
Biblical principles for Government, 1987, Dominion Press, Ft. Worth,
Texas, p. xix.
Clarkson, citing: Skipp Porteous, "Special profile: The Rutherford
Institute," The Freedom Writer, June 1994.
Porteous, "Special profile: The Rutherford Institute," The
Freedom Writer, June 1994.
Schaeffer, The Second American Revolution, videotape, [based on
the book of the same name by John W. Whitehead], Franky Schaeffer V Productions,
Word Lifeware Video, (Word, Inc. Waco, Texas, 1986).
is the idea that since Christianity is the one true religion of God,
that when push comes to shove, Christianity is destined to replace all
other religions. John W. Whitehead, "God's Love Through Christ," tract,
no date, on file at PRA.
for the Christian Church," The Coalition on Revival, Crosswinds,
Winter 1992, pp. 111-122.
with author, Feb. 1998.
Freedom Enterprise, Free Enterprise Development Association, Inc.
Vol. 1, Issue 1, no date, distributed October 4, 1997.
Freedom Enterprise, p. 1.
53 Ibid., p.
2. See: Citizens Intelligence Digest, 4809 Phoenix Drive, Chesapeake,
author briefly attended part of the rally, but did not hear every speech.
of my research into right wing conspiracism online was to prepare for
an interview by Grant Kester that appeared as "Net Profits: Chip
Berlet Tracks Computer Networks of the Religious Right," in Afterimage,
Feb./March 1995, pp. 8-10.
with attachments, "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce," obtained
from the White House Press Office.
Kevin Phillips, "The Politics of Frustration" The New York
Times Magazine, April 12, 1992. Mainstream: Michael Kelly, "The
Road to Paranoia," The New Yorker, June 19, 1995. Progressive:
Chip Berlet, "Big Stories, Spooky Sources," Columbia Journalism
Review, May/June 1993.
Albert, "CONSPIRACY?...NOT AGAIN," Venting Spleen Column, Z
Magazine, May 1992; Chip Berlet "Friendly Fascists: The Far
Right Tries to Move in on the Left," The Progressive, June
1992; Reports by Sara Diamond and Richard Hatch circulated on the Internet.
Pipes, Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes, and Where It
Comes From (New York: Free Press, 1997).
S. Camp, Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997).
charges and response at URL: <http://www.saintsalive.com/mormonism/nccj.htm>.
to a spokesperson for Jeremiah Films, they made the video and distribute
it, but the opening sequence announces the video is from Citizens United
for the Preservation of Civil Rights, and the closing sequence refers
viewers to the Traditional Values Coalition, while critics claim the
video was actually made for and distributed free to Congress by the Springs
of Life Ministries, a close ally of the TVC. See: "Traditional Values
Coalition," People for the American Way, URL: <http://www.pfaw.org/gyrgts6.htm>;
Frederick Clarkson, "More Bigotry on the Ballot," Freedom
Writer, Institute for First Amendment Studies, URL: <http://www.berkshire.net/~ifas/fw/9402/nigotry.html>;
Deb Price, "As Dole's Likely Successor in Senate, Lott is a Real
Worry for Gay Americans," The Detroit News, March 22, 1996,
URL: <http://detnews.com/menu/stories/40909.htm>; David Deitcher, "The
Gay Agenda," Art in America, Issues & commentary, April,
1994, pp. 27-35; additional information from Renée DeLapp, Western
A. Noebel, Understanding the Times: The Story of the Biblical Christian,
Marxist/Leninist and Secular Humanist Worldviews (Manitou Springs, CO:
Summit Ministries Press, 1992). See also: David A. Noebel, Communism,
Hypnotism and the Beatles, (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Christian Crusade Publications,
1965); David A. Noebel, Rhythm, Riots and Revolution (Tulsa, OK: Christian
Crusade Publications, 1966); David A. Noebel, Marxist Minstrels: A Handbook
on Communist Subversion of Music, (Tulsa, Oklahoma: American Christian
College Press, 1974).
Burkett, The Illuminati: A Novel, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson,
1991). Larry Burkett, The Thor Conspiracy; The Seventy-Hour Countdown
to Disaster," (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996).
Clinton Chronicles Book, pp. 141-142.
Askin, A New Rite: Conservative Catholic Organizations and Their Allies,
(Washington, DC: Catholics for Free Choice, 1994), p 19.
on the Web, Video List. http://www.churchontheweb.com/bookshop/paganinvasion/8.html.
generally Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief
in Modern American Culture, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University
Press, 1992); Charles B. Strozier, Apocalypse: On the Psychology of
Fundamentalism in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994); Stephen O'Leary, Arguing
the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1994); Robert Fuller, Naming the Antichrist: The
History of an American Obsession, (New York: Oxford University Press,
1995). Philip Lamy, Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists,
and the Doomsday Prophecy, (New York: Plenum, 1996). For a Christian
critique of conspiracist apocalyptics, see Gregory S. Camp, Selling
Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1997). For a progressive challenge to apocalyptic thinking,
see Lee Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse: Exercise in Geneological Criticism,
(Minneapolis: Univ. of MN Press, 1994). Useful introductory anthologies
are Thomas Robbins and Susan J. Palmer, eds., Millennium, Messiahs,
and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements, (New York: Routledge,
1997); and Charles B. Strozier and Michael Flynn, The Year 2000: Esssays
on the End, (New York: NYU Press, 1997).
69 Fuller, Naming
the Antichrist, pp. 20-22. Lamy, Millennium Rage, p. 36.
Christian millennium is not necessarily tied to a specific date, much
less a specific millennial calendar date such as the year 2000, but the
significance of the millennial date changeover raises expectations. Millennial
fervor, however, has flourished at a variety of random dates throughout
Western history. Any date in any calendar system (Judaic or Islamic for
example) can be understood as significant given the creativity of those
using numerological equations to find justification.
Fuller, Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American Obsession,
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.165-190; Philip Lamy, Millennium
Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy,
(New York: Plenum, 1996), pp. 57-59, 81-86.
72 Diamond, Spiritual
Warfare, 23-25, 130-141; 231-232; Diamond, Roads to Dominion,
161-177, 228-256; David Cantor, The Religious Right, New York:
Anti-Defamation League, 1994), pp. 22-24, 71-73, 119-129, 151-153.
Clarkson, Eternal Hostility, 125-138; Fuller, Naming the
Antichrist, pp. 40-190; Lamy, Millennium Rage, 26-30, 63-157,
73 Lamy, Millennium
Rage, pp. 86-88.
74 Quinby, Anti-Apocalypse,
75 O'Leary, Arguing
the Apocalypse, pp. 20-60.
Zeskind, "Some Ideas on Conspiracy Theories for a New Historical
Period," in Ward, Conspiracies, pp. 13-14.
77 Zeskind, "Some
Ideas on Conspiracy Theories," p. 16; see also, pp. 11, 13-15, 16-17.
O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1994), p. 6.
Kaplan, Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the
Far Right to the Children of Noah, (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University
Press, 1997), p. 171.
hosted by professor Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial
Studies at Boston University, helped me frame this discussion, as did
periodic discussions with Sara Diamond, Fred Clarkson, Philip Lamy, Lee
Quinby, and Aaron Katz. There has been a tendency among social scientists
to overlook the influence of sincere and devout religious belief on political
action. Frequently people of faith are described in patronizing caricature
or dismissed as ignorant, irrational, or even mentally ill. The almost
careless bigotry and stereotyping of many liberal and left commentators
is objectionable on both moral and practical grounds. In recent years,
a number of researchers have attempted to seriously analyze religiously-motivated
social movements, and I have tended to emphasize their work in this section.
81 Marsden, Understanding
Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, pp. 9-61. Fuller, Naming
the Antichrist, pp. 108-133.
82 Ribuffo, Old
Christian Right, pp. 2-24, 58-72, 83-116, 175-177.
83 Barkun, Religion
and the Racist Right, pp. 47-49, 60-70, 106-107, 116-118, 205.
84 Fuller, Naming
the Antichrist, p. 5.
Marrs, Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary Clinton And The White House
Feminists Who Now Control America-And Tell The President What To Do,
(Austin, TX: Living Truth Publishers, 1993.)
Blue Mountain Working Group, "A Call To Defend Democracy And Pluralism," November,
1994. Available from Political Research Associates.
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