Sept. 20, 1985 | RIGHT-WING EXTREMISTS SEEK TO RECRUIT FARMERS during 1980s Farm Crisis

Same tactic. Different generation.
People in economic distress due to the virus, makes them easy marks for recruitment just like farmers in the 80s
“Right-wing extremist groups, some militantly anti-Semitic and counseling violence, are conducting a recruiting and propaganda effort aimed at financially troubled farmers throughout the Middle West.”
In newsletters and fliers and in small meetings and individual contacts, farmers were urged to “stop paying taxes, resist the courts, regard United States currency as bogus and, in some cases, to arm themselves.”
One 1980s newspaper featured articles suggesting that “the worst farm financial crisis since the 1930's is a result of a murky international conspiracy of bankers and *Zionists* operating through the Federal Reserve System.”
“The dramatic upswing in right-wing activity in the region” was the object of intense scrutiny by law-enforcement officials and civil rights organizations
The recruiting effort during the 1980s farm crisis, was conducted by disparate right-wing organizations ranging from KKK splinter groups and the paramilitary to Posse Comitatus to a reborn Populist Party with links to longtime racists and anti-Semites.
One of the most dramatic occurred in Cairo, Neb., and involved a failing farmer, Arthur Kirk, who had embraced both violent anti-Semitism and the homemade legal tactics of National Agricultural Press Association.
(Oct 1984) Sheriff's deputies attempting to serve foreclosure papers on Kirk departed after an armed face-off.

Kirk later telephoned a reporter around 8:30 P.M.
He said,

"I know they’re coming for me. . . . I am ready to die, but I’m going to take a lot of them with me."
A police special weapons and tactics team soon appeared and found Kirk wearing a gas mask and bristling with firepower, including a long-barreled .357-caliber pistol and an automatic rifle.

He fired on the police, was shot twice and bled to death.
Before he died, he screamed epithets about Jews, bankers and the Mossad, over the telephone to officers trying to get him to surrender.

A police search of Kirk's farm uncovered tons of weapons and literature from the Posse Comitatus and various other right-wing groups
February 13, 1983
A similar confrontation happened between heavily armed officers and a tax protester, Gordon Kahl, in the remote hills of Arkansas.
Gordon Kahl, a farmer, was one of the leaders of Posse Comitatus. He was also affiliated with neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, and was sought for the murder of two Federal marshals in North Dakota.
Kahl died in a battle with the police when gunfire ignited his makeshift bunker stuffed with thousands of rounds of ammunition.
“All indicators point to America being on the brink of a new and likely larger wave of antigovernment violence than that which we experienced some two decades ago.”

And as much as people would like to blame this ..solely on Trump, that would be a mistake.

It’s not that simple”
“The antigovernment movement in this country is like a giant funnel.

The more people who are poured into the funnel’s large end, the more people who will eventually be forced out of its small end.”
“...those dripping from the small end are the ones who are willing to do unspeakable acts of violence in the name of their cause — think Oklahoma City bombing — “

...understanding the workings of this funnel is imperative.
Being forced thru the antigovt funnel is aided by a combo of “stress, anger, misinformation, religion, fear & blame-shifting that, for a variety of reasons, eventually leads to an ever-deepening belief in ...conspiracy theories about the govt, New World Order & .. minorities.”
“We dismiss rather than attempt to understand how people can get to a place in their lives” where conspiracy theories “are transformed into their conception of reality and guiding principals.”
Most would like to think that the belief in conspiracy theories is reserved for the ignorant, the uneducated, the trailer trash crowd, or the “deplorables,” but that is far too simplistic.
“Such a misguided and uninformed interpretation of what is happening serves only to add powder to the antigovt bomb.

...the best way to understand our current predicament is to quickly reexamine what led us to a similar, albeit less threatening, time of violence in the 1990s.”
The first decade of reporting Joel Dyer did was on the farm crisis & decline of the rural American economy in the 1980s.

His interest: the huge rise in suicides among farm families. He had no clue he was investigating root causes of the radical & violent antigovt movement.
“Dyer's analysis of why right-wing extremism spiked in the 1980s and 90s might give us some insight into how extremism began rising across the political spectrum two decades later.”

— Hateland: by Daryl Johnson 
“In this weakened, confused, and angry state, Dr Wallace saw people choosing one of three options: counseling, suicide, or shifting their guilt to blame some other group.”

— Hateland: A Long, Hard Look at America's Extremist Heart by Daryl Johnson 
1980s farm crisis
Wallace was there to encourage suicidal farmers to accept his professional help. But during their farm visits, both Wallace and Dyer noticed other groups like Christian Identitarians and Posse Comitatus showing up.
The Posse Comitatus.
While many of its members also harbored anti-Semitic and white supremacist views, they were particularly distinguished by their extreme hostility toward legal authority, esp fed govt. (another belief that you will still find today if you search social media)
Christian Identitarianism:

It begins with a familiar story: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” But, in their racist reinterpretation of the original Hebrew, it takes a nasty turn.
Just like today, extremist groups don’t usually recruit by starting out fullbore:
Identity, Community, Purpose (ICP)
“Psychologist Glen Wallace was a primary counselor on call for a suicide hotline.

At the peak of the farm crisis, Wallace was being sent into the field to talk down suicidal farmers at a rate of nearly 200/yr—just in the state of Oklahoma.

— Hateland: 
His efforts were chronicled by journalist, Joel Dyer.
During the 1980s Farm Crisis:
Farmers felt guilty, blamed themselves for their economic troubles

In their weakened, confused, and angry states, Wallace saw people choosing 1 of 3 options:
▪︎or shifting guilt to blame some other group
early 1990s
The worst of 80’s farm crisis had passed, but the anger and despair across the heartland had not.

“Coupled with a new economic recession, membership in right-wing, anti-government groups exploded.”

— Hateland: by Daryl Johnson 
As many as three million Americans were involved in some sort of extremist activity, in groups ranging from the
▪︎Sovereign Citizens
▪︎the Freemen
▪︎and various anti-immigrant groups along the Mexican border
“After the 1995 OK bombing, Joel Dyer visited the farm belt again, this time looking for explanations for the spike in right-wing activity.

Dyer recalled how many ex-farmers had been actively recruited by extremist groups, and reconnected with the families he had met.”
The extremist groups’ recruitment drives were shockingly successful.

📍Roughly 80% of the people Dyer had met on suicide watch during the 80s farm crisis were now affiliated with some kind of extremist group.

— Hateland: 
Dyer saw a classic radicalization process—on a massive scale.

Farmers’ economic & personal hardship weakened or destroyed their inhibitors:
▪︎social networks

Many were affected by destabilizers:
Weak inhibitors
strong destabilizers
extremely vulnerable to radicalization

And the extremist groups knew how to exploit it

— Hateland: 
Extremists fulfilled the farmers’ ICP’s (Identity Community Purpose — @cpicciolini) with:
▪︎social events
▪︎personal relationships

And helped radicalize by exposing farm families to:
▪︎charismatic leaders
As farmers became more radical, they had a new way of understanding their problems.

They shifted blame for their problems to blacks, Jews, immigrants, the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), international banking cartels, or other extreme right-wing bogeymen. — Hateland
“an economic catastrophe negatively affects resistance to radicalization on a massive scale.”

— Hateland
📍”...a catastrophe that destroys families and careers while frequently leaving people angry, confused, despondent, and aggrieved will certainly increase the overall chances of radicalization across a whole population or country.”
External economic factors influenced internal psychological processes of radicalization, eroding personal inhibitors on a massive scale.

Though ..not the only factor.. economic devastation of the farm crisis sowed seeds of rage that blossomed in the early 1990s.
— Hateland
following the FBI’s failed attempt to arrest Randy Weaver on a minor firearms charge at his rural home in Ruby Ridge gun owners all across the U.S. were outraged.
Many saw the assault on the Weavers as a perfect example of what 2A activists have been claiming for years: that the registration and regulation of firearms is only the first step in the govt’s secret plan to suspend the 2nd Amendment & take our guns to control the people.
(If you stop what you’re doing right now and visit 2A Twitter, you will find these exact same arguments from the in the year 2020. We saw it at the recent armed “reopen” rallies and on Jan 20 in Richmond)
Enter the Rapture:
“those whose religion includes a belief that the violent “end times” are upon us ALSO saw the attack on the Weavers — who .. had moved to Ruby Ridge in preparation for [it]— as proof” the federal govt “had been taken over by the forces of evil.”
Many who live their lives based on some interpretation of the Rev of John, the end times tends to include our govt being taken over by a shadowy evil that turns it against Christians. In their world, the Constitution is thought to have been inspired by God.
This explains their anger and fear of any interpretation of the document that seems out of line with its original 240-year-old meaning as intended by the founding fathers.

Religion-based conspiracy theories also helped to push many into the mouth of the antigovernment funnel.
This helps to explain why shortly after Ruby Ridge, citizen militia groups and other various antigovernment organizations began to pop up all across the country, primarily in rural areas but also in some declining cities in the Rust Belt. (The same area Trump targeted in 2016)
“Even though there had been an antigovernment presence in farm country for many years in the form of the Posse Comitatus, what sprouted from the blood of Ruby Ridge was decidedly different, much larger and better organized.” — Dyer
“The antigovernment movement got another shot in the arm in 1993 when the ATF went after David Koresh and the Branch Davidians at the religious sect’s compound in Waco, Texas. Once again the government’s actions were based on gun charges.” -Dyer

Recent tweet:
“By the end of the Waco raid and siege that ended with the compound going up in flames, five ATF officers were dead while Koresh and 80 of his followers, including many women and children, were also killed.” —Dyer
“For millions of Americans, like Ruby Ridge before it, Waco served as more evidence that the conspiracy theories about the government must be true and it helped move many people deeper into the funnel.

Then the movement exploded.” —Dyer
By early 1995 it was *estimated* that as many as 3 million Americans were involved in some level of antigovernment activity, including:
Membership ≠ activity
“Membership alone is a poor measure of white power activity, with records often hidden, distorted, or destroyed...”

— Bring the War Home: by Kathleen Belew 
Another reason membership # alone could not accurately convey their “impact, activity, or capacity for violence”:

“leaderless resistance changed recruitment goals, emphasizing .. importance of ...small number of fully committed activists ...”
—Belew, Bring The War Home
Back to farmers: Shortly after Ruby Ridge, Dyer began covering antigovernment gatherings all over the central US, from Texas to Montana & noticed that most of those in attendance looked and acted like the farmers he had been reporting on for much of the previous decade.—Hateland
“Dyer’s exploration of this connection between economic hardship & antigovernment activity ultimately led to the publication of his first book, Harvest of Rage: Why Oklahoma City is Only the Beginning.

In 2016, he believed the title was proving to be quite accurate.”
While researching that book, Dyer worked closely with rural psychologist Dr. Glen Wallace, former director of rural mental health care services for the state of OK.

Wallace was also the primary counselor on call for the farm suicide hotline run by a group called Ag-link.
Economic difficulty — such as losing the family farm to foreclosure — most often causes serious depression for those experiencing the loss.

According to Wallace, this depression, if untreated, ultimately results in what the psychologist refers to as “an invitation to die.”
Deep down, we blame ourselves for our economic circumstances and that translates into believing that we have failed — not only ourselves, but our families who depend on us.

As our depression deepens we begin to contemplate putting an end to our pain by taking our own lives.
It’s hard for most of us to understand the power of conspiracy theories.

But to a mind strapped down by depression being force fed these tales that serve to free a person from guilt and self-loathing, it can make perfect sense.

Extremist recruiters exploit it.
(Putin & RIS know it too.)
“Some conspiracy theories have been around for centuries, like the belief that the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion are real — a conspiracy theory first published in Russia in 1903 & embraced and spread by the likes of Henry Ford and numerous politicians“ —Hateland
“As Dyer first wrote in 1996, the theories are intricate works of fiction designed to explain America’s ongoing slide toward what feels increasingly like a “Third World” existence for millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the ever-widening great divide.” —Hateland
“These conspiracy theories have been specifically designed to take advantage of the wide swaths of depression that have engulfed much of the rural landscape and the unemployed masses of the Rust Belt.

Places we often refer to as “red states.” —Hateland
These well-crafted theories combine ▪︎fundamental religion
▪︎grain of truth
▪︎often racism and hate

The finished products ease the pain of those who place their faith in the theories, letting them place blame on someone else for their problems.
“The depression that hit the economically challenged in farm country 25 years ago has spread to millions who have lost their manufacturing jobs to cheap overseas labor and their homes to the mortgage crisis.”
“Many Americans have replaced their disappeared job that once paid a livable wage with two and three jobs in their effort to simply get by.”
(2016) “It is the middle ages between 35 and 64 years of age where suicide rates have skyrocketed nearly 30 percent. And more specifically still, the rate of suicide for middle-aged whites jumped a nearly inconceivable 40 percent in a 10-year span.”
“The highest suicide rates in the country now belong to 50–55yo white men — many Trump supporters.

So why are these middle-aged white men killing themselves?

Like the farmers before them, economic stress coupled with no promising outlook for the future is taking its toll.”
“They have reached the point in their lives where they now realize that the promised American Dream they believed to be their birthright is not going to materialize.

After a lifetime of work they can’t retire; they can’t pay their bills; they see no future.”
“...millions ...are blame-shifting their hate from themselves to the proverbial other, and by doing so, unwittingly pouring themselves into the mouth of the funnel.

And they are getting plenty of help in the process.”
“It largely fell to the propaganda of 2a zealots and end-times preachers to push folks into the funnel.”

the call into the funnel has gone mainstream. You can’t turn on a television or computer screen without hearing the new conspiracy theories.
“finding people who remain within reach—those for whom common decency and respectful discourse and Christian kindness are still important values, even though they may have voted for Trump—may provide an avenue for deeper social change.”

—David Neiwert 
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