Friday, January 17, 2003

More right-wing terrorism

From my neck of the woods:

Was Someone Plotting To Kill Governor Locke?

They say Brailey, Jr. was a member of the Jural Society -- a group that does not believe in state or federal government. Instead, they believe in a "people's government" based upon Christian principles and common law. Brailey was elected "Governor of the State of Washington" at a Jural Society election in October of 1998.

I have no idea if James Brailey was one of the people I met, but I encountered the Jural Society while researching In God's Country -- it was wholly a Patriot organization, and the members I met appeared to be Christian Identity believers as well. (Those are the 'Christian principles' to which the KOMO piece above rather loosely refers.) Their primary mission was in selling Posse Comitatus ideology through the "common law" court scheme. This scheme is identical in the larger schema, though perhaps differing in some minor details, to that followed by the "Freemen" in Montana.

As I describe it in the book:

In the Freemen's world, not only are police authorities out of control, but the Federal Reserve is a Jewish hoax, money is merely counterfeit currency printed by the conspirators, taxes are an illegal form of blackmail by a renegade corporation that calls itself the United States, and the courts have placed themselves above God's law, thereby issuing a series of satanic and perverted rulings that are destroying the nation. Their solutions:

-- Declare yourself a ``sovereign citizen'' outside the reach of the federal government. Only white male property owners need apply.

-- Create ``common law'' courts comprised solely of ``sovereign citizens.'' These courts are the only really legal courts in the land, they believe. The body of law they hearken to includes not only the ``organic'' Constitution but also other laws ``common'' to Western civilization, especially the Magna Carta, and a bevy of outdated codes and federal rulings.

-- File liens against the ``phony'' public officials who may interfere with the functioning of the ``common law'' courts. If they continue to interfere, the courts may convene trials and, if these officials are found guilty of treason, they may be hung.

-- Freemen are free to use those liens as collateral to back up phony money orders printed at the ranch. These money orders are then cashed for Federal Reserve notes or used to purchase items, often for much less than the amount of the money order, and the company filling the orders then reimburses the Freemen for the remaining amount with cash of their own.

One of the myths that's been circulating in the mainstream press the past couple of years is that the "militia movement" is dead. Problem is, that story is wrong -- and it's misleading the public about the continuing threat to the rest of us posed by right-wing extremists.

The far right has always worked in cycles, and there's little question we are currently in a down cycle -- recruitment is down, organization is down, numbers and intensity are way down. Some reports out of the SPLC and other far-right monitors have corroborated this trend, and those reports have translated into the myth of the militia movement's demise.

Of course, there never really was a "militia movement" -- rather, organizing militias was merely one of the strategies of the broader "Patriot" movement. Another was organizing "common law" courts and promoting "sovereign citizenship" -- strategies that have had a far longer life, while the "militia" strategy fell into disfavor. In any case, the SPLC certainly ascertains that the Patriot movement is very much alive and kicking.

Moreover, while mainstream recruits may drift back -- especially when you have a president like George W. Bush, who constantly makes gestures that serve to encourage far-right voters (see the University of Michigan brief) -- the True Believers never really go away. Indeed, during the downcycles, they often become demonstrably more radical. These kinds of beliefs are also closely associated with a spiral of increasing violence.

So we should probably brace ourselves for a few more of these kinds of incidents, as the remaining True Believers begin acting out their beliefs.

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