In its most simple and accurate meaning, a patriot is someone who feels a strong support for their country. The definition of a patriot takes on a different meaning for the religious and extremist far right who share a dangerous belief that they are a law unto themselves and not beholden to the laws of this nation, particularly the U.S. Constitution they hold in the same contempt as they do the federal government. Last week’s tense standoff between agents of the Department of the Interior and armed militias summoned by Nevada Mormon Cliven Bundy was, by any measure, the near realization of a dream of right wing anarchists claiming to be patriots; the start of a revolution. They yearn to wage war and destroy the federal government, and the Constitution, to reshape America according to Koch brothers’ John Birch libertarianism that explains the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity encouraging and supporting the criminal Bundy.
Much has been written about Bundy’s belief that he is not beholden to the laws of the United States, why he hates America, and why conservative media and Fox News rushed to defend Bundy and encourage right wing militias, but there is a dearth of information about one of Bundy’s greatest supporters. Fox News not only gave criminal Bundy air time to spread his insane anarchist’s views about why the nation’s laws apply to everyone but him, but they also provided a national forum for a dangerous vigilante, former sheriff, board member of Oath Keepers militia, Mormon, and John Birch acolyte Richard Mack. Bundy likely got the idea to order the local sheriff to disarm and confiscate Park Service and federal agents’ firearms and deliver them directly to him from Richard Mack. In fact, on Fox News Bundy told Sean Hannity that “We’re standing, and we’re going to stand until all county sheriffs take the guns away from all those federal bureaucracies, and then we’ll start making America great one more time.”
Richard Mack is the man travelling the nation informing teabaggers, Oath Keepers militia, and John Birch groups the county sheriff is the ultimate arbiter of what is Constitutional as well as being the supreme law of the land. This bizarre idea that sheriffs have supremacy over all other law enforcement agencies, including the federal government, was first pushed by explicitly racist and anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus which promotes an extreme racist anti-government ideology embraced by militia groups. The Posse’s founding tract, the Blue Book, was written by white supremacist and member of the Silver Shirts, a Nazi-inspired organization, Henry Lamont Beach who asserted the county was “the highest authority of government in our Republic,” and that sole judicial power rested with “citizen grand juries;” lunatic concepts Richard Mack subscribes to and promotes religiously as if uttered directly to him from the mind of his Mormon god.
Mack believes so strongly that the country sheriff was the representation of patriotism that he once said he prayed for the day when a sheriff would be the “first one to fire the next shot around the world and arrest a couple of IRS agents,” so it should have come as no surprise he rushed to answer Bundy’s call to arms against the federal government. Mack has been instrumental in the resurgence of the anti-American patriot movement which saw its numbers mushroom from 149 groups in 2008, the year Americans elected an African American President, to 1,274 by the end of 2011. Mack’s ideology, which heavily emphasizes state sovereignty, resonates with armed militias and racist extremists across the radical right who oppose all federal laws protecting minorities from hate crimes and discrimination. According to the author of “The Terrorist Next Door,” Daniel Levitas, “Ever since the notion of the supremacy of the county sheriff became popularized, it has continued to remain attractive, but what is behind it is violent lawlessness and vigilantism.” Levitas’ book chronicles the racism that underpins the right wing militia movement and there is a good reason former sheriff Richard Mack, a Mormon, shaped his ideology to comport with a fellow Mormon named Willard Cleon Skousen.
Mack first heard Willard Skousen speak in 1984 when he was the leading voice of right-wing radicalism and a Mormon theocrat who preached that America’s decline began with passage of the 14th Amendment and its guarantee of equality for former slaves and all Americans who were not white Christian males. One of Hobby Lobby and 200 Christian leaders’ goals is using “free exercise of religion” to neuter the 14th Amendment according to the Manhattan Declaration of which the company’s legal team were initial signers; Willard Skousen would be pleased. During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Skousen toured the country whipping up anti-communist fervor under the John Birch Society banner, and rabidly demonized federal regulatory agencies and expounded on eliminating the wall of separation between church and state, civil rights laws, labor unions, minimum wage, income and estate taxes, and most government programs and initiatives. It is no coincidence the Koch brothers, whose father was a founding member of the John Birch Society, spend tens upon tens-of-millions of their hundred-billion-dollar fortune to eliminate everything Skousen asserted were abominations and contrary to his theocratic vision of a perverse libertarian America.
That Fox News gave both criminal Cliven Bundy and John Birch acolyte Richard Mack a national forum to incite violence against the federal government puts them squarely on the side of racist anti-American militias.
Before rushing to join armed militias in Nevada, Mack sent out a call to 40,000 Oath Keeper militiamen that are strategizing their next plan of attack, that pales in comparison to the reach of Fox News that broadcast his anti-government call to arms to every heavily-armed white supremacist militia group that yearns for a reason to wage war on the United States government. It is unquestionable that most law-abiding Americans understand that Bundy is a criminal who is stealing from taxpayers, but they likely have no idea where Mack, and Bundy, derive their anti-American ideology; the Koch brothers’ John Birch Society and anti-Semitic racist Posse Comitatus. Tragically for Americans, the preponderance of racist militia groups, heavily-armed gun fanatics, and the hate-driven religious right know exactly where Bundy and Mack’s anti-American government philosophy originates and are counting the days until their “above the law” anarchist mindset will be rubber-stamped by a like-minded county sheriff after he consults with the John Birch Koch brothers for approval.