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American Militia Movement

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The American militia movement draws together hundreds of diverse groups seeking to preserve their vision of an American society based upon traditional ideals and, especially, a strong faith in limited government. The militia movement's self-image stems from a mythic understanding of the role of the American militias in the Revolutionary War. Collectively xenophobic, anti-Communist, anti-Catholic, Antisemitic, and racists, its social-intellectual origins begin in late 19th and early 20th century anti-Catholicism and anti-immigrant sentiment, finding expression in groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity. Christian Identity anticipates a Biblical apocalypse and calls upon members to prepare by storing food and gathering arms and ammunition. Identity theology provides a link between the Ku Klux Klan with various elements of the American militia movement.

During the second half of the 20th century, the militia movement remade itself around the concept of the so-called "patriot" movement. Contrary to the more public and confrontational style of the KKK, the American militia movement tended away from public exposure in favor of a more survivalist and isolationistic approach. Militia tactics ranged from relatively non-violent acts, i.e., refusing to pay income taxes and neo-secessionism, to high-intensity stand-offs with government agencies.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, the Posse Comitatus sought to appropriate the image of the militia of the American Revolution. Within its newsletter, the Posse declared the United States to have fallen under the control of International Jewry. The Posse's founder, Henry Beach, had joined the pro-Hitler movement in the United States in the 1930s. Forty years later, Beach headed a movement which claimed that the United Nations had taken control of the election of federal officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would serve as the instrument for realizing the New World Order in the United States. Typical of subsequent militia groups, the Posse members believed they were involved in a struggle against an international conspiracy to deny average citizens their rights. They read Andrew Macdonald's novel The Turner Diaries (1978) in which an underground white army leads a brutal revolution against the so-called Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG), located in Washington, DC. Behind the ZOG, according to Posse and Identity adherents, stood World Jewry, Communists, and those who would define the white race.

In the 1990s, the movement congealed around people and events, including, Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus, Andrew Macdonald, William Pierce, Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge, David Koresh's Branch Davidians in Waco, TX, the Freemen stand-off in Jordan, MT, and John Trockman's Militia of Montana. The issues uniting these disparate elements began with a fundamental distrust of the government

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