Shortly before the 2016 vote, far right militias were preparing to defend Donald Trump in case the election was stolen by Hillary Clinton. That’s somewhat appropriate since the militias arose in the 1990s in response to the supposed tyrannical tendencies of her husband, Bill.
The 1990s were a tumultuous and confusing time for the right wing as a whole. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet bloc meant that anti-communism was no longer the unifying political ideology for them. They disagreed about who they could blame for society’s ills. They argued over who the main culprit was — international terrorists or pagan environmentalists or abortion providers or feminists or gays or The New World Order.
The militias warned that the federal government was planning to establish a globalist U.N. police state in the near future. There were armed confrontations with law enforcement which culminated in a militia sympathizer’s 1995 bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.
The militias were the armed wing of the older and more broadly based patriot movement. As a journalist, I investigated the movement and attended gatherings such as the Preparedness Expo in downtown Denver in 1996 and 1997. The speakers were the patriot/militia movers and shakers such as Militia of Montana leader John Trochmann and national talk radio host and former Green Beret commander Colonel “Bo” Gritz.
The expo was a traveling survivalist consumer show featuring solar ovens, blow guns, freeze-dried foods, alternative health remedies, emergency and disaster supplies, precious metals, radiation detection devices, home security and self-protection products. You could buy numerous buttons, T-shirts and bumper stickers denouncing or ridiculing Bill and Hillary Clinton. You could buy a bumper sticker which said “The Miracle of AIDS — Turns Fruits Into Vegetables” and “Some People Are Alive Simply Because It’s Illegal to Kill Them.”
Evangelist Texe Marrs was selling a book he authored entitled Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary Clinton And The White House Feminists Who Now Control America — And Tell The President What To Do. A flyer for the book describes a “coven” of “ruthless, shrewd, and calculating FemiNazis” who were plotting to “end American sovereignty and bring about a global Marxist paradise.”
He asked, “What dark power does [Hillary] exercise over her husband Bill? What’s her real goal? Is she plotting behind the scenes to become President of the United States of America?”
At the 1997 expo, I attended a seminar entitled “Why You Must Keep Your Money in the U.S.” by investment adviser Chris Temple who had a newsletter called “The National Investor.” He recommended an “America First” investment strategy but his talk was about politics.
He said he recently spent nearly three weeks in Washington, D.C. visiting members of Congress. He was there to oppose giving President Clinton “fast track” authority when he negotiated trade agreements (that is, Congress couldn’t amend these agreements but just vote them up or down). Clinton was defeated by an alliance of the labor movement, environmental and consumer groups, as well as some right-wing organizations.
“Wall Street and Washington are lying to you,” Temple said. He joked about how he was “the token conservative, the token Nazi” in coalitions opposing fast track, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “Liberals hate the New World Order more than conservatives,” he said.
He advocated a “marriage of the left and the right” and suggested that conservatives rethink their view of the world. He said the U.S. has “turned into a tool of oppression.” He asked the audience how many of them had seen the recent popular movie Air Force One. Most raised their hands.
He said that “it would be great if we had President Harrison Ford rather than President Hillary Clinton.” However, he thought the anti-American sentiments by the film’s terrorist villian were essentially correct.
He mentioned that he had written an article right after Boris Yeltsin came to power in which he argued that the Russian leader had a window of opportunity to transform his country’s economy. He suggested that Yeltsin should consider what Adolf Hitler did for Germany’s economy beginning in 1933.
Temple boasted with a laugh that groups, which monitor the far right such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center “always trot out this article with the Hitler reference.” Temple, a founder of the militia movement, had long time involvements with the Liberty Lobby, the KKK and the Aryan Nations.
I have wondered about what Temple was suggesting. In Air Force One, American and Russian special-forces capture the ultra-nationalist, nuclear-armed dictator of Kazakhstan who is committing genocide and wants to restore “Mother Russia.” Three weeks later, a diplomatic dinner is held in Moscow to celebrate. Loyalists of the dictator, posing as journalists, hijack Air Force One on the flight back. The president, played by Harrison Ford, fights the terrorists and manages to defeat them singlehandedly.
Temple’s admiration for the film’s ultra-nationalists isn’t surprising. When the Soviet empire fell apart, neo-fascists in Europe and the U.S. flocked to the region. A few thought that Russia might become the Fourth Reich.
In 2001, Temple would become a star of the financial press for his prognostications. But in 2003, he was indicted for mail fraud and money laundering and ended up in prison for several years. That’s a problem for the far right. They have a lot of grifters.
Speaking of grifters, Donald Trump is a big fan of Air Force One. He plays the movie’s theme song at his rallies. Harrison Ford is his favorite movie president. When Ford heard that, he remarked, “Donald, it was a movie. It’s not like this in real life, but how would you know?”
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.