[News] US militias forge alliances with conspiracy theorists ahead of election

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 14 12:10:25 EDT 2020


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/14/armed-militias-conspiracy-theorists-anti-vaxxers-red-pill-expo
US
militias forge alliances with conspiracy theorists ahead of election
Ed Pilkington - October 14, 2020
------------------------------

Armed militia groups are forging alliances in the final stages of the US
presidential election with conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers who claim
the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, intensifying concerns that trouble
could be brewing ahead of election day.

Leading advocates of anti-government and anti-science propaganda came
together at the weekend, joined by the founder of one of the largest
militia groups. The rare connection occurred at the Red Pill Expo
<https://redpillexpo.org/>, a conference convened on Jekyll Island, Georgia
– a symbolic location
<https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-story-behind-the-creature-from-jekyll-island-the-anti-fed-conspiracy-theory-bible>
as it is the birthplace of the US Federal Reserve, a popular bogey figure
for conspiracy theorists.

The summit, staged indoors in front of a packed and maskless audience of
about 350, was headlined by Stewart Rhodes, president of the Oath Keepers.
The militia
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/09/us-militias-trump-election-day-covid-guns>,
which turned up menacingly at several Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests
over the summer and has acted as a vigilante squad at numerous Donald Trump
campaign rallies, has links to 25,000
<https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/right-wing-militias-civil-war/616473/>
current or past members, mostly military or police veterans.

Rhodes aroused the crowd of “Red Pillers”, as they called themselves, with
incendiary language. He denounced BLM as a “communist front” and encouraged
attendees to seek training in firearms and militia activity as the election
approaches.

“You are your own self-defense,” he said. “You must organize yourselves in
the next 30 days in your towns and counties. We have members in every state
in the union and we are standing them up right now.”

Rhodes said the turbulence around “radical left” protests had brought “a
flood of special warfare operatives into the Oath Keepers”. He cited former
navy Seals and special force personnel from Fort Bragg, the US army
garrison in North Carolina.

A number of groups monitoring far rightwing paramilitary activity have
warned
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/09/us-militias-trump-election-day-covid-guns>
in recent weeks that militia groups and individuals online are increasingly
focusing their attentions on the presidential election. The chatter has
been fueled by Trump’s provocative remarks casting doubt on the integrity
of the voting process and calling on his supporters to turn up at polling
places on election day.

Anxiety is also growing around the activities of white supremacist domestic
terrorist groups, which federal agencies now recognize
<https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2020_10_06_homeland-threat-assessment.pdf>
as an especially dangerous threat
<https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-06-23/growing-white-supremacist-menace>.
Last week six people were charged in a plot to kidnap the governor of
Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.

At the Red Pill gathering, the Oath Keeper president set his sights openly
on election day. He said that on 3 November “we will have our men deployed
outside the polling stations to make sure you are protected, especially in
swing states”.

Rhodes’ appearance marked an unusually overt fusion of interests between
armed far-right groups and anti-government and anti-pharmaceutical
conspiracy theorists. Several of his fellow keynote speakers denounced the
coronavirus pandemic as a fraud cooked up by global elites as a ploy to
subjugate the American people.

Betsy Quammen, author of a book on the 2014 Bundy standoff in Nevada who
attended the Red Pill event as a monitor, said the union of disparate
virulent movements was troubling. “As somebody who’s been studying militia
manoeuvring and conspiracy theorists, it’s disconcerting to see these
various groups uniting under a common banner of mistrust about coronavirus.”

She added that the timing of the meeting so close to the election was
alarming.

Among the speakers at the summit, Mikki Willis followed Rhodes in talking
up the actions of armed rightwing individuals. Willis is known for having
been the director of Plandemic
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/14/coronavirus-viral-video-plandemic-judy-mikovits-conspiracy-theories>,
the viral video that spread the lie that coronavirus was invented by big
drug companies and Bill Gates, among others.

He boasted to the Red Pill audience that he had also made a laudatory video
about Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/27/kenosha-alleged-shooter-kyle-rittenhouse-charges>
in August in the killing of two people during anti-police brutality
protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Willis praised the alleged shooter, whom
Trump also notably failed to denounce
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/31/trump-kyle-rittenhouse-press-briefing-kenosha>,
as a “very stand-up citizen”.

David Icke, the British conspiracy theorist widely denounced for antisemitic
hate speech
<https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/01/conspiracy-theorist-david-icke-should-be-banned-from-australia-minister-told>,
was beamed into the summit by video from the UK. He traded misinformation
about the “pandemic hoax”, accusing a global “cult” of elites of having
creating a coronavirus vaccine that was in fact a “sterilization agent”
that would be used to destroy humanity.

Icke also encouraged school kids to refuse to wear masks, which he called
“face diapers”.

Two other major strains of misinformation were represented at the weekend.
Del Bigtree, producer of the anti-vaccination film Vaxxed, which features
the disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield
<https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/18/how-disgraced-anti-vaxxer-andrew-wakefield-was-embraced-by-trumps-america>,
also portrayed the pandemic as a global conspiracy aiming to take control
over people’s lives.

Bigtree pointed to a poll
<https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/04/covid-19-two-thirds-us-wont-take-vaccine-right-away-poll-shows/5696982002/>
last month that suggested that two-thirds of Americans would be hesitant to
get a Covid vaccine when it first became available. He said the survey
showed the anti-vaccination movement was winning: “Man, does it feel good!”

He also praised Trump as a “brave individual” and someone “I’ve watched
wear a mask less than anyone else”.

The last group given a voice at the gathering were peddlers of industrial
bleach, who market the chemical as a “miracle cure
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/19/bleach-miracle-cure-amazon-covid>”
for all known ailments including malaria, HIV/Aids, cancer and Covid-19.
Kerri Rivera, a leading advocate of chlorine dioxide as a treatment for
autism, talked to the summit by video link from Germany.

“If people took chlorine dioxide for most illnesses, few doctors would be
needed and the pharmaceutical industry would be bankrupted,” she said.

She also claimed the bleach, which is used in industrial textile
manufacturing, had no major side effects. In fact, the US Food and Drug
Administration has warned
<https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/12/mark-grenon-archbishop-florida-church-selling-bleach-miracle-cure-arrested-son>
that consuming it can be life-threatening and incidents of death have been
recorded.

Several leading bleach pushers in the US are currently in jail on federal
charges.
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