The actions of Drop Zone in the case of the handcuffed journalist open a window into the world of Alaska paramilitary organizations and their connection to the tea party. Drop Zone’s private security personnel, hired by tea party Republican Joe Miller, “arrested” Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger for attempting to ask Miller about misuse of North Star Borough computers. The Drop Zone guys then proceeded to push Dispatch reporter Jill Burke around while another reporter got it all on video.
Drop Zone primarily sells military supplies, and the owner, William Fulton, appears on the Alaska Citizens Militia website’s discussion boards corresponding with its founder, Pastor Norm Olson. Olson, in turn, has ideological ties to the tea party movement; in a newsletter Olson called Miller “a friend of patriots.”
This is Olson’s third militia. In 1993 he founded the Michigan Militia but was later expelled for outrageously proposing the Oklahoma City bombing was not carried out by Timothy McVeigh but by the Japanese government in retaliation for a 1995 U.S. sponsored sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. He then started a short-lived Northern Michigan Regional Militia.
Militia movements trace their modern iteration to groups like the Posse Comitatus, a Christian Identity group active in the 1980s. Christian Identity adherents believe white, Christian Euro-Americans are God’s chosen people and destined to dominate all other races. Threats to this version of white supremacy come from a “one world” government like the United Nations, Jewish bankers, and centralized government programs (i.e. Democrats), among others, all of which, in their view, undermine American exceptionalism. They see themselves, as Michael Barkin states, as a kind of “divine warrior elite” combating modernity and liberals.
Militias went dormant during the Bush Administration and have resurfaced with the election of President Barack Obama. The Alaska Citizens Militia takes its ideology from a strict reading of the constitution backed by fundamentalist Christianity although, as far as I know, not Christian Identity in the mold of the Posse Comitatus. The two constitutional provisions most cited are the Second Amendment “right to bear arms” and Article One providing for a “well-regulated militia.” A second Alaska militia is now forming in the Fairbanks area.
The Alaska Citizens Militia claims about 200 members and has a 20-acre compound in Nikiski where they wear camo and shoot guns on weekends. Unlike most Alaskans, many of whom also wear camo and shoot guns on weekends, Olson’s group is in training for the Tribulation. In 1995 he told Christianity Today: “Where do we get this idea we are supposed to let a corrupt government get worse and worse. Our Lord told us to contend for the faith and occupy until he comes.”
There is a close connection between the Alaska Citizens Militia and the tea party movement. Together they seethe at the mention of President Obama. For Olson, Obama’s Keynesian economic policies speak of end times, for tea partiers it is merely the forerunner to total economic collapse. The tea party’s solution is a return to the gold standard apparently as a way to stop government stimulus spending and use of fiat currency. They both hate taxes. For both tea partiers and the militia, national health care and the Department of Education embody the top-down government they fear. They reject corporate and multinational control, hence antagonism toward corporate-friendly Republicans such as Lisa Murkowski. They are generally anti-Iraq and Afghanistan wars because of corporate profiteering. They are anti-environmentalism and reject most forms of public land ownership.
Should we be worried about conservative Fidels and Ches coming out of the hills of Nikiski fighting a right-wing resistance movement eventually bringing down the capital in Juneau and moving on toward Washington? No, that’s not going to happen. We do need to understand the tea party and its militant expression like the Alaska Citizens Militia are alienated and very angry. Any time a significant portion of the population is disaffected, we should all be concerned. But this is the question: Is the alienation because of legitimate social injustice or economic misdirection; or is it the collective paranoia of an estranged faction prone to conspiratorial theories and inflamed by a feeding frenzy of rage based on a perversion of the Constitution, Christianity and economics?
And we should be clear that if we elect a pro-gold standard, anti-corporate, anti-global, strict constitutionalist tea party senator we are advocating revolution, however unlikely that eventuality may be.