05.14.12

White, right wing and paranoid is a terrible way to go through life

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 1:30 pm by George Smith

Not a week goes by that my news tab doesn’t have a few stories on the American survivalist movement, courtesy of the presence of doomsday electromagnetic pulse references in all such pieces. The homespun country paranoids are now firmly in the US entertainment mainstream, notably in newspapers, almost purely because of the semi-success of one of the crummiest television reality series ever, National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers.

Summarizing:

The prepper movement shows all the collateral damage [the rubbish from the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy, a GOP construction] has wrought on the suggestible and unbalanced.

Conspicuously, this increasingly nuts demographic is almost entirely white, far right, heartland, fundie Christian religious and breast-beatingly patriotic.

It is not a surprise that cable television feels this niche large enough to monetize. Death cults/apocalypse believers have always been part of the American experience. However, until social media, micro-casting and the Internet there wasn’t an easy way to cynically gather all of them up into a nice exploitative package for advertising.

Two stories this week underline it.

From the Seattle Times on survivalists in the Pacific Northwest, which has always been a stronghold:

[Tom Martin, 34, a long-haul truck driver based out of Port Angeles] and other preppers are adamant about not being mistaken for survivalists, especially after the recent news stories about the North Bend man who police say shot himself in a hillside bunker after killing his wife and teen daughter.

Says Martin, “That guy sounded like a nut case, somebody who thinks everybody is out to get them.”

On its website, Puget Sound Preppers says, “This group is NOT involved in: revolution, war, militia, political parties, religious activities, racism, or lobbying. This group is about skills and knowledge.”

An upcoming meeting, for example, is on raising chickens.

He doth protest too loudly, offering only a standard and easily shot up likely story in defense.

Here, Google search results for preppers, Obama and socialism.

And from the Carolinas:

At once paranoid and practical, preppers are essentially pessimistic boy scouts. Some prepare for war, others for economic collapse, and in parts of Western North Carolina many worry about an Electromagnetic Pulse weapon (EMP) that would disable electronics and turn back the clock by a full century. In every scenario there is reference to a fallen society that’s “WROL” (without rule of law) in which only the well-prepared can prosper.

EMP is the primary concern of Jan Sterritt who, along with husband Bill, runs Carolina Readiness Supply in Waynesville N.C..

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when (an EMP will hit)”, she says.

Jan scurries around her store with a cordless phone clipped to her belt. It rings at 5 minute intervals with new questions from the Sterritt’s now growing customer base.

“It was just like we’ve gotta do something. We’ve gotta tell people about it and get them prepared,” she says when pulled aside for a quick interview.

OPSEC makes interviews tricky. Jan and Bill only allowed us in the store, with some reservations, after we promised not to blow their customers cover. Both Sterritts say that for most of their first year in business shoppers would wait until the store was empty before revealing their prepper needs in whispered voices.

Now, Bill says, people are beginning to “wake up”.

“There’s fewer and fewer people that think we’re nuts,” he says …


Of particular concern to Bill, is the “occupy” movement. Bill points his finger toward Asheville, about 20 miles East, where protesters gathered over the summer.

“There are those who want to disrupt our constitutional system. I mean there are anarchists in the street. They’ve been in the street since last fall. I fear they’ll be out in the streets this spring and summer. They’re being subverted by anarchist elements, communists, there’s a lot of subversion going on within these groups. It’s scary.”

Bill is now more animated as he talks about his real motivations. His political interest in prepping dovetails with trends in the national news. When the economy cratered in 2008, when Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office, when concern grew about Federal debt, preppers multiplied nationwide. In the western Carolinas they’re around every corner.

There is no progressive viewpoint within the prepper movement. And they have an allergy to the descriptor “survivalist” because of its association with neo-Nazis, militias and the far right. They are inescapably a part of this social fringe, on television, always visibly infatuated with fortified home ammo dumps, machine guns, and paramilitary training.

They all share an uneducated, simplistic and diseased world view, half of their daytime life spent obsessing over how they’ll defend themselves from the others who will come for their stuff in the inevitable fall. And you know who all the others are.

Poke them hard enough with hard questions, or supercilious articles, and they’ll snap. Since they are always carrying and displaying weapons, general news reporters may feel reluctant to press them on such matters.

However, one does not have to go very far on YouTube to find men in camouflage, advertising themselves as preppers, recommending shotguns or other firearms for use in shooting government men or strangers in one situation or another.

“We want someone in our group who is very familiar with weaponry and the art of fighting … I am thrilled to have somebody who actually knows how to use a gun and that means more than plinking away at a range where the target does not move …” sez my favorite prepper, the Patriot Nurse, in her latest video.

It’s arguable that National Geographic has done anyone a service by thrusting these people into the limelight as sometimes reasonable, for the sake of some money on cable television.

Comments are closed.