Patriot movement

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The "Betsy Ross" flag

The patriot movement is a collection of various conservative, independent, largely rural, small government,[1] social movements in the United States that include organized militia members, tax protesters, sovereign or state citizens, quasi-Christian apocalypticists, and combinations thereof.[2] Adherents describe the movement as centered on a belief that individual liberties are in jeopardy due to unconstitutional actions taken by elected government officials, appointed bureaucrats, and some special interest groups outside of government, to illegally accumulate power.[3] Journalists and researchers have associated the patriot movement with the right-wing militia movement[4] and some in the movement with illegal acts of violence.[1][5][6] United States law enforcement groups "call them dangerous, delusional and sometimes violent."[7]

Major events in America which alarm or inspire the patriot movement include the 1992 Ruby Ridge siege, the 1993 Waco siege and the 1996 Summer Olympics. After declining from 1996 to 2008, the number of patriot groups has increased dramatically following the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.[8] Other factors leading to the increase in groups include the rise of social media, the rise of globalism, the Great Recession and its aftermath, and, to the small White Supremacist branch of the patriot movement, increasing ethnic diversity in the United States.[9] The movement's iconography centers on themes relating to the American Revolution, such as the colonial Minuteman, the 13-star Betsy Ross flag, Uncle Sam, and the painting titled "The Spirit of '76".[citation needed]


Some date the movement back to the 1950s. The reformist wing of the patriot movement is considered to have begun in 1958 with the formation of the John Birch Society and opposition to communism, the United Nations and the civil rights movement.[10][11] An insurgent wing has been traced in origins to the Liberty Lobby active in the 1950s with promotion of themes of White supremacy and antisemitism.[12]

In the early 1990s, the patriot movement saw a surge of growth spurred by the confrontations at Ruby Ridge and Waco.[1][5] The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by two patriot movement members, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.[13][14] During the 1990s the movement organized using "gun shows and the Internet".[15] The movement was highly active in the mid-1990s, and at a peak in 1996 contained around 800 separate groups.[13] It saw decline in the late 1990s.[8][16][16][17]

In 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) expressed concern about a resurgent patriot movement,[18][19] and the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of heightened "Rightwing Extremism".[20] The SPLC attributed this growth to "an angry backlash against non-white immigration and ... the economic meltdown and the climb to power of an African American president."[21] It reported that the number of patriot groups grew from 149 in 2008, to 824 in 2010, to 1,274 in 2011[22] and 1,360 in 2012.[23] According to the SPLC, "That explosive growth seems to have been driven by the election of our first black president and the approaching loss of a white majority in the U.S. that he represents. Another driver is the crash of the economy, which coincided neatly with the rise to national power of President Obama."[23]

The SPLC found that while "there are many people" in the patriot movement "that aren't engaged in illegal activity,” the "normalizing of conspiracy theories"—such as the belief that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is building concentration camps; rumors of covert plans by Mexico to repatriate parts of the Southwest; and concerns about Muslim Sharia law becoming part of the US court system—has played into the growth of the groups.[22]

An extremist member of the patriot movement carried out the 2009 anti-abortion murder of George Tiller,[24][25] and some extremists within the movement also have expressed support for Joseph Stack's 2010 plane crash into an Internal Revenue Service office.[26]

The movement was connected to, and received a boost in profile from, the 2014 Bundy standoff and 2016 Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Two members of the movement, Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller, killed two police officers and a civilian during a violent shooting rampage in Las Vegas after leaving the Bundy standoff; they pinned a note to one of their victims saying "This is the beginning of the revolution."[7]

Views of the patriot movement

Descriptions of the patriot movement include:

In addition, the patriot movement has been associated with the following views:

Elements of the patriot movement have expressed support for various conspiracy theories:

In addition to the militia movement, which is said to have come out of the patriot movement, the patriot movement is often associated with the sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents believe that "most US law doesn't apply to them."[2][22]


Groups that have been mentioned in association with the patriot movement include

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Right-wing Counterculture Uses Waco as Rallying Cry| Herald-Journal 24 April 1995
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 AMERICAN MILITIAS: Rebellion, Racism & Religion by Richard Abanes, review by Dennis L. Feucht in American Scientific Affiliation.
  3. John Wallace, American Patriot Movement
  4. The age of anxiety: conspiracy theory and the human sciences By Jane Parish
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Books | America's homegrown terrorists
  6. 6.0 6.1 Winerip, Michael (June 23, 1996). "Ohio Case Typifies the Tensions Between Militia Groups and Law". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sullivan, Kevin. "Primed to Fight The Government". Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Report: 'Explosive' Growth Of 'Patriot Movement' And Militias Continues by Mark Memmott 13 March 2012
  10. Wright, Stuart T. (2007). Patriots, politics, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 54–55. ISBN 0-521-87264-2. ...marking the genesis of a Patriot narrative. The Birch Society was founded in 1958 by Robert Welch,...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Michael, George C. (2003). Confronting right-wing extremism and terrorism in the USA. New York: Routledge. pp. 44–47. ISBN 0-415-31500-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Matthew Lyons, Chip Berlet (2000). Right-wing populism in America: too close for comfort. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 288–289. ISBN 1-57230-562-2. The Patriot movement was bracketed on the reformist side by the Birch Society and the conspiracist segment of the Christian Right and on the insurgent side by the Liberty Lobby and groups promoting themes historically associated with White supremacy and antisemitism. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Janofsky, Michael (April 11, 1996). "Closer Watch of Paramilitary Groups Is Urged". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Michel, Lou. "American Terrorist", 2001.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Online NewsHour:Militia Movement - April 3, 1997
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Militias 'in retreat'". BBC News. May 11, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Patriots No More". CBS News. April 19, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Militia movement on the rise - 22 August 2009 -
  19. Report: militia activity on the rise in US / The Christian Science Monitor -
  20. Carty, Daniel (April 16, 2009). "Homeland Security Chief Defends Report On Right Wing Extremists". CBS News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Gaynor, Tim (March 4, 2010). "U.S. right-wing groups, militias surge: study". Reuters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Right-wing 'patriot' groups girding for actual class warfare, report says By Patrik Jonsson | | 8 March 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 Potok, Mark (November 2, 2013). "Hatewatch Exclusive: Alleged LAX Shooter Referenced 'Patriot' Conspiracy Theories". Southern Poverty Law Center.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Berlet, Chip (June 3, 2009). "Anti-Abortion Violence and the Right-Wing Patriot Movement". Huffington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Seeking Clues on Suspect in Shooting of Doctor -
  26. Patriot Movement Calling Joe Stack a Hero - ABC News
  27. Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right By DAVID BARSTOW| 15 February 2010
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Patriot Movement is Alive and Well in the US Los Angeles Daily News 26 December 1994 |(Wilmington NC, Star-News Google News Archive Search
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Janofsky, Michael (May 31, 1995). "Demons and Conspiracies Haunt a 'Patriot' World". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search
  31. Zaitchik, Alexander (2010). "'Patriot' Paranoia: A Look at the Top Ten Conspiracy Theories". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Fall 2010 (139). Retrieved May 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Lampart, Andrew (July 4, 2013). "Sandy Hook Massacre: Did It Really Happen? A Look at the Conspiracies". Patriot News Organization (PNO). Retrieved May 27, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Nugent, Karen (October 23, 2009). "Ready to Protect: Former Bolton Chief Focuses On Constitution". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved October 24, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. HBO Vice Series, Episode "We the People" 2014

Further reading

External links