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David Holthouse

Author ››› David Holthouse
  • High Country Extremism: Patriot Games

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    In the fourth and final part of our series on the surge of right-wing extremist activity in the Flathead Valley region of Montana we look into the recent arrival of anti-government Patriot movement adherents, most notably Chuck Baldwin, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the most important figures in that growing movement.

    God told Chuck Baldwin to move to Montana. Specifically, to Kalispell. God did this, according to Baldwin, sometime in the summer of 2010.

    For 35 years Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian, had lived and preached in Pensacola, Florida, railing in a syndicated column in recent years about U.N. gun control conspiracy theories, tyranny-minded globalists and FEMA internment camps.

    Chuck Baldwin, a leader of the right-wing extremist
    Patriot movement, recently moved to Kalispell.
    His new ministry includes local white supremacists.

    Baldwin is now one of the leading figures in the Patriot movement, which has grown explosively since the U.S. economic meltdown and election of President Obama in 2008. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, the number of Patriot groups in the country skyrocketed from 149 in 2008 to 824 in 2010. The SPLC describes such groups as comprised of "people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic 'New World Order.'"

    Baldwin first aligned himself formally with the Patriot movement when he ran for Vice President on the far-right, anti-government Constitution Party ticket. After that his rhetoric, both from behind the pulpit and in his prolific writings, became increasingly militant and more concerned with gun rights and battling with globalists than with gay rights and the Rapture, previously his favorite topics.

    Then in September 2010, Baldwin abruptly announced that he was pulling up stakes and moving to Kalispell along with his grown children and their spouses and homeschooled offspring.

    At the time Baldwin and his brood of 17 resettled, unprecedented numbers of white supremacists were migrating to the region to support the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to establish a whites only homeland in northwest Montana. Baldwin's dire warnings of a looming epic battle between Patriots and "Big-Government globalists" in the U.S. mirrors in key ways longstanding white supremacist predictions of a war against ZOG, or Zionist Occupation Government.

    "We believe America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm," Baldwin wrote in a September 2010 column titled, "Why We Are Moving to Montana."

    This cataclysm, Baldwin wrote, "...will almost certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots. I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive--at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling (and will continue to call) many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us!"

  • High Country Extremism: Armed and Dangerous

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    The third part of our series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement details a series of recent threats made by longtime neo-Nazi organizer Karl Gharst. This section also provides background information on Gharst and other key PLE activists and reports on the Montana Creators, a PLE-allied branch of the neo-Nazi Creativity Movement whose members have repeatedly been spotted in recent months at gun shows near Kalispell, buying firearms while dressed in clothing displaying their group's neo-Nazi insignia.

    Neo-Nazi Karl Gharst has declared Media Matters a
    "Jewish criminal organization" and threatened to
    empanel a sovereign citizen tribunal to try our
    employees for "treason to the white race."

    Media Matters for America is under indictment for treason to the white race. So is the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League and the Montana Human Rights Network.

    This news arrived in a series of bizarre emails sent earlier this year over a six-week period by Karl Gharst, a neo-Nazi organizer who moved to Kalispell, MT as one of the of the most notorious members of the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which encourages white supremacists to form a community in the area. Gharst has a long history of making violent threats.

    "I will see justice come to those who lay traps, slander and otherwise persecute good white people for exercising their God given rights," Gharst wrote in his email to Media Matters. "I promise!" Media Matters had previously contacted Gharst for comment on this series.

    In the so-called grand jury ruling he emailed to Media Matters in late October, Gharst used arcane language typical of adherents to sovereign citizen ideology, a pseudo-legal system of beliefs, founded upon elaborate conspiracy theories, that is widely popular with members of the antigovernment Patriot movement as well as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Sovereign citizens hold themselves above laws; typically the only legal authority they recognize is their own (illegitimate) common law jury system.

    The Gharst email declared Media Matters and the other groups "Jewish criminal organizations" and "illegal operations of whom their intent and demonstrated actions are constitutional violations also violating the sovereignty of Montana by working against and contrary to the lawful and rightful citizens of the SState [sic] of Montana."

    Gharst singled out by name and threatened several "agents" of Media Matters, the ACLU and an Alabama-based immigration rights organization, citing their "treason to the white race." "I and my appointed/sworn representatives will do all in my/our power...to ensure that [employees of Media Matters, ACLU and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama] are brought to justice at a time and place of our choosing."

  • High Country Extremism: Pioneering Hate

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    In this second installment of our four-part series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to create a homeland for white supremacists in northwest Montana, we gauge the numbers of the PLE movement and examine its origins, strategies, and goals, which include promoting Holocaust denial.

    Last month Media Matters e-mailed April Gaede, the spokeswoman for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, to ask whether she considered PLE a racist endeavor.

    April Gaede, seen here during a 2005 interview with ABC, is urging
    white nationalists to move to Kalispell, MT, in part due to the state's
    lax gun laws.

    "Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white," she replied. "If a group of Jews wanted to move to an area that had a high concentration of Jews already, would that make them Jewish supremacists? If Blacks choose to associate and work with other Blacks to form a 'black racial community,' is that racist? Apparently only White people cannot work for the advancement of their race, while groups like La Raza are accepted as 'cultural groups.' What if the 14 words said 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for Native American children ' instead of 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for White children?' Would human rights activists call that racist?"

    The "14 words" is a popular white nationalist slogan coined by David Lane, a member of the 1980s right-wing domestic terrorist group The Order. The group committed armed robberies, including a $3.6 million armored car heist, in part to fund the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, whose founder, Richard Butler, called for the mass migration of white supremacists to the northwestern United States after headquartering Aryan Nations in a northern Idaho compound in the 1970s. He branded the concept the Northwest Territorial Imperative. (Aryan Nations was crippled by a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit in 2000; it has all but disintegrated since Butler's death in 2004.)

    The current Flathead Valley-based PLE movement is the latest manifestation of the longstanding dream of white supremacists to carve out their very own piece of America. Gaede and other PLE activists targeted the Flathead Valley for some of the same demographic reasons Butler picked northern Idaho: historically its population is more than 95 percent white and politically conservative with a strong libertarian streak.

    "Around here we have a live and let live mentality," says Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher. "That leads to some individuals with fringe beliefs finding refuge in the Flathead Valley."

  • High Country Extremism: Homeland on the Range

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    In a four-part series released over the next two days, Media Matters will report on the recent influx of white supremacists and Patriot group members to the town of Kalispell, Montana, which has made the region the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.

    At first glance the Pioneer Little Europe website seems like it could be the work of the Montana Office of Tourism. Photographs depict the rugged beauty of the Flathead Valley region near Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.

    One image shows a young blond-haired girl playing in a meadow overlooking Kalispell, the largest town in the area, with a population around 20,000.

    The site also features short news items about the Northwest Montana State Fair and a wildflower beautification program along with Kalispell job postings.

    But then there's this: A scan of a full-page advertisement in a recent edition of the Flathead Beacon, the local paper, with photographs of 47 babies newly delivered in the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. All but one are fair-skinned with light-colored hair. "Wonderful white babies being born in Kalispell," the website reads. "What do the babies look like being born in your town?"

    Pioneer Little Europe spokeswoman April Gaede's website asks,
    "What do the babies look like being born in your town? The local
    schools are about 98% White,and we all know what that means."

    Another item on the Pioneer Little Europe site depicts white families relaxing on the shore of a lake. A caption reads,"This is how white our beaches are, and I'm not talking about sand."

    And that little girl in the meadow? Her name is Dresden Hale. That's Dresden for the German city firebombed by the Allied forces in World War II, and Hale for the 1990s leader of the neo-Nazi group World Church of the Creator, Matt Hale, who's doing 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.

    Dresden Hale is the youngest daughter of Kalispell resident and neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, the public face of the Pioneer Little Europe (PLE) movement. Launched in 2008, PLE invites "racially conscious" white Americans to relocate to the Flathead Valley to help create a heavily-armed Aryan homeland.

    (Gaede's other two daughters, Lynx and Lamb, are identical twins who gained widespread media attention by performing neo-Nazi folk ballads as the musical act Prussian Blue. They have since renounced white supremacism.)

    The PLE movement has brought dozens of white supremacists to the Flathead Valley. They are increasingly making their presence known by staging public events, openly recruiting and distributing racist literature, stocking up on firearms at area gun shows while dressed in neo-Nazi clothing, working for local anti-gun control and anti-abortion campaigns (according to Gaede), and issuing violent threats to perceived enemies, including Media Matters, which is now under "indictment" for treason to the white race.

    The growing numbers of PLE white supremacists in the Flathead Valley parallels a recent influx to the area of ultra right-wing "Patriot" movement leaders and their followers. Their combined forces are rapidly transforming the region into the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.

  • Militia Officer Busted At Border With Biotoxin Guide, Bomb Recipes

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Federal prosecutors in Alaska filed a motion Friday to deny bail to an officer of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia, a right-wing extremist sovereign citizens group, after she attempted to enter Canada in late October through a remote Yukon Territory border crossing.

    Mary Ann Morgan, 53, was driving a truck containing virtually no personal effects but what prosecutors termed a "horde of documents" including detailed information on home-cooked explosives and ricin, an extremely lethal toxin derived from castor beans and weaponized using lye or solvent.

    Prosecutors cited the fact that last week, four members of a militia group in Georgia were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack various government targets using ricin and explosives and said Morgan poses "risk to the public in general, law enforcement or the judiciary."

    Also in the Chevy S-10 pick-up truck driven by Morgan was a .32 caliber Beretta handgun that Morgan, a convicted felon, is prohibited from possessing. Morgan was convicted in 2001 of Custodial Interference in the First Degree for violating a child custody agreement. Canadian law also bans private U.S. citizens from driving handguns across the border, and strictly prohibits the possession anywhere in Canada of easily concealable handguns including .32 caliber semi-automatics.

    After discovering the handgun, Canadian Border Security Agency officers turned custody of Morgan over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Alaska State Troopers. Morgan told Canadian border guards she was headed for a meeting about the U.S. Constitution being held in Montana, according to Canadian law enforcement sources in the Yukon Territory.

    The motion identifies Morgan as secretary of the sovereign citizen Alaska Peacemaker Militia, part of a movement rooted in racism, anti-government extremism and bizarre conspiracy theories that is growing nationwide as part of an ongoing surge in right-wing militia activity.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Sovereigns believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials." The SPLC estimates there are currently about 100,000 hard-core sovereign citizen believers in the U.S.

  • White Supremacists Charged In Murder Spree

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Pedersen and GrigsbyA white supremacist couple accused of committing four murders in a two-week crime spree across three states were on their way to Sacramento, California to "kill more Jews" when they were arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer last week, according to law enforcement investigators.

    The alleged victims of David "Joey" Pedersen, 31, and his 24-year-old girlfriend Holly Ann Grigsby include Reginald Alan Clark, a 53-year-old African-American man apparently targeted at random and shot to death in his pickup truck in Eureka, California. Pedersen referred to Clark in a recent jailhouse interview as a "dead Negro."

    The pair also gunned down 19-year-old Cody Myers in Lincoln County, Oregon because his last name "made them think he was Jewish," Grigsby reportedly told authorities. Myers was a devout Christian.

    According to court filings, Pedersen and Grigsby have admitted killing Clark and Myers as well as Pedersen's father and stepmother, who were slain September 28 in Everett, Washington. Pedersen has since claimed that Grigsby had "nothing to do with" the murders and that he had held her against her will; according to the charging documents Pedersen had written Grigsby a note in jail promising to take the blame for their alleged crimes.

    Both alleged killers have long criminal records. Grigsby has five past felony convictions for identity theft and stealing cars. In May Pedersen was released from prison after serving seven years for assaulting a police officer, his third felony conviction. In 2001 he was convicted of threatening the life of a federal judge in Idaho.

  • Big Sky Extremism

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Gun Constitution

    Federal prosecutors in the Alaska Peacekeepers Militia case filed new court documents last week shedding light on the origins of the far-reaching investigation of Fairbanks, Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox, who allegedly masterminded a plot to murder Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks judge.

    According to the new documents, FBI agents began investigating Cox following a series of speeches he gave in Montana in 2009 and 2010. During that period, Cox regularly spoke at Tea Party and militia gatherings in the western states.

    Cox and several of his followers were arrested in March of this year. They're charged with federal weapons violations and state charges of conspiracy to commit murder, among other serious felonies.

    During one speech in Montana on March 24, 2009, Cox informed the audience that his militia and others in Alaska had established their own court system, a "common law court," whose authority superseded that of the official Alaska Court System.

    (Common law courts are a hallmark of the violent, anti-government Sovereign Citizen movement; its adherents believe they are quite literally above the law.)

    Cox told the Montana gathering that his group's common-law court was designed to supplant the Alaska and federal court systems, according to the court filing. It contains a partial transcript of Cox's speech, including his candid response when asked what sentence his court would hand down in the case of a convicted murderer.

    ... common law jurisprudence says that in the case of murder that person has forfeited their right, and at that point the victim can choose. If the pain they went through is so horrible if they want to spare other people the pain by deterring others, by putting that person to death, that's up to the victim or the victim's family. They can do that, and that person can be hung; or they can sell that person into slavery for the rest of their life. That person is owned by the person they violated, and they can sell him or they can kill him. And these concepts are right out of the Old Testament. That's where it comes from. Now, maybe people don't believe in the Bible, but you know what, that's all right, it's still plenty good for that. So we can at least agree on that. So that's where we're at. We haven't ventured into that; we're just still building, still building, you know. And I hope those don't come too quick but they might show up sooner than we like.

  • Soldier Boy

    NRA Board Member Robert Brown Is Still Making A Killing

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE
    Robert K. Brown at the NRA's
    2011 annual meeting.

    When I was in sixth grade my parents took away my collection of Soldier of Fortune magazines. This was in the mid-1980s, the Rambo-era heyday of the "journal of the professional adventurer." The seizure was preceded by a parent-teacher conference at which exhibit A was a recent two-page essay I'd written about wanting to be a mercenary when I grew up. Or a ninja.

    I remember Soldier of Fortune articles in those days being a macho-to-the-max amalgam of firearms reviews, anti-gun control rants, Vietnam POW conspiracy theories and gory first-hand reporting on Cold War proxy wars, military coups and revolutions in Second and Third World nations. But what made Soldier of Fortune so enticing in my 11-year-old mind was less its editorial content than its infamous advertising.

    Along with ads for mail-order brides, bounty hunter training manuals, surveillance electronics, Secrets of the Ninja lessons (including "mind clouding" and "sentry removal"), Nazi memorabilia, machine guns, silencers, and sniper rifles, Soldier of Fortune advertised the services of guns for hire.

    "It's directed at professional mercenaries -- men who will fight for pay and those who want to hire them," wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko in March 1984. "But since mercenaries represent only a tiny portion of the reading population, the magazine tries to broaden its appeal to include those who might be called war fans, weapon-lovers, fanatic anti-commies and Walter Mitty types who enjoy the vicarious thrill of reading about blood and guts."

    Royko left out elementary school D&D geeks. For my Dungeons & Dragons buddies and I, reading Soldier of Fortune was like perusing a Dungeon Master's Guide or Monster Manual. It was a portal to a fantasy world. We talked about killing commies the same way we talked about slaying orcs. Then we grew out of it.

    Robert K. Brown never did. Brown, the founder and publisher of Soldier of Fortune, has long rocked "Kill a Commie for Mommie" t-shirts with no sense of irony. But unlike a dungeon master, Brown invited his readers to live out their armchair warrior daydreams in places where people died for real.

    For several years after Brown founded Soldier of Fortune in 1975, the magazine ran full-page recruiting ads for the Rhodesian Army, which employed foreign mercenaries to defend the apartheid-style regime of prime minister Ian Smith.

    This recruiting poster for the
    Rhodesian Army often appeared in
    Soldier of Fortune in the 1970s.

    The January 1976 issue of Soldier of Fortune included a classified ad placed by Daniel Gearhart, a 34-year-old Vietnam veteran with money trouble. It read, "Wanted: Employment as mercenary on full-time or job contract basis. Preferably in South or Central America, but anywhere in the world if you pay transportation."

    Seven months later, Gearhart was executed by firing squad in Angola. Advertising his services in Soldier of Fortunehad led to his being hired by the losing faction in a civil war. The People's Revolutionary Tribunal judge who sentenced Gearhart and three other foreign mercenaries to death (nine others received long prison terms) called them "dogs of war with bloodstained muzzles who left a trail of rape, murder and pillage across the face of our nation." (Gearhart was arrested less than a week after setting foot in Angola. He denied ever firing a shot there, let alone raping and pillaging.)

    Since the mid-to-late 1970s era of promoting mercenary work in African bush wars, Soldier of Fortune has distributed what CBS' 60 Minutes called a "political warfare journal," published classified ads that resulted in no fewer than five murders-for-hire on American soil, and helped to equip paramilitary border vigilantes who terrorized Latino immigrants.

  • Jim Gilchrist's Second Act

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Jim GilchristLast summer, Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to defend Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, SB 1070.

    The law requires that local and state police officers check the immigration status of any individual they encounter in the course of their law enforcement duties who the officer reasonably suspects to be an immigrant in the country illegally.

    Pressed by CNN host Larry King to explain what sort of criteria officers might legitimately use, Gilchrist said, "Responding to an officer, 'No hablo English, Gringo go back to Europe.' Obviously there's an issue there that probably the person may be illegal and perhaps the officer should pursue that."

    King identified Gilchrist as the founder and president of the Minuteman Project. That's half-true. Gilchrist is co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the nativist group that popularized the concept of placing armed but untrained civilian volunteers on the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage immigrants from entering the country illegally. But he's not been the group's president since February 2007 when the Minuteman Project board of directors fired Gilchrist for allegedly stealing donations.

    Gilchrist promptly launched a new organization called Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project, which is little more than a website promoting Gilchrist.

    Long after he was being drummed out of the civilian border patrol movement he played a major role in creating and despite repeated revelations of the white supremacist ties of his followers, including murderer Shawna Forde, Gilchrist continued to be invited to speak at universities and appear on major cable news shows. He's been treated by the media as a legitimate authority on immigration issues and often misidentified as the current president of the Minuteman Project.

    Last campaign season, Gilchrist further raised his profile by endorsing and stumping for at least ten Republican state and national candidates who sought his help in burnishing their tough-on-immigration credentials. Through all this, Gilchrist has continued to deny that he misappropriated funds. On the issue of white supremacists involving themselves in the movement he played a major role in creating, however, Gilchrist expresses regret.

    "Racial supremacists have been a thorn in my side from day one," he told me earlier this year. "They existed in the Minuteman movement, but they had no legitimate reason for being there, because they do nothing to promote equal treatment under the law for all, which after all was our main goal."

    "I've said it before, and I'll say it again, that I am very, very disappointed and saddened at the outcome of the Minuteman Project and the citizen border watch movement," Gilchrist said. "All these different organizations and groups just started calling themselves Minuteman this or Minuteman that and unfortunately it turned out that some of the people involved in them had sinister intentions."

  • Media-Promoted Anti-Immigrant Leader Calls for "Illegal and Violent" Acts

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) leader William Gheen has frequently presented himself as a moderate within the American nativist movement since founding ALIPAC in 2005.

    Gheen

    Last May, for example, Gheen yanked ALIPAC's backing of a major rally for Arizona's notorious immigration crackdown law, S.B. 1070, after learning that one of its organizers was linked to racist skinhead groups.

    Such anti-extremist posturing has lent Gheen mainstream media credibility. He's been quoted often, nearly two dozen times by mainstream papers in the last six months, according to a Nexis search. Even The New York Times included his comments in a story on border security published August 9.

    Earlier this week, however, Gheen appeared to relinquish his mainstream legitimacy in favor of predicting race war and endorsing violence in response to the immigration policies of "Dictator Barack Obama."

    As first reported by Right Wing Watch, Gheen argued on the air that the Obama administration is preparing for "conflict with White America" by allowing millions of non-white immigrants into the U.S. to "back them up."

    Gheen advocated for "illegal and violent" actions in response.

    GHEEN: What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that's available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they're creating, they're creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they're preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up.

    ...

    We're no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That's what he is. And basically at this point, if you're looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn't one that we can think of, and I'm really not sure what to tell people out there other than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can't really even talk about because they're all illegal and violent.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that while open expressions of racial radicalism are new for Gheen, the ALIPAC leader is "no stranger to more more garden-variety bigotry and fear-mongering":

    He has accused Mexican immigrants of carrying infectious diseases and plotting to take over the Southwest. In April 2010, he targeted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), claiming that the 56-year-old bachelor is gay and saying he should come out to avoid being blackmailed into working with Democrats on immigration reform. In July 2010, Gheen told revisionist "historian" David Barton that LGBT people secretly want to import undocumented immigrants as a way of "replacing many core Americans and American values," part of an overall "war" against Americans.