Conspiracy Theories

Montana Town Full of Ominous, Mostly Harmless Anti-Government Types


Fearful '90s-style nostalgia over "extremists" is back in the media as western Montana reaches week two of the search for greasy-looking "patriot" David Burgert.

Apropos of nothing except a moving violation, former militia-leader Burgert—who served eight years for federal weapons charges – disappeared into the woods outside Kalispell after allegedly firing at deputies who pulled him over on June 12. This provoked a somber Associated Press story on "extremists" finding a home in Montana.

Gawker mocked the possibly suicidal Burgert for wearing a fanny-pack, but the article's real message was that media is too timid to call Burgert a terrorist for his previous plans to murder government officials and spark a revolution. Gawker followed-up with "Montana Town Becomes Haven for Angry White People," noting how Kalispell boasts, out of 20,000 residents, the white-supremacist singing sisters known as Prussian Blue, a former member of the Aryan Nations (whose screening of a pro-Nazi movie drew 200 protesters in the town last year), as well as:

the grand wizard of the angry white man movement in America, Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed by federal agents during the Ruby Ridge standoff. And the racist guy who started Oath Keepers. And prominent "patriot" Chuck Baldwin, "who believes the U.S. is headed for a fight between big-government globalists and independent patriots."

None of these people are perfect allies in the cause of rolling back government, but Stewart Rhodes came off as bracingly reasonable in a February Reason interview with Radley Balko. And while Randy Weaver may have recently spoken at Kalispell's suspicious-to-some "Preparedness Expo," he has a dead wife, son, and dog as reason to distrust government until the end of time. It's cheap to lump him–or anyone else–so casually in amongst the dangerous, possibly violent, and very tiny fringe. These people are a diverse mix of sometimes crazy, sometimes racist, mainly harmless and powerless folks who want to be left alone. 

Former Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin is a frustrating mixture of the good kind of anti-government inclinations, theocratic impulses, and tedious xenophobia. The Prussian Blue twins' terrible mother was just a media-outrage parasite until the family wearied of the attention.

The AP article noted Montana's special brand of tolerance in the face of these sorts of people:

[Kalispell mayor Tammi] Fisher said the Kalispell community does have its limits… But groups espousing their own views on government are tolerated.

"Montana has a live and let live mentality, and respect for each other's privacy and beliefs," the mayor said.

Which is nice and all, but, according to the Mercatus Center's recent rankings (covered by of state freedoms, Montana is a measly 29. Idaho, the site of Ruby Ridge, comes in fourth. 

In March of last year Reason managing editor Jesse Walker described the Southern Poverty Law Center's inability to tell the difference between fringe groups, as well as the non-threat of militias. The year before Walker wrote about how the problem might not be the right-wing, it might be "The Paranoid Center."

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  1. Luckily, with each passing day, America is becoming full of ominous, mostly harmless anti-government types. We just need to accelerate the process.

  2. Please, don’t bother us Montanans. We’re just simple people who like to make warp-capable spacecraft. We don’t bother anyone.

    1. Worst casting ever.

      1. Yo, Cromwell, we’s got some questions for you about some unpaid party dues from 1971. We gots to see you about this muthafucking matta right fucking now, yah dig?

  3. “Montana Town Becomes Haven for Angry White People,”

    “New Jersey Town Becomes Haven for Angry Black People,”
    “New York Town Becomes Haven for Angry Jewish People,”
    “Texas Town Becomes Haven for Angry Hispanic People”

    Nope, nothing wrong with that statement at all.

  4. “These people are a diverse mix of sometimes crazy, sometimes racist, mainly harmless and powerless folks who want to be left alone comment at H&R.”

    1. That’s straight-up racist.

  5. What the AP says:

    Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, which wants law enforcement officers and military personnel to sign an oath against a one-world government conspiracy.

    What Oath Keepers really says:

    1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.

    2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people

    3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.

    4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.

    5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.

    6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

    7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

    8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”

    9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.

    10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

    Don’t see anything about a one-world government conspiracy in there.

    1. Details, details! The important thing is they’re vaguely scary, standing up to authority, therefore, it’s reasonable to assume they’d be against one world government.

      So basically the AP is right.


    2. Also don’t see anything remotely racist. SPLC is full of idiots.

  6. the grand wizard of the angry white man movement in America, Randy Weaver

    Remind me again; how many hundreds of innocent victims did Weaver kill?


      Oh, no, wait, that’s the Federal Gummint…shit…

    2. Fewer than Lon Horiuchi. What do I win?

      1. Your name on a watch list!

        1. Well, your letter.

          1. I got that prize already. I guess I’m ineligible to win.

            Unless they just misspell it and put it on there again.

            Side note: most data processing systems hang up if you give them a last name composed of only one character. I used to know a guy who changed his last name from O to Oh because of it.

            1. I know a guy with the last name of E.

              Lots of problems and he refuses to change it, its his family name – at least that is how if father chose to spell it when it in english when entering the country.

        2. You Win!

      2. You win the ability to shoot pregnant women and not go to jail! Oh wait, that’s only for federal agents. Sorry.

        1. Unless Horiuchi was shooting other people, which seems more than likely it was actually a mother holding her baby. Which is worse.

          1. Let’s not split hairs. Let’s call it “shooting people, possibly including babies, who are not attacking you” and I think the point is made. Doesn’t Horiuchi still have a job?

            1. I think he retired a year or two ago with full benefits.

            2. I will take that summation.

              I’m not sure. There was an awesomely tasteless Horiuchi-endorsed gun ad a few years back.

              Fun fact: apparently he’s a “conservative” who home schooled his kids.

              1. Let’s not slap all homeschoolers with the “conservative nutbag” label.

                1. I was home schooled. And it just seems strange for a man who is an object of hatred for some anti-government folk (some scary, some not, disclaimers, etc.) to have done something so stereotypically small government.

                2. In my analysis there are 8 categories of home schoolers:

                  1. Hippies
                  2. Christians
                  3. Libertarians
                  4. Hippy Christians
                  5. Hippy Libertarians
                  6. Christian Libertarians
                  7. Hippy, Christian Libertarians
                  8. None of the above

                  Not sure if anyone fits it category 8. Maybe moslem homeschoolers?

                  1. This is more accurate than your normal characterization.

                  2. My wife and I fit category 8. We were just an agnostic couple who thought we (and the tutors we hired) could do a better job of educating our kids than the public schools were doing. After about 8th grade, though, our home facilities could not provide labs and equipment for science classes, so we enrolled them in public school. Validating our choice, they were way ahead of their fellow students. Our daughter filled out her junior- and senior-year HS credits with college courses, and we transferred our son to a bigger school with decent AP classes.

                    I guess we are social libertarians, actually, but fiscally we’re confused and conflicted–therefore not a perfect fit in category 3.

              2. That Horiuchi endorsement resulted in immediate boycotts and letters of protest from every gun community/forum that I’m aware of. I sure as fuck won’t be buying anything from HS Precision myself.

            3. She was holding WMD in her arms, aka a baby. Remember, econazis believe that the absolute worst thing you can do is have offspring.

    3. “Grand Wizard”…where have I heard that term before..?

      1. What they did there.

  7. Don’t see anything about a one-world government conspiracy in there.

    You’re not reading between the lines, and don’t realize these things are actually code for one-world government, or something.

  8. And, of course, as the AP gleefully mocks the paranoid ravings of crazy white right-wing nutcases who are perpetually wrong about government overreach, they parrot without comment or analysis the paranoid ravings of the SPLC about white supremacists’ impending mass lynchings.

    1. …crazy white right-wing nutcases who are perpetually wrong about government overreach…

      Perpetually wrong? Where have you been the past ten years?

  9. …a former member of the Aryan Nations (whose screening of a pro-Nazi movie drew 200 protesters in the town last year)…

    That’s funny, The Producers didn’t seem to draw any protests in other cities.

  10. “Montana has a live and let live mentality, and respect for each other’s privacy and beliefs,” the mayor said.


  11. And the racist guy who started Oath Keepers.

    This is how mud-slinging works. There is nothing in the Mother Jones article that Jeff Neumann links to that suggests Stewart Rhodes is a racist of any sort. A few minutes on the Oath Keepers website, with many testimonials from African-America Oath Keepers, also shows how disgustingly false Neumann’s intellectually lazy accusations are.

    1. This is Stewart Rhodes. Neumann has libeled me, and will be getting a demand letter, insisting on a full retraction, shortly.

      1. Hey, I wanted to thank you for founding your organization. Hopefully you get the retraction and a full apology soon.

      2. I wish you good luck in getting Neumann to take back his lies.

    2. Also, white racists don’t generally make public statements like this:

      “We’re not a militia. And we’re not part and parcel of the white supremacist movement. I loathe white supremacists.”

  12. Former Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin is a frustrating mixture of the good kind of anti-government inclinations, theocratic impulses, and tedious xenophobia.

    What are “theocratic impulses”? I read that and all I could think of related to Baldwin was his support of Ten Commandments plaques in public buildings. I know many of the Christian anarchist/minarchist persuasion like him as a political figure second only to Ron Paul. I figured a quick search would turn up some damning quote but all I could come up was this:

    I realize what I am about to say will surprise many Christians, but I would far rather elect an unbeliever who will support, protect, and defend the Constitution than a believer who will not support, protect, and defend the Constitution. The oath of office is to the Constitution.

    1. The Constitution Party is overtly Theocratic in its motivations. Has Baldwin disavowed the CP?

      1. I guess that is where it comes from but the CP is a pretty loose affiliation that draws candidates seeking the ballot access. I’ve never met anyone who was a CP voter/supporter like there are LP voter/supporters. LP activists push the Party more than the candidate.The Chuck Baldwin supporters I’ve met were pushing the candidate and small “l” ideology, not the CP.

        1. We can’t expect that level of nuance from Mother Jones. Not when the issue is a [gasp]non-Democrat[/gasp] politician.

          1. “theocratic impulses” were Ms Steigerwald’s words if I’m reading it correctly. Unless that is from the Reason Stylebook

            1. I was confused. This what I get for reading the thread too fast.

              And–no offense to Ms. Steigerwald–but I have a tendency to skip over posters who haven’t been around for a few months because of the HydraTroll.

  13. Fun fact: apparently he’s a “conservative” who home schooled his kids.

    He doesn’t want to run the risk of his kids being exposed to crazy talk about “freedom” or limits on government authority.

    1. As a former homeschooler myself I have to ask, do they have that sorta talk in the public schools?

      1. No.

      2. I can recall some ridiculous FDR/New Deal lionization.

        The memory of other kids getting physically bullied while the administration punished self-defense like it was just as bad as initiating the conflict is the strongest, however.

  14. I don’t know, these all sound like good arguments for moving to Montana.

    Which is nice and all, but, according to the Mercatus Center’s recent rankings of state freedoms, Montana is a measly 29.

    It’s a mix. Low taxes and govt spending, and good gun laws. But they have a heavy hand re: alcohol and marijuana, and an awful record on eminent domain abuse.

    1. The state has pretty good spending habits, but that’s because Montana feeds at the fed trough like no other state.

      1. Hey, that is unfair! Alaska might be worse.

  15. do they have that sorta talk in the public schools?

    I suspect the risk is substantially diminished every year.

  16. Many Montanans apparently think they are still fighting the Copper King wars; it’s not a particularly business-friendly state.

    And there are a lot of people who think it’s their “duty” to tell owners what is or is not an appropriate use of their land. And that whole “No Trespassing” thing is an ongoing outrage.

  17. In March of last year Reason managing editor Jesse Walker described the Southern Poverty Law Center’s inability to tell the difference between fringe groups, as well as the non-threat of militias.

    Let me help the SPLC with language for the press release and lobbying efforts….“any fringe group or non-threatening militia like group who interferes with or in any way threatens our fundraising efforts is clearly a terrorist organization and needs to neutralized immediately!”

  18. [Kalispell mayor Tammi] Fisher said the Kalispell community does have its limits… But groups espousing their own views on government are tolerated.

    If it is not used to promote the interest of a recognized affiliate of the tolerance community than what are they doing throwing that word around? They think they can use any word they please where there is a recognized officially sanctioned history that lays rightful claim to its proper usage? The gross insolence of these Montana rubes! What century do they think they are living in?

    [The sad part, in the context of some recent exposure to progressive threads I’ve endured, I’m not even exaggerating their attitudes with hyperbole to get cheap satire. Their attitudes are a dime store knock off version of the human condition.]

    1. Everyday the satire singularity draws nigh and henceforth we shall reside in a new Onionverse.

  19. Speaking of conspiracies, I swear I heard that blonde dude (Douchy?) on Fox say “don’t thread on me”.

  20. Lucy,

    This is Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. I appreciate your noting that I came across as reasonable in Radley’s interview, though I am puzzled at why you think it necessary to lump me in with neo-Nazis when you say “None of these people are perfect allies in the cause of rolling back government.”

    My viewpoints and politics are strikingly similar to those of my old boss, Ron Paul (I would say we agree 99% of the time when it comes to law, government, economics, and the Constitution). I am a fairly run of the mill minarchist libertarian and strict construction constitutionalist. I think you are starting to buy into the propaganda of SPLC by presuming to know, for a fact, that I am not a solid ally in the fight to roll back government.

    But more to the point, the Gawker article libels me by calling me a racist (and the author will be receiving my demand letter shortly).

    To begin with, I am 1/4 Mexican and also part Apache Indian. My relatives on my mother’s side of the family were all migrant grape pickers from California, and they all intermarried with Filipinos, so I grew up raised in a Mexican and Filipino cultural melting pot, while visiting the white (English, Irish, and Scottish) relatives from my Dad’s side of the family during the summers. Kinda hard to be a white supremacist or really any kind of racist with that “Hines 57” background. Which part of me should hate the other?

    And I have long been a very outspoken, fierce opponent of any kind of racism, which, as Ron Paul put it, “is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals.” I believe in INDIVIDUAL liberty and responsibility, not group guilt.

    Furthermore, Oath Keepers, the organization I founded, is overtly anti-racist, with our bylaws clearly prohibiting racists from becoming members. Specifically, Section 8.02(b) states:

    “(b) No person who advocates, or has been or is a member, or associated with, any organization, formal or informal, that advocates discrimination, violence, or hatred toward any person based upon their race, nationality, creed, or color, shall be entitled to be a member or associate member.”

    If we find out that any member of the organization is a closet racist, they are kicked out immediately. So far, we have only had to do that with one member, who revealed himself to be a Christian Identity adherent. Our Board of Directors immediately kicked him out of the org, revoking his membership.

    As for our racial make-up, on our national Board sits another American of Mexican descent, Robert Gomez, as well as an American Indian, David Rivers. And our first Ohio State Chapter President, Eddie Gilbert, is married to a wonderful black woman, Ada, who fully supports our mission. You can watch a video interview with them here.…..rt-rhodes/

    I don’t tolerate racists of any kind, be they white, brown, black, red or yellow, in Oath Keepers. We are committed to protecting the rights of ALL Americans regardless of race, and we judge people as individuals, by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. When I was in the Army, the only color we saw was Army Green, and we are still that way.

    I would appreciate you modifying your article to at least note that Gawker alleges me to be a racist, rather than just reprinting that libel against me as if it were fact.

    You are more than welcome to use any part of my comments here as a rebuttal to the libel if you care to add them as an addendum to your piece. I will also post a comment and a link when I publish my formal demand letter to Gawker, and to the author, Jeff Neumann. If he does not publish a full retraction, I will sue him and the Gawker website on behalf of myself and on behalf of Oath Keepers and our approximately 12,000 members.

    Thank you,

    Stewart Rhodes

    PS- My wife and I home-school all of our five children, as part of walking our talk. Nice to see so many home-schoolers here.

    1. I don’t think she really meant to lump you in with them in that way. She just didn’t want to appear to identify completely with Randy Weaver, so she issued a safe “nobody is perfect” disclaimer.

      And really, getting a 100% libertarian purity seal of approval is basically impossbible unless you want to grant it to yourself, so while she might have been slightly lazy in her phrasing “None of these people are perfect allies”, she was probably technically correct.

      Least thats how I read it.

      1. I see a market for the libertarian purity seal. A nice seal in this style should satisy everyone’s requirements.

      2. Chuck Baldwin, Stewart Rhodes,Randy Weaver, the “stage-mom” for white-supremacist kid singers named “Prussian Blue”…hey whats the diff?

    2. Mr. Rhodes, forgive me for being sloppy in some of my wording (I plead being an intern, which is a limited excuse, I realize.)

      I do believe that quoting the gawker article and then disparaging it, as well as linking to the very impressive Balko interview (I should have said that) gets the point across that at least you walk the walk, etc.

      You’re not a perfect ally because you’re seen as too radical and paranoid by msm sources. I don’t agree with that, but I don’t know that your organization is step one to convert someone towards libertarianism. This is not necessarily a reflection on Oath Keepers, just reality and people’s foolish assumptions and associations.

      I apologize again for seeming to lump you in with racists or alleged racists, when I mainly intended to defend you and anyone interested in small government.

      I will ask my editors about a follow-up or addendum. Again, I don’t think you come off as badly as you worry in my article, but sincere apologies again for the sloppy wording. You reminded me that real people are out there reading what I write or link about them.

      1. You might want to think about redoing that single paragraph lumping Chuck Baldwin and Prussian Blue together, Lucy.

    3. Thanks Stewart for your thoughtful comments. Please keep us filled in about your correspondence with Gawker.

  21. Seriously, this thread kind of kicks ass so far.

  22. Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is disgusted by the fact that people end up having to respond to accusations of racism with a list of their genetic bona fides instead of purely ideological arguments.

  23. “Gawker mocked the possibly suicidal Burgert for wearing a fanny-pack,”

    I have a fanny pack too. I wear it when my clothes won’t properly conceal my pistol and mags (as required by the local sheriff that issued my ccw permit). It’s made specifically for concealed carry.
    It is sad when folks that distrust the government based upon previous and current abuses of power are labled as subversives.

    1. I’m glad I don’t live in a state where I have to worry about “printing” or my shirt riding up. “I’m carrying a gun, so what?”

      1. Yeah, it’s a “shall issue” state but they left the carry rules up to the sheriff of each county since it’s the sheriff that issues permits. Ten bucks and ten minutes and you get a permit. The local sheriff requires carrying concealed. Alabama seems to like allowing things and then letting the sheriff regulate them. I’m looking into alternatives as the fanny pack isn’t particularly hip and the pistol I carry is kinda hard to hide but it was cheap and is amazingly accurate and reliable.

        1. what did you get?

          1. A S&W SW40VE. It shoots 1 inch groups at 15 yards right outta the box. After a few hundred rounds with no problems of any kind I am well pleased with it. The trigger is a bit heavy but as a double action only with no mechanical safety it is a necessary evil. It apparently doesnt bother my shooting.

  24. On one of the photos accompanying that AP article, there’s a caption that reads, “In this photo taken Thursday, June 16, 2011, Flathead Lake is seen in Missoula, Mont.” That lake is not remotely visible from anywhere in Missoula. Another bang-up job by the AP.

  25. Also, I think those Prussian Blue girls have since separated from their racist bitch of a mother and are trying to distance themselves from all the white supremacist stuff in their past. (I grew up in Kalispell, this AP article really pissed me off.)

  26. I don’t get why the Oath Keepers are so feared by lefties. They are roughly equivalent to the the refusenik conscientious objectors in Israel, who are clear examples of a pro-military, anti-atrocity argument.

  27. Hindsight being what it is, you could say that your rhetoric over so-called extremists has gained credibility in the past 4 years. 99% of us are nowhere close to being extremists. This is the mantra of the left wing extremists, to demonize the militia. Unless protecting the U.S. Constitution can be called extremism, your rhetoric is just that; useless rhetoric.
    “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” ~Senator Barry Goldwater in his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

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