"AMERICAN MILITIAS: Rebellion, Racism and Religion" by Richard Abanes

"AMERICAN MILITIAS: Rebellion, Racism and Religion"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Grabbed from today's headlines, a well-researched, thoroughly informative chronicle of the antigovernment militias that haunt America's heartland (the third in recent months, after studies by Kenneth Stern and Morris Dees). Religion and cult expert Abanes, founder of the Religious Information Center of Southern California, sets out to deconstruct militias and analyze the events and ideologies that have led to their frightening growth. With hundreds of interviews and militia texts at his disposal, Abanes describes the incredible paranoia that stalks the movement, fueling increasingly wild conspiracy theories about a UN plot to conquer the world and a federal conspiracy to enslave American citizens. In unadorned, occasionally stiff prose, the author explores the ideology shared by the various militias and traces its origins back to centuries-old theories of anti-Semitism and white supremacy. ""White supremacists currently couch their beliefs in more acceptable terms,"" Abanes writes, ""hiding their bigotry to present a sanitized image to the public and attract new recruits."" One by one Abanes examines the leaders of the far right, including former Green Beret Bo Gritz (who recently attempted to negotiate with the Freemen in Idaho), lawyer Linda Thompson, even Pat Robertson, and reveals their ties to the hate community. Abanes is at his best when he's stripping down their arguments, demonstrating how militia leaders ""abuse rather than use the Bible,"" and skewering the faulty logic of the movement's self-styled leaders. Still, he is on no mission from the left: He blames the government bureaucracy for generating blizzards of alienating regulations, and the national law enforcement agencies for bungling matters at Waco and Ruby Ridge, with lethal results. A balanced and intellectually acute report on the militia men and women who seem disorganized and defensive now, but who one day may raise their voices in a fearsome roar.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: InterVarsity