BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Three Alabama men are among 30 people from around the nation profiled in a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center on what the group characterizes as key leaders of radical right groups."Their divisive propaganda, which is being embraced by opportunistic politicians and pundits and exploited for partisan gain, is doing real damage to our country," Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Montgomery-based center and editor of the new report, said in a prepared statement. . .The Alabama men highlighted in the report are Michael Vanderboegh of Pinson, described by the report as a "Patriot leader;" Michael Hill of Killen, with League of the South, described as a neo-Confederate group; and Timothy Turner of Ozark, described as being with the Sovereign Citizens Movement. . .Vanderboegh disputed the center's characterization of him. "The so-called 'Patriot Movement' is a false construction of the SPLC to be able to conflate large numbers of dissimilar and even opposing philosophies for the purposes of creating fundraising bogeymen to scare their donors," he wrote in an email. He described himself as a long-time leader of the constitutional militia movement.Conducting a training class in communications and sensors, getting ready to work the border, 2005.The center's profile on Vanderboegh states he dislikes immigrants. "I worked the border in October 2005 in support of the Minutemen," Vanderboegh wrote. "I do not 'dislike' immigrants nor have I ever written such ... I did oppose the Bush administration's failure to enforce the immigration laws of this country as a direct threat to the rule of law."The profile on him states that in 2010, after Congress passed President Obama's health care reform bill, Vanderboegh used his Sipsey Street Irregulars blog to urge opponents to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices nationwide. Bricks were thrown through several offices around the nation."Specifically I called for the breaking of local Democrat Party headquarters windows," Vanderboegh wrote. "Political vandalism to make a point is a fine old American tradition, going back to original Sons of Liberty."The report also notes the arrests in November of four men, ranging in age from their 50s to 70s, with a Georgia militia charged with allegedly planning attacks against government officials and buildings. The planned attacks were inspired, in part, by an online novel published by Vanderboegh, according to news reports and the center's report."Blaming me for the 'Georgia Geriatric Militia' is like blaming Tom Clancy for September 11," Vanderboegh said.One professor who studied and wrote a book on the growth of militia groups in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing questioned the tone of the center's report."Dispassionate unbiased analysis it is not," said Robert Churchill, associate professor of history at the University of Hartford, Conn., who wrote "To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face: Libertarian Political Violence and the Origins of the Militia Movement."Churchill wrote in an email that he believes the center takes a few cheap shots at Vanderboegh, including the attempted link to the Georgia militia case and questioning Vanderboegh's claims that he was a moderate who denounced neo-Nazis. "Vanderboegh was in fact a very important anti-racist voice within the militia movement in the 1990s," Churchill wrote.
Here's some quotes responding to the SPLC screed that didn't make it into the paper:
As to the "posturing as a civic improver by leading attacks on a botched gun investigation," they are referring to the fact that I broke the "Fast and Furious" scandal story in December, 2010, verifying whistleblower accounts through my own sources within the ATF. I, along with my fellow gun rights blogger David Codrea, was subsequently responsible for linking up whistleblowers like ATF agent John Dodson first with Senator Sessions' office and then with Senator Grassleys'. The SPLC, which has long had a symbiotic relationship with ATF (they defended ATF during the racist Good O' Boys Roundup scandal) is likely taking this opportunity to express their dislike of my criticism of their gravy train. (Ask SPLC how much they make from Federal law enforcement contracts providing "extremist training" to federal and state LE agencies. They will not tell you.)
SPLC: "In that role, he has been regularly consulted as an expert by Fox News, which hasn’t bothered to mention his background as a militia leader or instigator of criminal brick-throwing attacks."
My reply: In my year and a half of working the Fast and Furious scandal, I have been interviewed by William LaJuennesse of FOX exactly twice. If that constitutes "regular" it is a definition contrary to the one in Webster's. . .
SPLC: "That would be officials of the very same government, as it turns out, that sends Mike Vanderboegh, each and every month, a disability check for $1,300."
My reply: Accurate as far as it goes. The collectivists such as SPLC, MSNBC and others have made much of the fact that I am on SS disability for this princely sum. My doctor suggested I apply after I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. It was immediately granted without reference to any lawyer. What really galls these professional liars for money is either (a) that I am getting some of the forty plus years that I paid into Social Security back while they understand that they'll never draw theirs, (b) more likely, they understand the ancient guerrilla warrior logistics tactic of living off the substance of the enemy.
My conclusion to the email: SPLC gets by with their years of lies, conflations and half-truths simply because you in the media never look under their skirts. They have been denounced by ex-employees (see Montgomery Advertiser series in the 1990s, "Marketing the Militias"); by activists on the left who despise them more than I do; by old civil rights foot soldiers who sneer that Dees is a "civil rights pimp" who started out defending Klansmen and then saw where the money was; by Dees ex-partner, the founder of Habitat for Humanity and by non-partisan, non-profit watchdog groups.
Yet they get by with ad hominem attacks such as the sneer just dissected because you in the press view them as "extremist experts." One might as well write a history of the Jews in Spain by relying solely upon the memoirs of Cardinal Francisco Jimenez, the Grand Inquisitor.