What To Do When “Patriots” Come To Town

A. Starting A Group and Planning Your First Meeting
B. Tips for Patriot Watching
C. Taking on Patriot Movement Talking Points
 

A. Starting A Group and Planning Your First Meeting

By Rural Organizing Project

 

Why get a group together

It has been our experience that when people visibly oppose so-called “Patriots” speaking for their communities, it takes the wind out of the sails of local militia cells, paramilitary actions, and Patriot movement attempts to win elected positions in local government.

The more people publicly engaged, the better for many reasons, including:

  1. There is greater safety and security in numbers, especially in small towns where anonymity isn’t an option.
  2. It directly challenges the notion that community silence is silent support of the militia.
  3. Many hands make light work. The most effective way to get multiple people engaged is to form a group.

In moments of great confusion, tension, or stress in the community, it is easy to become scared and turn inward for fear of retaliation. Forming or joining a group has proven to be valuable for folks across Oregon to break isolation, build community, take shared action for their community, and have a team of folks who will have each other’s backs in case someone receives a nasty phone call or has a bad interaction at the grocery store.

Many of the groups formed responding to militia activity in their community are started by just a small handful of concerned locals who are collecting information and staying on top of the news. If you’re reading this, this probably is you!

Core organizers should quickly look at inviting a larger group (10­ to 20 people) to get together to discuss forming a group and the activities you might sponsor.

Who to recruit

We have seen polarized and fractured communities come together regardless of political beliefs to organize in this moment. You will find many unexpected allies in this kind of community crisis work, so keep an open mind and offer opportunities to even those you think might not be interested.

Start with your core: Who are folks most closely tracking what’s happening? Of the folks you know well, who are upset?

Then build up a list of people who you think would come to a meeting, even if just to learn more about what’s happening. Consider folks who have ties to community groups, who are active in political parties, or engage in faith community work.

Here are some community groups whose members you might reach out to:

  • Social justice groups
  • Granges
  • Service groups like Kiwanis and food banks
  • Churches and other faith-based groups
  • Teachers and school administrators
  • Civics groups like the Lions Club and Rotary Club

Watch social media. If there’s a Facebook group with people who share your viewpoint, reach out to them privately and ask them to grab coffee. If they seem like a good fit, invite them to your meeting or your group.

Invitations and reminders

The most successful way to get people to your meeting is to invite them and remind them multiple ways: by phone, by email, and/or by meeting up with them well ahead of time. Even in this internet age, talking with people is still really important.

Multiple contacts are valuable for helping you build relationships, catch up on the latest news, and set the stage for a productive meeting, making sure everyone has a shared understanding of what is happening in your community. It also allows you to identify any potential problems that might arise during the meeting in time to consider how to handle them.

Even if someone commits to showing up, send a friendly reminder email or leave them a quick phone message 24 to 48 hours before the meeting. Even with the best of intentions, it is easy to forget meetings that aren’t part of your routine!

Where to have it

Meeting in a private home for your first meetings is ideal for many reasons. It’s comfortable, you have complete control over who attends, and if tensions get high then people are likely to stay and work it out rather than risk appearing rude by leaving early.

If a living room isn’t an option, libraries, schools, community centers, and restaurants often have community rooms you can use for free or rent cheaply. Choose a room that is quiet and where you can have a private meeting. The best spaces don’t have stairs so folks of all abilities can participate.

Make sure you have snacks, coffee, tea, and water available. It helps people feel relaxed and keeps everyone’s energy up for a good conversation. It is also helpful to have extra paper and pens to take notes.

Set up the room in a circle or around a table where everyone can see each other. Setting it up like a classroom with chairs facing forward is difficult for having a rich conversation. You want a lively conversation where everyone feels ownership of the plan moving forward.

Sign-in sheet

Have a sign-in sheet on a clipboard with a pen ready to circulate at the meeting. The sign-in sheet should have ample space for people to provide their full name, address, phone number, and email address.

Tip: completely fill out the first line of the sign-in sheet yourself—it sets the example for everyone else to also share their complete contact information.

Facilitator

Ask someone from your group who knows what you hope to accomplish to facilitate the meeting. Their main job is to make sure the conversation stays on topic and that people aren’t talking over each other.

Sample agenda

The first meeting’s goals should be to affirm that a group needs to come together to respond, to allow people to get to know one another, and to leave with next steps. First meetings are often a mix of people who have known each other for decades and people who are meeting each other for the first time. Plan an agenda that allows for discussion so people can build relationships and build trust. Come to the meeting with some thought-out ideas around visible actions to offer as next steps. Most productive meetings are no longer than two hours.

Opening:

The facilitator should welcome everyone, introduce themself, and take a moment to describe how the meeting came about.

Introductions:

Go around the circle stating your name, where you live, and why you came to the meeting.

Background:

If you’ve gotten a chance to talk to everyone ahead of time, you don’t need to spend much time sharing what you know about what’s happening. If you didn’t get that opportunity, offering a few minutes (maximum) of background information to help people get on the same page is helpful!

  • Offer what you see as the problem and how it affects the community.
  • Describe a couple of public, visible actions you all might take.

Discussion:

Allow for plenty of space for discussion. This is where people decide to commit to helping this group and its actions succeed! Find common ground not just about the need to form a group but to take action through some sort of public event. It is good to have a public event quickly as a way to establish your group as active in the community and build up a base of supporters.

Tip: don’t get sucked into a long discussion about what the group should be or look like—it isn’t a discussion many people find interesting. Instead form a committee if some people would like to work on the group structure.

Planning:

You’re going to take action! What are the pieces that need to happen? Create a timeline, a list of tasks, and the names of people who are committing to taking on those individual tasks. If one or two people are taking on the lion’s share of tasks, gently offer to shift assignments so everyone who wants a meaningful role has one. Remember, you want many people invested!

Closing:

Reaffirm what you’ve accomplished in the meeting: forming a group, planning a public action, and assignments. Set the next meeting date and time. Congratulate the group for a productive, successful meeting! Go around the circle answering: What are you taking away from this meeting? Or, what will you be chewing on tomorrow morning from this meeting?

Places where people get stuck

You might encounter some pitfalls that could get people stuck during your meeting. Let’s be honest, the Patriot movement has a lot of smart people who know how to appeal to just about all of us. There are very few rural Oregonians who feel like their community’s infrastructure is meeting everyone’s needs, for example. Here are some pitfalls that we have seen totally stump organizers, and some suggestions about how to move forward:

“We should have a ‘meaningful dialogue’ with the militia.”

There are many people who believe that the only path forward is by talking things out. This is true for much of our lives. Unfortunately, a meaningful dialogue isn’t effective when confronting militias, White supremacists, and other similar groups. In fact, it lends them credibility. The best approach is to focus the discussion on the idea that violence and intimidation simply are not debatable.

“We should have a positive message.”

Of course this is true! Many communities have found great success offering discussion about inclusion, democracy, and coming together to solve problems civilly. This message is most successful when it is used in contrast to what the Patriot movement stands for: the politics of fear, rejection, and isolation. This is a moment where you must bring both your vision of what you want your community to look like and expose what the militia’s vision for your community is.

“We don’t want to give them attention.”

It is true that part of the goal of the Patriot movement is to gain uncritical media attention to better recruit and fundraise. However, we have seen that militias use the silence of the community they are occupying as silent support. For example, in Josephine County in April 2015, when there were more people from east of the Mississippi than west occupying a gold mine on Bureau of Land Management land, the Oath Keepers paraded around as an innocuous veterans’ group, citing community silence as support. The media reported the Oath Keepers’ talking points verbatim until the community organized a press conference asking the paramilitaries to go home before someone got hurt and to allow the community to solve its problems civilly and democratically. After the press conference, people came out of the woodwork across the county, writing letters to the editor about how their communities were invaded and occupied by armed forces, and all of the following media coverage was much more critical of their occupation. The ultimate result was that they couldn’t recruit people to come out anymore because it was clear that the community was not welcoming them as heroes (See more case studies in part 1 of this section).

“They have free speech rights too.”

Yes, and they use them! Many Patriot movement groups have created the perception that their rights are being trampled by anyone who disagrees with them. There is no reason why your group cannot also use your right to free speech to name what you feel like is best for your community.

“There are militias behind every tree!”

People can easily become overwhelmed and see the paramilitaries and their friends as responsible for everything going on in the community. This can be paralyzing. It’s important to stay realistic about what you can accomplish. Change requires incremental education and takes time. Make goals you can really achieve. The first step is meeting together to build community and enjoy the regular reality check that brings.

 

B. Tips for Patriot Watching

Activists from Josephine and Grant Counties who wish to remain anonymous share what they have learned about how to monitor the Patriot movement in counties specifically targeted by the national Patriot movement.

  1. Watch for militia buzz-words in your local media. In Grant County, nearly a month before the Bundy brothers and friends began the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a local right-wing political activist wrote a letter to the editor suggesting that citizens should be able to defend themselves from enemies by forming a “prepared militia.” A red flag went up! They were already being pumped up by the Patriot movement and could not contain their enthusiasm.
  1. Watch for community meeting or educational event announcements. The Patriot movement builds support through educational events about the Constitution, rancher and miner’s rights, public lands, and government overreach. These are all “wedge issues” intended to win local support. Look for meeting announcements in your paper, flyers on bulletin boards around town (the library and the post office are two good places to look), and posts on social media.
  1. Go to county commission or county court meetings. Patriot movement activists are good at taking advantage of the public comment section of local government meetings to talk about the movement, government overreach, the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and public lands. Attend meetings and track their attempts to move any resolutions. Notice who is diligently writing notes or videotaping the session—are they producing content for right-wing media? If you are just getting started, go to your county government’s website and read the meeting minutes. Many counties put video recordings of meetings up on their websites as well.
  1. Pay attention to local issues. The Patriot movement uses local issues to trigger local, regional, and national action. Consider whether any local struggles have the potential to escalate. Think about your response ahead of time and pre-empt the narrative with organized letters to the editor.
  1. Any strangers suddenly come to town? In our sparsely populated counties, strangers stand out. Notice those attending county or city meetings. Michael Emry and Becky Hudson of The Voice of Idaho moved into Grant County after reporting on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, catching the attention of locals. This was a clear indication that Grant County was still seen as a viable place to organize by the Patriot movement.
  1. Ask your local sheriff some questions. Knowing whether or not you have a “constitutional sheriff” is important. Do they think they have the authority to interpret the Constitution, for instance? “Interpret” is the key word.
  1. Learn the code words signaling the movement is activated in your area: “Committee of Safety” (shadow governments which seek to take over local government roles), “Committee of Correspondence” (a program to recruit county residents through social media and printed newsletters—look for county community themes, for example: The Voice of Grant County, and Community Preparedness Team.
  1. Google local political activists to see if they are part of the movement. Go to their Facebook page. Savvy posters will often have timelines hidden, but many still leave “Friends” open to public viewing. Search their “Friends” for profile photos that include paramilitary logos. See what groups they are part of, and which pages they “like.”
  1. Take screenshots of announced actions, threats, or bad behavior. Pay attention to who are frequent or significant commentators on Facebook. Watch for significant numbers of “Friends” from outside your county. Click on them to know where they are coming from—literally (geographically) and figuratively. Watch for fake accounts; Patriot activists may use them when they issue threats or feel unsure about whether they are being libelous.
  1. Keep folders of your documentation. Screenshots of paramilitary leaders and sympathizers, related news stories, meeting minutes, etc. should be kept and organized so they are easily accessible.

 

C. Taking on Patriot Movement Talking Points

Militias and Gun Rights

CLAIM: Committees of Safety are governmental structures with decision-making powers.

REPLY: Committees of Safety do not have any legal authority and do not appear anywhere in either the U.S. or Oregon constitutions. They are Patriot movement formations designed to carry out their political views while mimicking governmental forms to convince potential followers that they have legitimacy and power.

Despite claiming to be “democratically elected,” movement groups often appoint or select members of Committees of Safety to provide a local “front” for a national Patriot strategy. These committees take advantage of real frustrations people have with government agencies to make vigilante actions seem respectable. Unlike the justice system, however imperfect it is, there are NO avenues to hold vigilante Committees of Safety accountable to all voters. An accountability process that all can agree on is key to a just democracy.

CLAIM: Self-appointed judges and so-called “common law grand juries” can indict, try, convict, and sentence people, including elected officials, federal employees, and business owners.

REPLY: Like Committees of Safety, “common law grand juries” have no legal standing, having been dreamed up by people who share a common ideology. The real legal system is based on the U.S. and state constitutions, and federal, state, and local statutes passed by elected legislative bodies, with over 200 years of legal precedence. Historically, the legal system has been subject to a lot of abuse and favoritism. “Common law courts” take advantage of the frustrations many feel to engage in harassment and intimidation of individuals these self-appointed groups decide to persecute. On the other hand, many people who have become true believers in the Sovereign Citizen movement have not fared well in the courts when their ideological beliefs run smack into the reality of the real world justice system. Changing the abuses of the current judicial system is the work of democracy, using the democratic tools of education, open debate, and political action.

CLAIM: The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a legal and nonviolent occupation by peaceful protestors, just like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, or the Civil Rights movement.

REPLY: The Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Civil Rights movements did not vow to “not to be taken alive,” and did not argue their actions were lawful or constitutional. In fact, they planned to be arrested and jailed. Many laws were broken by the occupation; the argument that they were not is based on the Patriot movement’s fantasies that all gun restrictions are illegal and that the federal government cannot legally own the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge land. These arguments do not have any legal backing.

The right to “peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievance”—to protest—is a right of the people that predates the founding of our government. That is why it was included in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As such, peaceful protest is as much a part of governing the United States as is Congress, the courts, or the presidency. Inherent in this right is that peaceful protesters may have to face arrest from unjust authorities, as one way to right an unjust law. Carrying weapons to a protest means it is no longer a protest, but an act of intimidation with a very clear implied threat of violence. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers were armed. Federal employees of the wildlife sanctuary were intimidated from coming to work by these armed occupiers.

CLAIM: Social justice organizers shouldn’t silence the Patriot movement; all events should allow open carry—otherwise they are infringing on people’s rights.

REPLY: Organizers, with all different kinds of politics, have the right to choose whom they are working with. Patriot movement activists who come into progressive circles, but who do not share the larger political values of the movement, do not have a constitutional right to join private events or to defy gun restrictions. This particular argument has been used by Patriot-types to disrupt and derail progressive organizing. We should not allow people who do not share our values to participate if their primary intention is to cause disruptions, or to advance a political agenda which is not part of our already shared values.

Rural Economics

CLAIM: Environmentalists have destroyed rural economies by locking the land up. Opening up public lands to more ranching, logging, and mining will bring back jobs.

REPLY: Rural Oregon has been in a recession for over 30 years. Businesses have shut down, jobs have been lost, and people have lost homes and had to move. Schools and libraries were closed and services cut to the bone. The Great Depression of the 1930s only lasted about a decade. Why has nothing been done to rebuild the rural economy?

Prosperity was a late arrival to rural Oregon. Before World War II, loggers were dehumanized and treated like a disposable workforce, and mill workers were subject to the same bad working conditions that all American factory workers endured. The New Deal helped to create the prosperous Oregon we remember from the 1950s and 1960s. The federal government funded the electrification of rural Oregon. After World War II, it subsidized the housing industry, creating a vast market for timber products cut from national forests. Labor unions were legalized, allowing workers, for the first time, to get a fair wage for their work.

But by 1981, federal deficits due to the Vietnam War and two oil boycotts created a terrible round of inflation in the United States. To bring inflation under control, interest rates were raised to over 18 percent, making loans, including mortgages, more expensive. Home building crashed, along with the entire timber industry. When the economy recovered by the mid-1980s the timber industry was crippled. In the new era of deregulation and easy credit, the timber industry was attacked by corporate raiders who sold off whole production lines, broke the unions, cut wages, eliminated job security, and saddled the companies they bought with debt.

A few years after all this happened, some environmentalists won lawsuits to protect endangered species on public lands. While the damage to the economy had happened years before, the “spotted owl” and “tree huggers” became convenient scapegoats for industry and politicians alike.

Opening up federal lands to cut-and-run logging and other natural resource extraction-based industries will not revive our rural economy. Before the New Deal helped to bring rural Oregon out of the Depression, we had the era of the Robber Barons, King Timber, dust bowls, and permanent poverty. Those are the “good old days” that some people want to bring back. Those who would sell off the remaining national forests for private profit are proposing to do the opposite of what we need to build a prosperous rural Oregon.

It was government assistance and planning that pulled rural Oregon out of the Great Depression. To revive our economy today, we need a new plan and more government support—not less. The new plan should revolve around conservation-based logging, domestic production, clean energy production, and restoring the forests and waterways that everyone depends on, including city people. City prosperity depends on the bounty, the clean water, air, forests, and fields of rural Oregon, and the city must pay its fair share, not turn its back on its rural neighbors.

CLAIM: Muslims are undermining our civilization and bringing Sharia law to the United States.

REPLY: First, we’ve seen these types of arguments before when Roman Catholics and Jews came to this country in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. All of these groups assimilated and became part of the fabric of American society. Second, U.S. Muslims are a small and marginalized minority, and have nowhere sought to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims, although they may be trying to live according to it. As legal scholar Noah Feldman explains, Shariah refers to God’s divine and unchanging blueprint for human life, and Muslims see humans as its flawed interpreter.1)Noah Feldman, “A Lesson for Newt Gingrich: What Shariah Is (and Isn’t),” New York Times, July 15, 2016,http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/17/opinion/sunday/a-lesson-for-newt-gingrich-what-shariah-is-and-isnt.html?_r=0

Oregon acted on people’s suspicion of newcomers before in the 1920s, but then it was Roman Catholics; they were the main target of state’s Ku Klux Klan. One persistent conspiracy theory held that Catholics were more loyal to the Pope than to the U.S. government. So under popular pressure, Oregon outlawed Catholic schools, an action that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is now recognized as a shameful part of our history, like racial segregation. The campaign against Muslims will eventually be viewed as just as shameful.

CLAIM: Syrian refugees are ISIS sleeper cells and not properly vetted.

REPLY: The United States has very tough immigration screenings compared to other countries. In a one-and-a-half to two year process, they are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security. The government takes their fingerprints and life histories; then trained U.S. officials interview each one to verify that they are really refugees. They take another step for refugees from Syria to verify why they fled their homes.2)“4 Things to Know About the Vetting Process for Syrian Refugees,” NPR, November 17, 2015,www.npr.org/2015/11/17/456395388/paris-attacks-ignite-debate-over-u-s-refugee-policy.

These Syrian refugees are fleeing a country devastated, in part, by ISIS—not spreading the group’s ideology. If you are against ISIS, you should be helping its victims, not forcing them to return to Syria where they may be killed by the group.

The Constitution

CLAIM: The county sheriff is the highest elected law enforcement authority. Therefore, sheriffs have the ability to decide which laws are constitutional. They can also tell federal agents to leave their county and/or these agents must have the sheriff’s permission to execute warrants or make arrests in their county.

REPLY: This idea was originally cooked up by White Supremacists who opposed the Civil Rights acts of the 1960s. They wanted to abolish laws that guaranteed social equality, protected the environment, and allowed federal income tax. They thought they could convince county sheriffs to resist implementing these laws. While county sheriffs are not obligated to enforce certain regulations passed by federal agencies, they have no legal right to decide which local, state, and federal laws are constitutional, and thus enforceable. They also have no legal right to prevent federal agents from performing their duties.

CLAIM: Only the “Organic Constitution” should be followed.

REPLY: The “Organic Constitution” ignores all of the amendments of the Constitution after the Bill of Rights, the first ten passed during the Revolutionary era. To refuse to accept the other amendments is to allow slavery (the Thirteenth Amendment abolished it), remove citizenship from freed slaves and their descendants, and other guarantees of birthright citizenship (Fourteenth Amendment), and get rid of guarantees of equal voting rights for citizens (Fifteenth Amendment). It would also get rid of the federal income tax (Sixteenth Amendment), and remove the guarantee of the right to vote for women (Nineteenth Amendment).

CLAIM: The “Tenth Amendment” has been trampled upon.

REPLY: The Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” When the Hard Right invokes the Tenth Amendment, it is code for “state’s rights”—especially the idea that most federal government regulations and landholdings are not legal, and should be the province of state governments. This was the rallying cry of the Confederacy and the segregationists.

CLAIM: This is a country of laws, and federal regulations are not laws. The Constitution is a document that was written for the common man and made to be easily understood.

REPLY: Over the last two hundred years, our political system has changed. The Civil War, a life and death struggle to end slavery, came about because of critical flaws in the original Constitution that protected slavery and slave-owners. The Constitution was forced to adapt. Over time, the federal government has taken on a greater role in regulating the economy and protecting the civil rights of all. The courts have ruled that this evolution has been legal, and in fact this change has taken place in governments around the world. When someone claims the Constitution is “written for the common man,” prepare to hear a special Patriot movement version of the Constitution that would roll back civil rights, environmental protections, the rights of union members, and other victories of the movement for greater democracy.

Public Lands

CLAIM: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution says the federal government can only own “ports, forts, and ten square miles” of Washington, D.C.

REPLY: This clause says that Congress shall have the power “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.”

This passage is the mantra for Patriot movement activists who believe the federal government is not allowed to own most public lands, or cannot own them without prior permission of state governments. But the courts have ruled since the late 1800s that the federal government has the right to hold public lands. Despite the claims of the Patriot movement, in the U.S. political system, the Supreme Court—not county sheriffs, self-proclaimed judges, or Hard Right activists—are the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutional and what is not.

CLAIM: Federal land should be transferred to state or county governments.

REPLY: The land transfer movement is a backdoor maneuver to overturn environmental protections. While supporters claim this will revitalize rural economies, it is really a drive to exploit lands that belong to all the people, for private profit. By transferring the costs of maintaining the lands onto smaller local agencies, including police, fire suppression, and maintaining roads, those lands become more vulnerable to corporations whose revenue is often far bigger than local government budgets. As local agencies prove unable to maintain the lands, the call to sell them outright will be inevitable. It is just a disguised land grab.

Conspiracy Theories

CLAIM: Our tyrannical federal government is attempting to ban private gun ownership, after which it will put us in FEMA camps.

REPLY: Various forms of this conspiracy theory have been around for decades: the notion that some shadowy force is about to turn the United States into a tyrannical authoritarian state. If Democratic presidents were going to take our guns away and put us into camps, wouldn’t it have happened by now?

CLAIM: We live in a Socialist country.

REPLY: In Patriot movement lingo, socialism is any kind of regulation of markets. Even mild market regulations, including minimum wage and health and safety laws, as well as civil rights guarantees, such as same-sex marriage, are considered “socialism.” Almost all industrialized countries are “socialist” according to these criteria.

CLAIM: Agenda 21 (and 2030 Agenda) is a plan to take over private land under the ruse of environmentalism and drive rural people into the cities.

REPLY: Agenda 21 is a non-binding United Nations resolution, signed by George W. Bush, that encourages new development to take environmental sustainability into consideration. Instead, right-wing conspiracy theorists say that Agenda 21 is a secret United Nations plan to work through the federal government in the name of environmentalism to seize land from farmers and other rural people so it can control of the country and institute a socialist dictatorship. The real Agenda 21 is now superseded by the new, and also non-binding, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The plan for global domination is sure taking a long time.

The reality is that global temperatures and species’ extinctions are spiking, and environmental regulations lag far behind the destruction of the natural world. In addition, total federal landholdings are actually shrinking—not growing.

CLAIM: The government is seizing private land to exploit the minerals there (like uranium and gold), which will be given to China to pay off debts.

REPLY: This is a common claim, usually tied in with the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. Some said the government’s conflict with the Hammond family was an attempt to seize their property which contained uranium. Similar claims were heard about the Sugar Pine Mine: the federal government ordered the miners to cease and desist because it wanted their gold. In fact, the Hammonds have kept their property, and there is no uranium on the land (it is in the next county over). Even if there had been, it seems like there must be an easier way for the United States to pay back international debts than illegally seizing private land and then transferring it to a foreign government. This xenophobic conspiracy theory is complete with a foreign villain (China) who is taking away from the patriotic little guy (largely White U.S. miners and ranchers).

References   [ + ]

1. Noah Feldman, “A Lesson for Newt Gingrich: What Shariah Is (and Isn’t),” New York Times, July 15, 2016,http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/17/opinion/sunday/a-lesson-for-newt-gingrich-what-shariah-is-and-isnt.html?_r=0
2. “4 Things to Know About the Vetting Process for Syrian Refugees,” NPR, November 17, 2015,www.npr.org/2015/11/17/456395388/paris-attacks-ignite-debate-over-u-s-refugee-policy.