Ammon’s Army: Inside the Far-Right People’s Rights Network
Which Way Forward?
The evidence presented in this report highlights how “People’s Rights” is a misnomer of epic proportions. Don’t be fooled. Whatever they choose to call it, it is Ammon’s Army, and it marches to a far-right drumbeat of narcissistic rage and insurrection.
There are several important takeaways from research into the rise of the People’s Rights network. First, the data highlights how there has been a rapid spread of this network. The far-right paramilitary core carried on, while the current intensely polarized political context has made it possible for that core to swiftly adapt and find a new mass base. Opposition to COVID-19 health directives provided a catalyst at this moment, but the many remaining underlying concerns seen in the group make it possible for the core to morph again in search of a new mass audience after the pandemic.
Undergirding the effort are troubling displays of far-right conspiracism, racism, antisemitism, anti-indigenous and anti-transgender sentiment, and omnipresent threats of violence. Far-right movements like this put stress and strain on all democratic institutions and civil society. In the context of the pandemic, it puts the lives of community members and public servants at risk—without a single shot being fired.
Ammon’s army is a dangerous armed threat that requires a response. However, standing by and assuming law enforcement will handle this problem on its own is not the answer. State and federal prosecutors have proven woefully inadequate at bringing justice or even mildly deterring the escalation of Ammon Bundy and his followers. Bunkerville, Burns, Boise, and beyond, Ammon’s army keeps on marching.
The continuing march of Ammon’s army requires people in local communities to stand united and speak out against those who misleadingly claim to speak for “the People” while promoting paramilitarism and bigotry. This strategy worked in the 1980s, when family farmers, faith leaders, and community members banded together to keep the Posse Comitatus from taking over during the farm crisis. It worked in the 1990s when trade unionists, Civil Rights leaders, anti-bigotry activists, and many others stood together in local communities when the militia came to town. It can, and will work again today if we start our own efforts to defend democracy and human rights from these far-right assaults. This is a battle of ideas over how we treat all of us in a time of danger and turmoil. This is a fight over how we define who we are as Americans. In the end, Bundy’s barbaric neighborhood nationalism can be overwhelmed by the values expressed in Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community that strives for inclusive democracy.
Inside the Far-Right People's Rights Network
A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network
Copyright © 2020. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.