When good tax-evaders go bad

  • Cover of Lone Patriot

 


Back in the halcyon days of the Northwest militia movement in the mid-'90s, a curious breed of man emerged from the moist backwoods and unemployment lines of the disenfranchised West: the wannabe Patriot.


In Whatcom County, Wash., the commander in chief of the Washington State Militia, John Pitner, was experiencing New World Order visions. The small militia group he formed lasted roughly three years, until 1996, when the FBI crashed the party and hauled Pitner off in handcuffs for "conspiracy to make and possess destructive devices." By the time the agents came a-knocking, Pitner's short-lived power had vanished among his own group, which had grown impatient with his promise of a big battle that never materialized.


Jane Kramer, a writer for The New Yorker and a National Magazine Award winner, writes in Lone Patriot that the unemployed Pitner desperately wanted to be a bigshot in the hate hierarchy. She deftly constructs a study of Pitner that reflects the motley, dangerous contingent of Freemen, militias, con men, county secessionists, skinheads, tax evaders and neo-Nazis (and the women who loved them) that still populates the West.


The conspiracy visions of Pitner's well-oiled imagination included a (now cliche) image of black helicopters circling his yard, the notion that an evil band of Jewish bankers took over the Federal Reserve, and the theory that western Washington's incessant rain was created by David Rockefeller to "demoralize them so that they'd lose the will to resist the New World Order."


Perhaps the most surprising indictment in Kramer's book, however, is the one leveled at mainstream folks in Whatcom County who ignored the militia because of a hybrid mix of old Western Cowboy fence-respecting culture, and an easy, nonconfrontational NPR-brand of "liberalness" that tolerates aberrant behavior. Whatcom County is the home of Bellingham and Western Washington State University, places that take pride in what Kramer calls "the long view, assuming that John's moment would eventually pass, the way troubling moments always passed in Whatcom County."


This clash of cultures should be read as a cautionary note for the entire West. For "those people" are still out there and they have no plans to leave. We'd better keep an eye on them.

Stephen J. Lyons writes from the Midwest.




Copyright &2002 HCN and Stephen J. Lyons







NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • 5 acres, views, utilities to lot line includes paid water tap, great for passive solar design, covenants and NO HOA. Listed by Beckie at Keller...
  • The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) is seeking qualified applicants to fill a vacant Executive Director position in Denver, CO. The position serves...
  • The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success using the power of the...
  • 383 Acres with trails, private road, trees, stream and fabulous views. Earth Sheltered, passive solar home provides 2785 sf of comfort and a "top of...
  • certified, 51 acres, small cottage, outbuildings, equipment and tools. Contact: [email protected]
  • 2bd/2bath green home on 2 acres on the Ojo Caliente River, NM. MLS #101605. Contact [email protected]
  • of mountains, 22+ acres. Close to Arroyo Seco and the Taos Ski Valley, NM. MLS #102585, [email protected]
  • 2br-2ba, acreage. Birders, writers. 1000.
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • The Wilderness Society is currently recruiting for a Communications Manager for our Northwest Region. This position can be located in Seattle or Oakland. For more...
  • 1912 Orchard House completely rebuilt 2002. 4000 sq ft home and private guest cottage on .53 acres. Reclaimed maple and Doug Fir. Two garages. CathyMooney.com,...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) seeks a new Executive Director to guide this dynamic national advocacy, watchdog, and service organization. The successful candidate requires...
  • The California Program Manager will work closely with California-based program staff and other NFF staff to provide project management and program development support. The incumbent...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Sierra Club is looking for a community organizer who can help us protect grizzly bears and other wildlife species in the Northern Rockies region. This...
  • Join HCN and Black Sheep Adventures on an expedition through the national parks and monuments of Utah and Southwest Colorado, September 7 - 15, 2019....