An Editorial by Heather Warburton
In March of 2020, The Freeholder Board of Atlantic County was considering a dangerous proposal. On the surface it seemed simple. It was a 2nd Amendment Protection Bill. I urged the members of the board to vote no on the measure. Not because I am a strict opponent of firearms. My position on guns remains somewhere near the middle. But because this bill was being proposed across the nation by dangerous groups of people. People who were deeply rooted in anti-semitism. These militia movements and groups like The Proud Boys were spreading their conspiracy theory driven nonsense across towns and communities around the country, and they had their sights set on Atlantic County. I sent the following letter to each member who was serving on the board at the time and published it on a media company I was then involved with. I warned that any motion that gives credence to these lunatics would only further enable them. It would give them more validity and encourage them in even more extreme behaviors. Sadly, most members of the board chose to ignore my warnings. I was especially concerned for the only Jewish member of the board at the time Commissioner Fitzpatrick. I could only imagine how it might feel to watch your coworkers embracing deeply anti-semitic rhetoric.
As I predicted, these militia movements only grew stronger and more open in their hatred. It finally cumulated in an attempted coup on Jan 6th. In that coup we saw people wearing shirts saying “Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWE” which stands for Six Million Wasn’t Enough, which references the number of Jewish people murdered during the holocaust. Now the Commissioner Board has a chance to make some kind of amends for their actions. Commissioner Fitzpatrick has proposed a resolution for the board to condemn the actions of Jan 6th. To state clearly and for the world to hear that this county does not support what these hate filled men and women stand for. You would think this would be easy to pass. Apparently it isn’t. But this is the least this board can do. Isn’t it time to do the right thing? Isn’t it time to put aside all this political back and forth 2 party insanity and just do the right thing? I saw overwhelmingly YES.
“Just last week, I attended a presentation by the NJ Attorney General about the rising levels of bias crimes and antisemitism in NJ. This comes in the wake of NJ Officials raising our threat level to high from white supremacist and extremist groups following the shooting in Jersey City. NJ isn’t unique in this respect. In 2018, A Pittsburgh man murdered 11 people in a synagogue because he believed George Soros was controlling a migrant caravan in a scheme to destabilize society and slaughter “patriots” like him. ( https://www.vox.com/2018/11/2/15946556/antisemitism-enlightenment-george-soros-conspiracy-theory-globalist )
By now you may be asking yourself what does all this have to do with the resolution the Atlantic County Freeholder Board is considering this Tuesday. Across the country we are seeing a rise in far right wing militia groups like Patriot Prayer, The OathKeeprs, and the 3%ers.
Unite The Right
Most people probably first heard of them during the “Unite The Right Rally” in Charlottesville. They showed up on the scene in military style fatigues carrying various weapons. These militias claimed they were providing “security” for the event. Scenes from Unite The Right burned into our memories. From the chants like “The Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and Soil”. To when a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of people, murdering one and injuring dozens
These right wing militia groups share many of the same beliefs and conspiracy theories as the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. You can sum up the conspiracy theory as follows:
1) Our government is illegitimate. It is being controlled by some secret elite group with the aim of destruction of what they consider the “American” way of life. Currently militias are calling them the “New World Order” , but it could be the Illuminati, The Rothschild Family or Reptilian Aliens (they all make about as much sense)
2) This secret cabal is amassing some kind of foreign army that they intend use to invade US soil.
3) This foreign army is going to strip away the right to own guns and lock us all in some sort of FEMA camp or walled cities while the shadow government enact their evil plans.
These beliefs form the basis of The Oathkeeprs “10 Orders We Will Not Follow” https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/oath-keepers
A New Trick Based in Old Biases
These anti-government extremist groups are also behind so called “Second Amendment Sanctuary” measures across Oregon and Virginia. Also like the one the Atlantic County Freeholder Board is considering Tuesday. https://www.corvallisadvocate.com/2018/new-powers-for-oregon-sheriffs/
I can’t help but ask who on the freeholder board actually believes the paranoid delusions of these conspiracy theories? More importantly do they understand this particular conspiracy theory finds its roots in antisemitism? This particular delusion is based off the so called “Jewish Puppet Master” conspiracy theory. It pops up again and again through history. Most devastatingly, when The Protocols of The Elders of Zion helped incite the violence that led to the Holocaust. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/protocols-of-the-elders-of-zion
Dig deep enough on the internet and you always come back to this conspiracy theory. ( https://www.wired.com/2017/03/internet-protocols-elders-zion/ )
Now, Atlantic County finds itself in the center of it. We all know this measure means nothing in terms of legislation. Our county sheriff is not going to ignore state and federal gun legislation. Would the freeholders even want that to happen? I am no fan of police, but do the freeholders want to empower militias to take over their jobs?
Or do they admit this is symbolic legislation? That symbolism inspires fear, distrust, and paranoia. That is what the freeholders must vote on. I question the motivation of any freeholder who votes yes on this. Are you going to score political points on the backs of your neighbors? In their fears and tears? Or do you actually agree with these militia groups and their conspiracy theories? I don’t even know which one is worse.”