The recent popularity of the show “Doomsday Preppers” has cast a light on the odd subculture of people who believe that at any moment, we could face an apocalyptic event that they have to be ready for.
They have a variety of imagined events to prep for, some quite plausible, others not so much. The common denominator here is that most of these folks appear to be normal human beings that have rather odd obsessions, and this isn’t a new phenomenon either.
A couple of decades ago, my mother was friends with a family that was into survivalism/homesteading. They lived in a log cabin on the top of a mountain near Marlinton, WV. To get to their house, you had to drive a couple of miles on a dirt path up the side of that mountain. If they didn’t know you were coming there was a good chance you could get shot by the father, who had a small armory on hand. Bill had a strange obsession with the UN and black helicopters (sound familiar?), and was blatantly racist in describing who he’d like to shoot with the “Street Sweeper” shotgun he kept loaded by the bed.
People like Bill used to be relegated to the dark corners and halls of seedy convention center gun shows where they’d hand out anti-government pamphlets and talk about how “the South is gonna rise again.” For the most part, they were considered to be weirdos, and the vast majority of people would walk past them without a second thought.
Today, they’ve managed to retool their image, and media personalities like Glenn Beck have brought survivalism and a more subtle anti-government mentality to the edge of mainstream culture via the internet, TV and radio.
There’s nothing wrong with being prepared for some natural or man-made disaster. Having some canned goods, a generator and even some weapons is a good idea when you live in an area like here in Louisiana where chaos reigned after Hurricane Katrina. If you or someone you know are just taking reasonable precautions, this article doesn’t apply to you.
Bill and many others like him aren’t preparing just for a disaster, they’re also hoping that an apocalyptic event will destabilize the local, state and federal government to the point where they can “take the country back,” which should also sound familiar. “Taking the country back” isn’t just the delusional ramblings of someone who wears a tri-cornered hat with teabags to local school board meetings; it’s also a code word for the literal armed revolt they dream of when a Marxist, Socialist, Kenyan Muslim President sends the UN to seize their guns and put their kids in FEMA re-education camps ran by Hillary Clinton.
You may think these are just people with a bizarre hobby that probably need medication, but they have money, and wherever there’s a niche market there’s someone to deliver a product. In this case, gold investment companies and gun manufacturers have spokesmen like Glenn Beck to play to the fears of anti-government types, for big profits.
What makes it even more dangerous is that they have to keep ramping up the rhetoric to keep people afraid, and therefore continuing to buy their products. I recently saw an ad on Facebook for a survivalism/camouflaged anti-government website which claims that FEMA can confiscate a household’s stores of food. Why would they do that? To sell a book, which will then get people to go out and buy guns to possibly shoot government employees during the next hurricane or earthquake.
You might think I’m joking or exaggerating, but if you’ve experienced this bizarre mindset in person, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. As they continue to escalate the conspiracy theories and anti-government rhetoric, we will continue to see a rise in events like the Sikh temple shooting, or God forbid, another Oklahoma City. That’s why we must do everything in our power to counter this type of dangerous paranoia with facts and logic, and continue to educate as many people as possible. Because if we can prevent even one person from going down that dangerous path, it will have been worth it.
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