The purpose of this chapter is to give the reader a better understanding of the organizations and individuals that populate the contemporary far right. Inasmuch as they are the subjects at whom the various public policy measures examined in this study are directed, it is important to know something about them. Even more so than its watchdog opponents, the far right is a very nuanced movement, consisting of a multitude of different groups, which often disagree on issues. Its diversity notwithstanding, it still has the hallmarks of a larger movement.
As Table 1.1 in Chapter 1 indicated, the contemporary far right is widely dispersed and has organizations in all major regions of the country. This chapter will demonstrate that right-wing extremism has long been a fixture in American history. The contemporary American far right consists of basically three separate movements, although there is some degree of overlap and migration back and forth among them. This chapter provides a typology of the contemporary American far right and identifies the major organizations and individuals that compose it. The sheer number of groups is too great for a comprehensive review and is beyond the scope of this study Therefore, those highlighted in this chapter were chosen because of their influence in the movement and the degree of attention and opposition that they engender from the government and the watchdog groups.
To put this issue into historical context, this chapter’s first section provides a brief historical overview of right-wing extremism in the United States up until the modern era. It is hoped that this first section demonstrates the durability of the far right. Although most far-right movements have been ephemeral and episodic, generally the far right has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to keep reinventing itself through time as it responds to and adapts to the issues of the day
I then examine the Christian Patriot movement. The various self-styled militia organizations are the most visible and recent manifestation of this particular segment. However, as we shall see, there were some antecedents that provided an ideological seedbed for its development.