Charlie Wright's faith in these verities was strengthened by what happened last summer. It is the only recorded instance of patriots confronting their worst nightmare, and it is instructive.

On August 18, 1994, a member of the militia spotted 18 Germans camped six miles west of Wickenburg. Attached to their country's air force, the Germans, primarily psychologists, were undergoing desert survival training. Word of their presence spread like wildfire among the militia, who drove out to the Germans and demanded an explanation of why they were on American soil.

A German officer tried to reassure the Americans: "We are U.N. peacekeepers."

Despite this provocative confirmation of its fears, the militia delegation left without incident.

Charlie Wright, however, returned on his own and ran off the Germans.
Asked at the study group what he had said to the foreigners to drive them away, Wright responds, "I asked them, 'What is your national debt to the International Monetary Fund?'"

Another militia member's account of Wright's actions is more plausible.
"Old Charlie opened up his trunk and showed the Germans his hardware. He told them if they didn't clear out peacefully, he would light the place up."

The entire affair, however, was more farcical than menacing. The local sheriffs never even issued Wright a ticket. Even Soldier of Fortune hooted at the encounter in a cover story.

But Wright is undaunted by the magazine's lampooning. On the night the study group gathers in Burgess' apartment, he says his only mistake was in letting the Germans go instead of marching them into town as prisoners.

When Wright pauses to draw a breath, others plunge into the momentary silence.

One-world government, foreign troops on American soil, United Nations treachery, and, above all else, the Federal Reserve--the words and theories pour out faster than notes can be taken. People speak out excitedly for the new pair of ears in the room, "And another thing . . . " or "Oh, oh . . . "

"They're giving our country away. Money flows freely overseas. They spent $160 million to house Russian soldiers, but there is no money for our own veterans. . . . We slave all week and have no enjoyment left. There is no money; it's all taken in taxes. . . . More firearms were sold in the last two years than in the last 15 combined, all because of the Brady bill. . . . I didn't go to school in Russia like Bill Clinton. . . . The Nazis didn't kill as many Jews as people think. Lots of Poles and Germans died in those camps, too. . . . They have to target militias--that's what the bombing was all about, to justify taking our guns. . . . There will be all-out war if they come to try to take our guns . . . "

The litany of complaints is fit into a historical analysis unlike anything you were taught in school. If history is indeed written by the winners, Cheryl Burgess and her colleagues are studying from a text penned by the losers.

They actually trace the root causes of today's conflicts all the way back to Biblical times, contending that there are two classes of Jews, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, that define good and evil. They have identified what they call the "Rothschild banking conspiracy," at the time of the French Revolution, as a pivotal example of this theory.

This duality--the world as it appears to most, and the world as it really is, controlled by secret societies, yet understood by militia members--saturates their political analysis.

Burgess claims there are really two groups residing in this country, a quasi-secret elite of "Americans" and the rest of us "citizens."

The distinction has to do with a convoluted, seemingly inexplicable relationship between the 14th Amendment's granting citizenship to blacks and FDR's New Deal. The result is that where once we had God-given rights under the Constitution, now we have all become slaves to rules.

Burgess and her colleagues chafe under these rules, yearning for a day of unfettered constitutional rights.

People who subscribe to this arcane theory often send local officials paperwork renouncing their "14th Amendment citizenship" in a futile effort to disentangle themselves from the government.

During the meeting of the study group, Wright hands over a Congressional Record transcript, which Riggs proceeds to read aloud.

It is a long speech given on the floor of the House by Representative Louis T. McFadden in the 1930s. Riggs does not read a summary, nor does he limit himself to the interesting parts highlighted in yellow underliner. He reads the entire tirade, a ringing harangue about the evils of the Federal Reserve system with its paper money and international contracts. As Riggs reads, Burgess passes around a bowl of hard candies.

At the conclusion of the McFadden speech, hard candies long since sucked away, Wright tells the group that Congressman McFadden died mysteriously after a state dinner.

"He was the onliest one that was poisoned at the banquet."

Last June, on official Town of Wickenburg stationery, Burgess spelled out her beliefs in a notorious 12-page position paper in which, among other astounding claims, she asserted that "300,000 Russian, Yugoslavian and Korean troops have been dropped by parachute quietly into America."

Citing presidential orders, she repeats in her position paper a militia cornerstone: FEMA is the federal agency that will govern America under martial law.

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