Still Crazy After All These Years

The names of the patriots have changed, but not their tune.

New, he says, "has given a face to the outrage that many American soldiers feel. They're never told they're going to be serving under a foreign flag."

Roberts has gotten into deep trouble for his views. In 1961, while under the command of General Edwin Walker in Germany, Roberts set up a program that warned servicemen about communism in their government and drew arrows linking liberals to socialists to communists. Senators Strom Thurmond and John Tower entered the program into the Congressional Record, and a firestorm hit.

Some months later, in April 1962, Roberts made a speech to the Daughters of the American Revolution at which he outlined some of his and Walker's activities and, incidentally, branded Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty a communist. Those fightin' words brought down the scorn of liberals and many journalists, including Al Capp, the Li'l Abner cartoonist who also wrote a political column in those days.

Roberts and Walker, both closely linked at the time with the far-right John Birch movement, wound up getting kicked out of the Army, although Roberts sued and was reinstated. His career as an Army information officer was doomed, however, and he soon retired.

Meanwhile, Walker headed down to Mississippi to brawl against integration, which he and Roberts saw as a commie plot. Federal authorities threw him in a mental hospital. A few months before President Kennedy was killed, someone shot into a window of Walker's home in Dallas; authorities later determined that it likely was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Then Walker and Roberts hit the lecture circuit, connecting especially with the Reverend Billy James Hargis's organization, the Christian Crusade. While Hargis and Walker conducted "midnight rides" to alert Americans to commie subversion, Roberts and Hargis's chief aide, David Noebel, barnstormed up and down the West Coast, warning people about the danger of the communistic, anti-Christ Beatles and the New World Order. (Noebel, profiled in Westword in 1993, still fights the good fight through his Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs.)

General Walker wound up jumping off the deep end. His speeches became more and more bizarre until he was preaching about "spue" as a key word in understanding communism. And though he publicly raged against federal officials as "pansies," he himself was caught twice in Dallas bathrooms soliciting sex from other men. Walker died last year, almost forgotten.

Arch Roberts, who had first moved to Colorado in 1938, settled back in the state shortly after the early-Sixties tumult and began pumping out warnings about the communist threat. He's been doing it ever since.

For all his doomsaying, though, Roberts offers a very low-key solution: getting average Joes to call upon their legislatures "to investigate our role" with the U.N. "The citizen is the source of all political power," Roberts says, but in a practical sense, only if citizens band together. "We don't want individual citizens baring their breasts in front of the enemy."

He keeps churning out what he considers to be facts about the grand conspiracies infecting our unique republic. And anytime he runs across anyone who is familiar with conspiracy theories, he tries to sign them up. "Perhaps," he tells a visiting reporter, "you could take up the cudgel."

To the folks at KHNC--including the Jewish talk-show host who caters to the Christian right-wing--the Jew-baiter Arch Roberts is some kind of hero.

"Colonel Roberts is a giant out there fighting for freedom," talk-show host Norm Resnick intones during a 1994 show beamed worldwide over shortwave and satellite. "He's a major defender of the Constitution."

As usual, Roberts is ready with the instant analysis. He can tie just about anyone into the plot against God-fearing Americans. When Resnick, the perfect straight man for any conspiracy theorist, contends that "the Marxists in the White House" are "making slaves of free men," Roberts jumps in with this analysis: "Well, Karl Marx was an instrument himself of the international banking cartel out of London, England, and the fact is that Americans have been gradually drawn into this system by a very cleverly managed transformation of the United States from a free nation into a subservient entity under world government."

And when Resnick maintains that the New World Order "has a spiritual, political and economic dimension," Roberts can't wait to agree. The ultimate conspiratorial thinker, Roberts theorizes that everybody really believes in this vast plot--whether they realize it or not. "As a matter of fact," he says, "the Devil walks the earth, and I think most Americans recognize that, either obviously or subconsciously."

Roberts is sure of his analysis, but he seems uncomfortable with the effusive praise that Resnick flings his way. "Norman, you said I was a giant," he says. "This is not actually true. It's true I do stand on the shoulders of giants, and it is their intelligence and their background and their information and their research over many, many years--hundreds of years in some cases--that I have compiled in order to reach the American people with the logical solution to the problem."

No revolutionary himself, he comes back to the idea of persuading citizens to implore their state legislators to put pressure on other levels of government to work against the U.N.

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