Still Crazy After All These Years
The split-level ranch house on the western outskirts of Fort Collins doesn't look like a bunker, but it houses Colorado's oldest war room in the battle against the New World Order.
The HQ is the basement office of Colonel Archibald E. Roberts, a former Army information officer who for decades has churned out propaganda against everyone from former Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty, the United Nations and the international banking cartel to the current occupants of the White House, who, in case you didn't know, are Marxists controlled by Jews.
Ask Colonel Roberts a question, and it reminds him of a pamphlet. The trim little man in his seventies walks over to one of many neat stacks and cubbyholes brimming with material from his Committee to Restore the Constitution and plucks one out. Politely, he hands it to his visitor and says, "I believe this will answer your question." If it doesn't, he will discourse about the destruction of the United States, and he will do so in a calm, measured voice. He blames the "international bankers and international industrialists" (phrases that groups like the Anti-Defamation League have long maintained mean "Jews") for the imminent spiritual, moral and financial collapse of the Republic.
"The course of America," he says, "now is irrevocably headed to a breakdown." But he himself doesn't seem to be. Not one to foam at the mouth like some rabid "patriots," the colonel speaks beautifully, in complete sentences, while espousing the most outrageous theories concerning the evil, godless federal empire that is making slaves of a once-free Christian people.
Arch Roberts is not a household name, but he was quite notorious thirty years ago in the national press as an anti-communist activist. He might be Colorado's Original Patriot.
A few miles south, at the only stoplight in tiny Johnstown, is an equally unknown soldier in the war against the New World Order. He's Don Weideman, owner of radio station KHNC. Housed in a former auto-parts store, KHNC claims an audience of 3 million listeners in 81 countries, thanks to satellite and shortwave technology. There's no way to verify that claim, but over the past three years the station has served as a major clearinghouse for a variety of right-wing conspiracy theorists and activists--including Arch Roberts.
While KHNC's talk shows, featuring the likes of Bo Gritz and homegrown celebrity Dr. Norm Resnick, command center stage, Weideman himself is determined to stay in the background. But he's no ordinary grunt in this war. Watchdog Morris Dees and his liberal group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, rate the little-publicized Weideman as one of the most influential people in the "patriot" movement.
Until the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, KHNC proudly called itself the "USA Patriot Network." Since patriots were linked to the bombing, however, the station now calls itself the "American Freedom Network," and its monthly magazine has changed monikers from USA Patriot News to American Freedom. Even so, Weideman and Roberts--along with the rest of Colorado's so-called patriots--are liable to attract renewed attention when the expected horde of reporters descends upon Denver for the upcoming trial of suspected bomber Timothy McVeigh, who has been identified as an avid follower of patriot talk-radio and literature.
Weideman doesn't pack a pistol like his braying compatriot Resnick. In fact, KHNC's unassuming owner has good-naturedly identified himself at the station as "the guy who sweeps up." He won't entertain questions about his life outside KHNC, and he refers all queries about anything else to Resnick. But six days a week he runs a media operation that spans the globe with doomsday politicking about the "international banksters" and the New World Order, interspersed with sales pitches for guns, survival gear, gold and silver, and radios to pick up his station's broadcasts over World Wide Christian Radio, a shortwave linkup he uses in Nashville, Tennessee.
What does this mysterious man do on the seventh day? He doesn't rest. He's a rabbi.
Jews have always been a big hangup for the "patriots" of Arch Roberts's generation. Alan Berg, the openly Jewish loudmouth who dominated Denver talk radio in the Eighties, was killed by far-right gunmen nurtured by the anti-Semitic propaganda of patriots. The Turner Diaries, a right-wing novel that suspected bomber McVeigh reportedly once carried around, is loaded with anti-Semitic references. Even the "council" for Roberts's organization, the Committee to Restore the Constitution, includes a couple of people who have targeted Jews as a major irritant. One is Dr. William Campbell Douglass, who wrote the 1966 novel The Eagle's Feather, about the horrifying reign over America of a Jewish president and the heroic struggle of Chris-tians to overthrow him.
Another, Eustace Mullins, is a disciple of the brilliant poet and scathing anti-Semite Ezra Pound. Mullins, a frequent speaker at patriot rallies and talk-radio, argues that the phrase "Have a nice day" is Zionist code warning of an impending pogrom against Christians. He denies that his argument is anti-Semitic; he says what he writes about Jews "can be found in the Bible." In a 1968 book, The Biological Jew, Mullins compared Jews to parasites, saying that the "religious ceremony of drinking the blood of an innocent gentile child is basic to the Jew's entire concept of his existence as a parasite, living off the blood of the host."
Decades later, Mullins is still out for Jews' blood. In a recent tract entitled J'Accuse!, currently making its way through the Internet, Mullins writes, "Today, in the United States, I accuse the federal government of planning and perpetrating the most horrible crimes, a series which culminated in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. This was a deliberate conspiracy by corrupt and treasonous elements in the federal agencies in Washington as part of a plan to provoke martial law, confiscate legal guns from American citizens, and to wipe out the citizens militia of the several states." His tract strongly implies that the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League were in cahoots: "All federal officials and ADL planners of these criminal syndicalist operations must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We can no longer allow these menaces to public safety to run amuck." He then calls for an investigation into "all memoranda" between the FBI and the ADL.
When it comes to Jews, Roberts's own monthly publication, Bulletin, goes just as far. Its main article for December 1994, "Controversy of Zion," is a reprint of the first chapter of a book by that title by Douglas Reed, whose thesis is that in 458 B.C., "the petty Palestinian tribe of Judah" produced a destructive, literally bloodthirsty "racial creed" that turned into Judaism. Jews consider the Levites their original law-givers, the teachers of the sacred Torah. Reed's take is slightly different. He writes that the Levites "began with the one just God of all men, whose voice had been briefly heard from the burning bush and in the course of five books of their written Law turned him into the racial, bargaining Jehovah who promised ter-ritory, treasure, blood and power over others in return for a ritual of sacrifice, to be performed at a precise place in a specified land." The Levites, according to Reed, sent "the followers of this creed on their way through the centuries with a destructive mission."
The next month's Bulletin expands on the theme with its top story, "Jews Who Run Clinton's Court." Adapted from an Israeli press story that proudly notes the presence of so many Jews in and around the White House, the article achieves a chillingly different slant through the use of footnotes. One passage of the story notes that the Six Day War, in which Jews routed Arabs in 1967, "first reawakened the Holocaust memories and then filled [Jews] with enormous pride." A footnote, decidedly not from the original Israeli story, adds: "Needless to say, these 'Holocaust Memories' are a fake." The second article in Roberts's six-page Bulletin for January 1995 is purely his own work: "The Mattoid Syndrome," adapted from his book The Anatomy of a Revolution, written in 1968. What's a mattoid? A dictionary defines it as "a person of unbalanced mind verging on insanity."
In Roberts's own words, "Contemporary history convincingly suggests that those who head the Federal Government are manipulated by mattoids--by men of unbalanced and dangerous brilliance. These hidden exploiters of the United States power structure apply an inverted psycho-eugenic science as a weapon against the people. They have, seemingly, perfected a sophisticated and systematized plan, incorporating brainwashing and genetic prostitution, to achieve soviet-style control over the American social order."
Genetics is a big theme for Colonel Roberts. He approvingly cites geneticist Edwin Conklin's conclusion that the "average ability of the Athenian race" between 500 and 300 B.C. "was, on the lowest estimate,...much greater than that of the English race of the present day, as the latter is above that of the African Negro." In a rant at least the equal of the fictional General Jack Ripper's lament in Dr. Strangelove about the loss of "our precious bodily fluids," Roberts warns of the "genetic decay" of civilization's "human foundations": "The shock troops for the American revolution of the 1960s are the same type of congenital savage, the same kind of eugenic degenerate, and the same rejected humanity employed to overturn the social order in France, in Russia, and in a succession of similar national convulsions."
Darned if Colonel Arch E. Roberts is going to let that happen to the United States. Proud to have served in World War II and Korea, father of five sons and four grandsons, he traces his own lineage back to the Mayflower and credits intensive research with leading him to the conclusion that America may be doomed. The whys and wherefores are complex, but certain events stand out for Roberts, chief among them the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. That opened the door for the "international bankers," guys with names like Schiff and Warburg and Rothschild. That was when America surrendered to the New World Order. And, he says, "there's no question many Jews are involved."
But the baddest present-day villain is best symbolized by the United Nations. "Over the years," Roberts says, "we have found that the U.N. is a subversive organization that aims to erect a socialist regime on the ruins of our republic."
Roberts talks of "the rage I felt after my experience in Korea, when I saw our dead buried under the U.N. flag." He throws strong support to serviceman Michael New, a modern-day U.S. soldier who rebelled against serving under a U.N. banner.
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.
On the Internet last month--his World Wide Web site is www.fortnet.org/y7 Ecomminc--Roberts issued this plea: "Don't stand alone against a predatory central government which seeks to consign you and your descendants to a soviet-style animal farm."
His solution--"Recruit state lawmakers to your banner"--prompted one New York wag to reply, "Wait. You mean STATE legislators?? You're joking, right? Have you ever met one of your state legislators?...The criminals I know of in government are my state legislators! My state legislators (mostly) can't tell their noses from a hole in the ground (unless there's money around somewhere; then their noses work very well!)."
Another web surfer took a broader view of Arch Roberts, quoting Hubert H. Humphrey as once saying, "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."
That's a lesson that "new" patriots like Weideman have yet to learn. They're just as zealous as their predecessors. Weideman, like Roberts, wants to save the country from the godless subplots of socialist and immoral behavior that spring from the New World Order and United Nations. Like Roberts, he believes that gun ownership is practically a sacred right. Not as sacred, however, as evangelical Christian beliefs. Like the "old" patriots of Roberts's generation, Weideman has a hangup concerning Jews--though he expresses it in a far different way. Homosexuality has replaced communism as a shibboleth of the right wing, but the patriots' primary scapegoats remain the Jews, and the message to them is the same: Your beliefs are corrupt; change them.
"Shalom," says Don Weideman as he sweeps down the hallway, somewhat distracted because he's apparently engrossed in some personal praying. Bearded and thoughtful, wearing a yarmulke and prayer shawl on his way to conduct Saturday morning services, he looks like any Orthodox rabbi stopping to greet a member of his congregation. But this is the Salvation Army building in Littleton, and awaiting him is a roomful of forty evangelical Christians who, on some level, think they're Jews.
A Torah, the sacred Bible scroll of Jews, sits in an ark at the front of the room, and some of the other men in the group--they call themselves Beth Messiah congregation--are also wearing yarmulkes. The music is electrified, but the melodies are Israeli, and some of the words are Hebrew. These, however, are not Jews. The first tip-off is when Weideman asks the congregation, "Raise your hand--in the name of Yeshua!" The Jesus word is not spoken in any truly Jewish congregation, but it's often invoked here, not as "Jesus Christ" but as "Yeshua Hamashiach."
Weideman's no longer the mild-mannered radio-station owner. Eyes squeezed shut and on the verge of tears, he cries out, "Behold the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world! Let Yeshua take away your sins! I can feel the power of God going through my hand! In the name of Yeshua Hamashiach, turn away from your foolish pleasures!"
The spell is broken somewhat when Rabbi Don's cellular phone rings, and his wife, Sharon, goes to the back of the room to answer it. But the service, an odd mixture of evangelical Christianity and fractured Hebrew, continues.
Some congregation members rise to give testimonies, a practice not part of any Jewish service. Often they note the advantage of learning to be Jews while remaining Christians. "I feel we had to know the Jewishness of the Gospel," says one woman, "before we could know joy." A gaggle of children belonging to the congregants takes a stab at some Jewish songs, and one elder earnestly plows through a Torah reading, occasionally stumbling and asking one of the few Jews-turned-Christians in the group for guidance. Some of the service is taken up with a mixture of the pragmatic and the spiritual: One woman suggests requesting kosher meals on airline flights. She chokes up with tears while describing a recent trip when she recalls that, upon her arrival at an airport parking lot, "praise God, the car started right away."
Like good Jews, they reverently lift their Torah from the ark, kiss it in respect and set it on a table. However, during the service, several firsts are recorded--from a Jewish perspective, that is. Elder John Maulsby mentions during the Torah reading how Granny Clampett would wave goodbye on television. (This is likely the first time the Beverly Hillbillies has intersected with the Torah in any Jewish service.) Another congregation member, Andy, recounts during his testimony how he got busted for carrying a weapon while he was taking his son antelope hunting.
Such conversation while the holy Torah is around would make any Jew blanch, even Norm Resnick, Weideman's pal at KHNC. Resnick really is an observant Jew who keeps a kosher house and has been very active in Greeley's small community of Jews. But Resnick, a former professor at the University of Northern Colorado, has been estranged from much of that Jewish community since he started working at KHNC more than three years ago.
He stubbornly insists that he still is a traditional Jew and acknowledges that it's disconcerting to him that perhaps a third of his listening audience is anti-Semitic. At the same time, Resnick himself talks about the threat to America from "international banksters." He's not only lost many of his friends (they think he's a dupe for the far right), but, despite his very conservative views, he's also received death threats from some of his very conservative listeners and has taken to carrying a gun. Resnick has been extensively profiled by Westword but no longer grants interviews, saying the paper has unfairly linked him and the station to the patriot movement.
While he still was talking to Westword, though, Resnick tried to explain Weideman's religious views.
"Don believes he's Jewish," Resnick said. "He believes he can be fulfilled by observing all the Jewish holidays, accepting Yeshua as the messiah, which is Jesus. I don't share his belief system."
That would make Weideman a "messianic Jew," an evangelical Christian who hopes to convert Jews by mixing Jewish rituals with a belief in Jesus. But Resnick disagreed with that analysis.
"He's not a messianic Jew," Resnick said. "Don never tries to convert other Jews. He's a hard person to define. I define a messianic Jew as somebody going out there and trying to convert Jews, and I couldn't be associated with somebody like that."
The sticking point for Jews, as it has been for 2,000 years, is that they don't accept Jesus as their messiah. And if they do, according to Jewish laws and beliefs, they no longer are Jews. Naturally, that makes Jews somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of Christians who are trying to convert them. And people in Weideman's group clearly are interested in converting Jews to Christianity.
During Weideman's service, a congregation member named Phil stands up to testify: "I know it's in Don's heart to witness to the Jews." Phil goes on to describe one of his own recent attempts to convert a group of Jews he ran across. "I left a tract specifically for the Jews," he says. "It might start out a little awkward to do this, but the heart has a way of working it out."
And while Rabbi Don may love Jewishness, he has a bone or two to pick with Jews who don't accept Jesus. He tells his congregation of evangelical Christians that synagogues always skip the reading of one passage of the Book of Isaiah "because it's such a strong reference to Yeshua." He's critical of Jews' foot-dragging on the road to true salvation through Jesus. But they'd better hurry and find Christ. He ends his sermon by telling his group that when Jesus returns, that's going to be the end of Judaism: "When He comes, it's going to be the last Yom Kippur.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.