Hatriot Politics Created the Las Vegas Killers
The obsessively anti-government Hatriot movement moved from cultivating conspiracy theories to real killing on Sunday in Las Vegas.
The Wingnut Bonnie and Clyde duo, Jerad and Amanda Miller, stormed into CiCi’s Pizza and shot two metro cops, Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, at close range while shouting “This is a revolution!” They flung the Tea Party’s favorite coiled snake Gadsden flag and a swastika on the still-warm corpses and then moved to a nearby Walmart to murder a shopper before turning the guns on themselves.
But the crime scene chronology only tells part of the story—because the Millers’ Massacre had been brewing for a long time, visible online. Their Facebook pages detail a descent into a murderous rage, railing against a tyrannical government and parroting talking points from fright-wing radio hosts such as Alex Jones and militia movement groups such as the Three Percenters while “liking” the pages of conservative activist groups ranging from the Heritage Foundation to FreedomWorks and the NRA. Miller’s profile picture was a skull wearing an American flag bandana against a backdrop of crossed knives over the word “Patriot.”
“There is no greater cause to die for than liberty,” Jerad Miller posted on May 2. “Yes, standing before despots is dangerous and most likely does not end well for you. I know this, my wife knows this. Soon they will come for us, because they don’t like what we think, and what we say. They don’t like the fact that we, simply will not submit to fascist rule.”
The “fascist rule” Miller wrote about was the U.S. government—and his intended targets were broader than two police officers.
Police sources confirm that the Millers conspired to infiltrate an unidentified court building and execute public officials. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that Kelley Fielder, who called the Millers “best friends,” said they left her with a box of documents that officials report included a written plan to murder court officials. The box was recovered Sunday during a police search of Fielder’s apartment. The search also found three empty rifle cases and an empty box used for handcuffs.
Jerad Miller’s anti-government frenzy was whipped up by the extreme right-wing echo chamber. Earlier this year, Miller responded to calls to stand with Cliven Bundy and declared common cause with the renegade rancher. “I will be supporting Clive Bundy and his family from Federal Government slaughter,” he wrote. “This is the next Waco! His ranch is under siege right now! The federal gov is stealing his cattle! Arresting his family and beating on them! We must do something, I will be doing something.” When Miller returned from Bundy’s ranch, he posted that “BLM [Bureau of Land Management] snipers were all over the place.”
Miller’s anti-government rants ramped up after he served seven days in jail for a pot-related conviction. After his sentencing in 2013, he proudly posted: “Mark one up for freedom today. I stood before a fascist judge today and implied that he was a Nazi.”
According to Amanda Miller’s Facebook page, she worked at the Hobby Lobby as head of the needlework department. (Hobby Lobby has been embroiled in a faith-based lawsuit over covering contraception as part of the Affordable Care Act.) In addition to dressing as The Joker and his date for a Halloween party and exchanging gun-related gifts, the couple’s favorite book according their Facebook page was the Bible. They apparently skipped over some key sections, such as the New Testament.
There have been reflexive attempts to associate some recent mass shooters with the right-wing politics of incitement. The common denominator in most cases has been mental illness and access to guns, as in the case of Rep. Gabby Giffords’s would-be assassin, Jared Lee Loughner.
But in the Las Vegas case, the extremist political fingerprints are clear. Jerad Miller was a product of his environment, the unhinged right-wing echo chamber and its constant drumbeat about government tyranny being imposed on freedom-loving citizens. “Either you stand with freedom, or you side with tyranny,” Miller wrote on his Facebook page in March. “There is no middle ground. We have deluded ourselves into such a notion. There is no grey area.”
Miller was a vocal supporter of libertarian Ron Paul, posting during the fall of 2012: “Ron Paul is the only hope for america and we have all failed him, our children and our grandchildren by failing to demand fair coverage of all presidential candidates. Today and everyday that passes by our country falls deeper into the clutches of fascist hands. Hope you wake up before its to late, hell, it may already be to late.”
Miller reposted articles from Alex Jones’s InfoWars website, promoted slogans about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives being a domestic terrorist organization, and was deeply into Second Amendment advocacy organizations. Significantly down the political food chain, Miller also seemed to identify with the sovereign citizens movement and the Three Percenters organization, whose founder Mike Vanderboegh’s homepage warns, “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.”
But the murderous Millers did not appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s exhaustive Hatewatch list. They were relatively new recruits whose radicalism was cultivated in online conversations about conspiracy theories ranging from ChemTrails to fluoride in the water supply. They were unhinged souls looking for a cause and found it in the belief that hating the government was patriotic.
When news of their attack filtered into the echo chamber that inspired them, Jones attempted a desperate but typical flip of the script, claiming that the attack was a false flag operation perpetrated by Harry Reid. “There is so much proof of this being staged yesterday, when I first read about it, and this morning, that my mind exploded with hundreds of data points, and quite frankly it’s conclusive,” Jones told his audience of enthusiastic dupes. “I kept telling, they’re getting ready to false flag, and it happens right in Harry Reid’s district, right in his state, right in his city, with his police department.”
These are the wages of hate: two dead police officers and one innocent civilian, all with young children, sacrificed to fulfill a twisted vision sold by online snake-oil salesmen and professional polarizers. The politics of incitement has a real cost when it comes in contact with armed alarmists who cross the small but decisive dividing line from being willing to die for a cause and being willing to kill for one.
—Additional reporting by John L. Smith in Las Vegas
John Avlon is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. A CNN contributor, he won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ award for best online column in 2012. Follow @johnavlon