Confrontational Politics Meets Anti-Government Sentiment : No Compromise In Episode 6: A battle for the GOP in Idaho. Plus: "confrontational politics." What it is and how the Dorr brothers are popularizing it. And an unexpected update about the Dorr family.
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A One-Man Propaganda Band

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A One-Man Propaganda Band

A One-Man Propaganda Band

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CHRIS HAXEL, HOST:

Previously on NO COMPROMISE...

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED DORR BROTHER #1: We've got these vile criminals known as Black Lives Matter. And believe me - they're not peaceful protesters. They're only peaceful...

LARRY PRATT: I think that all gun laws are unconstitutional, and I've taken that position.

LEONARD ZESKIND: Well, Ruby Ridge was a crisis for them. They were angry, and they wanted to do something. And then the militia movement was born.

PAT BUCHANAN: You know, I don't even know of this group, white Aryan Nations. But let me say this - if this is a group preaching white supremacy...

MARLON PETERSON: It's not for the purpose of freeing Black people, not for the purpose of making sure that another Black person isn't killed by the police. That's not what it's for.

(SOUNDBITE OF ENGINE TURNING OVER)

JENNIFER ELLIS: They all think that maybe I have a treat when I come down in this (laughter).

LISA HAGEN, HOST:

To get around Jennifer Ellis' ranch in Idaho, you need an all-terrain vehicle.

ELLIS: All day, there's a big bull over here on this mountain. Every morning, he yells at them. They yell at him. A lot of testosterone in this valley this time of year between the elk and the deer and the bulls and...

HAGEN: She and her family are getting ready to close up their summer range and move 1,100 head of cattle from Henry to Blackfoot.

ELLIS: So they'll have their first calves next spring. Oh, there's the mountain bluebirds. They're about ready to leave. My hummingbirds all left last week. It got a little too cold. It froze their feeder, and so when they were trying to peck through the ice, they decided it was time to leave Henry.

HAXEL: Jennifer's family tries to hold out as long as they can before winter sets in.

ELLIS: There's nothing romantic about feeding hay in minus-20 degrees and 30-mile-an-hour wind.

HAXEL: But they've done it every year for generations.

ELLIS: We're in far southeastern Idaho. So you're 15 miles, basically, from Wyoming right here, and you're - what? - 45 miles from Utah.

HAXEL: It's a place where whatever's been going on in the rest of America's gun debate mostly gets lost in the wind.

ELLIS: I have concealed carried since I was 20 years old. There's very seldom been a time when I have not had a weapon in a vehicle with me because of what we do for a living.

HAXEL: Around here, a gun really is just a tool, like a rope or a wrench.

ELLIS: I mean, I'm that human that has the bumper sticker on my work pickup that says, you know, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And the other side said, eat American lamb - 50,000 coyotes can't be wrong. I mean, seriously, I am that redneck. I really am. And I own that.

(LAUGHTER)

HAXEL: Says she's voted a straight Republican ticket since she was 18.

HAGEN: To Jennifer, Democrats have always been about more regulations, the kind she says make it harder for ranchers like her to stay in business. Fighting those regulations is what got her involved in politics.

ELLIS: I got involved in ag policy about dang near 25 years ago.

HAGEN: Long before the Facebook was even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg's eye. Jennifer was never a big user, says she made an account in 2009.

ELLIS: I think I used it for about a month, and then I never touched it again. Well, then I started hearing from friends that there was a whole lot of politicking going on on Facebook. And so I kind of reactivate it, try to figure out how to learn it. And, you know, as Facebook demographics work, the stuff you're interested in comes to your news feed. The more you click, the more it does. And I start to see the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance. And I was like, oh, cool. You know, everybody loves guns in Idaho, right?

HAXEL: The Idaho Second Amendment Alliance is run by the Dorr brothers' partner here, Greg Pruett.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREG PRUETT: Just the resident troll from Idaho.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: The funny new guy, sure.

PRUETT: They needed a backwards redneck to get on here and...

HAGEN: Jennifer joined his Facebook group.

ELLIS: Well, that's good. You know, they're saying all the right things. And then I didn't think about it much more.

HAXEL: We haven't talked about Greg a lot, but we're about to. He's perhaps the least animated Dorr partner in the bunch as far as videos go.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: ...The gun owners across the state, sent these moderate losers back home and with their tails tucked - you know what's...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: If you don't stand up and say something now, when are you going to do it? Like, at what point of the government taking your freedoms are you finally going to go, yeah, I've had enough? OK?

HAXEL: Jennifer started to notice Greg cranking up the no-compromise heat on some Idaho lawmakers.

ELLIS: Them calling them gun grabbers and RINOs and that they were out to steal everyone's guns in Idaho and that they were going to vote for red flag laws and a whole bunch of stuff that I knew to be absolute fallacy.

HAXEL: Because, you see, Jennifer actually knew these so-called RINOs, and she knew politics so she could see what was really going on.

HAGEN: She could also see militia groups were starting to rally around Greg's cause and shouting down gun owners like her with an aggressive message.

ELLIS: We don't want to hear that. We don't want to hear anything about hunting and lifelong, you know, responsible gun ownership because, in the end, it's all about - will you take up guns against the government?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: I'm Chris Haxel.

HAGEN: And I'm Lisa Hagen. This is NO COMPROMISE, an NPR investigative series about a mission to reconstruct America using two powerful tools - guns and Facebook.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: In the last episode, we learned about the origins of the no-compromise gun rights movement, how it's been a rallying cry on the fringes of the gun debate for decades before social media and groups like the Dorr brothers helped supercharge it.

HAXEL: In this final episode, Idaho - a state where the no-compromise approach is taking hold. And we said the story of the no-compromise movement isn't just about guns.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: Well, we're going to tell you about a closely guarded playbook adopted by the Dorrs and spreading to other causes. Its methods are easily taught and replicated, and it's been quietly changing America.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: In the first episode of this podcast, we posed a question - what could the Second Amendment possibly have to do with coronavirus? Well...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: So I'm sorry. I wish you could stay and play.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN CRYING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: Some angry kids. I get it.

(CROSSTALK)

HAXEL: It's a little hard to hear over the angry kids, but this is a video of police officers and a group of angry moms in Idaho. It's April 2020, nearly a month into Gov. Brad Little's statewide stay-at-home order. Schools are closed, toilet paper sold out. We don't understand this coronavirus thing, and people are scared. And yet these moms go to a playground in Meridian, Idaho, rip down some caution tape and let their kids have at it.

HAGEN: The moms are basically daring police - try to enforce the governor's order.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: So...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Right. You're the line of enforcement on an order that, quite frankly, is unconstitutional.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: OK. That's something to take up with the mayor and the parks director.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: But you're enforcing it right now.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #1: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: It's your choice, right?

HAGEN: This goes on for a few minutes until one of the cops has had enough. He starts counting down from five.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #2: Three.

(CROSSTALK)

HAGEN: One mom sees her opening, turns away from the cop, lifts her arms behind her back and says, arrest me for being at the park.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SARA WALTON BRADY: Do it. Report it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: OK, this is not - officer, you don't want to do that. Officer, you don't...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER #2: You're being detained.

WALTON BRADY: Am I being arrested or detained? Am I arrested or detained?

(CROSSTALK)

HAGEN: She was arrested - trespassing. The quarantine playground story makes national news.

HAXEL: Bingo. Just the thing you'd be going for if you happen to be, oh, let's say an anti-vaccination activist looking to rally opposition against this new form of medical tyranny. This woman...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WALTON BRADY: Do it. Report it.

HAXEL: ...Is Sara Walton Brady. She runs Idahoans for Vaccine Freedom, a tiny Facebook group that shares theories about vaccinations and the pandemic.

HAGEN: As soon as Sara got arrested, Greg started livestreaming. He told his followers she was just like any other American, frustrated with this fresh wave of government overreach.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: And we're going to go down and protest the arrest of Sara Brady in front of the Meridian city hall.

HAGEN: Meanwhile, folks on Reddit quickly tracked down Facebook posts that suggest it was a planned stunt with a name - the tear-the-tape-down event. Sara Walton Brady has denied this.

HAXEL: Now, Greg Pruett is a gun guy, but Jennifer Ellis - the Idaho cattle rancher - started keeping an eye on him, says Greg has basically become a one-man propaganda band for this whole set of thriving anti-government subcultures. Like his partners, the Dorr brothers, Greg has several Facebook groups. Most have their own custom banner for shooting live videos.

ELLIS: So he has one for Washington Gun Rights, one for Greg Pruett for Idaho. He had one called Title of Liberty Enterprise.

HAXEL: He's got this one website called Northwest Gun News. It looks like just a random blog or amateurish news website. There's no byline under the articles, no reference to Greg Pruett. But over on his Idaho Second Amendment Alliance Facebook page - I2AA for short - Greg posts Northwest Gun News articles as if they're from a legit news outlet.

ELLIS: In fact, you can go watch him if you wanted to watch kind of a real-time play of this. So he's doing a Facebook Live on - for I2AA one point in the day yesterday. Then he's changed shirts - and I'm literally meaning he changed shirts and hat. And then he's interviewing people in Moscow for Idaho dispatch because this isn't about guns, right? It was about protesting the mask order.

HAGEN: The Dorr brothers have a national version of Northwest Gun News. They call it Second Amendment Daily. Same deal - anonymous articles, no references on the website to the Dorrs or their partners. Second Amendment Daily is basically reporting from real news sources rewritten with some custom no-compromise commentary on whatever is happening in the right-wing media ecosystem.

HAXEL: The Dorrs and their partners, Greg and Patrick, take these articles that they rewrote, incite them as proof that the world is exactly the way they say it is. But there's no visible hint that they control what's in the articles unless you visit the Facebook page to click on a video and their faces pop up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AARON DORR: This is - this show - the Second Moment Daily show is about gun politics, plain and simple, the fight.

HAXEL: I spent a long time looking for other digital fingerprints and ended up confirming the connection in a really mundane way. I signed up for the Second Amendment Daily email list. And the confirmation page had a button that said, returned to Patrick Parsons Company.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: These articles are shared far beyond their Facebook pages, sometimes even making the front page of Reddit. We checked with Newsweb, a media intelligence company that tracks social media engagement. They found Second Amendment Daily articles that were shared 25,000, 50,000, 86,000 times.

HAXEL: And even people who can't stand the Dorr brothers sometimes accidentally share these stories, including a lawmaker we interviewed about the Dorrs. Remember Suzie Pollock in Missouri who Aaron Dorr was trashing in a video?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SUZIE POLLOCK: And I'm as red as the blood in my veins.

HAGEN: Suzie helped spread his message by sharing a link to a Second Amendment Daily article on her official public page. Chris asked her about it.

HAXEL: OK. So here's my question. Are you aware that Second Amendment Daily is a website that is created and, basically, controlled by Aaron Dorr?

POLLOCK: No. Oh, really?

HAXEL: Yeah.

Really.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: After the break, back to Idaho.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: In our last episode, we heard a bit about Idaho history...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAGEN: ...About Ruby Ridge and the Weaver family's fatal standoff with the feds. I asked Jennifer Ellis, the cattle rancher, about that legacy.

ELLIS: I think people in the country in large look at north Idaho and they remember the Aryan Nations - you know, that's where that compound was - and how ugly that got. That's not indicative of Idahoans in general by no means. But we don't do ourselves any favors when we go further and further to the right in the folks that are representing north Idaho in the legislature. I mean, we have a representative that campaigned with a Confederate flag.

HAXEL: A representative who's been elected multiple times with the help of Greg Pruett. Jennifer says the list of Greg's friends on the far right goes on and on. He organized a gun rally last September and invited a member of the infamous Bundy Clan.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: Ammon is somebody that knows firsthand how important the Second Amendment is. And there was a lot of...

HAGEN: Ammon Bundy was the leader of an armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: And a lot of citizens went down there and did exactly what the Second Amendment was intended to do. So with that, I would like to bring down Mr. Ammon Bundy.

(CHEERING)

HAGEN: Bundy's monthlong occupation ended after an FBI agent shot one of his supporters dead. Ammon is beloved by militia types.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMMON BUNDY: Government criminals would have us believe that monopoly on force is healthy to a nation. But the Second Amendment teaches us otherwise.

HAXEL: Greg also calls Matt Shea a friend. Shea is a Washington state representative who has deep ties to militias and the Christian Identity movement we heard about in the last episode. He's made national headlines a couple times. Here's Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS HAYES: Just last year, he admitted to authoring an absolutely crazy document titled "Biblical Basis For War," which is basically a manifesto for Christian holy war. Quote, "If they do not yield, kill all males."

HAGEN: Jennifer says it's been surreal to watch these causes take hold.

ELLIS: I don't know. I guess it's just a place that I wouldn't have ever believed we'd go. When you see the memes they put up and when - and, you know, they say it's all being funny. Well, it's not funny to me when you're threatening law enforcement.

HAGEN: She's talking about another one of Greg's buddies, a militia guy.

ELLIS: He is the head of the Idaho Three Percenters that said these cops should be boiled in oil. There's memes about the boogaloo. Well, I think that we've all seen a dose of what that is of late in this country.

HAGEN: The boogaloo - in case you're lucky enough to not know about it - is Internet slang for a second civil war. It's a concept that attracts a lot of militia and far-right activity. At this point, dozens of men associated with the boogaloo have been arrested for violent plots, weapons charges and at least one for murder.

HAXEL: Jennifer sees a lot of this stuff orbiting around Greg Pruett's online kingdom - so-called patriot militia types posting tips on things like anti-personnel explosives.

ELLIS: How to put together your own tanks. Does that feel super American to you? Doesn't to me.

HAGEN: Just like back in the '90s with Larry Pratt and Gun Owners of America, Greg and his Idaho gun group are a kind of hub, a bridge that straddles two worlds - anti-government groups and the halls of power. But these days, in Idaho at least, that bridge is like six lanes wide. And a few years ago, Jennifer and some of her friends had just had enough.

ELLIS: A bunch of like-minded folks and I got together and we have a website called Idaho Conservatives, and we write original content. And the whole goal of Idaho Conservatives was kind of to try to be the voice of reason in Idaho, where we felt like the far-far-right in the Republican Party was controlling the narrative for a lot of us folks who consider us - ourselves to not be extremists.

HAXEL: This Idaho Conservatives website does gun giveaways and celebrates conservative Supreme Court nominations. It also encourages COVID testing and calls militia groups terrorists when they commit violence. Jennifer says most people would prefer to just ignore what, to her, feels like, well, fringy nonsense out of Greg.

ELLIS: And I think a lot of folks in Idaho went, holy cow, this guy's crazy; he'll go away. Well, because nobody stood up to him, he just grew and grew and grew. I mean, it's like a, you know, bad virus or - no, that is not what I should have said this...

HAGEN: Choice of words aside, she's not wrong that there might be something viral going on here.

HAXEL: How would you compare the makeup of the Legislature in Idaho today, you know, versus five or 10 or 15 years ago?

ELLIS: Oh, significantly more. Significantly more folks that have been elected that are far-far-right thinking.

HAGEN: How many, if you had to estimate?

ELLIS: In the House right now? I'd say 20 legislators, 20 Republican legislators.

HAGEN: That's more than a quarter of the state's House of Representatives. That doesn't even include Idaho's lieutenant governor, a favorite of local militia groups.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: Jennifer and her conservative allies aren't just up against Greg Pruett and his far-right friends; they're fighting an ideology and a set of tactics all laid out in a book that not many people know about. It's called "Confrontational Politics," written in the '90s by H.L. Richardson. Remember - he's the guy who started Gun Owners of America and hung out with R.J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism.

HAGEN: The Dorr brothers and their pals are all about confrontational politics.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED DORR BROTHER #1: ...Podcast right now, folks. We all embrace a very intentional philosophy when it comes to gun rights. It's a confrontational philosophy, not interpersonal. It's not...

UNIDENTIFIED DORR BROTHER #2: Everybody's got a phone. Film them. Put them on the record.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED DORR BROTHER #2: We call it confrontational politics. No harm intended physically whatsoever, it's simply politics.

At least for our organizations, we are steeped in the digital age and the confrontational politics model.

HAGEN: And here's Greg in Idaho.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRUETT: And so I read "Confrontational Politics." And it was just like a slap in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yep.

PRUETT: Like, holy cow, we are doing this wrong, folks.

HAXEL: It turns out the Dorrs don't just practice confrontational politics, they're teachers. For years, a group called Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership...

HAGEN: Or FACL.

HAXEL: ...Has held seminars across the country. Over the years, you can see Aaron and Chris Dorr listed as official instructors, along with about a dozen other gun rights activists.

HAGEN: The way it works is people pay 40 or 50 bucks to spend a day inside a meeting hall or hotel conference room learning the same confrontational politics tactics the Dorrs use. The classes aren't really advertised outside far-right circles.

HAXEL: We asked if they'd let a reporter in but never heard back. The seminars are open to the public. So I decided to just sign up like anyone else with the understanding that if anyone asked, I would identify myself truthfully. I pulled up the FACL website and found a class scheduled the next day on the other side of Missouri near St. Louis.

So the next morning, I pull into the parking lot of a church. It's a simple building - looks more like a small pole barn than a church. There aren't any signs promising to teach me the real nature of politics. But I can see about a dozen cars in the parking lot. There's a shoe propping open a door on the side of the building. So I walk in and find a friendly, middle-aged woman sitting at one of those brown folding tables that every church seems to have.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Hi.

HAXEL: Hi. I did not sign up online. Is it too late...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: That's all right. No.

HAXEL: ...It's - OK. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: I printed this just for a person like you...

HAXEL: Perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: ...So you're good to go.

HAXEL: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: You just want to fill it out.

HAXEL: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: And then, we take cash or check. Or we've got a card thing. I can do it on my phone if you want to take that route. So - and it's...

HAXEL: OK. I think I have cash.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: OK.

HAXEL: It's - how much is it?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: It's $50 at the door.

HAXEL: I give her the cash, fill out some paperwork and I'm on my way.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Thank you. And now if you want to just make yourself a nametag, you're all checked in and good to go.

HAXEL: I slapped the nametag on my shirt and scanned the room. There are about 20 students, a blue jeans crowd, mostly women, which I wasn't expecting. One guy has on a backwards hat and tank top, looks like he just came from the lake. There's also a PowerPoint slide on the projector that says everyone must turn off our cellphones - not turn them on silent but turn them off completely. That's what I'm using to record so off it goes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: OK. So...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: ...A few hours after being told to turn off my phone, I'm free. I walked back out to the parking lot, my mind swimming in knowledge of confrontational politics. I hopped in the car and called Lisa to tell her everything I can remember while it's still fresh.

The guy came out, Joe Neville, talked about how he's from Colorado. And he has a history of, you know, being really involved in politics out there. And he's a former political director for the National Association of Gun Rights and also worked with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

HAGEN: Those are more no-compromise groups, but not the ones the Dorr brothers run.

HAXEL: Once we got started, the instructor explained his theory on education, the idea that gun rights activists just need to educate people about how the Second Amendment isn't about hunting, it's about stopping government tyranny. This education, he says, is pointless. He brings up the example of his own uncle, Ralph (ph), who is a gun nut but also belongs to the meat-cutters union. So he always votes Democrat. And he basically was like, if I can't even convince my own family to stop voting Democrat, then I'm not going to convince other people. So like, education is just a rabbit hole that's not worth going down.

HAGEN: So if you're not trying to educate people, what are you...

HAXEL: Confrontational politics isn't about appealing to a broad group of people. It's about leveraging voter apathy to impose your will on society. Most people don't bother to vote, especially in primaries. The instructor said only about 24% of the population really matters.

And then he was like, 8% of them are going to vote Democrat, no matter what. Eight percent of them are going to vote Republican, no matter what. Two percent of them are going to vote for some random party, no matter what, or write-in candidate, no matter what. So what's left? You got 6%.

HAGEN: Wow.

HAXEL: So, really, what you need is 3% plus 1 to win.

HAGEN: Wow.

HAXEL: To get your candidate or your issue, you need to find that 3% plus 1. Figure out where they are. Figure out how to convince them to vote the way you want them to. And then you get it. Whenever the instructor wanted us to remember an important point, he'd say, write that down. Or he'd have us repeat what he said, schoolhouse style. And one of the biggest lessons of this class was how to know when you're getting under the skin of the legislators. It's good when they stop being nice and start ignoring you. It's even better if they start to threaten you. When this starts happening, this is when you double down.

He's like, first, you rejoice, and then you double down. And this was when he did the call-out. What - you know, he asked a question. What do you - if a politician does this, what do you do? Double down. If this happens and this happens, what do you do? Double down. Doubling down means never back down. Never apologize. Attack always, as long as you're smart about it. They have a tool for this called Red Fox Four. We'll get back to that in a minute.

HAGEN: Gun owners of America and its offshoots have been teaching these classes for at least 20 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

VAL FINNELL: Confrontational politics is something a little different, something that people don't think about very much, especially conservatives. And it's the most...

HAGEN: This is Val Finnell with Gun Owners of America.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

FINNELL: Face-to-face lobbying is virtually useless.

HAGEN: This footage is from 20 years ago, looks like it's from an old camcorder, the kind parents used to film birthday parties in the '90s.

HAXEL: He says there are two strategies to get what you want out of politicians. And they're the same two I learned about in the class I went to. The first strategy is pleasure. Attack their enemies. Help them campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

FINNELL: The second thing the politicians will respond to and is by far the most powerful force is pain, OK?

HAXEL: Elections are a great time to cause pain. The Dorrs and the gang love to brag about political graveyards come election time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

A DORR: Dan Kirkbride - gone. Bill Pownall - gone. Michael Von Flatern - gone. They are the spearhead of the antigun establishment here in Wyoming. Gone - they're gone.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAXEL: What strikes me is this model of confrontational politics is really a blueprint for political insurgency. When you know you'll never have the majority on your side, aim lower. You can win with just 3% of the population, as long as you're dedicated. This is a lesson that's not all that different from my experience in the Army. I served during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. America has spent 20 years fighting a military insurgency, and we still don't know how to win.

There are a lot of people in this country who love guns and support the Second Amendment. Even within that group, only a small minority supports this defiant, no-compromise position we see from the Dorrs. But when they follow the blueprint and get buy-in from a few people, they can accomplish a lot. When I went to the confrontational politics class, I was expecting the other attendees to be white guys, probably there to learn about guns. They were all white, but most of them were women - soccer-mom types there for the same cause as that activist at the playground in Idaho, Medical freedom. In other words, they were anti-vaxxers.

HAGEN: These confrontational politics classes are happening all over the country. This group, Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership, has held about 50 this year in places like Melbourne, Fla.

HAXEL: Lewiston, Maine.

HAGEN: Big Lake, Alaska.

HAXEL: Glendale, Ariz. But the goal is not to make money. My class lasted all day and only cost 50 bucks, Jimmy John's lunch included.

HAGEN: The goal is to teach people how to build their own political organizations. After each class, attendees get a digital copy of the slides, so they can spread the message, too, in person or online.

HAXEL: Val Finnell recorded his class on a camcorder in the year 2000.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

FINNELL: Politics, plain and simple, is the adjudication of power, OK? It's who rules whom. Simple as that.

HAGEN: Eighteen years later, we found another group learning the same lessons - white nationalists.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: The goal is to change policy. And in order to change policy, you must possess power. And that's all politics is - the adjudication of power.

HAXEL: This is a webinar from Identity Evropa, or IE for short. It's a group that helped organize the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Also, consider this top-secret information. We don't want this getting out to other organizations. We don't want them to understand what we're doing.

HAGEN: Lucky for us, there's no instructor ordering everyone to turn off their cellphones when it's a webinar that gets leaked.

HAXEL: Again, the exact same slides from the class I went to. Don't bother educating people - that's a waste of time. Except his example is not about guns.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: So let's teach Nancy Pelosi about the rightness of white nationalism.

HAGEN: Nancy Pelosi is not their target audience. This guy points to a poll that found 8% of Americans support white nationalism. Extrapolating that number, he says 30 million Americans are open to the group's racist ideas. Math is a little off, but the point still stands.

HAXEL: He brings up Red Fox Four. We said we'd explain it, and here you go. Pretty cool name, but it's basically just a tool for cost-benefit analysis.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: So here's an example - creation of the ethnostate.

HAXEL: He explains how Red Fox Four works, weighing the pros and cons of overt messaging about the creation of a white ethnostate. He says, ideally, it would happen, but it's best to hold off; the message is too extreme for now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Because they can point to us and point to this whole ethnostate thing and organize around it, saying - see? See how crazy they are? They want to ethnically cleanse everyone. Of course, that's what they're saying. I'm not saying that's 100% true. But what's the...

HAGEN: Instead, he says they should focus on something more subtle - immigration. Now, like we said, this was an unofficial webinar, but we know at least some racists have attended FACL classes in person, ones taught by Aaron Dorr.

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MATT FORNEY: But at the same time, I still don't think you should have multiracial children.

HAXEL: This is Matt Forney. He's a blogger, professional troll and key figure in the formation of the alt right. And he writes a lot of racist, sexist garbage on the Internet. After attending a FACL class in 2016, he wrote this on his blog.

HAGEN: (Reading) Our instructor was Aaron Dorr, the founder of Iowa Gun Owners, which bills itself as Iowa's only no-compromise gun lobby. I can't write about the content of the class itself because FACL doesn't want leftists getting ahold of its secrets. Indeed, Dorr had us shut off our phones while he was lecturing, but suffice it to say that they have the goods when it comes to political operations.

HAXEL: Confrontational politics has also gone international.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: (Non-English language spoken).

HAGEN: This guy's Estonian. We know the classes have also made it to right-wing activists in Poland.

HAXEL: OK, there's one more quick lesson from confrontational politics, something that didn't make sense when we first started watching the Dorrs and their friends. One day, they say politicians can't be trusted. They're the enemy. But the next day, you see Aaron Dorr or Patrick Parsons livestreaming with a lawmaker.

HAGEN: Well, it turns out this paradox is built into the confrontational politics model. See - you got to have at least one legislator on your side, someone to introduce bills for you and make videos that show how hard you've been working in the statehouse. These people get a special label - champions.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9: So we can give you guys the chapter and verse on how many skuzzy politicians there are. But there's also some champions, some absolute champion lawmakers out there. And we're proud to be very good friends with the best lawmakers in a number of states. And we're - I know...

HAXEL: The Dorrs and their friends do this everywhere. And remember - they also started a national group, the American Firearms Coalition. And they may have found a champion who will trumpet their message on a national stage.

HAGEN: They found her right here in Georgia, where I'm based.

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MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: I'm running to stop gun control...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

GREENE: ...Open borders...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

GREENE: ...The Green New Deal...

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

GREENE: ...And socialism.

HAGEN: Marjorie Taylor Greene is a short, blonde, CrossFit-loving businesswoman who's running unopposed for Georgia's 14th Congressional District. Marjorie's campaign ads sound a lot like the Dorr brothers' live videos.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREENE: They destroyed the NFL. They're destroying NASCAR. They're burning our cities and destroying our history.

HAGEN: Which might be because - surprise - the Dorr brothers' partner Patrick Parsons has been working really closely with her campaign. Aaron's pitched in, too. Marjorie has started showing up to events with dudes dressed up in tactical gear and sporting Three Percent militia patches. If her name sounds familiar, you might have caught wind that she's being called America's first QAnon congressperson. This is a video she made.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREENE: I don't know how much you guys know about Q. He's - it's an anonymous person, all right? So Q is a patriot. We know that for sure. But we do not know who Q is.

HAXEL: (Grunting) How do we explain QAnon? It's a constantly evolving cornucopia of conspiracy theories involving a satanic, deep state pedophile ring.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREENE: Something he talks about is - you hear, going down the rabbit hole. All right. So...

HAXEL: The deeper you go, the more anti-Semitic these theories get.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREENE: Now, there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out. And I think we have the president to do it. And so I'm very excited about that.

HAGEN: Just weeks before the 2020 elections, I caught up with Marjorie Greene at a press conference and asked her about Patrick Parsons.

...Your relationship with Georgia Gun Owners and Patrick Parsons?

GREENE: Oh, I'm a lifelong member of Georgia Gun Owners. And Patrick Parsons is - he's been a good friend of mine.

HAGEN: She said he's been helping out with the campaign and quickly took another question - ends up being about QAnon, which she's been trying to distance herself from lately. A couple minutes later, her aides ended the presser. And Marjorie and the U.S. senator she was with speed-walked back to Marjorie's Humvee. The reporters, including me, followed them to their getaway vehicle. And I tried one more question about Patrick raising tens of thousands of dollars off a North Carolina Facebook page.

GREENE: Thanks for coming out.

HAGEN: Do you care about that?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Care about America. Care about freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Care about life.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #11: Good job, Marjorie.

HAGEN: The campaign supporters surrounded us.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #10: Care about our nation. Care about its people. Care about our history. Care about our heritage.

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HAGEN: For weeks, months, the Dorr brothers and their partners have also dodged our questions, ignored our calls and emails.

HAXEL: They've posted about us on Facebook, though. They tell their friends and supporters we're lazy lightweights, jokers in penthouses who don't know which end of the gun a bullet comes out of. I can disassemble an M240 Bravo in under 30 seconds. That's a machine gun. So yeah, I'm familiar with which end the bullet comes out of.

HAGEN: We can also see that family members of the Dorrs have noticed. We know Ben Dorr has a father-in-law, a reconstructionist pastor, who's been following this podcast closely. He's taken to calling me and Chris the Lugenpresse twins. Lugenpresse means lying press in German. The word was popularized by the Nazis and popped into American far-right vernacular around 2016.

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HAXEL: There have been a lot of violent incidents with far-right militia all over the country recently.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: ...The alleged plot centered around a plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whose Coronavirus restrictions have been railed against by armed groups at the Capitol. According to the complaint, they did surveillance on her vacation home.

HAGEN: Just as Chris and I were writing this episode, state and federal officials arrested 13 men in connection with an alleged domestic terror plot.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: The FBI says their goal was to create a self-sufficient society that they say would follow the Bill of Rights.

HAXEL: A couple of them were at an anti-quarantine protest in Michigan, similar to the ones the Dorrs helped organize in neighboring states. We're not aware of any evidence that the Dorr brothers or their partners have had any involvement in violence.

HAGEN: Here's the thing. In all our many hours of watching gun video after gun video, we've never seen the Dorr brothers or their partners tricked out in tactical gear and loaded for bear. That's not what they do. It's not their lane. They're the mouthpieces and administrators of a philosophy. They're policy nerds. They take chaotic current events and run the details through a particular framework - the tyrannical government is coming for your guns, for your rights and your families.

BEN DORR: This is a fight for our freedom. This is a fight for our life. This is no time to be super respectful and Mr. Nice Guy. We need to kill these people, politically speaking, for the love of God, in case you're totally tone deaf right now. These people need to be destroyed.

HAXEL: In this podcast, we've heard a lot from Republican politicians. But of course, Democrats are also big targets of no-compromise rage. We saw it in Michigan...

HAGEN: And in Georgia.

JEN JORDAN: The sponsor of SB-50 has my name then an arrow pointing to me and then right under it, in big letters, it says, kill the bill.

HAGEN: Jen Jordan is a state senator for Atlanta. And we're looking at a campaign photo of her, a meme that Georgia Gun Owners posted. A big yellow arrow points right at her head.

JORDAN: It's one of these things where, I mean, the language with the graphics - I mean, they're clearly, you know, trying to communicate something that goes beyond just, you know, not liking politically the fact that I've sponsored a bill that would keep guns out of domestic abusers' hands.

HAGEN: One comment on the post says, kill it all - add her and her terrible mouth. Another one - I will give them my bullets first, one at a time - dot, dot, dot.

What do you feel like it's trying to communicate?

JORDAN: I think it's a call to action. And I think it's a call to action for people to use violence. I mean, when you incite violence or you incite people to think that elected officials are trying to take away something from them when it's not true and then you use words like kill or, we're killers or, we're - you know, we're coming for you, you know, beside the picture of a gun, there really is no other conclusion you can come to.

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HAGEN: There's a question that keeps me up at night. What is this combination of guns and Facebook doing to our communities? What's all this fear doing to our brains? What's happening in these corners of the Internet that most people don't even know exist? What do we do about it? What if we mess up what we do about it?

HAXEL: When we first started reporting this story, we had no idea it would end up about anything other than just gun policy. But these loud, long Facebook videos about tyranny took us to a lot of other issues, dismantling public education, anti-vaxxers, the Aryan Nations, anti-abortion activism, homophobia, militias - well, militias maybe we figured - and, of course, downplaying the dangers of a pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS DORR: Did y'all see that? Oh, how wonderful. Wonderful. Defiance of tyranny is so alive and well in the great Keystone State.

HAGEN: We started at an antiquarantine protest in Harrisburg, Penn. And we got to know the Dorrs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

A DORR: But I don't know how many times in the last couple of days I've been asked by media outlets, well, don't you guys do guns? Like, what's your big deal on this coronavirus issue? Why don't you stay in your lane?

C DORR: We do freedom.

A DORR: Stay in your lane.

B DORR: Stay in your lane, bro.

A DORR: And I have had so much enjoyment telling media outlets all across the country that, you know, our lane is freedom. We just don't give a dang.

HAXEL: Then in September, some news. A virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans found its way to the Dorr family. Northwest Iowa was facing a spike in COVID-19 cases. And the Dorr brothers' grandfather died. He was a farmer. Ben Dorr posted a heartfelt goodbye on Facebook, didn't say what the cause was.

HAGEN: It was COVID. We talked to some other relatives who confirmed it. And there's more. They say the Dorr brothers' mom tested positive, too, had to go to the hospital. Their dad, Paul Dorr, also got the virus. Dorr family members tell us they got really sick. We're sorry to hear it. It's been a hard year for just about everyone.

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HAGEN: NO COMPROMISE is us, Lisa Hagen and Chris Haxel.

HAXEL: The show is produced by Graham Smith and edited by Robert Little of NPR's investigations unit. Josh Rogosin and Stephen Key are our sound engineers. Sound design by Josh and Graham.

HAGEN: Our music comes from Peter Duchesne, Brad Honeyman (ph), Rob Braswell and the Humpmuscle Rolling Circus, with help from Jim Ryu (ph), Cam Gunn (ph) and Katie Daugert.

HAXEL: This has been a production of NPR in partnership with member station WABE in Atlanta, KCUR in Kansas City and WAMU in Washington, D.C.

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HAXEL: From WAMU, thanks to Mike Scher, Carey Needham, Melissa Glass and Julia Slattery. At KCUR, Dan Margolies and Peggy Lowe, thank you - also Kyle Palmer.

HAGEN: At WABE, thanks to Alex Helmick, Susanna Capelouto and Emma Hurt. We want to recognize Neal Carruth and Anya Grundmann from NPR programming and our legal team, Steven Zansberg (ph) and Micah Ratner. Big thanks to Barbara Van Woerkem and N'Jeri Eaton, as well as Michael May, Alex Goldmark, Bruce Auster, Cheryl W. Thompson, Sarah McCammon and Keith Woods and to our colleagues from the Guns & America reporting collaborative, Jeremy Bernfeld, A.C. Valdez, Francesca Slesinger. And special shout-out out to Heath Druzin, also Rachel Cohen (ph). And finally, thanks so much to Caroline Martin (ph), Jake Jackson (ph) and Marion Jackson (ph).

HAXEL: Ann Little (ph) and Alexis Dyal (ph), thanks for the support and patience.

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