Chip Berlet

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Chip Berlet
Chip Berlet.png
Chip Berlet in Mexico in 2012
Born John Foster Berlet
(1949-11-22) November 22, 1949 (age 65)
Occupation Policy analyst, investigative journalist, photojournalist
Known for Study of right-wing movements and conspiracy theories

John Foster "Chip" Berlet (born November 22, 1949) is an American investigative journalist,[1] research analyst,[2][3] photojournalist, scholar, and activist specializing in the study of extreme right-wing movements in the United States.[3][4] He also studies the spread of conspiracy theories. Since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Berlet has often appeared in the media to discuss extremist news stories.[3] He was a senior analyst at Political Research Associates (PRA), a non-profit group that tracks right-wing networks,[5]

Berlet, a paralegal, was a vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild. He has served on the advisory board of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and currently sits on the advisory board of the Defending Dissent Foundation. In 1982, he was a Mencken Awards finalist in the best news story category for "War on Drugs: The Strange Story of Lyndon LaRouche," which was published in High Times. He served on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution.

Background[edit]

Berlet attended the University of Denver for three years, where he majored in sociology with a minor in journalism. A member of the 1960s student left,[4] he dropped out of the university in 1971 to work as an alternative journalist without completing his degree. In the mid-1970s, he went on to co-edit a series of books on student activism for the National Student Association and National Student Educational Fund. He also became an active shop steward with the National Lawyers' Guild.

During the late 1970s, he became the Washington, D.C., bureau chief of High Times magazine, and in 1979, he helped to organize citizens' hearings on FBI surveillance practices. From then until 1982, he worked as a paralegal investigator at the Better Government Association in Chicago, conducting research for an American Civil Liberties Union case, involving police surveillance by the Chicago police (which became known as the "Chicago Red Squad" case).[6] He also worked on cases filed against the FBI or police on behalf of the Spanish Action Committee of Chicago (S.A.C.C.), the National Lawyers Guild, the American Indian Movement, Socialist Workers Party, the Christic Institute, and the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker group). He was a founder member of the Chicago Area Friends of Albania, leaving the organization when he relocated to Boston in 1987.[4]

Berlet along with journalist Russ Bellant, has written about Lyndon LaRouche's National Caucus of Labor Committees, calling it anti-Jewish and neo-Nazi, and urging an investigation of alleged illegal activities.[3][7]

In 1982, Berlet joined Political Research Associates, and in 1985, he founded the Public Eye BBS, the first computer bulletin board aimed at challenging the spread of white-supremacist and neo-Nazi material through electronic media, and the first to provide an online application kit for requesting information under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.[8] He was one of the first researchers[9] to have drawn attention to the efforts by white supremacist and antisemitic groups to recruit farmers in the Midwestern United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

Berlet was originally on the board of advisers of Public Information Research, founded by Daniel Brandt. Between 1990 and 1992, three members of Brandt's PIR advisory board, including Berlet, resigned over issues concerning another board member, L. Fletcher Prouty and Prouty's book The Secret Team.[10][11]

In 1996, he acted as an adviser on the Public Broadcasting Service documentary mini-series With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, which was later published as a book by William Martin.[12][13] Berlet criticized Ralph Nader and his associates for a close working relationship with Republican textile magnate Roger Milliken, erstwhile major backer of the 1996 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan, and anti-unionization stalwart.[14][15]

Berlet has provided research assistance to a campaign run by the mother of Jeremiah Duggan[16] to reopen the investigation into his death. The British student died in disputed circumstances near Wiesbaden, Germany.

Photojournalism[edit]

Berlet is also a photojournalist. His photographs, particularly of Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi rallies, have been carried on the Associated Press wire, have appeared on book and magazine covers, album covers and posters, and have been published in The Denver Post, The Washington Star, and The Chronicle of Higher Education,[17] reprinted at publiceye.org[18][19]

Reception[edit]

The most recent of Berlet's Two books, co-authored with Matthew N. Lyons, is Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, published in 2000 by The Guilford Press. It is a broad historical overview of right-wing populism in the United States.

The book received generally favorable reviews. Library Journal said it was a "detailed historical examination" that "strikes an excellent balance between narrative and theory." The New York Review of Books described it as an excellent account describing the outermost fringes of American conservatism.[20] A review by Jerome Himmelstein in the journal Contemporary Sociology said that "it offers more than a scholarly treatise on the activities of the Third Reich", that it provides a background to help the reader understand the Holocaust and that it "merits close attention from scholars of the political right in America and of social movements generally." [21]

Robert H. Churchill of the University of Hartford criticized Berlet and other authors writing about the right wing as lacking breadth and depth in their analysis.[22]

Laird Wilcox in "Who Watches the Watchmen?" has criticized Berlet and other writers for what Wilcox says is their use of a technique he describes as "Links and Ties," which he says is a form of guilt by association.[23][24] Some commentators have alleged that Berlet himself uses the methods of conspiracy theory.[25] Wilcox and John George opine that Berlet "comes from extremist ranks," citing his activity in the National Lawyers Guild.[4] Berlet has responded with his belief that Wilcox is attempting to discredit his competition.[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.hipatiapress.com/hpjournals/index.php/rimcis/article/view/954/886
  2. ^ Chermak, Steven M. (2002). Searching for a Demon: The Media Construction of the Militia Movement. UPNE. p. 92. ISBN 9781555535414. 
  3. ^ a b c d Altschiller, Donald (2005). Hate Crimes: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 88–89. ISBN 9781851096244. 
  4. ^ a b c d George, John; Wilcox, Laird M. (1996), American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansmen, Communists & Others, Prometheus Books, p. 295, ISBN 978-1-57392-058-2 
  5. ^ "About PRA". Publiceye.org. 
  6. ^ "Bibliography: Chicago Police Department's Red Squad's Involvement In Social Protest" (PDF). 
  7. ^ LaRouche Cult Continues to Grow By Russ Bellant, Chip Berlet, & Dennis King, Political Research Associates, December 16, 1981
  8. ^ Berlet, Chip. "History of the Public Eye Electronic Forums". 
  9. ^ Jason Berry (1993-08-22). "Bridging chasms of race and hate". St. Petersburg Times (Florida) (Times Publishing Company). p. 6D. 
  10. ^ Brandt, Daniel (December 1992). "An Incorrect Political Memoir". NameBase. Archived from the original on 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  11. ^ Chip Berlet, "Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchite, and Other Neo-fascist Overtures To Progressives, And Why They Must Be Rejected," Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates, 1991.
  12. ^ With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Martin, William (1996). With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. Broadway. ISBN 0-553-06749-4. 
  14. ^ Right-Wing Populism in America by Chip Berlet, pp. 338–344
  15. ^ Hawkins, Howie (2000). "A Green Perspective on Ralph Nader And Independent Political Action (from New Politics, vol. 8, no. 1 (new series), whole no. 29, Summer 2000)". 
  16. ^ http://www.publiceye.org/press/releases/2007/3/27/Berlet_LaRouche.html
  17. ^ Grant Kester (Feb–March 1995), "Net profits: Chip Berlet tracks computer networks of the religious right - interview with Political Research Associates analyst - Special Issue: Fundamentalist Media - Interview", Afterimage (Visual Studies Workshop), retrieved 2007-04-11 
  18. ^ "The Website of Political Research Associates". Publiceye.org. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  19. ^ "The Website of Political Research Associates". Publiceye.org. 2000-06-14. Retrieved 2014-04-13. 
  20. ^ Baker, Russell (May 17, 2001). (subscription required) "Mr. Right". The New York Review of Books 48 (8). Retrieved 2008-07-26.  Reprinted as Chapter 9 in Baker, Russell (2002). Looking Back. New York Review Books. pp. 139–157. ISBN 1-59017-008-3. 
  21. ^ Himmelstein, Jerome L., Review of book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Jan., 2002), pp. 76–77, American Sociological Association
  22. ^ Churchill, Robert H. "Beyond the Narrative of 1995 - Recent Examinations of the American Far Right." Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 125–136.
  23. ^ The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in an Age of Globalization edited by Jeffrey Kaplan, Heléne Lööw
  24. ^ Wilcox, Laird, "Who Watches the Watchman?" in The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in an Age of Globalization edited by Jeffrey Kaplan, Heléne Lööw, Rowman Altamira, Jan 1, 2002, p. 332
  25. ^ Bratich, Jack Z, Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture, SUNY Press 2008, p. 100
  26. ^ McCain, Robert Stacy. "Researcher Says 'Watchdogs' Exaggerate Hate Group Threat", The Washington Times, May 9, 2000.

External links[edit]