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Eric Rudolph’s Relevancy in 2022

Eric Rudolph is a right-wing terrorist currently serving a life sentence for his murderous bombing campaign that lasted from1996 to 1998. During this time, Rudolph attacked Centennial Park, “the hub for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics” two women’s clinics and a gay club. He killed multiple people and wounded over one hundred. Rudolph led the FBI on a manhunt that spanned years. Rudolph was eventually apprehended while rummaging through trash behind a Save-A-Lot. He pled guilty to all charges in exchange for life in prison. So why is Rudolph relevant today?

As the 2022 Olympic games come to a close the political atmosphere in the United States is far more extreme than that of Rudolph’s active period. Social media provocateur Tim Pool recently interviewed controversial Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. During the interview Greene discussed how “naive” it is to believe that America will always remain 50 states. Tim Pool is well known for his own talk of escalation and civil war.

Last week Republican officials drafted and enacted a censure against representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their support of the January 6th Committee. In that document Republicans stated that “The Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress have embarked on a systemic effort to replace liberty with socialism…” and that the January 6th insurrectionist riot was “legitimate political discourse.”

This is the Republican Party that Eric Rudolph wanted and lamented did not exist in the 1990’s. Eric Rudolph wrote extensively about his decision to act in violence. Rudolph felt that the Republican Party was unwilling to do what was necessary to stop Marxist socialists. He wrote “moderates” like Dwight D. Eisenhower worked for an accommodation with the new “masters of America.” Moderate Republicans accepted the welfare state and ceded culture to the Left. Rudolph said, “Patriots believe that the country was already lost and that all constitutional efforts to win back our liberties had failed.” America belonged to a “coterie of socialist’s” intent on merging the US into a “one-world government” organized under the “auspices of the United Nations.” This type of rhetoric was once relegated to underground zine culture and the fringes of AM radio dials. Today, this Bircheresque weaving of conspiracy and “alternative facts” has proven to win Republican’s elections.

Rudolph has self-published a number of essays from prison which are hosted on a website owned by DOJ/HLS labeled terrorist group Army of God. While it is not advisable to frequent that site the content of these essays provides unique access into the mind of a right-wing terrorist. The numerous essays are shocking. However, the most shocking aspect to them is not the ridiculous right-wing conspiracies, racism or sexism. The part that is shocking is just how mainstream his ideas have become since the 1990’s. Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of analyzing Rudolph’s essays was that many of his goals have been realized.

The thesis behind all of Rudolph’s commentary is that Democrats are Marxists who want to not only destroy the United States but the very foundations of Western Civilization. It is poorly dressed up Birchirsm and baseless conspiracy.

Rudolph targeted the Olympics because he viewed the event as a “vehicle toward advancing a socialist model of global governance.” The Olympics committee had “acquiesced to this globalist agenda.” Calling Rudolph, a “Bircher” is not slander. When Rudolph was a teenager, he went on retreats sponsored by The Birch Society. At these retreats he learned to use guns and met various personalities in the Patriot Movement. It was also during this period that Rudolph’s politics began to form.

Rudolph’s commentary doesn’t end with globalist, socialist conspiracies. Rudolph described his experience in public schools as “time served” in the culture war. In reality Rudolph split his time between public and private schools. He eventually dropped out of High School after writing a holocaust denial paper. However, Rudolph frames his education as traumatic. He claims an elementary school teacher attempted to indoctrinate him by teaching of atrocities committed against Native Americans. He said these lessons were meant to teach him about “evil white people.” Rudolph wrote about a discussion he had with his father regarding this experience. “Frowning, he slowly shook his head. ‘She was talking about you – about us… we’re white people.” Such critique of public education curriculum extends back to the 1920’s with KKK lobbying efforts. However, most anti-CRT advocates point to the 1960’s as the beginning of educational decline in the US. Interestingly, that also happens to be when public schools ramped up efforts to implement desegregation following Brown v. Board of Education. Rudolph had much to say about integration in general. While his views aren’t particularly enlightening what is insightful is how he chooses to frame them. Just as most right-wing media and politicians do not come out and say the obvious racist thing neither did Rudolph. Instead, Rudolph couched his criticisms in the framework of freedom vs. an overbearing federal government. This type of obfuscated race politics was outlined by Lee Atwater.

Rudolph wrote of his experiences with school bussing. He said, “If parents decided to live in racially homogonous neighborhoods and to send their kids to racially homogonous schools then Washington bureaucrats would have to take over the role of parenting.” Two things stand out from this quote. The first is that he frames desegregation as an assault on families. The second is that he claims this was an infringement by the government upon free decisions of the people. We see this type of narrative spinning on a daily basis from all forms of modern media. All of a sudden, we are no longer talking about racial segregation but instead an intrusive government telling parents how best to raise their children.

Rudolph also griped about Marxist university professors and party culture on campuses. The claims of Marxism… everywhere, are less interesting than his critique of campus culture. His criticisms of part

ying and drug use by college aged students tied directly to other core values such as anti-choice and class resentment. He viewed the sexual revolution of the 60’s as a disaster. That coupled with birth control and legal abortion created an unnatural social arrangement that he blamed on feminism and of course Marxism.

Rudolph did not buy the idea of family planning nor women’s traditional lack of legal, social or political autonomy. Instead, he reframed this as the projected resentment by a small group of upper-class white women who incorrectly viewed the world through a Marxist lens of conflict. This opinion is eerily similar to modern anti-feminist rhetoric from the right. As Jordan Peterson put it, “The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.”

Furthermore, he saw the right to choose as a grotesque method for upper middle class, white suburban women to have “free love” and a college education without the “oppression” of motherhood. Essentially Rudolph was arguing for abstinence until marriage. He extends this view into a broader critique of personal responsibility. Rudolph frames women’s right to choose as consequence avoidance for degenerate behavior. Again, an accusation that is alive and well in the right ecosphere. This tweet from Jordan Peterson is amazingly still on twitter with over 10k likes.

Rudolph’s hate did not end there. One of his bombing targets was a gay club in Atlanta called the Otherside Longue. The Otherside became a staple in the community as a place for people to go who had been shunned by their families and friends for having come out as LGBTQ. Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is unfortunately prevalent across social media and even mainstream media in 2022.

Rudolph wrote “Today, the sexual revolution is almost complete in Europe. In some places, sex between an adult and a child is no longer considered a crime. Child pornography is sold openly in places like Copenhagen and Stockholm. The lesbian-gay-bisexual, transgender movement in the United States is a relative of the same free-love.” In this passage Rudolph ties all forms of what he considers sexual deviancy to free love and by extension Marxism. He also ties child abuse to LGBTQ discussions. This age-old bigotry is also alive and well in conspiracies such as Qanon which focuses on global Satanic sex-trafficking rings. Right-wing cable news jumps on opportunities to highlight “dangerous” transgender people around children while Republican law makers advocate for bills with bigoted underlying assumptions.

All of this rhetoric informed Rudolph’s assessment that western civilization is under attack. He calls the antagonists “egalitarians.” Jordan Peterson calls them “post-modernists.” Many others on the right simply call them socialists, Marxists or Democrats.

Beyond Rudolph’s social opinions which are shared by the modern right are his criticisms of the Republican Party during the 1990’s. Rudolph wrote, “For 50 years the Republican Party had sold us out… So-called conservatives stabbed Lindbergh and McCarthy in the back. Realizing that it would take more than an election to unseat the socialists, the Republican Party and “moderates” like Dwight D. Eisenhower worked for an accommodation with the new masters of America.” This sentiment surged to prominence and became a tangible political force during the Obama administration. The Tea Party Movement was not just a counter to the Obama era. The Tea Party Movement was a reckoning for incumbent GOP politicians. Republicans who did not agree with the most extreme ideas were labeled RINO’s or “Republican in name only.” This was exactly the kind of housecleaning that Rudolph sought for the Republican party.

The Tea Party Movement portrayed itself as a fiscally conservative group of ordinary citizens. In reality there was huge amounts of special interest money pouring in. There were even organizations built for fundraising such as the Tea Party Patriots Foundation. The Tea Party movement laid the groundwork for populist-Trumpism. Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters had roots in the Tea Party movement during the Obama era. According to Pew Research, Republicans who had favorable views of the Tea Party movement were among top donors to Trump’s campaign. Pew also found those who supported or participated in the Tea Party movement had very high views of Trump giving him a 78 out of 100 in February 2018.

The Tea Party movement legitimized conspiracists selling narratives of birtherism and Marxism by facilitating electoral victories for extreme candidates. It combined previously separate movements such as anti-choice and anti-tax. It decried political correctness in the name of free speech and launched fringe media personalities such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to success.

It was a movement of movements for the right. It was right-wing coordination that Rudolph could only have dreamed of. Included in this movement of movements were militia groups and fringe far-right organizations. Rudolph had his doubts about the Patriot Movement but was strongly influenced by it. He wrote, “At 15, I wasn’t really up on my politics. I’d never seen any evidence of an impending United Nations takeover, but what did I know? I had, however, done a tour of duty in south Florida’s public schools where the teachers taught us guilt and self-hate, where drugs and violence were the norm. I no longer trusted the System. The Culture War that the Patriots spoke of was something I’d experienced first-hand. Unlike the Pentecostals, who told us to become doormats, the Patriots talked about resistance. Talk of a coming war intrigued me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a purpose. Preparing for the coming conflagration held an incredible attraction for me.”

Like the Republican Party, Rudolph had grown disillusioned with the Patriot Movement. However, the Patriot Movement in a broader sense is important to the story. It cultivated Rudolph’s beliefs and extremism. It was a counterculture for conservatives who were working from outside of the system. The Tea Party Movement and later MAGA provided a legitimized platform for these groups. Today bumper stickers on the back of raised pickup trucks brazenly displaying right-wing militia groups and gangs can be seen from country roads to suburban cul-de-sacs.

This powder keg of right-wing extremist conspiracy and ideology resulted in an insurrection. An attempt to halt the certification process of electoral votes which is the procedural method for peaceful transition of power and a fundamental lynchpin to American democracy.

To illustrate how this evolution of right-wing extremism has connected one only needs to look at the financial contributors to the January 6th insurrection. One of these organizations is none other than the aforementioned Tea Party Patriots Foundation.

A piece of Rudolph’s story is that he got some of what he wanted. Ultimately Rudolph acted in violence because he felt Republicans had acquiesced to “egalitarians.” The rise of the Tea Party culminating in MAGA and post-Trumpism is what he hoped the Republican Party would become. Rudolph is a talented writer and well-articulated. Reading his essays, I couldn’t help but think of the many well-articulated social media personalities that present themselves with an air of intellectualism and authority. However, I also couldn’t help but see connections in themes and ideas between them and Rudolph either. These comparisons should not be overstated to force a narrative but also cannot be ignored or dismissed either. Unfortunately, Eric Rudolph and his beliefs are still extremely relevant in 2022.

There are a series of YouTube videos available on The Right Podcast’s channel. These are broken up into digestible chunks of information that provide a deeper dive into Rudolph’s connections to the modern right.

There is also a podcast which includes all of these videos into one audio experience.


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