Secret societies & social justice: Knights of Tabor

Jasper Wilcox

The Knights of Tabor were founded in Independence, Missouri in 1872 by an African-American philanthropist named Moses Dickson. Dickson had long been a member in good standing of the Prince Hall Freemasons (African-American Freemasons).

Reverend Moses Dickson_thumb[3]

Although the International Order of Twelve: of Knights and Daughters of Tabor (their official name) was technically founded in 1872 the true history (as alleged by Dickson himself) is much more interesting. Dickson gives his account in his own history of the Knights of Tabor. The Order went through three major evolutions. The first order, the Knights of Liberty were founded in 1846, the second order, the Order of Twelve in 1855 and the Knights of Tabor (which still exists today) in 1872.

Moses Dickson was born free (well, you know…) “…in Ohio, April 5th, 1824.” His whole family died (or something) and he became a barber and traveled to the south when he was sixteen to ply his trade.

“In these travels he saw slavery in all its horrors; he witnessed such scenes of monstrous cruelty as caused his African blood to boil….and he became a life-foe to the slave-owner, the slave-driver and the slave-trader.”

Moses Dickson became committed to ending slavery and he had a plan. In the course of his travels he hand-picked eleven people he could trust and who were like-minded and encouraged them to think on his plan.

They would all convene in St. Louis, Missouri in two years time and set the wheels in motion. On that day, August 11, 1846 the Knights of Liberty were born.

The plan was simple. Eleven of the twelve were supposed to go, one to each state – each of the slave states except Missouri and Texas – and do two very specific things. They were supposed not only to found an aboveground organization called the Order of Twelve but also build up the secret army called the Knights of Liberty.

Dickson writes that he “…was elected chief…” and would “…remain North” in Illinois, to “watch events, and keep the members posted.”

“Organizations were secretly to be made in the Southern States. None but reliable, fearless men were to be enrolled. The organizers were to carefully pick the men that were courageous, patient, temperate, and possessed of sound common sense.”

Then, in exactly ten years the eleven men (and Dickson) would reconvene and the plan would be implemented.

“From the very origin of…the Knights of Liberty…secrecy was impressed on each member. Let not your right hand know what your left hand does; trust no one, and test every man (sic) before he is admitted to membership. A part of the oath was: ‘We can die, but we can’t reveal the name of a member, or make known the organization and its objects.’ It was absolutely a secret organized body. We know of the failure of Nat Turner and others, the abolitionists in the North and East. The under-ground railroad was in good running order, and the Knights of Liberty sent many passengers over the road to freedom.”

Dickson says that, aside from working on the Underground Railroad freeing slaves, the Knights of Liberty created an army that “[s]ilently, like the falling of Autumn leaves…multiplied, until, in 1856, the army of true and trusty men numbered forty-seven thousand….” Not including “…two hundred and forty Knights of Liberty.”

One suspects that number might be a little high.

Not quite ten years later, in August, 1855, the Order of Twelve was officially established as the aboveground arm of the Knights of Liberty. Dickson writes that “[t]he secret work of the Knights of Liberty was not imparted” to the Order of Twelve.

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The two orders existed side by side until 1859, the beginning of the Civil War, at which time the militant Knights of Liberty officially disbanded and found new ways to fight. The Order of Twelve persisted and slowly evolved into a charitable organization just like the Odd fellows, the Knights of Columbus or the Freemasons before them.

Dickson writes that the Order of Twelve “was changed” between 1859 and 1872 “from the original warlike order” into the charitable organization called the Knights of Tabor.

The aboveground arm of the Knights of Liberty was still a “warlike order” until 1859. The organization was made up of upstanding citizens who had broken no laws and none of them were ever commissioned or expected to do anything illegal. They existed solely for logistics, to help push policy that would advance the goals of the Knights and to provide a pool from which to choose new recruits. Yet they were still expected to abide by an oath of secrecy. This helped ensure security but, were security ever breached, the authorities would never be able to prove any wrongdoing.

“…[M]embers of the…Order of Twelve have formed one band, united by the strongest ties of friendship, and bound together by solemn obligations,…for the purpose of making a united and effective effort in aiding each member in sickness or distress, to protect and defend each other, to aid and help the widows and orphans of members that died in good standing, [and] to inculcate true morality, that the members of the…Order of Twelve may be an example to the masses of mankind.” (sic)

Members of the Order were to “use every honorable method to advance the cause of education…” and were “…advised to acquire real estate – this makes a man or woman a substantial and reliable citizen.” They were to “[a]void intemperance; cultivate true manhood; [and] eschew immoral and degraded people.” They were expected to be upright “ladies and gentlemen” and to “[l]ive an exemplary life….”

The Order of Twelve was not a political or religious organization. Members were therefore not allowed to discuss religion or politics. This prohibition may have been enacted to avoid conflict between members with different religious or political affiliations, but could just as likely have been to prevent outsiders from learning too much about the opinions of the members.

With the establishment of the Order of Twelve in 1855 the two organizations were now working together seamlessly. It was presumably during this era that most of the Knights’ work was carried out – either helping out with the day to day operations of the Underground Railroad or training soldiers to fight in the coming war.

The problem was, ironically, that the war came. And when it did it wasn’t initiated by the Knights of Liberty but by the Confederate Army. In 1859 when the war finally broke out, the Knights of Liberty disbanded, but the Order of Twelve existed throughout the course of the war and beyond.

Although the history of the Order of Twelve is mostly preserved the secret history of the Knights of Liberty has apparently died. Dickson closes the book on the Knights of Liberty with this:

“The question of giving the history of this organization to the world is one that has had my most earnest thoughts for several years. There are so many families of the old men of renown…that are now living and hold high positions, that they might be injured by revealing the secrets of the Knights of Liberty.”

The only part of this history Dickson is willing to recount are the names of the original twelve who met in St. Louis in 1846.

Then he leaves us these parting words:

“We feel that we have said enough on this subject. If [the Civil War] had not occurred…, the Knights of Liberty would have made public history.”

In their capacity as a charitable organization the Knights of Tabor (founded in 1872) carried on the honorable work of their forebears. From 1878 and on the new order “received and cared for about sixteen thousand men, women and children, who were fleeing southern oppression. The whole North and East was stirred up (sic), and thousands of dollars were received by the Board…to aid the fugitives. This money, with hundreds of large boxes of clothing and provisions that were received, enabled the President of the Board to send the refugees to their destinations comfortably clothed and with ample provisions to last them for several months.”

“Within eighteen years this Order had taken its place and rank with the greatest Colored organizations of the world.”

In the 1940s the Knights of Tabor founded a charitable hospital in the all-black city of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. The staff was comprised entirely of African-Americans including surgeon Theodore Roosevelt Howard. Howard made a name for himself in the Civil Rights movement and was considered a mentor to some other great people including Medgar Evers. In 1971 Howard founded the Push Coalition which later became the Push part in Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Coalition.

These things alone should be enough to earn the Knights of Tabor a big spot on the trophy-shelf of Civil Rights but unfortunately history is slowly forgetting them. Even if you take away the bits about a secret army that clandestinely tried to end slavery the Knights of Tabor are still well worth remembering.

Violence and animal rights–the middle way

Jasper Wilcox

There has long been a debate in the Animal Rights community over how best, tactically, to address the problem of systemic animal cruelty. The movement has long been home to pacifists on one end of the spectrum and the lunatic fringe on the other. The pacifists, of course, believe violence is never justifiable and the lunatic fringe (for lack of a better term) believe they should employ any means necessary including arson and even assassination.

Recently the North American Animal Liberation Front Press Office (NAALPO) has initiated a debate between representatives from both respective ideologies. James McWilliams represents the pacifist perspective and Camille Marino (a handsome woman) represents the lunatic fringe (a term she seems to embrace).

courtney love's seen better days

(Above) Camille Marino looking good

McWilliams’ argument is simple enough: activists should be creative and devise productive ways to be effective without resorting to the “violent” tactics used by Animal Liberationists in the past. McWilliams doesn’t really tell us how to do this, instead he writes:

To me, the most revolutionary thing we could do through peaceful activism would be to reinvent the meaning of violence. In other words, take it away from the state. Steal it. And then turn it into a productive tool of the people–people who want peace and justice in this world for animals, for people, for trees, for falafel shops, for whatever.

If you’re asking yourself what in the hell this means, you’re not alone. McWilliams doesn’t give us any examples of how to do this, just that it should be done…

McWilliams also defines violence for us. He specifically states that violence can be committed against both “…people or property.”

Basically, McWilliams’ argument can be summed up thusly: Violence against people or property, along with the violent rhetoric espoused by certain elements within the Animal Rights community are counter-productive – they make the whole movement look bad and they bring the might of the State apparatus down on a pretty benign and peaceful movement.

Fair enough.

To counter, NAALPO calls on the Queen of Violent Rhetoric herself, Camille Marino.

Before we proceed let it be noted that (in my opinion) property-damage and arson are not forms of violence.

If we accept my definition of violence (for argument’s sake) there have been very few instances that Animal Liberationists have ever employed “violent” tactics. There’s David Barbarash and (the snitch) Darren Thurston. These two Canadian citizens were alleged to have mailed Unabomber-style letter-bombs to vivisectionists and other animal exploiters.Charges were dropped and nobody was ever prosecuted. Barbarash never hurt anybody and he doesn’t write blogs calling others “do-nothing-activists”.

There is also the notable case of long-time fugitive Daniel Andreas San Diego who earned himself a much-coveted spot on the FBI’s Ten-Most-Wanted list. The following excerpt from Wikipedia summarizes San Diego’s alleged crimes. It should be noted that there is some controversy over the specifics of the incident.

On August 28, 2003, two sophisticated homemade bombs exploded approximately one hour apart, the second intended to target responding police officers and firefighters, at the Chiron Corporation in Emeryville, California, causing minor property damage but no injuries. Another bomb, wrapped with nails to produce shrapnel, exploded on September 26, 2003 at the Shaklee Corporation in Pleasanton, California, again causing damage but no casualties. The FBI believes this second bomb was timed to target first responders. The bombs used ammonium nitrate explosives and mechanical timers. *

There have also been less violent/more juvenile “attacks” on animal vivisectionists. Cars have been set fire to, yachts have been scuttled (sank), etc., 

It is true the vast majority of Animal Liberation bloggers have redoubled their violent rhetoric and lost sight of their goals. In fact, Animal Rescues are becoming more and more infrequent and the movement is losing momentum while calls come from all corners urging people to be more violent and more uncompromising.

There has been a lot of name-calling on the internet lately, perpetrated mostly by Marino and an Anonymous Animal Liberationist. They accuse fellow Animal Liberationists of being “do-nothing activists” – of talking the talk (as it were) without walking the walk. The internet (it’s true) is full of people who are more-than-willing to incite others to violence without putting their proverbial money where their mouths are. 

But there’s a huge problem with this logic.

You can say the same thing about Camille Marino.

There is no documented evidence of Camille Marino doing anything aside from typing violent sounding slogans and posting them on her stupid web-page. Marino has never been accused of committing violent crimes herself, nor has she ever been connected to any Animal Liberations. There is no evidence of her ever opening a cage, of ever burning down a building, of ever breaking a storefront window, of ever killing or assaulting anyone… All she seems to do is publically condone violence committed by other activists and to condemn everybody else for “doing nothing”.

It may be that Camille Marino has a secret life where, at night, she puts on a black mask, grabs a Molotov cocktail, a sniper rifle and some bolt-cutters and puts in work. It’s at least possible… After all, the first rule of Fight Club is to never talk about Fight Club…

Unfortunately the same can be said about every other “do-nothing-activist”. To take credit for an unsolved crime is both verboten and stupid. How can we expect anybody else to do it if Marino won’t do it herself?

Fortunately between these two extremes, there’s a middle way.

What we have on either side of this argument are two do-nothing activists (yeah, I said it). The worst crime Camille Marino ever committed was emailing drunken death threats to University Professors.

Also, who the hell ever heard of James McWilliams? Chances are if he’d done anything worth knowing about we’d know about it.

We don’t have to choose between peaceful-fairytale-land and post-modern-ultra-violence. In fact, we shouldn’t. We should simply take a step back and look at what has been effective in the past.

Rod Coronado and Jonathan Paul are the two seminal actors in this tragi-comedy. They spearheaded the movement and they did a lot of good in the process.

Rodney Adam Coronado on the fur industry and what it means to Natives

What we can say for sure, at least about Coronado, is that he set fires when he didn’t need to. This made it easy for the media and the authorities to paint him as a fire-bug (which IS a mental illness, Walter Bond). We do know that in some instances a little bit of arson can be effective in doing economic damage to large companies – whether they’re fur farmers or tree farmers. Sometimes releasing mink is enough to shut down a fur operation completely, but sometimes to shut down wealthier farms, property damage is necessary. It is, however,  unnecessary to destroy breeding records with fire because we can satisfy this need with a paper-shredder (or scissors) just as easily.

A paper-shredder would also undermine the threat of sentencing enhancements for arson or terrorism enhancements for timed incendiary devices. Coronado, in at least one instance, used acid to destroy breeding records. This easily circumvents the sticky legal situation an arson can put a person into.

Coronado, in a decade, did more damage to the Fur Industry (and more good for animals) in the United States than anybody ever has.

Peter Young, in terms of doing damage to the fur industry, was at least as effective as Coronado. Young and his accomplice (some nameless snitch) released thousands of mink all across the mid-west and never employed arson as a tactic. The government could not paint Young as a destructive pyromaniac and Young was only sentenced to two years when he was finally prosecuted. 

Will Potter has done an inestimable amount of good and has probably never done anything illegal in his life. All he does is write a blog.

So with that said: why is Camille Marino such a marginalized voice in the Animal Rights community? Why are her tactics so ineffective?

Marino is simply expanding on a method used to great effect by a group called Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty (SHAC).

Where SHAC is trying to undermine the foundation on which vivisection is built, Marino is simply trying to blow up the whole damned building.

Marino’s enemy is much more amorphous than was SHAC’s. Marino targets people who (whether it’s true or not) believe they are pursuing a noble calling. They could even be, arguably, saving lives.

HLS has no pursuit nobler than making a quick buck off a perceived necessity. Vivisectionists in the medical field feel (with not much but some) justification that they are providing an indispensible service to humanity.

SHAC believed that by taking out a fundamentally important component of the superstructure the rest would inevitably fall. They utilized their resources effectively and worked with what they had. They identified a weak link in a strong chain (a link they could shatter with their limited resources) and attacked it. They chose a small but important target and they put as much pressure on it (enough pressure, it turns out) as they could.

Marino is calling for an all-out guerrilla war on the Vivisection “industry”. What she doesn’t understand about guerrilla war (as Che was always so eager to point out) is that you need to win the hearts and minds of the community to truly win.

What would happen if Marino were to form a guerrilla army? Could it be any more effective than the Weather Underground? Could it be any more effective than the Red Army Faction? Neither of those organizations did much good and it’s hard to believe Marino (who looks like she’s done a few too many Quaaludes) could possibly do any better.

It’s true that, as Steve Best said, some Vietnamese peasants were able to defeat the mightiest military super-power in the history of the world with little more than some crappy Russian guns by employing Guerrilla tactics in a war of attrition. 

It is also true that the Confederacy lost the Civil War and they were much better military strategists than Steve Best and Camille Marino COMBINED. It is also true that wars of attrition are NEVER successful when they’re being fought by citizens in the “First World” against their own country. Never has a social justice movement in the West come even close to revolution by means of guerrilla war. Never…

Violence might be necessary someday. It might be necessary now. But it’s stupid to fetishize violence. It’s also unhealthy to dwell on it. It might even be characteristic of mental illness. It is counter-productive at times and, frankly, Camille Marino and the Vegan fringe just don’t have the blood-lust or the foresight to pull it off.

The fur industry in this country is weak. It would be much easier to shut down than the cattle industry. Huntington Life Sciences is weak. Vivisection won’t be stopped by targeting individual vivisectionists. Maybe justice would be served by doing so but, in the end, how much closer would it really put us to our goal?

What it boils down to is a war of semantics.

When the Berrigan brothers (both avowed pacifists) set fire to draft records in Catonsville, Maryland they did not commit an act of violence. When Rod Coronado (decidedly not a pacifist) destroyed Mink breeding records with acid he did not commit an act of violence. What then, Mr. McWilliams, makes Philip and Daniel Berrigan any less violent than Rod Coronado?

And what if we reversed this question and put it to Camille Marino?

This argument is framed as a dispute over effective tactics, but it has nothing to do with tactics. What it boils down to is an argument over preconceived ideas about what is moral and what is immoral. Neither address the most important question, which is “what do we do next?”

* [I made a mistake which was pointed out to me in a comment (down there). I made a small change to this blog post. I am guilty of an honest (but egregious) oversight. It should be noted that Daniel Andreas San Diego has never had an opportunity to give his side of the story and until that happens I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t want to lie or misrepresent the truth. – jsw]

Big Labor, Spain & Occupy May Day

Occupy May Day

Jasper Wilcox

The Occupy movement in the United States is calling for a General Strike May 1st, 2012 following the lead of Spain whose General Strike on March 29th, 2012 was of major historical significance. The Spanish Labor Movement has always had a more overtly anti-capitalist component than its American counterpart. Terms like General Strike, Wildcat Strike and Sit-Down Strike are only now re-entering the vocabulary of Big Labor in the United States – spurred on by years of hard work from the militant and activist/student left.

In Spain these concepts have been part of the discourse since the death of Franco in 1975. Also in Spain, the two largest unions can trace their origins directly to either the Communist Party or the Socialist Worker’s Party. The smaller CGT/CNT are syndicalist and therefore not associated with any political party but are fiercely anti-capitalist, much like the significantly smaller IWW in the United States

The Occupy movement’s idealism is touching, but slightly naïve. They are not building in-roads to Big Labor or other, more serious, struggles for social, environmental (or animal) justice. This is, unfortunately, one of many reasons a call for a General Strike in the United States will never be as successful as one in Spain.

There is some precedent for the Occupy movement’s vision of a May Day success. Momentum has been building in the union establishment and it seems like change is finally in the air. Starting symbolically with victory at Republic Window and Door in Illinois and culminating in historically important victories for Wisconsin and the Occupy movement. In the wake of forty years of constant defeat, these small battles represent the slow rumblings of something big coming to life once again.

In Spain, the Union Establishment possesses a few qualities the establishment in America lacks. First, Big Labor in Spain was never forced to publically renounce its revolutionary origins. Secondly, syndicalist unions (anarchist) still exist in Spain and are considered much more legitimate than their American counterpart (the IWW). These Unions, like the CGT or La Lucha, represent a class that has no labor representation at all in the United States.

There are plenty more reasons the situation in Spain is different than the situation in the United States. For one the economy is incredibly bad in Spain and unemployment numbers are earth-shatteringly high. Sure, the economy is incredibly bad in the United States too (much worse in terms of joblessness than statistics can ever truly account for) but Spain is still in far worse shape.

Young and ‘born-again’ activists from the Occupy Generation who are calling for (but not organizing for) a General Strike, are inspired to the point of fanaticism by what they consider the “successes” of the Spanish Labor Movement.

But it should not be forgotten that a General Strike would be unnecessary had the Spanish Labor Complex been doing its part in the first place. When youth unemployment drops to 50% some of the blame has to be shouldered by the Big Labor Establishment.

The major difference – let’s say the difference that makes all the difference – is that Spanish Big Labor endorsed and participated in the General Strike. Support was virtually unanimous in the Big Labor community. This is a component the United States has never had – mostly because, as previously stated, Big Labor in Spain never had to disassociate itself from it’s Marxist or anti-capitalist origins.

A call from American Big Labor for a General Strike would be political suicide. It would be the equivalent of Rich Trumpka showing everybody his Communist Party card at dinner parties. Unfortunately Big Labor has to choose which of its supporters to alienate – the ‘true believers’ or the ‘powers that be.’ The ‘true believers’ are the idealistic young – represented by the Occupy Generation. The ‘powers that be’ are the ruling elite who, unfortunately, are in control of Big Labor’s air supply.

In Spain the Occupy Generation has representation – the CGT or La Lucha or any number of other smaller labor organizations. The CGT (the ‘fringe’ syndicalist union) was not alone in calling for the Strike.

If the IWW were to call for a General Strike, U.S. Big Labor would have to oppose it or risk becoming marginalized themselves. What the CGT has that the IWW lacks is some semblance of solidarity with their establishment counterparts. In fact, the Spanish General Strike was successful partly because the CGT weren’t the first (and only) voice putting out the call. Talk of a general strike originated in the larger UGT and CC.OO unions – the Spanish Equivalent of (say) the AFL-CIO & the Teamsters. It was only after UGT & CC.OO called for the strike that the syndicalist CGT endorsed it. In the United States the only union that would dare call for a General Strike is the IWW who have almost no real political legitimacy at all.

So, does this mean the May Day General Strike will fail?

The odds of a strike that will slow down national production on any meaningful scale are not good. May 1st should at least, in some major hubs, cause significant disruption and bring some much needed attention to the humanitarian crisis that underlies the current global economic crisis. In this context it could possibly represent a very important symbolic victory. Unfortunately, our movements (both grassroots and establishment) need more than symbolic victories to survive.

We know from recent experience in Wisconsin and Oakland (and Seattle in 1999) that a General Strike can have a lot of impact on a small-scale. Perhaps, when organizing for May 1st 2013 the focus should be on shutting down a particular city. After all it is almost always easier to deal with regional union leadership than with national union leadership. In the short term, ideas like Occupy Chicago are viable, but like anything, they need people to participate in a more meaningful way than Facebook.

The Occupy Movement will not continue to be successful if the footwork is conducted over the internet. The movement is evolving in a million different directions, propelled forward by word of mouth on social networking sites. For example, someone has an idea – “Occupy May Day” – and posts it on their Facebook wall. The success or failure of the movement then depends entirely on the number of people who ‘Like’ it, ‘Share’ it and then, ultimately, show up to it. Although this is an effective tool to get the message out it’s not organizing. Organizing is building relationships, making contacts and taking part in the community.

May Day 2012 is supposed to be the day that kicks off what has been dubbed “Occupy Spring” in the United States. It would be nice if, in the course of one short season, we could successfully demand from our government what rightfully belongs to us, but realistically it’s going to be a long, hard fight. Let us, instead of preparing for revolution (or even substantial reform) this spring, begin to lay the framework for the Great General Strike of 2013 or 2014 – the strike where a few dedicated activists finally create the social (and political) dynamic which affords Big Labor the elbow room to (like in Spain) lead the charge. Also let us lay a framework of solidarity in order that petty ideological differences don’t become obstacles to progress.

Wouldn’t it lend some legitimacy to our cause if our call for a General Strike were endorsed by say the SEIU, or AFSCME? Sadly, most of the activist class has more faith in the Pagan Moon Goddess.

Secret Societies, Super-Villainy & Social Justice

Eye in the Triangle

Jasper Wilcox

In order to take over the world you’d definitely need to start a Secret Society. Secret Societies are an important element in the history of taking over the world. Good super-villains, even if they normally fly solo, all belong to some larger organization.

So what if the Freemasons didn’t engineer the French Revolution? They might have. It’s definitely much more fun to believe they did. They obviously played a semi-important role (at least) – so why not start a Secret Society like the Freemasons and play a semi-important role in our own revolution? Why not? To start you’d need historical examples.

My favorite (so far) are the Carbonari, or, the Charcoal-Burners of Italy.

If you don’t know about the Bavarian Illuminati, you should look it up. Suffice it to say the Carbonari were the Italian version of the Bavarian Illuminati. They were known as the “Forest Masons” because they chose to live communally in the woods. They were financially self-sufficient – they made charcoal and sold it to villagers – a lucrative industry at the time.

They were a revolutionary organization opposed to the monarchy who wanted to unify Italy (which must not have been unified at the time) and to get rid of the king, even if it meant killing people or fighting in savage, war-like battles.

The Carbonari were a logical outcome of the French Enlightenment as the movement spread throughout Spain and Italy.

People accused them of being Jacobins  – French provocateurs – Deists and free-thinkers, but the Carbonari were a charitable organization. Yeah, they carried out assassinations and failed assassination attempts – acts of guerrilla war against the crown – but that’s not what made them popular. Their appeal was their positive presence in the community.

Stories of charitable deeds committed by the Carbonari abound. After learning a member of their community was in need they took up collections at lodge  meetings. They painted their faces in coal-black and snuck into the person’s home, leaving a sack of coins behind and disappearing. The recipient of this charity might come home and see these creatures, all painted black, scurrying into the woods. A mythology grew up around them.

Secret Societies can teach present-day super-villains a lot about super-villainy. Legend has it the Freemasons were impervious to infiltration because they used secret identities, secret handshakes, complex ciphers, and secret, oral traditions.

Secret traditions are important to lower grades of any secret society. Why? Because they’re bullshit and it doesn’t matter if the police find out. Feeding initiates tall-tales about the purpose and aims of the organization makes them feel like they have valuable information, but they don’t. If the initiate snitches, the cops get nothing, and the lodge weeds out loose lips.

Put a person to work secretly doing super-nice-things for people for five or six years and they’re going to have a pretty good impression of the organization they’re working for. After that, it won’t be very difficult to convince that person to assassinate a King.

Why David Agranoff’s Testimony Matters

Jasper Wilcox

Long time animal rights activist David Agranoff recently accepted a plea agreement in exchange for a reduced sentence in connection with an arson he helped commit on April 30, 2000 at Crider & Crider, Inc. – a highway construction company in Bloomington, IN. As a stipulation of his plea bargain Agranoff will provide information to law enforcement about two of his accomplices in the arson – Marie Mason and Frank Ambrose.

News of Agranoff’s arrest and subsequent plea bargain have been circulating around the blogosphere for more than a week now, but the animal rights community, always very secretive, has not adequately explained why this news is so important.

Agranoff is connected to many important figures in the Earth and Animal Liberation Front. He was a member of Shawnee Earth First! and was probably loosely affiliated with Buffalo Trace Earth First! along with Marie Mason and Frank Ambrose. Mason and Ambrose are currently both in prison as a result of an arson that took place at Michigan State University on New Year’s Eve 1999.

Ambrose and Mason were married when Ambrose decided to become a government informant, wearing a body-wire to entrap his wife. Mason was sentenced to an unprecedented 22 years in prison based mostly on her own husband’s testimony against her.

Mason was prosecuted solely for her role in the MSU arson, but was implicated in (or took credit for) a long list of other arsons and acts of petty vandalism for which she was never convicted. They are all a matter of public record.

Agranoff’s plea deal is news in the Animal rights community for one very important reason. It’s a very small community – probably much smaller than Law Enforcement realizes. The Animal and Earth Liberation Front like to identify themselves as “loose-knit” and “leaderless” but this is obviously not the case. There are leaders and these leaders are easily identifiable – they are the ones who have committed major crimes. And Agranoff probably knows them all.

Agranoff was mentioned by name at Marie Mason’s sentencing hearing – and Mason (and Frank Ambrose) are the only people he (Agranoff) has agreed to testify against.

Agranoff is closely associated not only to Mason and Ambrose, but to a long list of historically important events in the E/ALF movement.

One of the most important being a speech given in San Diego at an LGBT community center by renowned Animal Liberationist Rodney Adam Coronado in 2003.

Coronado is the major player in the Earth and Animal Liberation Front.

Coronado was famously sentenced to two years in prison for the speech he gave that day. The speaking arrangement was organized by David Agranoff and his girlfriend.

Coronado gave a speech he had given many times before – demonstrating to the audience how he could make an efficient incendiary device for fewer than two US dollars. Coronado likes to make out like he was innocent bystander and that he was unjustly imprisoned for exercising his right to free speech.

Coronado’s 2003 speech at San Diego LGBT Community Center

What Coronado doesn’t like to talk about is that, fifteen hours before giving his speech, right down the street in downtown San Diego, the Earth Liberation Front was in the process of committing an arson that did upward of $50,000,000 damage to a ritzy apartment complex called University Towne Center.

Law enforcement were so certain Coronado was behind the arson that they went crazy trying to pin him to it – in the course of their efforts they managed to subpoena every Animal Rights activist they could find, including David Agranoff –  Agranoff refused to testify and was sentenced to eighty days in jail.

Agranoff is now connected to Coronado, the “Godfather” of the Animal Liberation movement and Marie Mason – two very important leaders.

Let’s clarify what I mean by “leaders.” The leaders are leaders simply by virtue of their willingness to commit semi-major crimes.

This is where secrecy fails in these “organizations.” To ensure you’re not a snitch you obviously have to prove that you’re willing to do the deed. This entails a certain amount of openness (at least in certain circles) about your criminal past. This is how law enforcement has been able to follow the chain of evidence –  autonomous A/ELF cells have over-lapping membership. Some actions call for more participants – it’s therefore necessary for others to know about your willingness to commit crimes. This is (let’s be honest) the reason for huge Grand Jury sweeps of (these types of) activist communities.

Being that the community is so small it’s easy to assume that these people all know each other. They meet at Earth First! Round River Rendezvous or Crimethinc. Convergences (annual “conventions”). They try to expand the movement to other parts of the country. They communicate with each other. They all go to environmental summits and travel the country together from battle to battle the way burn-outs follow the remains of the Grateful Dead.

There are probably fewer than 100 people in the United States committed enough to participate in these types of high-level actions. Probably fewer than 15 of them are capable of pulling it off.

Agranoff’s list of acquaintances doesn’t end with Coronado and Marie Mason.

One could easily speculate that Peter Young is also connected to Agranoff. Young, frankly, is probably connected to almost all of the important activists in this small network. He has participated with Josh Harper and Craig Rosebraugh in demonstrations against Legacy-Emmanuelle Hospital in northeast Portland, OR. He was investigated at great length for his involvement in an animal liberation in Iowa for which a young man named Scott DeMuth served a short sentence in prison. Young obviously knows Agranoff.

Two very important things must be noted about Young and Scott DuMuth’s relationship. Young was implicated in the U. of Iowa break-in when police found vague mention of him in one of DeMuth’s private diaries. Police raided Young’s home in Utah in connection to the crime hoping (no doubt) to bring charges against him.

In the past non-cooperating members of the E/ALF have all accepted similar plea bargains. They plead guilty to one crime and in exchange accept responsibility for a list of other crimes.

These plea bargains grant them a certain type of immunity from future prosecutions.

This is what happened to one Daniel McGowan, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in a series of Earth Liberation Front arsons in the late 1990s. While incarcerated, a snitch named Ian Wallace was arrested for his part in an arson in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. He named McGowan as an accomplice. No further charges were brought against McGowan.

This is not the case for Peter Young.

Prosecutors were more than willing to throw the book at Young for his role in University of Iowa. Young is very conscious of the fact that he, unlike McGowan, has a very good chance of being prosecuted for past crimes. Marie Mason is virtually immune from Agranoff’s testimony for the same reason McGowan was immune from Wallace’s testimony. Young, on the other hand, might have reason to be worried.

Young had been underground for years after he and friend Justin Samuels went on a multi-state crime-spree, releasing mink and coyotes from fur farms all across the mid-west. Young had big reasons to be interested in exporting his activism from the Pacific Northwest to the rust belt. He was obsessed with a band called Earth Crisis – a punk band that espoused the philosophy of the Hardline movement spearheaded by (another band) Vegan Reich. Agranoff was very closely associated with the Hardline movement in Indiana (where it began) and across the mid-west Great Lakes region.

It’s difficult to find evidence connecting Young to Agranoff and again we have to settle for inferences.

While Young was underground his friend and accomplice Justin Samuels turned State’s evidence against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. Samuels was labeled a snitch in the A/ELF movement and vilified for his cooperation. Nobody wanted anything to do with him – nobody, that is, except his good friend David Agranoff – who offered Samuels a job at his “above-ground” Animal Rights 501( c ) 3 “Compassion for Farm Animals.” Agranoff has defended Samuels for years. Samuels even attended Agranoff’s wedding.

The Animal Liberation movement has been fairly silent about the background of Agranoff’s case and the reason is clear as day. Agranoff is a big player and could possibly put a lot of people behind bars – or shed light on activities that could broaden law enforcement’s understanding of the A/ELF infrastructure.

And this is why his testimony is so important.

Barbara Bush: Satan’s Love Child

Aleister Crowley

Posted by Jasper Wilcox

A 2007 documentary about occultist and con-man Aleister Crowley entitled “In Search of the Great Beast” sheds some much-needed light on one of the great mysteries of our time, namely, what are the true origins of Barbara Bush’s evil?

Heretofore, scholars have fallen back on the belief that Barbara Bush, like most demonic forces living in the guise of flesh-and-blood human beings, was created by daily masturbating into a hermetically sealed jar of poop, but this groundbreaking documentary questions even our most fundamental truths about the nature of Satan’s dominion over the head of the Bush household.

Barbara Bush 02

In her memoirs, Barbara Bush is reticent about her relationship with her mother, Pauline Pierce. The two were not close: Barbara paints Pauline as an aloof, scatterbrained person who did not have much impact on her or the family at large. Upon further investigation it becomes abundantly clear that the former First “Lady’” is trying to distance herself emotionally from some cold, stark and secretly painful realities. Namely that her mother was a Satan-worshipper and secret devotee of the self-described “Great Beast” of Warwickshire, England Aleister (Edward Alexander) Crowley. The so-called “Wickedest Man In The World,” at the time.

Aleister Crowley was so wicked in fact that Mussolini kicked him out of Italy when a young man in his care committed suicide in a particularly atrocious manner. Without any money, Crowley went to Paris where he was put up by a man named Frank Harris and his female partner at the time Nellie O’Hare. O’Hare had a friend, Pauline Pierce, a mother of two from the United States and something of a bohemian. O’Hare, Pierce, Frank Harris and Aleister Crowley all lived in the same home in Paris at precisely the same time.

During Crowley’s stay at the Harris household he was working to complete a higher degree of evil by performing rituals which would make him eligible to receive a new grade in the occult order he helped found: the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). In order to achieve this new grade of “Ipsissimus” Crowley was to complete a very specific magical ritual that he referred to as the “Supreme Ordeal.” He was, with some assistance, supposed to exhaust himself sexually until he entered a state of waking sleep, at which time he would end the ceremonies with a marathon-bout of coitus. It is speculated by many that Harris, O’Hare and Pauline Pierce were his partners in this ceremony.

Harris was no stranger to sex – he had written extensively about his various sexual encounters and the majority of Harris’s written work concerned his active sex life, which was the fashion for writers living on the continent in those inter-war years. In fact it was during this time that Crowley began to rub elbows with some of the literary avant-garde of the time, including Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway and others. If nothing else, this is at least a scandalous place for a married mother of two to be spending her holiday, even if she had nothing to do with any magical Satanic rituals.

Pauline Pierce returned to the United States in October of 1924 and eight months later, in June of 1925 she gave birth to one Barbara Pierce, who would go on to marry a young politician and soon-to-be CIA director named George Herbert Walker Bush.

The rest of the story is just one more chapter in Satan’s long book of evil. Barbara Bush would use favors granted her by the Lord of Darkness to do the impossible – elect her husband and mentally defective son to the highest seat of power in the world: the Presidency of the United States of America.

For those of us who could never understand the Bush-family’s motivation for atrocities committed against Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., perhaps this will put things into perspective. George W. Bush (Jr.) and his ridiculous father were simply trying to curry favor with their number-one ancestor, the Dark Lord of This World.

George W Bush Eats Pussy

For more information on this story check out Joseph Cannon’s blog Cannonfire.

(Frank Harris is mentioned in many an introduction to W. Somerset Maugham’s novel The Magician – a fictionalised portrayal of Aleister Crowley of which Crowley was none-too-impressed. In response to Maugham’s novel, Crowley wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine pointing out the many instances of plagiarism in the book. Vanity Fair was then being edited by, you guessed it, Frank Harris. Harris also appears in biographies of Oscar Wilde as the two were close friends. Harris’s novels and short stories were also adapted into feature films, including The Cowboy (1958) starring Jack Lemmon. In the film Lemmon plays Harris, who, in early life made a living as a cow hand in small-town Illinois. Harris also worked construction in New York City early in life and helped -along with hundreds, possibly thousands of other laborers- construct the Brooklyn Bridge.)

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