The first thing you hear when you tune in to Radio Free Redoubt is what sounds like a miniature woman trapped inside a tin of sardines tucked into the furthest reaches of your favorite kind of MRE ration, likewise tucked into the furthest corner of your underground bomb shelter and communicating with you via raspy HAM radio. A real ̶R̶u̶s̶s̶i̶a̶n̶ American nesting doll of liberty. She crackles through the airwaves to welcome the listener:
“Attention, patriots: broadcasting from the free zones, Radio Free Redoubt begins in 5, 4, 3, 2-”
Then, as she intakes breath, surely staring at her script, with innocence and hope and a whole life to continue living, she is cut off by one of two things: 1) a cat choking directly into her microphone or 2) a literal, real-life nuclear detonation.
When I first listened, I was devastated for this woman. I wondered what stories she had to share, what hopes she left half-realized, whether her cat was alright. Maybe her name was Emily. Maybe I could save her. From the end of her countdown, though, a sound rises up like a phoenix from the chaos: air-raid sirens, wailing in despair through the barren wasteland where a thriving city had once been. I imagine roving bands of godless antifa warriors cannibalizing children and providing free housing and healthcare. Immediately, Radio Free Redoubt provides us with an image of an inevitable apocalypse, and, honestly, I was hooked.
There are a few things to unpack here already, not least among them the assertion that the program is broadcast from a “free zone”. But we’ll get to that eventually. The episode in question for today’s writing is from January 11, 2020: “Rep Shea No Resigning and Discerning the Times.”
Note: for some context into what the American Redoubt is and how it relates to the Patriot Movement, Matt Shea, domestic terrorism, and a sea of other fascinating and terrifying things, check out my Required Readings blog post, which will be updated periodically.
The echoing wail of the air raid sirens slowly cedes some ground to some pretty fresh guitar riffs and the sultry sizzle of our host, John Jacob Schmidt. I know what you are thinking (“THE John Jacob Schmidt? Of Jingleheimer fame?”) but let me assure you that Schmidt is fully in on the joke, sometimes saying things like, “If you’re a god-fearing patriot, then my name is your name, too.”
We’ll get into Schmidt’s life and desires in a later post. For now, Schmidt is focused on the upcoming start of the Washington State legislature, admittedly something I don’t know much about, being instead embroiled in the drama of the Idaho State Legislature (which I promise is much crazier). Lucky for me, Schmidt knows plenty about the Washington Legislature for all of us.
He opens segment by accusing Marxists and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) of:
[W]ork[ing] even harder to eliminate the effectiveness of Representative Matt Shea, the true patriots’ and true conservative Christians’ most lethal weapon against the Marxist agenda… And I don’t mean lethal weapon as in… uh… domestic terrorism like they are trying to… make us believe. This whole thing is completely out of control.
Schmidt is upset about what he calls “the dossier” — the Rampart Report. The report outlines, in amazing detail, Washington Representative Matt Shea’s far-right activities, eventually concluding that Shea participated in domestic terrorism. The report is a solid read, if you’re into that sort of thing. Schmidt has repeatedly tried to undermine the report (which mentions him a few times) by attacking the authors as leftists, communists, and Marxists, attacking witnesses in the report who were left anonymous for very obvious reasons, and trying to explain away Shea’s activities as simple, lawful protesting. His arguments are not very compelling or convincing on their own, but Schmidt speaks clearly, loudly, and with a lot of interrobangs (!?), which can be VERY convincing.
About 11 minutes into this, as he reads a statement by Rep. Shea about Inslee’s call for him to resign, Schmidt mentions an argument that has received a lot less attention than it should, given its horrifying implications. The Republic vs. Democracy argument has been floating around like a dead carcass underneath our broader political debates. No one really wants to fish that carcass out of the ocean and see what it reveals about our fundamental disagreements about the country. It’s like checking your bank account after you blackout on New Years Eve — best to just never look and live in ignorance. Here’s Schmidt’s perspective on this issue:
These people do not see this as a Republic, that’s why [Shea’s cry for due process] is not going to make it into their skulls… To them it’s a “democracy”, and whichever way the wind blows that’s going to be the set of values and morals for our culture until they decide to change them. A republic is based on the rule of law — a constitution to be exact.
You can hear the disdain in Schmidt’s voice for the word “democracy.” I don’t want to necessarily dive into why these folks despise democracy, but I can say that part of it is linked to the concept that they are losing power steadily as demographics and politics change. When you’re outnumbered, democracy starts to look pretty dangerous.
Schmidt obediently parrots the rest of Shea’s statement before moving on to a proposed bill that would destroy America by defining what an assault rifle is or something and concluding “they’re coming for ’em folks.” Schmidt’s gun-mongering is pretty run-of-the-mill right-wing hysteria and not worth diving into. Gun-confiscation hysterics form important, if boring, ideological cement in the Patriot Movement.
An ominous electronic beat ushers in the mid-program advertisements and one of my favorite Redoubt characters, Chris Walsh, the Redoubt Realtor himself. I’ll just transcribe the entire ad in all its glory:
Hi, I’m Chris Walsh, broker and owner of Revolution Realty, based in the heart of America’s great Redoubt: North Idaho. Everyday, I sell homes and land to bankers, doctors, economists, scientists, military folks, and more for good reason: they all know what’s coming and want secure safety and peace for their family. They’ve done their research and discovered that North Idaho’s superior environment, food, and security, surrounded by more like-minded patriots than anywhere in America. At [website] you can read stories about North Idaho’s weather, spring development, growing food, solar and alternative energy. Additionally, every article has a beautiful quote from the brilliant mind of Thomas Jefferson. We also give you free access to our listings, so feel free to browse our inventory or fill out our short form and we’ll do the searching for you. Call Revolutionary today at [phone number] or visit us online at [website], and God bless you.
The second segment of Schmidt’s show is of variable length, depending on how worked up he gets in the first segment. This one is pretty short. Schmidt focuses on a division in the United Methodist Church between a pro-LGBTQ+ rights segment and the “tradionalist” segment. The “traditionalist” segment is splitting off to practice bigotry in peace in “their own dominion.”
Schmidt goes on to read from scripture about how faith in Jesus divides families between the “remnant” and those who want to “water down the gospel.” He promises that on the next episode he will be talking about “discerning this time” whatever that means.
I, for one, can’t wait.