Anti-Defamation League Labels Conservative Event 'Extremist'

By Michael L. Betsch Editorial Assistant
May 27, 2002

( - An upcoming Fourth of July "FreedomFest," intended to attract pro-gun, anti-tax conservatives and libertarians from all across America, has been deemed "extremist" by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Organizers and supporters of 'FreedomFest' say the Anti-Defamation League's accusations are unfounded.

FreedomFest organizer Wayne Hicks describes the upcoming celebration as "a big 4th of July party," replete with fireworks, patriotic musical performances, a turkey shoot, gun show, craft fair, and even a petting zoo and horseback rides for the kids.

The Independence Day weekend event will take place in Dry Fork, Ark. from July 2 through July 6 and it will include the following presentations: "The Bill Of Rights ... and Why We're Losing them," "The Constitution and Constitutional Law," "A Complete Explanation of Section 861 of the IRS Code," and "Keeping and Bearing: What Part of 'Shall Not Be Infringed' don't they understand?"

However, ADL, which has a stated mission to "expose and combat the purveyors of hatred in our midst," lists FreedomFest on its "Schedule of Upcoming Extremist Events for 2002," lumping the event in the same category with the "Aryan Unity Rally," "White solidarity gathering," and "Klan Jam."

ADL's only explanation for labeling FreedomFest an extremist event is that it's "sponsored by Fourth Branch, an anti-government group, and Sierra Times."

FreedomFest organizer Wayne Hicks is president of the Fourth Branch Clubs of America.

The Fourth Branch defines its mission as one dedicated to the "recovery of those unalienable rights, assured to all Americans by our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence."

Sierra Times Chief Executive Officer J.J. Johnson said he doesn't understand why the ADL criticized his conservative-leaning online publication. "In order for me to say if I am or not (anti-government), you've got to define it," he said.

Johnson said the ADL's definition of anti-government could technically include "about 300-million people" who at some point in their lifetime have had a problem with government.

The ADL refused numerous requests by to define the terms 'anti-government' and 'extremist' with regard to FreedomFest and its sponsors.

"Anti-government is just a word that sounds bad," Johnson said of ADL's use of the term. "If they tell a lie long enough, people will begin to believe it."

Johnson said if he were to define the term anti-government, "it would be a person who was very hostile toward the constitutional principle that it's based on."

"Terrorists are anti-government; we're not terrorists here," Johnson said. "We just happen to have a staff that leans on the conservative side, that's all."

Johnson said despite the Anti-Defamation League's preaching of tolerance, it is among the "most intolerant groups I've ever run across.

"They speaketh with forked tongues," Johnson added.

Aaron Zelman, executive director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, also lashed out at the ADL.

"These folks (ADL), they're just running a scam," Zelman said. "They keep the cash register ringing by claiming there's more anti-Semitism than there really is."

Zelman said ADL's view of events like FreedomFest is "negative" because "they don't believe in the whole Bill of Rights for all citizens."

According to Zelman, "America really is the Promised Land for Jews and it's because of the Bill of Rights." The Second Amendment, he added, "is the guardian of all the rest of the rights."

"All they know is socialism," Zelman said of the ADL. "They never left socialism in Europe when they came and they brought it with them. And, they've been involved in it for all of these decades."

Zelman said the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the right to practice socialism. However, he said, "You don't try to destroy the country and the laws and the documents that give you so much freedom unless you're just damn stupid or blind, or don't want to learn from history."

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