Political Research Associates
120 Beacon Street Suite 202
Somerville Massachusetts 02143
| (617) 661-9313 | Fax: (617) 661-9313 | BBS: (617) 221- 5815 |
Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates has spent over twenty-five years documenting prejudice, scapegoating, demagoguery, far right hate groups, right-wing backlash movements, theocratic fundamentalism, civil liberties violations, police misconduct, surveillance abuse, and the relationships among these various phenomena. He is a lively speaker defending democratic values and diversity.
Berlet has appeared live on ABC's Nightline, NBC's Today Show, and CBS This Morning. He has been interviewed on scores of other television and radio news programs and talk shows, national and local, including NPR's All Things Considered, David Barsamian's Alternative Radio, Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now. Berlet warned reporters about the armed militia movement prior to the right-wing terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, and quickly emerged as a leading authority on the nature and overlap of right-wing populism, the patriot movement, armed militias, and white supremacists and anti-Semites. He was interviewed widely, and retained by CNN as an on-camera expert. He also urged restraint and respect for civil liberties by government agencies monitoring the very real threats posed by the militias and related movements.
An investigative journalist, Berlet's byline has appeared in dozens of publications ranging from The New York Times and Boston Globe to Utne Reader and The Progressive. He edited the recent book "Eyes Right: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash," and is co-author with Matthew N. Lyons of the forthcoming "Too Close for Comfort: Right Wing Populism, Scapegoating, and Fascist Potentials in US Political Traditions," both from South End Press.
Berlet is senior analyst at Political Research Associates, based near Boston. PRA is an independent, non-profit research center that studies anti-democratic, authoritarian, and racist right-wing movements and trends in the US. Berlet specializes in supremacist groups promoting racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and conspiracist scapegoating. He has written about the John Birch Society, armed militias, Ku Klux Klan, Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, Christian Identity, racist skinheads, and the Lyndon LaRouche fascist cult. He has also reported on civil liberties abuses by the FBI, CIA, Military Intelligence, local police "Red Squads," and right-wing spy networks. He has also criticized the authoritarian hierarchies and totalitarian control methods of groups working on the left, including the National Labor Federation and the New Alliance Party. He has been quoted as an expert on these movements in Time, Newsweek, the Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national and international periodicals. Berlet has worked as a reporter, researcher, paralegal investigator, photographer, graphic artist, printer, and truck driver. Berlet has closely studied the history of the old right, watched the rise of the New Right, and tracked the growth of the Christian Right and other theocratic fundamentalists. He keeps current by reading a large number of publications from these movements on a weekly basis. He also monitors shortwave radio, online computer services, and the Internet. Berlet has attended meetings held by right- wing patriots, armed militia activists, white supremacists, Holocaust revisionists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. He has confronted leaders of these groups on radio and television talk shows, including a memorable exchange with the late white nationalist minister Bob Miles on the Oprah Winfrey program. He is known for his willingness to debate the right on Internet newsgroups and other online services. A persistent critic of Lyndon LaRouche, Berlet has been sued twice by the LaRouchians for his characterization of them as a conspiracist neo- Nazi political movement engaged in illegal fundraising schemes and run by a lunatic cult leader. The LaRouchians eventually lost both cases.
He was among the first researchers to warn of the attempt by anti-Semitic and white supremacist hate groups to recruit financially-strapped Midwest farmers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. PRA (then named Midwest Research and based in Chicago) helped expose a growing white racist coalition linking farm belt hate groups such as Aryan Nations and the Posse Comitatus, the urban racist skinhead movement, the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazi groups. As a result, Berlet and his colleagues received the Chicago Citizens Alert Award in 1987 for advancing racial justice. During this period, Berlet and his family lived for ten years in the Southwest-side Chicago neighborhood of Marquette Park, where the white racist coalition sought to inflame existing tensions over integration into naked race hate and violence. Berlet and his wife, Karen, were part of a multi-racial community group fighting the resulting rash of racist hate crimes including physical assualts and the firebombings of Black families' homes. Eventually they helped build a broad coalition of community leaders that stepped forward to rally the neighborhood against the hate groups and interrupt their outreach to youthful recruits. Berlet has helped other neighborhood, community and political groups fight back attempts by organized hate groups to exploit prejudice.
In 1985 Berlet co-founded (and still runs) the Public Eye BBS, the first computer bulletin board system designed to challenge the information circulated by the KKK and neo-Nazis on racist and anti-Semitic bulletin boards. The Public Eye BBS also provides information on civil rights and civil liberties, including an online kit for requesting information under the federal Freedom of Information Act. He helps maintain a collection of fight-the-right conferences and e-mail lists on the Internet through the IGC networks and in cooperation with Alternet's Democracy Works project
As a freelance writer, Berlet has written, edited, and co-authored a long list of material including articles and opinion pieces in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Des Moines Register, Mother Jones, The Nation, The Progressive, Tikkun, Chicago Reader, Chicago Lawyer, The Humanist, Greenpeace Magazine, Boston Phoenix, Pacific News Service, The Guardian (NY), WIN Magazine, In These Times, Boston Real Paper, CovertAction Information Bulletin, National Reporter, Liberation News Service, High Times, and Utne Reader. Berlet has spoken widely on right-wing groups and governmental civil liberties infringements at forums ranging from speeches at rallies and meetings, to sermons at churches and synagogues, to workshops at local and national conventions. He has conducted workshops for the Institute for Policy Studies and addressed the annual meeting of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. His college campus appearances include public presentations at Dartmouth, Harvard, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and classroom lectures at Tufts University, Hampshire College, the University of Chicago, George Washington University, and Florida State University.
When PRA was retained in 1992 to assist the law firm fighting Colorado's homophobic Amendment Two, Berlet helped form a national network of researchers and activists studying the rising attacks on the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons.
A persistent activist on issues involving access to media and information policies, Berlet has authored critiques appearing in the Columbia Journalism Review, Library Quarterly, Extra!, Alternative Media Review, More Magazine, and TUM: the Colorado Journalism Review. He represented the Chicago Citizens Commission on the Media at hearings establishing Chicago's cable television franchise where he played a key role in increasing community access and governance provisions in the authorizing statute.
Berlet's work exposing threats to civil liberties has covered censorship, police misconduct, government surveillance, right wing surveillance operations, and covert action. In 1979 he helped organize national citizens hearings on FBI surveillance abuses. Before joining Political Research Associates in 1982, Berlet spent three years as a paralegal investigator at the Better Government Association in Chicago, engaged in research and trial preparation for the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against illegal government surveillance by the Chicago Police Intelligence Unit- -litigation dubbed the "Chicago Red Squad" case.
He has also served as a paralegal on other intelligence abuse and civil liberties cases filed against local police, the FBI, CIA and Military Intelligence on behalf of groups such as the Spanish Action Committee of Chicago, National Lawyers Guild, American Indian Movement, Socialist Workers Party, Christic Institute, and American Friends Service Committee. Berlet is a paralegal member of the National Lawyers Guild, was for several years an elected vice-president of the NLG, and currently serves as Co-chair of the NLG's Civil Liberties Committee. Berlet is a co-founder and member of the editorial board of the legal newsletter Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report, published by Clark Boardman Callahan of New York. He works closely with the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation and for several years served on the board of advisors to the Chicago-based Bill of Rights Foundation.
Berlet was an early editor of the Public Eye magazine, co-founder of the College Press Service collective in Denver, and for many years was on the board of directors of the Alternative Press Syndicate. In the 1970's Berlet co-edited a series of books on student press rights, campus activism, student financial aid, and higher education policy for the National Student Association and National Student Educational Fund. An award-winning photo-journalist, Berlet's photographs have appeared on book, magazine, and record album covers, posters, been carried on the Associated Press wire, and been published in periodicals such as the Denver Post, Washington Star, and Chronicle of Higher Education.
Berlet is a member of the National Writers Union and the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, International Union UAW, Local 2320. Berlet was born in 1949, was raised in New Jersey where he became active in the church civil rights movement as a teenager. He has lived and worked in Denver, Colorado, Washington, DC, and Chicago, Illinois. He currently resides with his wife, Karen, and son, Robert, in a suburb of Boston.
Political Research Associates (PRA) is an independent, nonprofit research center that unmasks the US political right. PRA collects and analyzes information on anti-democratic, authoritarian, and racist right-wing movements and publishes educational resources that explain their ideologies, tactics, agendas, financing and links to each other. PRA serves as a one-stop information resource for activists, organizers, educators, and others seeking to understand and counter right-wing campaigns, and for journalists needing accurate, up-to-date information and analysis on the right. Resources include: the PRA Library, containing one of the most comprehensive collections of right-wing materials in the country; a quarterly newsletter, The Public Eye; information packets; topical reports; monographs; books; and speakers. PRA also makes available a no-fee Bulletin Board System and a World Wide Web page with searchable databases on hundreds of right-wing groups as well as groups promoting democracy and diversity.
Begun in 1981 in Chicago as Midwest Research, PRA relocated to the Boston area under its current name in 1987. PRA has accumulated an outstanding depth of knowledge and understanding of the right over the last 15 years. This has made it a key national resource for anyone needing accurate information and analysis about right-wing movements in this country.
While PRA actively collaborates with many other organizations that oppose the right, PRA is unique in two important ways. First, PRA monitors the full spectrum of the right, from the right wing of the Republican party to paramilitary organizations such as the armed citizens' militias. Second, PRA is nationally known for its analysis of the history and composition of the right in the US and the significance of unfolding events as they occur.
PRA's director, Jean V. Hardisty, is a political scientist, with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and five years' teaching experience. A founder of Midwest Research (which became PRA), she has been involved in political activism, as well as research, for 25 years. Ms. Hardisty is a well- known public speaker and author. She presently serves on the boards of the Center for Women Policy Studies, Grassroots International, and the Women's Community Cancer Project. She was retained as an expert witness for the law firm litigating to block Colorado's homophobic Amendment Two, and testified during the initial hearing.
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