Brandon Darby, Leftwing Anarchist To Conservative Activist
Brandon Darby 2012
Brandon Darby is probably not a name you are familiar with. After you read this you will wonder why you aren’t familiar with him. His story, to say the least, is fascinating. I met Brandon when he spoke at BlogCon a few weeks ago. The short version is this. Darby was approached by the FBI in late 2007 and asked to infiltrate a group of Leftwing anarchists Austin activists planning to protest and disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minn. Based on information Darby provided, FBI agents arrested and charged two men on domestic terrorism charges in a plot to firebomb at the convention. Their house was raided, the bombs seized, and Bradley Crowder and David McKay were arrested, charged, accepted plea bargains, and served several year long incarcerations.
Let me guess. You had never heard about the 2008 RNC being targeted for firebombing by leftwing radicals? Or maybe you remember one or two stories vaguely? Am I right? So goes the mainstream media. Which is why you may have never heard of Brandon Darby.
Darby was trusted by the anarchists group because he was a well known leftwing activist himself before he was approached by the FBI to be an informant. : He had co-founded an organization called “Common Ground,” which had gone into New Orleans right after Katrina to give relief to the residents there. Darby was easily accepted and trusted. After the arrest, McKay, after changing his story a few times, accused Darby of provoking them into plotting with ‘molotov cocktails’. Although the FBI asked Darby to continue to be an informant, he didn’t want to continue. He publicly revealed his role as an informant, and testified against the small group. Crowder and McKay even produced a documentary titled “Better This World” that also accuses Darby of pushing them into more radical ways to fight. They also claim they were never going to use the Molotov cocktails at the RNC (Just making them for fun I suppose). Darby fully refutes that he encouraged them. Darby says that he felt it was important to stop something that could have hurt or killed people or cops at the RNC. The New York Times also ran a hit piece on Darby claiming that Darby had “encouraged” the plot to build the Molotov cocktails, even though both McKay and Crowder say Darby didn’t know about the bombs until after they were made. Darby sued the New York Times for libel and the Times ran a correction.
After the Times story Andrew Breitbart, the firebrand conservative activist, recently passed, who ran Breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and Big Peace, called Darby and asked him why he wasn’t refuting the Time’s narrative. Darby said he had tried, but the mainstream media was ignoring him. Breitbart offered Darby a voice on Big Government, which Darby continues to write for. Breitbart supported Darby, and became a big influence, and helped changed his worldview. Darby now travels the country speaking at Tea Party events and conservative conferences speaking about the mindset of the left, which he knows so well.
I interviewed Darby to find out about that worldview he left behind.
Question: Clearly from your speeches you care about the least among us. It seemed to me that you were a leftwing activist because you wanted to help the poor, but you became disenchanted with the radical and violent aspect of it. I also know you began to have a deep respect for law enforcement, but did you also get a sense that the poor was not really being helped this way? Or did you think they were being helped by the kind of leftwing activism you participated?
DARBY:In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I began to realize that we were helping people, and we were leftists, but there was nothing “leftist” about the ways we were actually helping. Many of us were screaming loudly for more government help, but I began to see that government help lead to a lack of need for personal responsibility, and that led to so many people being dependent on government in a situation that government wasn’t able to help and meet needs. I began to feel that w should be calling for more local and individual responsibility.
Question: I asked that because I know many of the Common Ground organizers established things like health clinics and legal services after Katrina in New Orleans, but did that last? And isn’t that similar to what many churches did there as well? Conservatives tend to help the poor through their Churches. I know in my faith, Catholics across the country sent the church $107 million for rebuilding and for distribution to Katrina victims, including $71 million from Catholic Charities USA. The archdiocese itself in New Orleans itself disbursed $77 million in hurricane relief, including $11 million in direct financial aid to people needing immediate help with groceries, utilities and other acute needs. Not only that, the Church stays long after the rest have gone. But that never makes the news. Given that, do you think Churches are a better way to help the poor?
DARBY: Nearly all of the good we did through Common Ground Relief was only possible BECAUSE of churches. The facilities we operated from were from churches. The relationships that kept us having a political voice came from churches. The political cover that kept us okay even though we were intensely challenging authority came from churches. I think small, grassroots efforts help more efficiently and compassionately than a federal government or large, centralized nonprofit is able to do.
Question: My passion is to find a way to get the GOP to be more actively involved in helping the inner city poor. Helping the poor is your background. Do you see any way to make that happen in the GOP?
DARBY: This concept is exactly why Andrew Breitbart, Catherine Engelbrecht, Hannah Giles, and I started Citizen Patriot Response. We all realized that the majority of dollars in the nonprofit-industrial-complex come from conservatives, yet the majority of models and decision makers in who decide how and why to use these dollars are left-of-center.
The concept of conservatives spending more time focusing on the way people are helped would serve people and need and conservatives well. Most of the Left is there because they think that is where people go who want to help others. If conservatives embraced the argument and began to highlight a better model, conservatives would win more elections. Less time on taxes and the like, more time on “people help people better than a federal government can” would serve the GOP well. Could it happen? It is happening, just slowly.
Question: I see three sides in America in helping the truly poor. The first are the ones who actually are, boots on the ground, helping. The second is most people, who don’t pay attention at all. The third are those who actually profit themselves on being spokesmen for the poor, but never get anything really done that actually does help them. Sadly, the second is the majority. How can we change that as a society? How do we convince people that it isn’t a bloated government that is the answer, but our own selves?
DARBY: It’s all about modifying the Drudge/Breitbart model to address human suffering and the way we deal with it as Americans. Conservative activists need to organize the Tea party and other liberty-minded groups to begin providing a better model. More small, local shelters, more empty-during-the-week churches being utilized to truly help people who want to help themselves, etc. The second vital component is to expose waste, inefficiency, and the people who benefit from the continuance of poverty and need. The Drudge/Breitbart model would inspire us to not release all of our findings of wrongdoing at once, to make it a bigger story. For instance, if Tea party activists were to travel to Africa and drill a well for 30,000 while US taxpayers are paying over 2 million for the same well, we would show the model, drop some info on who benefitted from the waste in the usual model, get them to take a stand and defend themselves, then release even more information. This is how we could turn a story on waste into a news item and an attention getting game changer. We have to provide the better model and go after the individuals who benefit from the wasteful and corrupt model, not just the organizations.
Question: Although I am conservative, I don’t see this world as a place where we constantly have to be pitted against one another. I know we are fighting extremism on the other side with the Occupy Movement, but I also know that good people reside on the spectrum in the middle. Since you have been on both sides of political activism, do you see any common ground (excuse the pun) or do you see any way to bring both sides together? Or are our visions and values so different that that can never happen?
DARBY: The boiled-down issue is simply this: Some believe the way to perfect society is through governmental control and legislation, others believe the individual freedom and experiments are the best way for society to better itself. Some believe a centralized group of elites needs to make sure society lives correctly through legislation, some believe the masses are better at figuring things out. Some believe a federal government is the way to help those in need, some believe local communities, churches, and family is the best way to help those in need. This is the Left vs the Right.
Question: I read that you at one time in your leftwing activism advocated for the overthrow of the U.S. government. Is that true? And do you believe that there are many on that side that feel that is their end goal, and is it the purpose of the Occupy Movement? If so, how do law abiding regular folk fight anarchists?
DARBY: I once bought into and advocated the prevalent left-of-center belief that the US and our economic system were the biggest obstacle to a better world. I was very dedicated to this belief and later felt a moral responsibility to serve our system and interfere with what I was once a big part of.
The best manner to challenge the Left is to force them to call out their crazies, like we call out our crazies on the Right. We call ours out and marginalize them; the Left defends their crazies and actually glorifies them. They romanticize their “Che-like” figures.
Question: What is your religious background, and what role, if any, does religion play in your life now?
I was raised in a Christian church but later fell away as my parents divorced. I’ve always struggled with my walk with God. My biggest difficulty relating to God is in figuring out how to fight while still loving my enemies. Needless to say, I fall short. I feel that God’s kingdom is one of the heart, and not one of political or worldly power. I often feel pulled to step away from engaging in the conflicts of men and spending my energies on doing “unto the least of these.” The confusion comes in because I realize others only have the freedom to raise their children in a godly manner and actually do unto the least of these without centralized government control and mandates because people who struggle are fighting leftist thought and defending their rights. I’m currently in a place where I realize a deeper relationship with God is needed, but I often curse, smoke, and fight, so… I don’t know.
Question: I know you lost a great friend in Andrew Breitbart. I know he gave you a voice on the internet when you were being attacked by the New York Times and the left. One of his passions was exposing the radical left and their tactics, do you see that as your role in the future moving forward?
DARBY: Yes. He was a very close friend to me and saved me in many ways. He did the same for many people. He didn’t like to see the powerless get tread on by bullies or by a powerful left-of-center media establishment. I do my best to help others who are in the same place I was when Andrew helped me. I’m not as good at it as he was.
Question: What is your best advice for those in political conservative activism?
DARBY: Help others, do radical things to help others. Run your mouth and critique the people who control how people are helped and give them no quarters.
Question: Finally, have you seen “Better This World?” If so, what do you think of it’s narrative?
DARBY: I think the Left establishment needs to attack law enforcement and defend their crazies. I think they formed a narrative like a defense attorney would: They took bits of truth and wove it together to support their narrative that the US is evil, their violent peace activists are only “reacting” to an evil government, and that anyone who chooses to leave their side must be evil as well.
*You can see Brandon Darby in the new documentary “Occupy Unmasked,” which is completely awesome.