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Elohim City

Is your idea of paradise doing calisthenics with a bunch of pot-bellied, in-bred, gun-toting, rage-dripping sociopaths whose major claim to personal pride is that an accident of genetics caused their skin to be pigmented in a peachy hue?

If you answered "yes," then Elohim City might be a lovely spot for your next vacation... from reality.

Set the Wayback Machine for the 1970s, when most of America was deeply involved with swinging, disco, Watergate and Shaft. All of that wasn't enough for a Canadian fellow named Robert Millar. Particularly the Shaft part.

As a young man, Millar had embarked on a religious quest to find himself after the Mennonite sect he grew up in turned out to be overly concerned with such pussy-ethics as pacifism and racial equality.

To counteract this influence, Millar sought out one of many "manly" variations on Christian Identity, a catch-all movement encompassing a motley collection of beliefs centered around the premise "white people good, black people and Jews bad." The usual justification for this is a cockeyed historical revisionism claiming that the lost Tribe of Israel was a band of white Aryan warriors.

Millar determined that rural Oklahoma was a good place for freak-religion hate-mongers to be left alone, so he set up a remote rural compound there in 1973 with about 20 relatives. (Hey, there's more than one way to keep the gene pool chlorinated).

He named the compound Elohim City, which means "City of God." The residents were relatively moderate as hate-mongering religious freaks go. Millar would occasionally make a half-hearted effort to convince people that being a white separatist was different from being a racist.

Regardless of the credibility of such rationalizations, a lot of the people living at Elohim City were genuinely just looking to live separately. But when you get the name, you invariably end up playing the game.

And very few observers of Elohim City bought into the "harmless kooks" rationale. In one incident during the 1980s, residents chased off U.S. marshals at gunpoint when they arrived at the camp to enforce a child custody order against a woman who had taken sanctuary there. The camp was also connected to the extreme wack-jobs at The Covenant, The Sword and The Arm of the Lord, a paramilitary operation that was stockpiling weapons for the coming civil war until shut down by the FBI.

Millar went through life counseling his humble flock, and the occasional celebrity white-power nutjob in prison, about how best to live their lives at a safe remove from icky black folk and nefarious Jewish folk. Although he continued to talk a non-violent game, more or less, Elohim City remained squarely in the sights of the FBI and the BATF, which monitored the camp and even placed multiple informants within.

With all this attention focused on the tiny camp, a strange mystery arose: How did the federal government miss all the really bad shit that was going down right under their noses? Because, whether you wanted to call them "white separatist" or "white supremacist," the residents of Elohim City weren't just passively waiting for the revolution to come.

A German national with Neo-Nazi ties named Andreas Strassmeier moved to Elohim City in 1991. Some time afterward, he began to run paramilitary training weekends for skinheads and Neo-Nazis on the premises, to the discomfort of Elohim's somewhat-more-harmless kooks. The drills included weapons training and were generally intended to encourage "revolutionary" activities around the country.

Strassmeier's little seminars made for an interesting circle of networking chums, including members of the Aryan Republican Army bank robbery gang, and Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

Despite the fact that Elohim City had already been under heavy surveillance by the federal government prior to the Oklahoma City bombing, no one in the FBI could seem to find the reports which would have implicated the Aryan bank robbers in the April 19, 1995 blast. In fact, virtually all the information that the feds had on Elohim City went missing after it became clear that McVeigh was connected to the camp.

The reasons for all this apparent covering-up are still pretty baffling. The whole thing seems pretty pointless on the face of it. The story would never even have seen the light of day if not for the determined efforts of a tiny Oklahoma newspaper and the Associated Press to keep on digging until they turned up key documents (albeit too late to save Timothy McVeigh from Lethal Injection). The whole thing does make you wonder what else they're not telling us.

Despite the fact that no one seemed interested in pursuing Elohim City's links to OKC, and the fact that no one seemed interested in prosecuting residents there for harboring the Aryan bank gang, and the fact that no one even cared enough to stop Strassmeier from fleeing the country later in 1995.... Whew... Yes, despite all this, Elohim City's fortunes did nevertheless take a turn for the worse after the bombing.

Elohim residents steeled themselves for the worst after the blast, arming themselves for an expected Waco-style confrontation which never came. Perhaps disappointed, the compound briefly harbored a pair of killers on the lam in 1997, but still there were no jack-booted thugs to be found. Even the increasingly shocking pile of evidence tying Elohim City to the Oklahoma City blast couldn't muster up any interest from either the media or law enforcement.

As of this writing, it seems that Elohim City is destined to end up on the scrap heap of history, at best a footnote to someone else's story. Robert Millar passed on to "white folks' heaven" in 2001, passing the reins to his son, John, who appears to be running more or less the same show.

Millar Sr. was buried next to Richard Snell, a fellow white supremacist and convicted murderer who just coincidentally happened to be executed on April 19, 1995.

Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along. Nothing to see here.

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