John Foster "Chip" Berlet (born November 22, 1949) is an American investigative journalist and photojournalist activist specializing in the study of right-wing movements in the United States, particularly the religious right, white supremacists, homophobic groups, and paramilitary organizations. He also studies the spread of conspiracy theories in the media and on the Internet, and political cults on both the right and left of the political spectrum.
He was a senior analyst at Political Research Associates (PRA), a non-profit group that tracks right-wing networks, and is known as one of the first researchers to have drawn attention to the efforts by white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups to recruit farmers in the Midwestern United States in the 1970s and 1980s. He is the co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort and editor of Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.
Berlet, a paralegal, was a vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild. He has served on the advisory board of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and currently sits on the advisory board of the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation. In 1982, he was a Mencken Awards finalist in the best news story category for "War on Drugs: The Strange Story of Lyndon LaRouche," which was published in High Times. He served on the advisory board of the Campaign to Defend the Constitution. He was affiliated with Chicago Area Friends of Albania.
The most recent of Berlet's three books, co-authored with Matthew N. Lyons, is Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, published in 2000 by The Guilford Press. It is a broad historical overview of right-wing populism in the United States.
The book received generally favorable reviews. Library Journal said it was a "detailed historical examination" that "strikes an excellent balance between narrative and theory." The New York Review of Books described it as an excellent account describing the outermost fringes of American conservatism. A review by Jerome Himmelstein in the journal Contemporary Sociology said that "it offers more than a scholarly treatise on the activities of the Third Reich", that it provides a background to help the reader understand the Holocaust and that it "merits close attention from scholars of the political right in America and of social movements generally."
Robert H. Churchill of the University of Hartford criticized Berlet and other authors writing about the right wing as lacking breadth and depth in their analysis.
In articles, Berlet has argued that the United States is currently undergoing a right-wing backlash that is the most sustained of its kind in U.S. history. He argues that although 95% of the US's hate crimes are committed by people not affiliated with any group, they have nevertheless internalized a narrative developed and promoted by the right wing that demonizes certain groups, including blacks and gays. He argues that the left must develop coalitions to find a way to counter-balance these narratives, instead of becoming isolated as another side of the "lunatic fringe".
In ZOG Ate My Brains, Berlet warned of a "troubling resurgence on the political Left" of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that undermine the effort of progressives to bring about social change.
Berlet has provided "research assistance" to a campaign run by the mother of Jeremiah Duggan to reopen the investigation into his death. The British student died in disputed circumstances near Wiesbaden, Germany. Berlet's statement suggests that the LaRouche movement bears responsibility.
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