An event that falls somewhere between “The Matrix” and the 2016 Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff kicks off Thursday at the Spokane Convention Center.
The second annual Red Pill Expo, a creation of conspiracy theorist and author G. Edward Griffin, expects to attract about 400 attendees, who paid between $400 and $420 each to listen to a long list of speakers warn them against the dangers of college, the deep state, vaccines, globalism, a rigged banking system and false reports of global warming.
“I am the event chairman, and I’m leading one of the panel discussions,” said Dan Happel, 67, of Pony, Montana. “I actually open the program at the beginning with an introduction, and then I will turn the program over to Matt Shea, who is going to be our master of ceremonies.”
Shea, a Republican State Representative from Spokane Valley, visited the 2016 standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in what Shea later called a “fact finding” mission and to mediate if necessary. Shea, who will host a session at 8:10 a.m. Friday on “The Day I Took The Red Pill” did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
Happel said the event will begin Thursday evening with the premier of the movie, “LaVoy, Dead Man Talking,” which documents the life and death of Lavoy Finicum, 54, a rancher from Arizona, who was shot and killed by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26, 2016, as he reached for his pocket, which contained a loaded gun.
“It will talk about Lavoy as a rancher, a family man and a neighbor, and someone who was deeply involved in ranching, the environment and cared deeply about the freedom of the country,” Happel said. “I think this movie will try to clarify some of the misinformation or disinformation that has been promulgated by the mainstream media.”
The event showcases many of the “alt-right” theories that have gained traction in the past few years, said Ryan Lenz, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama.
The speakers are “far-right extremists, who employ a plethora of conspiracy theories to explain things,” Lenz said. “It’s a marketplace for conspiracy theories. It can be everything from the truth behind chemtrails, to realizing the Federal Reserve is a system to keep poor people poor and rich people rich.”
The second annual event is led by Griffin, who according to published reports, believes cancer is a nutritional deficiency that can be cured by taking a certain compound, and that HIV does not cause AIDS. He is a longtime member of the conservative John Birch Society. Efforts to reach Griffin on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The first event was held last year in Bozeman.
The expo is “yet another example how ideas once relegated to the fringe of culture or politics are moving quickly into the mainstream,” Lenz said. “These speakers are coming in to sell a viewpoint and a series of conspiracy theories that four years ago would have been laughed off the stage.”
Among the speakers are Lord Christopher Monckton, who is described on the event website as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policy adviser. “In 1986 he was among the first to advise the prime minister that ‘global warming’ caused by carbon dioxide should be investigated,” the biography reads.
But according to the nonprofit legal advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center, Monckton is a well-known skeptic of mainstream science’s understanding of climate change. He toured Montana last fall with two militia groups and supported Montana’s right to secede from the United States.
Monckton, who speaks at 8:50 a.m. Friday, also has advocated for forcibly separating persons with AIDS and placing them onto an island; and he has claimed that LGBT people are sinners and more promiscuous than drug abusers, according to the legal advocacy group.
The long list of speakers include Alex Newman, whose talk at 8:20 a.m. Friday is titled “Inside the Deep State.” Newman is described on the Red Pill website as “an award-winning international journalist, educator, author, and consultant.”
Newman co-authored the book “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.” In it, he claims that public school teachers have committed treason for deliberately dumbing down the nation to overthrow the government. He also claims that schools destroy a child’s belief in the Bible, push drugs and engage in extortion, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On Saturday, one of the last speakers at the Red Pill Expo will be Patrick Wood, identified as an author and a researcher. His biography states he “is a leading and critical expert on Sustainable Development, Green Economy, Agenda 21, 2030 Agenda and historic Technocracy.”
But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Wood is followed by anti-government activists and anti-Semitic white supremacist groups as the foremost authority on the “one world” globalist agenda.
“We really can’t say whether these ideas are taking root,” Lenz said. “Nobody wants to oversell the Red Pill Expo as a staggeringly important thing. But it’s definitely an organized effort that seems to be getting more organized to get these far-right ideas to a larger audience.”
Happel, the event chairman, said the purpose of the convention is to give people alternative views. He praised Griffin for organizing the effort.
“He is an incredible patriot. He really understands how important it is to support our founding fathers,” Happel said of Griffin. “I think his focus has always been on protecting the rights of individuals and fighting the systems that are trying to take away individuals’ rights.”