It seems that any time that there is a crime that involves someone who lives outside of city limits and that owns guns or that lives with any degree of self-sufficiency, then they are immediately branded as a “survivalist.” This label gets slapped on regardless of whether or not the perpetrator has had any training or inclinations toward survivalism. The outlaw Claude Dallas was a prime example. Dallas was an eccentric 19th Century anachronist rather than a survivalist. But the mainstream media uses the label “survivalist”, almost by default any time that a criminal flees into a National Forest, if he ever had so much as weekend Boy Scout training or watched re-runs of Survivor Man.
SurvivalBlog reader Tim J. recently sent me this article: Mystery mountain man to Utah cabin owner: Get off my mountain. Take a few minutes to read that article. This is just the latest example of the media misusing the term “survivalist.” By definition, a survivalist is someone who trains and prepares tools and supplies in advance for self-sufficiency to overcome disasters. But backwoods burglars have to steal because they aren’t properly prepared and because they lack genuine self-sufficiency skills. They aren’t true survivalists. An early example of this media sensationalism was the case of Bill Moreland, the so-called “Wildman” or “Ridge Runner” of the Clearwater National Forest. (Moreland’s criminal exploits were detailed in the book Calked Boots and Other Northwest Writings by Bert Russell.) Then of course there was Eric Rudolph, who was also mislabeled as a survivalist. If he had been a real survivalist, then he wouldn’t have to be scrounging in grocery store dumpsters–which reportedly is how Rudolph got spotted and arrested. (Although some claim that he was lingering behind a supermarket awaiting a scheduled pick up by one of his supporters.)
Movies like The Survivors, Blast From the Past, and Phase 7 do more than just poke fun at survivalists. They either subtly or overtly make any anyone that prepares for disasters look mentally imbalanced. The latest example is the upcoming film The Divide starring Michael Biehn. Judging from the film’s brief trailer, it casts the survivalist (Biehn) to be, like Sarah Connor, a “Grade A Whackamo.”
Some people in the preparedness movement now consider the term survivalist so tainted that they have exclusively adopted the term prepper. There are even those that try to distinguish between two camps: the survivalists and the preppers. That is absurd. Anyone that says: “Oh no, don’t call me a survivalist, I’m a prepper!” is essentially conceding defeat to the anti-preparedness bias of the media.
I am not ashamed to call myself a survivalist. The statist mass media–in newspapers, magazines, and television–has consistently done their best to castigate and trivialize survivalists, because we don’t match their Big City-centric and government dependent world view. They try to make us look like we are living in a fantasy land. But the truth is that it is they that are deluded, thinking that big government is their all-capable savior and that disaster won’t affect them personally. They are so deeply submerged in normalcy bias that they see disaster preparedness as paranoia. I pity them.