Survivalists in the News, Again

   09.25.17

One sure way a news outlet can add sensationalism to an article is to use the word “Survivalists.” Why is that?

It started in the 1990s with incidents like Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma city bombing. Major media used the term “survivalists” to describe militants who wanted to separate themselves from society or overthrow the United States government.

One example is Timothy McVeigh. He was described as “A member of a radical right-wing survivalist group based in Michigan.”  If someone described himself as a survivalist, the response was sometimes, “Like the guy who blew up that building in Oklahoma?”

By the end of the 1990s, partially due to bad press, survivalists had pretty much gone underground. We did not talk to people we did not know, we kept our plans to ourselves, and we keep on prepping.

Now back to the topic of major media using the buzzword “survivalist.” From time to time news outlets talk about survivalists, and it is usually after a disaster. One such example is from Reuters.

Doomsday sale: U.S. survivalists stock up as disasters roil the planet.

(Reuters) – Two earthquakes, three monstrous hurricanes and the North Korean missile crisis have U.S. survivalists convinced that the end of the world is nigh. And they are clearing store shelves to stock bunkers in anticipation of Earth’s final chapter.

Sales of freeze-dried food, gas masks, and other survival equipment have spiked in recent weeks as so-called “preppers” get ready to ride out any disaster, whether natural or man-made.

When you see the word “spiked,” you know the article is not talking about real survivalists. What the article is talking about are what SouthernPrepper calls “Yo-yo preppers.” These are people who react to certain events by panic-buying.

How do we know they are yo-yo preppers?

Real survivalists maintain a constant state of readiness. We may get caught off-guard from time to time, but we maintain a certain level of readiness at all times.

For example, when Hurricane Harvey was making landfall, all I needed to do was fuel up my truck and two 5-gallon gas cans. While at Wal-mart picking up some prescription medicine, I saw dozens of people with buggies full of food and water.

So, who is the real survivalist?

  • Someone is is panic-buying buggies full of food and supplies?
  • The guy who has months of food already stockpiled, and has access to renewable resources?

When major media uses yo-yo preppers to portray survivalists, I take is as an insult. Overreacting to an event is not what survivalism is about.

Nothing about Harvey, Irma, North Korea, or the earthquake in Mexico has caused me to change my plans, nor my preps (which include food, water, shelter, and renewable resources).

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