Steamshovel Press


"William Cooper Redux"
by Kenn Thomas

Steamshovel debris: On November 5, 2001, sheriff's deputies in Eager, Arizona shot and killed Bill Cooper, author of a well-known and still quite revered parapolitical text called Behold A Pale Horse. On the fourth anniversary of that sad episode in American law enforcement, Steamshovel presents here its original editorial response, which also appeared in a book published by Timothy Beckley entitled Death of a Conspiracy Salesman.

   Jim Keith always wanted to be "a hip Bill Cooper," he said to me on several occasions.

   My own experience told me that there would never be more than one Bill Cooper. My attention was first drawn to him by the title of his book. Behold A Pale Horse, which was also the title of the first draft of Danny Casolaro's Octopus manuscript. Although I didn't share Jim's ambition, I did become fascinated by his unusual outlook and I mourn his passing.

   I met Cooper on a couple of occasions at UFO conferences. He was anything but "hip."

   In fact, he seemed to take great delight in publicly insulting the conferees that had come to hear him speak. They, in turn, could not get enough of the insults. They lined up to attend the workshop following his lecture, which had a separate attendance fee. It contrasted sharply with the half-dozen people who signed up for my modest effort to lecture on the UFO involvements of Wilhelm Reich.

   That happened before Cooper changed his mind about the extraterrestrial presence. He was calling people "sheeple" then, not yet labeling them "ufoologists." At the conference I encountered him next, he was urging his fans to buy into billboard advertising and give him their proxy vote in decisions over what gets put on the billboards. His messages would be more anti-NWO than pro-UFO. About UFOs, he later would write, "For many years I sincerely believed that an extraterrestrial threat existed and that it was the most important driving force behind world events. I was wrong and for that I most deeply and humbly apologize."

   He never abandoned his basic rant, however. "Many years ago I had access to a set of documents," wrote Cooper, "that I eventually realized was the plan for the destruction of the United States of America and the formation of a socialist totalitarian world government. The plan was contained within a set of Top Secret documents with the title MAJESTYTWELVE." His memories of this were chillingly detailed: "There was no space between majesty and twelve." As I have pointed out elsewhere, credible documentary evidence, involving nobody's misremembered experience, exists that such a group, MJ12, does or did indeed exist.

   I clashed with Cooper once in Rob Sterling's Konformist newsletter. He made some disparaging remarks about John Lennon, calling the singer some kind of spokesman for socialism. I had to point out to him that Lennon actually was a filthy rich, capitalist rock star. At another point, I was happy to pass along a tape of answering machine messages left by Cooper on the machine of someone he believed stole the master video copy of his "Driver Did It" lecture - in which he claimed that William Greer, the driver of JFK's Lincoln Continental on November 22, turned and shot the president with a .45. The answering machine messages were hilarious in that each one reflected Cooper becoming progressively more drunk, and ended finally with him threatening to visit the alleged thief to slash the tires of his car.

   I even came to Cooper's defense over the JFK thing. A .45 slug was found on Elm Street after JFK's assassination. The Lincoln's brake lights do come on in the Zapruder film, suggesting that Greer might have had some involvement in a conspiracy. True, Cooper was using an atrociously bad copy of the Z-film to "show" that Greer with a gun in his hand. (The full story of the "Driver Did It" theory is found in an unpublished affidavit on the subject by a writer named Lars Hanson that few have read.)

   But let's not throw the baby out with the bath water, I argued. At the very least, Bill Cooper created a cartoon version of conspiracy reality that attracted more attention to the serious issues.

   Cooper was right in his broad strokes. He certainly was not alone in looking into the political and cultural environment and seeing an evil monster, and he was more articulate than most in getting across what that feels like. Cooper was no doubt right about the IRS being a legal fiction, and fully aware that it's a fiction protected by the brutal reality of police force. He thought it shouldn't be that way. His tax resistance was the concrete expression of opposition to the encroaching forces of oppression-an enemy shared by leftist anti-WTO demonstrators and the rightist militias alike. Unlike the weekend warriors in both of those camps, Cooper took the bullet for what he believed in.

   Those who have been quick to point out that the shooting death of William Cooper did not arise from the federal indictments against him, but rather from the local police responding to Cooper's dangerous behavior, ignore the close cooperation that exists between local police and federal authorities. But neither group has a monopoly on bad schemes to capture and imprison harmless citizens. Cooper had lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. Feds or no, there were certainly other, non-lethal ways to get Bill Cooper under arrest.

   Those who admired Cooper, those who were appalled by him and the rest of us in between cannot help but wonder why his fate seemed inevitable.

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