Those emasculated young, white, ultra-conservative young men, hating that which they could not understand, they did the only thing they could. The thing that gave them a sense of control, a sense of dominion.
They fought back.
Mathews started his own cultic group. It would be a group like those he saw around him – the people in charge – people like bankers and lawyers and businessmen. They had money. They had power. They had respect. Mathews would have those, too.
The Sons of Liberty. That’s what he called his group. The name was an obvious rip-off from the American Revolution. In effect, then, Mathews had seceded from the society that had taken his manhood from him.
The Sons of Liberty were an anti-communist, extremist militia group. Made up of mostly Mormons and survivalists, they numbered about 30 men. They didn’t really know what to do to regain their manhood. They just knew they were angry. So they decided to revolt against paying taxes, because they felt that would be a good place to start. At least it would make a statement: “they were mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore” – to quote the rabid newscaster in the movie Network.
Mathews set the example. He claimed 10 dependents on his W-4 form. This wretched attempt was his idea of tax resistance. It was more than wretched, it was pathetic. The IRS arrested him for tax fraud. He was tried in a court of law, where, when it was all over, he was found guilty. Even his sentence highlighted his status as a loser: six months probation. He couldn’t even get thrown into prison. At least then he could have felt like a martyr and laid claim to a bad-boy image.
Meanwhile, the Sons of Liberty imploded. The Mormon members and the non-Mormon members had a tiff, and the group dissolved due to a lack of interest. This merely proved that it was a loser club for a bunch of losers. They were supposedly all Christians, but none of them could forgive the other members. Typical.
When his probation ended, Mathews decided that what he needed was to get back to the land. So he and his father moved to Metaline Falls, Washington. They purchased 60 acres of land. It was to be a new start on a new manhood. Mathews hoped his back-to-nature-program would give him a sense of worth.
They named their property Mathews Acres. Robert cleared and leveled an area on Mathews Acres, then bought two double-wide trailers to sit on the clearing. He added a chicken coop, a root cellar and a barn. Seeding five acres for pasture, he imported a Galloway bull and three cows. His plan was to raise cattle. And not just any cattle, but Scottish Galloway cattle.
Through tradition and the resurrection of his Scots heritage, Mathews was trying to restore his manhood.
Richie Kemp, who was a member of the Silent Brotherhood, worshipped Mathews. After Kemp’s release from federal prison, he wrote about Mathews: “in the evenings, he would read from his extensive library until he could barely hold his eyes open. In the morning, he’d start his day at the crack of dawn with John Philip Sousa marching music, or the Black Watch playing reveille on the pipes, blaring on his phonograph.”
Kemp presented Mathews as a renaissance man, a virtuous man with an ascetic lifestyle, who devoted his life to learning. Kemp, of course, had fallen prey to the personality cult of Robert Mathews.
In reality, Robert Mathews was a maladjusted monster, who couldn’t win for trying.