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Far right extremists, once fringe actors, are now seeking political office - including here in Ohio

Miltias are looking to make a bigger political impact [shutterstock / westock productions]
Miltias are looking to make a bigger political impact [shutterstock / westock productions]

Many Ohio residents are well aware of the prevalence of far right extremist groups in our state.

Last year, The Southern Poverty Law Center released a study detailing Ohio's 31 active anti-government groups - that is the second highest number of any state in the country, behind only California.

There has also been copious reporting how members of some of these groups have been linked to the January 6th attack on the U-S Capitol.

Then several weeks ago, a member of The Oath Keepers was charged with 'seditious conspiracy', in relation to their role in the January 6th attack. 39-year-old Jessica Watkins is from Woodstock Ohio, about 40 miles northwest of Columbus.

The existence of these fringe groups, militias, and other extremists is more common in other parts of the country - most notably in pockets of the Pacific Northwest.

Their activity and popularity has been documented for decades, far before the January 6th action.

Reporter Heath Druzin began somewhat tangentially looking at issues around these militias during his time with the Guns and America project, which was a nationwide public media reporting collaborative.

You may have heard some of the reporting from our Matt Richmond, as Ideastream Public Media was also a part of that endeavor.

But while the Guns and America project is completed, Heath is still following related issues for Idaho Public Radio, and he's also tracking the movement on a larger scale for his podcast "Extremely American".

The podcast not only looks at the movement to fight against the US government, but for some- the attempt to become part of it.

We talk with Heath for the first portion of the show, and then switching gears, we discuss the lasting impact of Don McLean’s song “American Pie”.

It was at the top of the charts 50 years ago this week, and a father-son duo from Bowling Green State University wrote a book about the song’s lasting cultural impact.

- Heath Druzin, Reporter, KBSX Boise State Radio, and Host "Extremely American"

- Raymond Schuck Jr., Author, “Do You Believe In Rock and Roll: Essays On Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’”

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.