While I have, I will admit, explored options in dumping my party affiliation, in light of the GOP’s shenanigans as of late–looking at the Modern Whig Party as a possible alternative–and questioned the political process as a whole in the face of our Congresscritters patently going off the rails in droves, on both sides of the aisle, I can’t say that I’ve thought about going so far as these folks.
I was in Maine when Clinton was in office, and the modern militias got a fair amount of press. I knew folks who were in one, and I have to admit, I was impressed by the refurbished tank that they trotted out on occasion for events. The guns were defunct, but with the know how to get the old Russian girl back up to snuff, I had little doubt that they could swap out functional weapons with little notice. Even still, most of the folks involved were retired vets, and young men and women who they trained. In a similar fashion to a few skinhead groups that train up in the woods, though without the blaring music and probably 95% less race hating.
Justine Sharrock’s article struck me, because the Oath Keepers are often serving members of our military. Their very name illustrates their love of nation, recalling Reza Aslan’s words of Flag as totem. What I find interesting is that many were less concerned with a growing list of intrusions on privacy and other rights during the last Administration, and the Bush Administration’s own recommendations for putting militia groups on higher watch status, than the current one.
Mind you, while racial politics does play into the equation a bit, I think that it has far less to do with the narrative that gets promoted. I have little doubt that the Oath Keepers would have congealed in the face of a Hillary Clinton Presidency–something that Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes wrote vociferously against during the run up to the election last year.
In the face of things, the Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey is not entirely a bad thing. Rhodes is entirely correct that if the German military had refused orders, the Holocaust would not have happened. A principled military that refuses to march against its own citizens or deny them their rights is a key to preserving our republic. What is interesting is who ire is directed towards. The fear of the Fed coming down like a hammer is one that has been fostered for quite a while in the paranoiac fantasy life of the likes of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Democrats have been cast as jack booted thugs and you have revisionists like Jonah Goldberg trying to cast the Commie-Pinko Liberals in the role of Fascists as well. It is an interesting mix of pejorative that are leveled against the Democrats–and as a former resident of Massachusetts and with friends in Chicago, I have seen and certainly know of Democrats who have borne their share of strong arm politics–but I am impressed that at the same time in trying to cast Democrats as New World Order–forgetting apparently who actually used the phrase to begin with–thugs, and limp wristed ineffectual elitist intellectuals without a shred of real world experience, that some sort of cognitive dissonance hasn’t penetrated.
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And on one level, I have to applaud the idea that it is the Constitution, stupid. The problem, unfortunately, with many of the grassroots movements, is that they are pointing their ire and anger and outrage perhaps in the wrong direction. Fear of the other, fear of losing ground, and stoked by pundits and politicians alike who increasingly cast their opponents as figures bent on destroying the fabric of America, we see the politics of fear warping legitimate concerns into armed camps and ratcheted up rhetoric that tend to ignore history. In casting Democrats–who, to be honest, I’ve yet to see much of anything as effective as the mythologized FEMA camps materialize–as despotic thugs, it robs our process of what we desperately need. Real debate. In the move for an all or nothing sort of politics, we not only rob ourselves of the opportunity for discussion and consensus, we push those who are most fearful and most vulnerable towards those who would use their fear against their opponents, and without care or responsibility for the fear and suffering that they engender.