| 24 March 2009
|A Re-emergence of the Militias?|
A Re-emergence of the Militias?
A Re-emergence of the Militias?
By Leonard Zeskind
The Zeskind Fortnight No. 14
March 24, 2009
In my forthcoming book, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, one of the stories I tell is that of the emergence of militias in the 1990s out of the white nationalist movement. It was a process too complicated to explain properly in this small word space. Suffice it to say here that as the Obama administration seeks to remake the political and economic landscape bequeathed to it by the Bush II government, I have looked for any signs of the militia’s reappearance.
Several factors militate against the widespread return of gun-toting paramilitaries inveighing against the New World Order. The militias of the 1990s claimed that the Second Amendment gave them a collective right to keep and bear the arms of their choice; and in the absence of a recent Supreme Court decision on the subject they could say almost anything they wanted and some people would believe it. But in 2008, the Supreme Court did render a new decision on the Second Amendment, finding an individual—but not a collective—right to own guns. It is harder now to make a believable claim to a constitutional right to form armed squads under private command, although it must be said that the Minuteman border watches have done just that. Similarly, groups dedicated to robbing banks, printing their own “fractional reserve” checks, creating their own courts and blowing up federal buildings will find that the post-9-11 war on terror has made it more difficult for them to gain a perch on the edge of society.
Nevertheless, the seeds for a new incarnation of the militia lay scattered around in the individuals who invoke “sovereign” status to claim that they are not governed by the laws of the United States and need not pay taxes. Although it is much diminished by time and circumstance, the Militia of Montana continues to sell its goods through a mail order business. A few militia groups still exist in Michigan, Alabama, Texas and a few other states if the internet is to be believed. Splinters of the various anti-immigrant Minuteman groups may yet form full-fledged militias. And the invocation of a “states rights” opposition to the Obama stimulus package might become, in a few small quarters, a call to organize statewide vigilante-style paramilitaries. But nothing like that has popped up quite yet.
Enter now a new report, “The Modern Militia Movement,” by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC).
MIAC is one of seventy so-called fusion centers created in 2006 by the Bush administration as part of its post-9-11 program. It combines the intelligence gathering capabilities of the Department of Homeland Security with information developed by federal, state and local agencies to create a shared pool of knowledge about terrorist threats, criminal activities and other problems as the center sees them. This report also carried the imprimatur of the Missouri Highway Patrol, and Missouri troopers have every reason to be wary of militia-types ever since Patrolman Jimmie Linegar was gunned down in 1985 by a white supremacist from Idaho.
Nevertheless, the report has caused a small gusher of anger and vitriol to erupt on one of the many websites that populate the far right blogosphere. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh reported on it in a state of virtual outrage. Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr and sitting congressman from Texas Ron Paul joined Charles Baldwin in a letter of rebuke to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. In 1988, Paul had run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket; and in 2008 Bob Barr did the same thing. Meanwhile, Charles Baldwin had been the Constitution Party’s nominee for president in 2008. And the MIAC report, in one of its most contested passages, claimed: “Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr.”
Hence the indignation of said Paul, Baldwin and Barr; the State of Missouri, in an intelligence advisory report to law enforcement personnel, had decided that terrorists were among their followers. In a March 20 letter to Governor Jay Nixon, the three politicians asked that the advisory report be withdrawn. Three days later, on March 23, John M. Britt, director of the Department of Public Safety wrote back: “Portions of that report may be easily construed by readers as offensive to certain political candidates or to those candidates themselves. I regret that those components were ultimately included in the final report issued by the MIAC.” When re-issued by the State of Missouri, Britt promised, their three names would be excised.
In effect, the MIAC report is now a dead letter; and perhaps it should be so. As an analytical document it was a mish-mash of truths and almost truths and simply bad conjectures. It failed to distinguish between white nationalist mainstreamers, who seek to find a larger following for their views without resorting to violence or “terror,” and those vanguardists most likely to become bombers and killers in the future. And thus it failed to actually identify any so-called terrorists. As a law enforcement intelligence finding, it actually finds nothing.
The controversy surrounding the report, however, may have illuminated at least some of what it was trying to describe. On one website, a responder claimed that only “sovereign” status rather than “14th Amendment privileges” could save real Americans. Another claimed (with the misspellings included) that, “After 9/11 some old East German Bolshevics “jews” who did mena stuff to Christians were used in the formation of Homeland Security.” A third post declared that “every member of the MIAC should be lynchmobbed asap.” As the debate on this web site rose and fell, the story of a future militia began to be written, and in the end that will tell us more than the MIAC report itself.
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