Monday, May 5, 2014

Post-Bundy Standoff

The Clive Bundy standoff has receded from the headlines, which is a shame, because the smoldering embers of it are worth watching -- and should dispel any notion that the militia movement is our best champion of liberty, even apart from the issue of race.

The local Congressman, Steven Horsford (both black and a Democrat), has alleged that militia members had established an intimidating presence on the highways and were setting up checkpoints and checking ID's.  Hotel keepers have complained about threatening phone calls, bomb threats, and even in-person threats.  David Neiwart (no fan of the militia movement), says that journalists in the area have found no evidence of roadblocks or checkpoints.  He has found ample evidence of factional disputes among the armed men, with a most interesting video they have released.  Apparently the Oath Keepers heard a rumor that there would be a drone strike on the camp and withdrew, the the great anger of the other groups present.  Listening to the video, several things about it are striking:

  1. The primary speaker talks very much in military terms, speaking of "the enemy," the chain of command, and war.  He clearly sees this as war.
  2. All important decisions are put up for a vote.  This certainly gives the organization a democratic (and, in that sense, decidedly un-military) appearance.  But the votes tend strongly toward unanimity, since all people present are essentially in consensus, and what would happen if there was serious dissent is an interesting question.
  3. One of the women present (the group is predominantly male, but has women as well), mentioned cancelling a Republican caucus meeting to attend.  This is, once again, evidence that the distinction between these fringe groups and the mainstream is not as clear-cut as one  might wish.
  4. They attribute the dispute to provocateurs.  This is not entirely paranoia.  It is my understanding that the militia movement really is riddled with FBI provocateurs, and members legitimately have grounds to be wary of them.  But it can easily turn into paranoia, and an assumption that any difference of opinion is the work of provocateurs, and that anyone who disagrees is necessarily a traitor.  
Neiwart also displays a video from the Oath Keepers (real military types and probably better disciplined) describing the two sides as breaking into fist fights and threatening to shoot each other. They are generally contemptuous of the militia types for having weak military discipline and regard them as amateurs.

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