Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And Another Reminder Why Private Armies are Not So Great

So, it appears that Jerad and Amanda Miller, the couple who killed two Las Vegas police and a store manager were supporters of the Patriot movement and participants in the Clive Bundy standoff.  According to the Bundys, they were asked to leave because of their radicalism and felony record.  Other observers say there were nothing to distinguish them from any other supporters present.  But one way or the other, this should once again be taken as a warning as to why private armies dedicated to violent revolution are not the best protectors of liberty in a country with a democratically elective government.

So let me give the usual disclaimers here.  Most Fox New/Tea Party right wingers are not militia members. Most militia members do not go on mad shooting sprees.  But both groups need to police their fringes a whole lot better.  Rachel Maddow brilliantly pointed out that when Fox News was so energetically championing Clive Bundy, it had ample evidence readily available that he held extremely radical views that presumably neither Fox nor most of its viewers shared.  Yes, one can deplore federal heavy-handedness toward someone with odious views.  But too close an embrace tends, after all, to imply affection.  And while militia members are quick to dismiss people like the Millers as a few bad apple and assure us that most of their crew are peace and freedom loving, such protestations are naive.  Combining an ideology of fear and loathing (regardless of the targets of that fear or loathing), constant warnings about the possible need to resort to violence, and lots and lots of guns is a positive invitation to bad elements to infiltrate your movement.  To pretend otherwise is to close one's eyes to reality.  The assumption that elective government is simply tyranny waiting to happen while private armies are necessarily champions of liberty is simply not convincing.

At the same time, I would give a piece of advice to my own side.  Don't panic.  Remember, crime rates are continuing to fall.  Remember, all combined acts of right wing terrorism aren't enough to add up to even a blip in the total crime rate.  And besides, panic is what fuels the whole Patriot movement.  Don't let it fuel us, too.

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