Self-styled heroes of American patriotism have descended on Lincoln, Montana, hoping that appearing in full camo outfits and wandering around with weapons will help resolve a dispute over a federal mining claim, reports the Independent Record.
The merits of the claim by the miners is irrelevant, because in a civilized society, those disputes are settled by courts and negotiation, not wannabe Rambos cosplaying as hereoes of the Revolution. Only in the paranoid fantasies and grandiose self-delusion of the chemtrail-fearing, Jade Helm-resisting, tinfoil-donning militia crowd does appearing at a mine dispute to “defend liberty” improve a situation or defuse what could be a tense situation, but here they are, no doubt with a Fox News team on its way to stoke the flames.
Where I take issue with the IR’s coverage is their failure to actually research these “Patriot” groups. Instead, the piece is largely written from their point of view, including passages like:
“We aren’t a ‘militia,’” he said. “We are a nonpartisan group of veterans, whether they be in armed services, law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs or concerned American Patriots. We have banded together to make sure that people like George and Phil … are not run over by our government agencies that believe they have the right to do that.” The Oath Keepers and III%ers heavily vet their membership, Santoro said.
A review of reporting in from the IR’s own newspaper chain reveals a different story. As Ed Kemmick reported in the Billings Gazette back in 2010:
The Montana Human Rights Network and the Southern Poverty Law Center have issued reports on the Oath Keepers, calling them right-wing extremists and drawing parallels between their beliefs and those of the militia movement in the 1990s.
In their excellent report, the Montana Human Rights Network described the Oath Keepers:
Since its founding in 2009, anti-government “patriots” have flocked to Oath Keepers. The group wants law enforcement officers and military personnel to sign onto their oath, which encapsulates many of the ideas promoted by the “patriot” movement?s one-world government conspiracy theories.
And the SLPC’s extensive reporting on the group reveals its roots in conspiracy theories ranging from colloidal silver to Agenda 21. Here is Montana, the Oath Keepers are hoping to make the state a refuge for like-minded patriots who will“adopt a barter economy to escape the bondage of U.S. currency,” though it’s hard to say what the barter value of delusions of grandeur and paranoid fantasies really is.
The resurgence of these troops isn’t happening in a vaccuum. When they are treated with kid gloves by law enforcement, unlike “radical”protestors, when the media give them a free pass and downplay their connection to dangerous nationalism, and when sitting members of Congress meet with their leaders, it’s easy to see how they might really believe they are the “tip of the spear” leading a revolution, not the dull edge of a discredited, hate-filled movement.
It’s easy to mock these clowns, because their grasp of history, logic, government, and human decency is so limited, but mockery obscures the fact that they are dangerous, in their ham-fisted, clumsy way. One would hope that Montanan politicians, especially those who give these patriots credence, will condemn their actions, and that the press, charged with informing us, will give them the scrutiny they deserve.
Update: My apologies. I missed the obvious. It’s a conspiracy, involving the USFS, federal government, and probably the Ukrainian government.