Vanilla ISIS Is Getting Ready for a Fight in Plains, MT

If you ever want to pass fifteen minutes vacillating between laughing at the absurd self-importance of the constitutional scholars in the militia movement and fearing just a little bit, knowing that people who believe they have a constitutional right to shoot anyone who tries to enforce federal law in their vicinity, you could do a lot worse than reading and listening to the various outlets for the Montana branch of the movement. Largely centered in the northwest corner of the state, they take quite seriously the troubled rantings of people like Alex Jones and seem earnestly to believe that any exercise of federal law enforcement is tyranny on par with that of the Third Reich.

Their latest mission is to protect Jake Ryan, one of the vandals and crooks from the Malheur Occupation, from federal arrest. According to the Finicum family, Jake Ryan and his family have decided to make a stand against the government:

OK folks, here’s the kind if decisions that your gov’t is causing people to have to make. For those of you that have been keeping up with the plight of the Ryan family in Montana, they have decided to make a stand. Jake Ryan was at the Malheur Refuge and got to be pretty close to LaVoy. Best we can tell, he is guilty of nothing. No more than the Bundys or LaVoy. The charges against him are unclear but a federal warrant has definitely been issued for him. After much fasting and prayer, the family has said that they have decided “the arrests stop here”.

As amusing as it is to read their interpretation of the Constitution, it’s less amusing when they put out videos like this one, a “call to Montana, “which purports to express the views of those who plan to stop any more arrests of self-proclaimed patriots. Posted in defense of Mr. Ryan, this video captures the trifecta of militia illiteracy, absurd historical comparisons, and threats of violence:

Can’t stomach watching it all, with comparisons between law enforcement officers and officers in the SS? This still provides a good sense of its point of view, that the answer to perceived federal overreach is violence. And that’s why, humorous as they are, with their demands for French Vanilla creamer, we need to take the militia movement seriously—and why political leaders in our state need to stop giving them aid and comfort. It’s long past time for Republican legislators who have flirted with the anti-government movement to condemn these actions and calls for violence. It’s long past time for the Republicans who claim so stridently, so often, to be the party of law and order to condemn conservative terrorists and work towards their arrest.

When the militia calls members to our state, it’s long past time when the Republicans who offer them tactic support condemn their lawlessness and the threats they’ve issued.

There’s real chance of conflict and death when these militia movements get riled up.

A Facebook page called “The Arrests Stop Here” suggests that patriots be on the lookout for federal agents. The page admin writes:

The word is that their are no Known Federal Officials in the County. We would ask That surrounding counties please be on the lookout for FBI/HRT Presence .Report directly to page and we will get the info to those that need it. Those that helped last time also please keep a eye on the known HRT locations report any deployment or resource movement please. Thanks keep your eye’s wide open and Remember the FBI and the politicians are the only ones breaking the law! [PLEASE JUST ASSUME ALL THE ERRORS WERE IN THE ORIGINAL QUOTE—Ed.]

As laughable as the idea of these people conducting surveillance is, it’s not a joke when you consider how easy it would be for someone to get hurt when a member of the Y’alliban, armed with his heavy weapon and cache of Twinkies, decides that a Subaru looks suspiciously like the kind of vehicle a fed would drive. Encouraging those who are clearly not the most discerning among us to look for and intercept imagined federal agents certainly offers some risk to people who visit Sanders County.

The self-important impotence of the militia movement is good for a laugh, but even an idiot, drunk on moonshine and ahistorical constitutionalism, can do real harm when not countered by law enforcement and government. It’s time to stop talking about the supremacy of sheriffs and the states’ rights, and time to punish these militia members when they break the law, before someone else does get hurt.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • And so the stupidity begins, right in time for it to be fresh in the Minds of Montanans when the general election comes…..

  • I agree with Don, it high time we punish these militia members by shooting them along some road with video surveillance right before the election.

  • I don’t know if this is just coincidence or planning but it appears that the feds have changed their strategy in these situations. Rather than confronting these people, it appears that the feds are waiting until they travel out of their refuges to arrest them.

    For example, at Malheur Refuge, the first arrests of the occupiers took place in Burns when two of the occupiers drove into Burns, one in a truck owned by the refuge. Likewise, the major arrests took place on a highway north of the refuge where the occupiers could be contained by blocking the highway. Finally, the elder Bundy was arrested at the Portland airport far from Nevada, without any local support and in a place where guns aren’t allowed.

    So, is this guy arresting himself? Sort of sounds like it? See

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