In 2008, before America elected its first African-American President, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a monitor of extremism in this country, said about 150 “militia” groups that advocate overthrow of our government existed within the boundaries of the United States.
Eight years later, as anger dominates the 2016 Presidential campaign, more than 1,000 such armed and threatening militia groups now proclaim they are “true patriots” and promise Armageddon to “take our country back.”
Such groups, of course, are driven by extreme racism, hate, bigotry and intolerance.
With names like “Oath Keepers” and “Face of Patriotism,” these extremist groups use social web sites and a willing media to promoted their love of anarchy while they misquote passages of the Constitution, a document they claim to protect but really don’t understand.
I’ve watched groups like this attempt to destroy America since my childhood when, as young man in Prince Edward County, Virginia, I saw hate organizations like the Ku Klux Klan rip a community apart with hate and bigotry.
Today, we see militia wannabes strut around with AR-15 assault-style rifles on their shoulders in Wal-Mart parking lots and on the streets of communities of states that allow “open carry” of firearms.
Ran into one recently at the Wal-Mart in Christiansburg, Virginia. He walked up and down the parking lot aisles like he was a soldier on sentry duty.
“What,” I asked, “are you doing?”
“Protecting America,” he said. “When the shit hits the fan — it will do so anytime now — I will be here to protect your ass.”
The only threat I saw in the parking day came from him. I carry a concealed weapon — a Glock 17 — licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and after looking at this wild-eyed kid with a rifle in a parking lot, I wondered if the weapon I legally carry for self-defense might be needed at some future time to protect myself and others from him.
The Washington Post over the weekend took a look at the growth of extremist hate groups in America and and focused on 40-year-old B.J. Soper of Oregon, a proud militia member who shreds human silhouette targets with his AR-15, helps his wife and their 16-year-old daughter draw and fire pistols and teaches his 4-year-old child to shoot a .22 caliber rifle.
Soper runs the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, a smallish-outfit of about 30 men, women and children. He started the band of armed insurrectionists two years ago as a “defensive unit” aimed at taking care of “all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Who is the biggest enemy?
The federal government, Soper says.
“It doesn’t say in our Constitution that you can’t stand up and defend yourself,” Soper told Washington Post reporter Kevin Sullivan. “We’ve let the government step over the line and rule us, and that was never the intent of this country.”
Much of the movement traces its roots to the deadly 1990s confrontations between civilians and federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and in Waco, Tex., that resulted in the deaths of as many as 90. Timothy McVeigh cited both events before he was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, and said he had deliberately chosen a building housing federal government agencies.
Now a “Second Wave” is spreading across the country, especially in the West, fueled by the Internet and social media. J.J. MacNab, an author and George Washington University researcher who specializes in extremism, said social media has allowed individuals or small groups such as Soper’s to become far more influential than in the 1990s, when the groups would spread their message through meetings at local diners and via faxes.
Soper and other militia types talk of Nevada farmer Cliven Bundy, who held off Federal authorities in a dispute over public land grazing rights in 2014.
This past January, several dozen armed occupiers, led by two of Bundy’s sons, took over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildwife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Once of those occupiers, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, died from shots by state troopers.
Finicum, who was armed, is now viewed as a martyr by militia-types, even though an investigation showed his death was a justifiable action of the police.
Two of Bunch’s supporters, who had been part of the Oregon occupation, later killed two police officers and a civilian in Las Vegas. Before police shooters took them down, Jerad and Amanda Miller left a note on the body of one of the dead officers.
“This is the beginning of the revolution,” it read.
If so, the so-called “revolution” is one led by traitors to America.
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