Since the standoff in Oregon involving anti-government radicals calling themselves a “militia” who’ve occupied a welcome center at a national park, the usual “Internet war” between liberals and conservatives has been everywhere. Sadly, many only seem to care about “gotcha” headlines or memes that “stick it” to the other side over actual substance.
What sticks out to me personally is the discussion we need to have concerning whether or not, in the 21st century, any so-called anti-government “militia” can be considered anything but potential terrorists. Forget this particular group for a moment. I’m talking about all anti-government “militias.”
Under what circumstances would it ever be “patriotic” or non-terroristic to violently try to overthrow a Constitutionally elected government? In fact, why would our Founding Fathers have given us the ability to elect our own representatives if they ever meant for armed civilians to violently overthrow them?
If tens of millions of Americans support a government, but a group of other Americans feel they have the right to violently overthrow it, how is that respecting the Constitutionally elected government or the millions of Americans who voted for and support that government? Let’s say an armed militia did overthrow a government, only to have the same people who elected that government in the first place re-elect the same people – does that same militia “overthrow” it again until they get the government they want? If so, how is that “Constitutional”? Or do they simply rig the election process to get the government they want? Again, how would that be “Constitutional”?
These militias don’t serve “the people” – they serve themselves. This isn’t about the “security of a free state” being guarded by a”well regulated militia.” It’s about folks who have a hatred for the federal government and a disdain for authority.
But at the foundation of this “militia argument” is whether or not an armed group of people who believe that killing representatives of the federal government is justified, is or isn’t inherently terrorism.
That prompts me to ask the following…
If 100 Muslims banded together in a group with an open disdain for government, protested against the government and openly professed their willingness to kill federal officials and/or die if need be in opposition to the United States government – would they not be considered terrorists? What’s the difference between a terrorist believing it’s acceptable to kill Americans and right-wing militia members believing the exact same thing? Because when these militia idiots say they’re willing to use force, they are quite literally saying they’re prepared to kill Americans.
I’ve never quite understood how it’s “patriotic” or “American” to believe you have the right to “rise up against” the government that was created by the United States Constitution. A government that’s elected by the people.
And let’s be honest, this does have a great deal to do with race and ethnicity. Are there minorities in militias? Sure. But these anti-government militia groups are still predominantly white males. Would conservatives and Fox News call a group of 100 African-Americans armed with AK-47’s loaded with extended magazines “patriots” for defying federal authority? What about a group of 100 Mexicans?
I seriously doubt it.
The reality is, this is the 21st century. Today’s militias are called the National Guard – a well-organized military unit that’s there to ensure the security of the state. To believe that a “well regulated” militia consists of a bunch of anti-government gun fanatics who believe they have the right to defy a Constitutionally elected government if they so feel like it is absurd. This isn’t Red Dawn.
That brings me to the FBI’s definition of “domestic terrorist”:
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
With that said, anti-government militias do suggest that they’re open to acts that propose a risk to human life (use force); they clearly believe they can use intimidation to coerce a population or influence the government; and they operate within the United States.
So, how are these groups not “terrorists”?
The bottom line is, this is the 21st century. There’s no need for unregulated, disorganized anti-government gun fanatics going around the country determining, on their own, what is or is not “Constitutional.” They’re nobodies. They’re just a bunch of radical opinions amongst a sea of millions of differing opinions in this country. The needs of this country in 1778 are very different than they are in 2016. Thankfully, we have well-regulated militias called the National Guard to protect each state in the event of a catastrophe.
When you get right down it, the belief by these folks that their guns give them the right to act out violently against members of the government (or the government itself) based on their own personal paranoia and hatred, qualifies them not as a militia, but as domestic terrorists.