4 Facts Anti-Government Militias Don't Want You To Know
If you've been paying any attention to the news since January 2, you're probably aware that an armed militia group has taken over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. And after two weeks of living out a gritty reboot of Full House that's only slightly bleaker than the one soon airing on Netflix, the militants claim they're planning to leave, possibly because some unknown good Samaritan sent them a great big dildo in the mail.
"Everybody clear out! THIS BABY DEMANDS ROOM!"
But before this insurrection peters out because militants were too overzealous to buy groceries (and too lazy to drive away and get some) and the news cycle moves on to a pinball-playing llama -- "PINBALLAMA!" the New York Post will yowl -- it's important to understand that this isn't an isolated incident. 2012 saw a record number of gun-enamored anti-government "patriot" groups, such as the Oath Keepers (who claim to have over 30,000 members in the U.S.) and the Sovereign Citizen Movement (which is an estimated 300,000 strong). Why the sudden rash of rebel groups obsessed with tyranny? There's a lot to unpack here -- and even more that's being ignored by most of the media. So let's get started.
Their Political Beliefs Involve Cherry-Picking What Laws They Want To Obey
Now, it seems flat-out baffling that a bunch of ranchers would go bananas and take over a wildlife refuge just because two guys were found guilty of starting a series of uncontrolled fires on Federal land. (Even more confusing, the convicted men want fuck all to do with the militia who formed in their defense.) But when you think of the takeover as a tipping point, their motives becomes somewhat more cognizable.
In the same way that randomly coldclocking a co-worker makes sense after years of slow, soul-leeching microaggressions.
What's happening here is actually a long battle over farmland that's been repurposed as federally-managed space. Throughout the 20th century, the act of using government land for cattle grazing and farming became the bureaucratic equivalent of a Nickelodeon GUTS event -- complete with an ever-changing Aggro Crag of policies and restrictions. In short, Uncle Sam yoinked the land from under these ranchers' feet and made them tap dance to get it back.
See, the reason the Oregon militiamen feel ownership over this land is because it was first given to ranchers by the U.S. government back when we were still expanding into the totally up-for-grabs West. This absolutely uninhabited area was then distributed to farmers to drum up economic growth. Everybody was a winner! But by the end of the 1800s, the attention shifted and the land was taken back, which is what the Bundy family behind the Oregon standoff is still ultra-miffed about.
If you think it's silly that I'm making fun of the militia like this, then prepare to bust a nut over the Sovereign Citizen movement, which practices the disobedience of federal and sometimes local laws under the vague belief that the United States exists like a corporation we can choose to ignore. This was the argument rancher Cliven Bundy used back when he didn't want to pay $1,000,000 in accumulated fines, and a common tactic for crazy people trying to get out of various crimes.
To get a sense of what the Sovereign Citizen movement is all about, take a look at the quote below. You can reread it a couple of times if you want, but it still won't make any sense.
That quote isn't from some robe-wearing Grand Minister of The Bunker, but from Stewart Rhodes, the founder of a collection of retired law enforcement and military personnel called the Oath Keepers. According to their website, their mission is to uphold the U.S. Constitution by any means necessary, including war with the federal government. And while there's nothing wrong with questioning and challenging the law, their bias leans less on the side of a constitutional "checks and balances" and more on commie paranoia and misplaced nostalgia for '50s America. A quick scroll through their site reveals everything from an essay about the good ol' days, when "we weren't taught about The Planet [sic]" to carefully chosen news stories designed to incite fear of refugees and Muslims.
Let's look at a two-part Oath Keeper essay titled "Are You Ready To Join The Resistance?" which warns people of the upcoming economic collapse and martial law. Their solution, of course, is to arm yourself, learn to survive away from cities, and prepare for "hungry gang members" knocking at your bunker. But hey, but at least this stealth Fallout fanfiction is free to read, right?
Oh, wait. Everyone meet the Sovereign Citizenship website -- a jaw-dropping mix of rambling nonsense and countless opportunities to part with your money.
For only $22.22, you too can purchase their easy-to-understand guide and become a sovereign citizen! Act now and make a donation to the Sovereign Family Network and get your FREE membership welcome kit!
For $10,000, you get the supreme deluxe sovereign car wash package.
THAT'S RIGHT, FUCKFACES! For JUST $200, you can become a PLATINUM Sovereign Member, and receive all of this:
Super-sovereign decoder ring sold separately.
Or bump up that donation to $1,000 and join the EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTOR Sovereign Membership Club, and you get EVERYTHING above PLUS 10 Sovereignty Press Seals, 10 Sovereign Cop Watch Signs, 10 Sovereignty Press Media Notices, 10 Video Surveillance Notices, 10 Independent Journalist Contracts, 20 Sovereignty Press Passes, 20 Sovereign Cop Watch Badges, 20 Big Sovereignty Press Seals, 20 Small Sovereignty Press Seals, 80 Journalist Division Point of Contact Cards, 80 Cop Watch Division Point of Contact Cards, and 10 Copies of the Bill of Rights! That's a $4,000 value, yours for ONLY $1,000! BREAK THE CHAINS OF TYRANNY FOR THE LOW, LOW PRICE OF A THOUSAND DOLLARS!
If you can't trust-click a repurposed Grateful Dead skull logo, who can you trust?
If you think I'm being even a little sarcastic, go check out this goddamn website for yourself. Its "non-violent" solution reads like a Billy Mays spree shooting manifesto. And yes, there's a reason I'm putting "non-violent" in quotations ...
Historically Speaking, Militias Have Been Both Violent And Incompetent
For anyone looking to put a name to the sovereign movement, I'm sorry to say that the handbook author goes by "J.M. Sovereign: Godsent" because of course he does. Back in 2007, his wife made the news for attempting to beat a driving violation by redefining her vehicle as a "vessel on a religious mission." Despite this not working, the Sovereign Handbook YouTube account considers this a big win. I bring this up because it tends to be the popular dipshittery we associate so-called "Sovereign Citizens" with. If you never thought you'd laugh at police brutality, go ahead and watch this video of such a citizen getting tazed in a courtroom:
I know violence is wrong and junk, but that knowledge didn't stop me from macing my computer the first time I heard that guy argue that he "isn't a person" and doesn't wish to "create joinder" with the courthouse guards blocking his "freedom of movement." He sounds like a stoned teenager who watched Fight Club for the first time. And while a lot of his fellow believers are no more than crusties trying to avoid parking tickets, the FBI considers them a domestic terrorist threat, on account of how many cops they totally fucking kill.
After all, anyone seduced by a voodoo get-out-of-jail handbook probably has a police record. This is why the majority of encounters concerning these groups start with tax collection or driving violations, and can escalate to full-on shootouts. These meatballs truly believe that they don't answer to the government or pay taxes because of some loophole, and by God, they will use violence to get their knucklehead way. And despite claiming to be "patriots," the heavily-armed folk in Oregon and the Oath Keepers are just as bad. Only instead of some harebrained handbook, they worship their constitutional right to arm themselves against tyranny. While that sounds more noble, historically speaking, militias made to fight the government have been formed by murderous criminals and not eagle-riding patriots.
That's an illustration of "protesters" carrying a tarred and feathered tax collector during the Whiskey Rebellion, a hostile revolt ten years after the American Revolution. See ... except for that one time, the majority of militias formed to fight unfair taxes ended in mob violence instead of annual barbecues. And just like the people in Oregon, this uprising was invoked by Western farmers believing that they didn't need to answer to the federal government. Nearly a hundred years later, Kansas would become the battleground for a series of violent clashes between pro- and anti-slavery militias dragging each other's members out of their homes and stabbing them to death in front of their families.
The white-hot patriot in you probably wants to argue that, terrorists or not, the militias during the Revolutionary War were a ragtag means justified by the ends of sweet victory. So even if these new militia folk go out in a blaze of glory, they will surely be given super-macho founding father ass slaps at the gates of Heaven ...
*cough*: Part II
Actually, no. It turns out that the majority of militiamen formed during the Revolutionary War were a bunch of disorganized drunks who often got bored and caused disruptions when they weren't retreating from battle. For this reason, George Washington repeatedly referred to militiamen as arrogant, cowardly, and endangering to the actual army they fought alongside. At the battle of Kip's Bay, untrained militiamen fled at the sight of the British army, causing an enraged Washington to chase his own people whilst whipping at them with a cane. In Charleston, militia riflemen nearly mutinied after only 60 days of being constantly punished for firing their guns out of boredom.
So when the armed group in Oregon tells the media that they will stay there forever before immediately asking people to send snacks, that is historically completely in line with the behavior of a militia. Because militias are made of fucking idiots.
It's Absolutely About Politics And Not Patriotism
Let's be upfront. As someone initially hired by Cracked as a news researcher, I've always tried to be objective, or at least moderate, about political issues. Whether or not I've succeeded is up to you, but the one thing I can factually attest about reading the news every day is that, regardless of whether you're backing a Democrat or Republican in 2016 ... that candidate will be a big shitty liar who has probably strangled at least one prostitute.
I never said it was the candidate's prostitute ...
Now that you're buttered by my sweet burst of impartiality, look at this graph:
This information was compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group watchdog working in tandem with FBI investigations. You can't deny that most high-profile cases of domestic anti-government and/or white supremacist terrorism (Ruby Ridge, Waco, Posse Comitatus, Oklahoma City) have happened while a Democrat was in office. It's also not hard to guess why these groups would suddenly surge after the election of an African American president who makes gun sales skyrocket every time he farts.
Really fucked up that gimme "Thanks, Obama" joke, US News.
Whatever your political views, we all have to accept that these militia groups aren't "patriots." Nor are they "nonpartisan," as the Oath Keepers claim to be.
Nonpartisan defenders of the constitution would blindly protect anyone whose rights were infringed. If a Hindu county clerk blocked the marriage license of a cattle farmer, the Oath Keepers would support the farmer's constitutional right to wed. But look what happens when we make the cattle farmer gay:
*cough*: Tokyo Drift
Oh, would you look at that. Apparently, in the case of gay marriage, the Oath Keepers are suddenly anti-constitution. Strange. It's almost as if their leader isn't nonpartisan at all, but rather a former Ron Paul aide who refers to Hillary Clinton as "Hitlery" in his writings and runs a group that continually features right-wing editorials on their website. When one actual nonpartisan member of the Oath Keepers proposed that they support the protesters in Ferguson, like they did for the (very, very racist) Cliven Bundy, that member was nearly kicked out of the group.
It would be totally awesome if these guys wanted to objectively fight against tyranny ... and it is such a kick in the nads that their definition of tyranny isn't objective. And the worst part is that their political leaning will distract the media from getting to the real story: These anti-government groups kind of have a point ...
These Guys Are Absolutely Right To Not Trust The Government
I haven't really mentioned that most of these anti-government militia groups and individuals tend to be military veterans. Even in the most extreme cases, like Timothy McVeigh and Randy Weaver, there's not only a history of service, but service awards. So why is it that the people who served their country during wartime are also the people organizing standoffs with the government? If I had to guess ... it would be that the government totally hasn't done shit for them, and everyone should feel really ashamed about that.
"I stand with the troops (for photo ops only, but still)."
Out of all the outrage harbored in support or against the Oregon standoff, not a single headline has considered that maybe this issue has more to do with an overall frustration with how veterans are treated by the government. Maybe it has more to do with a system that can spit out someone like a shell-shocked Timothy McVeigh and completely lose him in a sea of gun shows and angry anti-American rants. There's been at least one case in which a disgruntled soldier managed to actually organize an extremist militia group while still serving on a base.
And if you think the Army should be held accountable, consider that Congress just tanked a crucial funding bill for Veteran's Affairs because both Democrats and Republicans were unwilling to compromise their political goals. Doesn't that just make you want to grab a gun and take over a federal building? Or, you know, actually try to care about veterans?
At the very least, don't get too hammered at the parade?
The bottom line is that some of these people are old, injured, suffering PTSD, and totally snubbed. They've been given no reason to be happy with the federal government, and that anger is now being channeled and manipulated by people with extremist agendas. In 2016, they will be paraded onto the campaign stages of both parties and then forgotten all over again. So let's try to at least show them all some empathy. Otherwise, they might take over Alcatraz like in The Rock.
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Be sure to check out 5 Hilarious Ways Angry Protests Proved The Other Side Right, and Seanbaby's 5 Ways Powerful People Trick You Into Hating Protesters.
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