Officials note rise in militia groups across U.S.

Officials note rise in militia groups across U.S. August 13, 2009

There is an alarming rise across the country of militia groups with major gripes against the U.S. government. The stress of a bad economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the contributing causes, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center…

The troubling AP story is here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090812/ap_on_re_us/us_militia_movement

Update: And here is the Southern Poverty Law Center report itself:

http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/main/The_Second_Wave.pdf

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  • David Wheeler-Reed

    Yes… this is troubling… I saw something the other day about this on the Huffington Post.

    I think we really need to confront the fact that America is becoming a “culture of fear.” Jon Stewart is quite right, “We all need to calm down!” (Of course he used several expletives when he said this, which somehow seems inappropriate on VN).

    David

  • There was a good interview on CNN with a guy from the Southern Poverty Law Center about the rise in militia activity.

    But remember — guns don’t kill people, american militia nutcases kill people.

  • Mark,

    Here is the link to the Southern Poverty Law Center report: The Second Wave: Return of the Militias.

    http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/main/The_Second_Wave.pdf

  • markdefrancisis

    Thanks Gerald.

    I decided to add it to the post.

  • standmickey

    Lovely. I wonder how many consider themselves to be good Christians. Almost all of them, I would guess.

  • Tim F.

    Huffington Post? Southern Poverty Law Center? Why not Daily Kos or The Wonkette? (Is she still around?) You guys don’t put up any pretense anymore about not being part of the radical left. So much for all your complaining about ideology and how the “right” is captive to it. Sorry to dismiss these two organizations outright, but it is common practice at this site to do it to groups not in line with ones ideology, is it not?

  • Tim F.
  • Let’s not forget about the thousands of individual gun owners in the u.s. who are not part of militias but wish they were and who certainly share their views.

    Tim – Your inclusion of the Southern Poverty Law Center within your rant about the HP and the Daily Kos strikes me as reactionary and, well, ignorant.

    And what does that Boston Globe story about the film Death of a President (a good film) have to do with this post?

  • Michael,

    Tim hasn’t read the study he is smearing and he knows little, if anything, about the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    I would like to add to all of this by saying that the more I teach about Paul’s ethics and politics in the Church the more I’m afraid of being “taken out” by Christians with guns than by atheists I talk to about Christianity in places like Starbucks. (I’ve yet to meet too many atheists who support people’s “right to own handguns”). In fact, a lot of atheists I know are really terrified about what Christians may soon do with their guns “all in the name of God.”

    Besides… why isn’t gun ownership classified under “Pro-Life” issues? It seems to me that any Christian who is anti-abortion but pro-gun isn’t truly “Pro-Life!” I’m so tired of this… if you’re pro-gun you’re hardly pro-life!

    It’s getting rather scary out there!

    David

  • Tim F.

    Michael,

    I’m not surprised you enjoyed that film. My reason for providing that link was to remind people of the left’s rage and hatred only a short time ago. Hatred and lunacy are not limited to a particular ideology, despite what you folks here would have us believe.

    As far as SPLC, I’ll provide a link that you will no doubt refrain from seriously considering. So you can save a couple of bytes of dismissive text.

    http://www.catholic.com/newsletters/kke_070206.asp

    I don’t have time for a back and forth though and I certainly have better things to do than engage Gerald in this. As a mater of fact, I should have refrained from commenting in the first place. I find this site useless in fostering dialog. It is completely one sided these days. I’m working on not checking in on it so much anymore.

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    Tim… that’s hardly fair… I’ve only been blogging on this site for a couple of weeks… No one knows anything about my political beliefs and I’ve been ruthlessly attacked by people who say their on the “right” for simply saying, “We need to be nicer to one another and listen to one another… we need to understand that war and abortion are both intrinsic evils… etc. etc.”

    And, when I’ve quoted Church social teaching… even stuff from the USCCB… I’m told, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

    And, I keep being called a “leftist”… what’s that?

    This is the problem in America today… no one wants to keep talking–painful as it may be–it just ends up with, “I don’t like what you said… you’re a jerk… so I’m leaving…”

    SIGH!!! ARGGHHH!!!

    David

  • I’m not surprised you enjoyed that film.

    So you have seen it, then, and can offer a substantive critique beyond simply saying “Uhhh Bush haters”?

    My reason for providing that link was to remind people of the left’s rage and hatred only a short time ago.

    There is a difference, you know, between wearing a “kill Bush” t-shirt and being part of a racist militia group. The latter actually have guns and use them.

    Not that I am in any way defending “Kill Bush” t-shirts. I think they’re disgusting. You know, though, for all my time running around in “leftist” circles, I have not once seen a “kill Bush” t-shirt. The author of that article must have dug up a really obscure CafePress site to find that.

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    I wonder what would happen if we at VN just gave in and said, “FINE… we’re leftists… live with it…!!!” Would it make things better or worse?

    Half the time all I do is talk about Catholic Social Teaching and people who say they’re on the “Right” call me a “Marxist” or an “Obama lover!”

    You get the same thing Michael… I know you… and you’re hardly any of the things people accuse you of being on this site… it’s simply amazing!

    David

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    O… I should also add… I recently put something up from Dorothy Day and forgot to credit her for it. What shocked me is a devout Catholic–again who said they’re a “right winger”–responded to Ms. Day’s quote with, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

    How in the world are we supposed to make any progress when people on “the right” accuse the rest of us of being on the “left” and say that Dorothy is “stupid”???

    David

  • Tim F.

    David,

    I’m not sure what you are referring to as not fair. My dismissing of The Huffington Post? You are right, I don’t know what your’e political beliefs are but I know the views of The Huffington Post. I’ve been reading Vox Nova since it started. Not a few of the bloggers attempt to shut down debate immediately by dismissing the source/links of people that disagree with them. Those bloggers being politically left and the sources politically right or enlightenment liberal if you will. National Review and First Things are two examples. I apologize to you for attributing behavior and characteristics to you that I have witnessed in other bloggers here. You are right that’s not fair. Having said that I still don’t grant any credibility to The Huffington Post and hold SPLC very suspect.

  • Tim F.

    Having read that again, I guess I’m doing what I’m complaining others are doing, dismissing sources out of hand. Time to step back, and get to work. Have a good day.

  • I wonder what would happen if we at VN just gave in and said, “FINE… we’re leftists… live with it…!!!” Would it make things better or worse?

    I have no problem with being called a “leftist” as long as people know what the hell they’re talking about. Of course I’m a leftist. What I can’t stand is people calling democrat politicians “the left” or “the far left,” or people telling me, “Michael, you and Obama and Pelosi and the left…” Drives me nuts.

    Of course not everyone at VN is a leftist. Some are not leftist in any sense.

  • “I don’t have time for a back and forth though and I certainly have better things to do than engage Gerald in this.”

    Of course you don’t have time for serious discussion. You’d have to read the SPLC report and study up on the history of the SPLC. Even then, you’d have to know something about the topic. I’m sure, being the busy person you are, you don’t have time to commit to such activity.

    “I find this site useless in fostering dialog.”

    That is not surprising. You’d have to bring something to the table first. Your comments this morning have been slanderous to a report you haven’t read and to an organization you know nothing about. Is there any wonder you can’t find meaningful dialogue!!!!

  • Tim F.

    Gerald,

    You don’t know what I have read or what I know about the SPLC. […]

  • Tim F,

    I DO know you haven’t read this report and that you know nothing about the work of the SPLC, except for what you’ve been programmed to say by the media. Your lack of understanding comes out loud and clear from what you said from your first comment onward. READ IT. Every word, every phrase, was offered as a smear. You vilified Vox Nova, the people at Vox nova, other sites, the report, SPLC, and on and on by labeling it all as “radical left”. This is mindless crap. There is no better way to describe it. MINDLESS CRAP. What’s more, it was YOU that created it. You owe an apology.

  • militias : Democrats :: Islamic terrorists : Republicans

    Who says that history doesn’t repeat itself. Health care legislation is struggling on congress, a newly elected, popular Democratic president is struggling with falling approval ratings and his own inexperience, and the left is trying to scare themselves and everyone else by digging up a few “militia” nut-jobs and pretending that they’re broadly indicative of “right wingers”, Christians, and gun owners. It’s the mid 90s all over again.

    David,

    I’ve only been blogging on this site for a couple of weeks… No one knows anything about my political beliefs and I’ve been ruthlessly attacked by people who say their on the “right” for simply saying, “We need to be nicer to one another and listen to one another… we need to understand that war and abortion are both intrinsic evils… etc. etc.”

    I’m sure that your intent is indeed to argue that people should be nicer to each other and talk about things rationally, but you might not be aware that then you say:

    I would like to add to all of this by saying that the more I teach about Paul’s ethics and politics in the Church the more I’m afraid of being “taken out” by Christians with guns than by atheists I talk to about Christianity in places like Starbucks. (I’ve yet to meet too many atheists who support people’s “right to own handguns”). In fact, a lot of atheists I know are really terrified about what Christians may soon do with their guns “all in the name of God.”

    Besides… why isn’t gun ownership classified under “Pro-Life” issues? It seems to me that any Christian who is anti-abortion but pro-gun isn’t truly “Pro-Life!” I’m so tired of this… if you’re pro-gun you’re hardly pro-life!

    Many people are not going to see you as being nicer and engaging in open discussion, they’re going to see you as accusing them and 80 million other Americans of being raving lunatics. I mean, seriously, your fellow blogger Matt Talbot is a gun owner. I’m a gun owner. Lots and lots of perfectly calm and decent people (many of them Christian, given the make-up of the US population) own guns which they only use for hunting or at established shooting ranges. And to be honest, I’ve seldom met a more courteous and helpful group of people than the guys you’ll find at your average rifle range. Often the response people have to knowing they’re handling something dangerous is to be extra careful and polite.

    Seriously, if you’re going to go around saying that you’re terrified of “Christians with guns” a lot of people (other than Michael I) are going to find it hard to take you seriously as a reasonable person. If atheists you talk to insist they’re terrified of “Christians with guns” it has a great deal more to do with their person prejudices and class attitudes than it does with any threat they’re actually under. It’s no different from someone saying he’s afraid on a daily basis of being hurt by “black men with power” or “rabid Islamo-fascists” or “illegals”. It’s simply a way of categorizing and hating the Other.

  • markdefrancisis

    “…the left is trying to scare themselves and everyone else by digging up a few “militia” nut-jobs and pretending that they’re broadly indicative of “right wingers”, Christians, and gun owners.”

    This is not what the article nor the report is doing (nor this post).

  • It’s no different from someone saying he’s afraid on a daily basis of being hurt by “black men with power” or “rabid Islamo-fascists” or “illegals”.

    It IS different. And by saying “it’s no different,” you are complicit with such racist ideas.

  • Tim F.

    […]I did read the report.

  • Matt Talbot

    I think some definitions need to be offered when labels like “radical left” are tossed around. Daily Kos, Open Left, Huffpo, and similar publications are not “radical left” by the standards of history and the rest of the world. They are actually well to the right, from the perspective of real, actual, radical leftists.

    No one at those sites (certainly none of the contributors) advocates the violent overthrow of the government; none want to do away with private property; none are for the complete confiscation of wealth from the rich; none use the words “proletariat” (except perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek way) or know the words to the “Internationale” (ok, maybe a few of the leftover sixties types, but they haven’t sung it in probably 40 or 50 years: and the vast majority of the membership is way younger than those elderly folks) or own copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, or have fought in insurgencies.

    So, what are Daily Kos and other, similar sites? They are actually fairly establishmentarian liberal sites who want policies that, for the most part at least, Harry Truman would have considered standard, mainstream, unremarkable Democratic Party fare: Guaranteed health care for all Americans. A more-progressive-than-now income tax. Programs to help single mothers, disadvantaged kids, teachers, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the vulnerable generally and so on.

  • Matt Talbot

    I think some definitions need to be offered when labels like “radical left” are tossed around. Daily Kos, Open Left, Huffpo, and similar publications are not “radical left” by the standards of history and the rest of the world. They are actually well to the right, from the perspective of real, actual, radical leftists.

    No one at those sites (certainly none of the contributors) advocates the violent overthrow of the government; none want to do away with private property; none are for the complete confiscation of wealth from the rich; none use the words “proletariat” (except perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek way) or know the words to the “Internationale” (ok, maybe a few of the leftover sixties types, but they haven’t sung it in probably 40 or 50 years: and the vast majority of the membership is way younger than those elderly folks) or own copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, or have fought in insurgencies.

    So, what are Daily Kos and other, similar sites? They are actually fairly establishmentarian liberal sites who want policies that, for the most part at least, Harry Truman would have considered standard, mainstream, unremarkable Democratic Party fare: Guaranteed health care for all Americans. A more-progressive-than-now income tax. Programs to help single mothers, disadvantaged kids, teachers, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the vulnerable generally and so on.

  • Matt Talbot

    And Vox Nova is not “radical left” by any realistic definition, either.

  • Matt Talbot

    And Vox Nova is not “radical left” by any realistic definition, either.

  • No one at those sites (certainly none of the contributors) advocates the violent overthrow of the government; none want to do away with private property; none are for the complete confiscation of wealth from the rich; none use the words “proletariat” (except perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek way) or know the words to the “Internationale” (ok, maybe a few of the leftover sixties types, but they haven’t sung it in probably 40 or 50 years: and the vast majority of the membership is way younger than those elderly folks) or own copies of Mao’s Little Red Book, or have fought in insurgencies.

    It is also worth mentioning that little of this describes the radical left today.

  • Matt Talbot

    It is also worth mentioning that little of this describes the radical left today.

    That’s right, Michael.

  • Matt Talbot

    It is also worth mentioning that little of this describes the radical left today.

    That’s right, Michael.

  • Kurt

    ……or know the words to the “Internationale” (ok, maybe a few of the leftover sixties types, but they haven’t sung it in probably 40 or 50 years: and the vast majority of the membership is way younger than those elderly folks)…

    hey, hey, HEY!! I have so sung it since then. I stand to sing it and I know most of the words. (I like the Billy Bragg version best).

    Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
    Arise, ye wretched of the earth!

    However, there is an honorable tradition among the democratic left of disciplining excessive radicalism within its own ranks. ADA, the explusion of the Commmunist dominated unions from the CIO and formation of the IUE, Bayard Rustin’s famous debate with Malcolm X, the response to the “New Left” of the 60’s and 70s, etc.

    What many of us are looking for (even those of us who sing The Internationale) is for responsible conservativism to define itself and separate itself from these elements.

  • Matt Talbot

    Apologies, Kurt 🙂

    I’m more of a New Dealer type, myself – although I have respect for my (democratic) socialist brothers.

    By the way, Kurt – have you been involved in union organizing?

  • Matt Talbot

    Apologies, Kurt 🙂

    I’m more of a New Dealer type, myself – although I have respect for my (democratic) socialist brothers.

    By the way, Kurt – have you been involved in union organizing?

  • Kurt

    Oh, I’ve been seen in the union hall once or twice in my life! 🙂

  • Matt Talbot

    To the subject of the post: the rhetoric of the American political right is becoming close to explicitly violent, and the non-insane right needs to publicly denounce and disown these folks.

  • Matt Talbot

    To the subject of the post: the rhetoric of the American political right is becoming close to explicitly violent, and the non-insane right needs to publicly denounce and disown these folks.

  • Matt Talbot

    Kurt – The reason I asked that is I would like to do more than I have been. I’ve blog-rolled some of the bigger names on occasion, and practically every member of my family is union (SEIU and CWA) except for me, but I’d love to be able to do more. Any recommendations about where to start?

  • Matt Talbot

    Kurt – The reason I asked that is I would like to do more than I have been. I’ve blog-rolled some of the bigger names on occasion, and practically every member of my family is union (SEIU and CWA) except for me, but I’d love to be able to do more. Any recommendations about where to start?

  • Michael Enright

    Michael I–

    You state “American Millitia nutcases kill people”. Really? I can’t remember one incident of this.

    I used to hang out in with the gun rights crowd. I believed in it fervently. I never once got the impression that any of the (Michigan) Militia types were going to kill anyone as long as they got to keep their guns.

    Really, just because these people are stockpiling weapons out of paranoia that the government is taking their guns in order to commit genocide doesn’t mean they are going to go out on the streets and actually use them in situations other than a raid on their stock of guns.

  • markdefrancisis

    Timothy McVeigh.

  • Mark deFrancisis, you ought to know better than that. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a direct- mail mill the principal function of which is to provide an agreeable living for Morris Dees. Hype is its business. Here is an article on the subject:

    The church of Morris Dees
    Personal Author: Silverstein, Ken
    Journal Name: Harper’s
    Source: Harper’s v. 301 no. 1806 (November 2000) p. 54-7

  • markdefrancisis

    The Department of Homeland Security judges matters similarly.

  • Matt Talbot

    The Southern Poverty Law Center is a direct- mail mill

    I think that’s a case of the right projecting its own cynicism and mendacity onto the left.

  • Matt Talbot

    The Southern Poverty Law Center is a direct- mail mill

    I think that’s a case of the right projecting its own cynicism and mendacity onto the left.

  • Kurt

    Matt,

    email me and I’ll give you a few suggestions.

    K.

  • Matt Talbot

    Thanks, Kurt.

  • Matt Talbot

    Thanks, Kurt.

  • I think that’s a case of the right projecting its own cynicism and mendacity onto the left.

    My cynical and mendacious self may be doing that, but it is doing that in conjunction with the cynical and mendacious selves over at Harper’s, a publication that no true cynical and mendacious reactionary regards as an ally.

    I will stop being cynical and mendacious for a moment and offer you the suggestion that you not piss any money away by giving it to Morris Dees. Give it to Technoserve, give it to the International Rescue Committee, give it to the Red Cross, give it to the Melkite Eparchy, buy something frivolous for your daughter, just do not give it to Dees. If you want to give it to a political cause, you can send a check to your local public television station, which provides certain agreeable environmental spill overs: Bill Moyers for you, Inspector Lewis for we cynical and mendacious folk.

  • Mark deFrancisis:

    Whatever the Dept. of Homeland Security’s professional staff is anxious about and whatever the political appointees profess to be anxious about, their horror-story of reference is the Oklahoma City bombing. That was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, who was not a member of any militia and had no associates other than Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols. […]

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center is given a good rating by Charity Navigator. It is the same rating as that given to The Heritage Foundation. The salary for Morris Dees, the Co-Founder, Chief Trial Counsel, is $273,132. The salary for Edwin Feulner, President & CEO, is $854,178.

    I read the article referenced in Harper’s. It was certainly iconoclastic, but it never really made clear to me why the article was written. Frankly, the issues raised in this 2000 article seemed almost petty compared to what we know about American institutions today.

    Given that, the principle question must still center on the report itself and beyond the report to the social and political dynamics that now rage throughout our society.

    Rightfully so, the concern about right-wing extremism is wide-spread and the purpose of the SPLC report is to show the kind of activities that give expression to this concern. Even then, however, this report only scratches the surface. It only looks backward and at what the researchers now know.

    But the anger that exists in certain populations around the country is only beginning to grows. Unless defused, it could lead to such tragedy that the nation might never recover.

    So to dismiss this concern is foolish. We dismissed the threats from terrorism until it was too late and the costs of that misjudgment led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

    Why even entertain casualness when so much is at stake?

  • awakaman

    The SPLC is merely a leftwing John Birch Society. They see a Kluxer and Nazi under every bed – especially if pointing one out can make them a buck or two.

    The Department of Homeland Security sees it the same way. Well . . . hell. I hate to be a cynic when it comes to our illustrious government officials but they only have a job (and power) if the public thinks there is a threat out there . . . therefore it also behoves them to “find” those threats.

  • Matt Talbot

    The SPLC is merely a leftwing John Birch Society.

    I have no idea what that even means. In what sense are they in any way comparable to the John Birch Society?? As far as I’ve seen, they do good work in exposing far-right groups with a propensity for violence: this is a good thing, isn’t it?

  • Matt Talbot

    The SPLC is merely a leftwing John Birch Society.

    I have no idea what that even means. In what sense are they in any way comparable to the John Birch Society?? As far as I’ve seen, they do good work in exposing far-right groups with a propensity for violence: this is a good thing, isn’t it?

  • HA

    As far as I’ve seen, they do good work in exposing far-right groups with a propensity for violence…
     
    http://www.harpers.org/media/slideshow/annot/2000-11/

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    Darwin Catholic: How the hell am I being prejudiced against gun owners? Are you kidding me? Are you saying I don’t have a right to dislike guns as much as you dislike people who dislike guns?

    Besides, come on… I’m not talking about hunters… I’m talking about people who carry their firearms to Church or believe they’ve got the right to carry guns to Presidential town hall meetings.

    And, I’ve been in a number of teaching situations where I have been threatened–verbally at the moment–by people for pointing out things in the Scriptures that they don’t like!

    For the record, if you want to talk about being prejudiced, at least I use my real name in blogs, have a picture of myself, and only talk in the abstract. It seems like you enjoy making everything personal. Your long rant simply ends up saying, “David… you’re being prejudiced!” Wow… I wonder what my Native American wife would think about that? Besides, where do you have the right to constantly refer to Michael I in such disparaging terms?

    If God leads you with an informed conscience to own a gun fine… but you also need to respect those of us who God has called not to carry guns…

    What I can’t stand in ad hominem arguments like yours is that you’re allowed to be mean, nasty, have whatever opinion you want, but you don’t have to honor those of us who’ve different opinions. It’s very hard for me to honor the consciences of Catholics who do carry guns and those who choose to abide by the Just War theory. But I have to do such, because that’s what it means to be a Catholic. We live in the both/and and honor the tension of the Paschal Mystery!

    David

  • David Wheeler-Reed

    One last thing… I also teach at a University. Thankfully I’m now at a private University that’s Catholic. But, before that I was at a public University that specifically had to tell people to stop carrying guns to class!

    Perhaps, Darwin Catholic, you’ve never taught in a public University setting where kids are in fact carrying guns in their backpacks.

    Have you any idea what that’s like?

    Have you any idea what it’s like when students question your patriotism because you made them think about their country and all the time you know, “Hey… this may be one of those kids that carries a gun to school?”

    Or… have you ever had to show up on campus with the campus police escorting you to class because they just discovered that the student you gave a “D” to is a member of a gang?

    Or… did your cousin ever almost kill themselves when they were 10 because your grandfather kept a loaded riffle around the house?

    Please take some time and think before you accuse anyone of being prejudiced…

    David