If you thought that outrage against the federal government hit a peak with the raid on the Hutaree militia and the post health-care spate of vandalism, think again: the anti-government militia may be going mainstream. The AP reports that Tea Party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma legislature, frustrated by "recent political setbacks," have stated that they would like to create a "new volunteer militia" to defend against "improper federal infringements on state sovereignty." In contrast to the Hutaree militia, the Oklahoma militia would be an organized and disciplined arm of the Oklahoma state government, authorized by the Oklahoma legislature.
The major proponents of the militia--state senator Randy Brogdon and Tea Party leader J.W. Berry--assert that the unit is not a "far-right crazy plan." Yet many commentators are neither thrilled with the idea of a state-authorized militia nor convinced that such a group would avoid serving as a vehicle for far-right extremism. Lefty bloggers in particular remain skeptical.
- You're Forming A Militia Why? Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair finds the whole movement unnecessary, pointing out that the militia would be too disorganized to effectively mount a forcible resistance to federal law: "How will this volunteer army defeat terrible infringements on states' rights (e.g., abuses of power such as providing affordable health care for the middle class) with their guns and/or misspelled posters or whatever? ... A lawyer, probably, would be as effective--if not more so!--as a volunteer army in terms of overturning federal mandates. Someone Google the Second Amendment, see if there's anything about 'right to bear counsel' in there."
- You're Fighting Which Infringements on States Rights? At liberal site The Daily Kos, Hunter senses a slippery slope ahead of the Oklahoma militia. "Let's say that the federal government 'infringes state sovereignty' in some way, maybe by requiring Oklahoma schools to, I don't know, teach black children or something," he asks, seething with sarcasm. "What, precisely, will be the 'militia' response? No, seriously -- I'm dying to hear it. We all are."
- Your Leader Is Who? Lee Fang at liberal Think Progress reports that the J.W. Berry, tea party leader of the Tulsa-based OKforTea, has a questionable, if not immediately alarming, background:
Berry, the tea party leader who first solicited support for the militia, has posted rants against President Obama: the "Muslim President" -- a "reincarnation of Pol Pot" who is trying imprison Americans for resisting health reform. One ominous posting from Berry says that his militia should "launch a thousand guerrilla attacks on the plans that these people have to ruin us and our country." Both Berry and Brogdon lean heavily on far right propaganda and media outlets to fuel their conspiracy theories. Berry frequently cites conservative news outlets like CNS and notes that he draws inspiration from the white supremacist thriller The Turner Diaries. Despite his extremism, Berry has met with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and other members of the Oklahoma Republican delegation, and counts them as "rock solid."
- You Are Out Of Your Mind True/Slant's Allison Kilkenny makes no effort to hide her outrage, mocking the right-wing paranoia and pinning responsibility on an absentee Republican Party:
Most teabaggers identify as conservative. The GOP is now running on a platform of blockading the democratic system, and refuses to acknowledge that a majority of American people elected the Democrats for a reason (namely they wanted a change from Republican leadership), so all that hate and panic need to go somewhere. It needs an outlet. Waiting a few years to vote for a new president seems like it's out of the question, so forming militias is the only way to go! In much the same way that I thought Lynndie England was unfairly scapegoated for what was pretty clearly systemic rot within the military (disseminated via top-down leadership), Tea Party panic is also transparently a symptom of irresponsible leadership within the Republican Party.