On Rhetoric, Violence, and Militias

My feature in the October Reason, "The Paranoid Center," has prompted a response from the liberal blogger David Neiwert (whose book The Eliminationists was, in turn, critiqued in my article). He singles out two of my points for criticism, starting with my argument that "Accusing Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly of validating right-wing violence isn't so different from accusing pornography of validating rape, Ozzy Osbourne of validating teen suicide, or Marilyn Manson of validating school massacres." Writes Neiwert:

Actually, it is quite different from that. Because what The Eliminationists describes is not artistic expression or mere point of view, but rather ideological exhortation -- rhetoric specifically intended to inspire both belief and action. The former has only a tenuous causal connection at best, while the latter has a long and well-established causal connection to violent behavior.

Surely Walker doesn't believe for a minute that radical anti-Israeli speech emanating from Hamas has no connection to the suicide bombers who board buses in Tel Aviv. It's hard to imagine anyone not acknowledging that radical Jihadist anti-American speech doesn't inspire Al Qaeda's acts of terrorism. Nor even that the Ku Klux Klan race baiters of the '20s and '30s didn't help inspire various acts of lynching and "race rioting".

Accusing Beck and O'Reilly of validating right-wing violence isn't like connecting Marilyn Manson to Columbine -- which is to say, connecting something that only tenuously could be said to actually inspire or advocate violence. It's much more like connecting radical imams to 9/11.

Neiwert is conflating several different categories of speech here. There are direct exhortations to violence, of the sort deployed by jihadists or by propaganda broadcasts in Rwanda. And then there's what we've seen in some right-wing (and left-wing) outlets here in America: jokes about violence, deliberately over-the-top rhetoric that casually invokes violence, and harsh rhetoric that does not invoke violence but might help the violently inclined choose a target. Whatever you think about any of that speech, it's a stretch to say it's "specifically intended to inspire both belief and action," if by action you mean actual violent attacks. It's even more of a stretch to suggest such speech inspired all of the crimes that pundits have attempted to link to it. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are not known for denouncing the Holocaust museum.

Just as important, Neiwert doesn't acknowledge all the ways speech can be received. He argues that when extremists see

someone like Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck or Lou Dobbs repeating for a mass national audience things they believed were only understood by people like themselves, it has not only a powerfully validating effect, but even moreso a permission-giving one. Just as hate-crime perpetrators believe they are acting on the secret wishes of their larger communities, violent extremists have a need to believe that they are acting heroically, on behalf of their nation or their "people." Mainstream validation tells them they are supported.

This is one conceivable reaction such broadcasts could spark in such circles, but it is hardly the only one, and Neiwert offers no evidence that it is dominant or even common. Words are influential, but they influence different people in different ways; it would take a really extensive sociological study to establish whether talk radio and TV do more to fan Americans' violent instincts or to tamp them down. Whatever else might be said about Glenn Beck's "9-12 Project," for example, it could easily absorb energy that otherwise would go to more aggressive pursuits. Reihan Salam has gone so far as to argue that "Beck's occasionally loopy warnings about socialist totalitarianism and the coming American civil war actually inoculate his viewers against truly extreme sentiments. You couldn't invent a better government stooge than Beck." Salam notes that because Keith Olbermann was willing to explore the claim that the Republicans stole the election in Ohio in 2004, "true believers treated him as an honest broker. And when Olbermann eventually moved on, they did too, for the most part." Beck did something similar when he raised those dubious yarns about FEMA concentration camps before dismissing them.

My point isn't that Salam is necessarily right. It's that his hypothesis is as at least as plausible as Neiwert's, and that both could very well be true for different listeners and viewers, along with a host of other reactions. Media effects are complicated, and you can't reduce them to simple push-pull reactions. (And if that argument sounds familiar, it's because some of us have said the same thing when the speech in question is an Eminem record or Natural Born Killers.)

Neiwert also takes me to task for writing that he "uncritically embraced the idea that the militia movement began in 1992, so it's easy for him to imagine a progression from the old lynch mobs to the right-wing '80s underground to the '90s militias to Republicans who tolerate militia-style arguments." He replies:

I'm not sure what in the hell Walker is talking about here. Nowhere have I suggested that the militia movement began in 1992. And I haven't uncritically embraced anyone's theories about their origins. After all, I was there and reported on them at the time. I've been reporting on them since.

Walker seems oblivious to the fact that my first published book was a study of the "Patriot" movement of the 1990s from a Northwestern perspective, titled In God's Country. It was published by a small academic press, so I can't blame him if he hasn't read it. But a little research would have revealed to him that the book is based on my on-the-ground reportage involving the extremist right in the Northwest dating back to the 1970s and picking up in the early '90s....

What I can tell you is what I laid out in the book, with the full body of evidence: that the militias were actually an outgrowth of the larger "Christian Patriot" movement that became an umbrella term for the American extremist right in the mid-1980s. The militias were seen as a means to recruit new believers from the mainstream, by appealing to their "libertarian" ideals and their fears about guns and government power.

First things first: Elsewhere in the article I distinguish two origin stories for the militias of the '90s. One, presented by the historian Robert Churchill in To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face, says that the movement began to congeal in 1994 as a reaction to the one-two punch of Ruby Ridge and Waco -- and, more broadly, to the paramilitarization of policing, a phenomenon Radley Balko writes about frequently in Reason. The other narrative says that the militias evolved directly from the racist right of the '80s, and that the turning point was a conference in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1992. Neiwert clearly accepts the idea that the militias were a direct sequel to the earlier radical right, and he has written elsewhere that the Estes Park conference played a pivotal role in the transformation (and has quoted, with apparent approval, an SPLC statement that the gathering was where "the contours of the militia movement were laid out"). If he doesn't think the word "began" captures his view of what happened, I accept the amendment: The belief I'm disputing, after all, is that the militias were not so much a new movement as a new mask for an earlier crusade. As Neiwert sums up the story, "They love to present a normative front that is non-threatening and whose deep radicalism is not immediately apparent. But eventually the real agenda emerges."

Neiwert will be happy to hear that I'm familiar with In God's Country. I have my disagreements with it, some of them substantial, but I think it's an impressive book: a rich, nuanced, and empathetic portrait of a political movement. But it isn't the militia movement that's being depicted -- not as a whole, anyway. The book is a regional portrait of the "Christian Patriot" subculture in the inner northwest, a milieu that overlaps with the militias but by no means subsumes them. (A rough comparison: The New Left overlapped with the counterculture, but there were plenty of New Leftists who hated hippies and plenty of hippies who rejected left-wing politics.) Many, maybe most of the groups that Neiwert covered in detail weren't militias at all, and most of the ones that were militias hailed from the millennarian wing of the movement. (Churchill divides the militias into two tendencies, the constitutionalists and the millenarians. The former emphasized civil liberties and organized in public, while the latter emphasized apocalyptic conspiracy theories and often organized in secret cells. The second segment was also more likely to tolerate racists.) Furthermore, one of the militias that Neiwert profiles -- the Militia of Montana -- had unusually close links to the racist right. Its co-founder John Trochman was, as far as I'm aware, the one notable militia leader who reportedly attended that gathering in Estes Park (though he denies that he was there), and he has past associations with the white supremacist community.

In other words, Neiwert has shown us part of the picture, but not all of it. I too spoke with my share of militiamen and read my share of militia literature in the '90s, both as a reporter who occasionally covered that segment of society and as a libertarian bumping into the fringes of my own movement. The camo-clad rebels that I encountered were angry about gun control, land use regulations, and police abuses, particularly the disastrous ATF and FBI raids at Waco. (And, yes, they were often angry about an assortment of conspiracy theories, some of them deeply bizarre.) They showed no sign of being driven by racism or anti-Semitism; I'm pretty sure some of them were Jewish, and others attempted to build bridges to radical blacks. The impression I got from them was that the racists in the militia scene resembled the Maoist and Trotskyist sects that attempt to attach themselves to any remotely popular cause on the left.

I'm not claiming that my experience outweighs Neiwert's. I'm saying we were feeling different parts of the elephant. As a libertarian, I was more likely to meet militia types with a constitutionalist outlook, just as a journalist in the region where the Identity movement is strongest was more likely to meet militiamen in the Christian Patriot mold. I think Churchill makes a good case that the constitutionalists were a much stronger strain in the movement than Neiwert imagines.

A final thought. Suppose, for the same of argument, that Neiwert is right about the militias' origins -- that they were invented by militant racists aiming to recruit mainstream Americans "by appealing to their 'libertarian' ideals and their fears about guns and government power." If that were true, the bigots' plot was surely a failure. Whatever its origins, the militia movement of the '90s had a life of its own, and the chief issues that commanded its attention didn't have anything to do with race. Indeed, its cause celebre was the confrontation at Waco, where roughly half of the 80 Branch Davidians killed were not white. (The body count included five Asians, six Hispanics, and 28 blacks.) To make one last '60s comparison: Students for a Democratic Society began as the youth arm of a far-from-militant band of social democrats called the League for Industrial Democracy. With time SDS exploded in both size and activity, breathing new life into several political perspectives -- but not into the League, which embodied the Old Left the kids were rejecting.

Which brings the discussion full circle. You can't predict what autonomous audiences will do with the signals they receive: not an Ozzy Osbourne song, not a Glenn Beck broadcast, and not a call to form citizen militias.

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  • Anonymous||

    "by appealing to their 'libertarian' ideals and their fears about guns and government power."

    Judging solely by the fact that this conspiracy theory appeals to him, he's obviously got a love of collective action against the individual that will not save him from being the first against the wall when the revolution comes.*

    *In the updated histories, it is noted he was among the first against the wall when the revolutino came.

  • ||

    If Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are inciting violence, then so are Michael Moore and Naomi Klein. Witness the anti-globalization rioters in Pittsburg, and at previous economic summits. Michael Moore goes so far as to denounce capitalism as "evil". He called Iraqi insurgents "minutemen". That kind of speech has exactly the same kind of "validating" effect on far-left violence that anything Limbaugh or Beck has said has on right wing violence. Not to mention, say, the leftist habit of wearing images of Che Guevara.

  • Paul||

    Actually, it is quite different from that. Because what The Eliminationists describes is not artistic expression



    Boom. There it is. He just opened his fly. More proof liberals only give a shit about artistic speech, and have no will or desire to protect political speech.

  • Raffi Paloulian||

    You ever wonder about these militia groups? Survivalist-type kooks on the right wing side? They say they're defending the country from U.N. troops. These guys are yelling so loud, my theory is that this is a conspiracy, pal - they are the U.N. troops, and they're in place. The infrastructure's ready, it's a fait accompli. When the time comes, they'll just take over and we'll all be toast.

  • ¢||

    roughly half of the 80 Branch Davidians killed were not white

    Knowing that is racist.

  • ||

    Whereas this really long post inspired me mainly to scroll down to the end -- and Mr. Beck inspires me to change the channel.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Meanwhile, four and a half years ago, I showed at michellemalkin.com/immigration/2005/03/30/05:10.pm how Neiwert was misleading at dneiwert.blogspot.com/2005/03/anchor-babies-away.html

    Rather than disagreeing with him, I showed how he was wrong about the facts. I didn't deign to mention him by name, since he's just a lightweight nobody who relies on others to tell him what to do (the SPLC and others).

    It's not surprising that Walker has no clue about how to deal with lightweights.

  • smartass sob||

    @Hazel Meade:

    Just for the sake of idle curiosity, perhaps you would indulge me a question: Is your handle a woman's name, or does it denote an ancient, fermented beverage?

  • Jesse Walker||

    It's not surprising that Walker has no clue about how to deal with lightweights.

    Sure I do. I poke fun at them in comment threads.

  • ||

    s sob,

    I may be wrong, but I'm guessing the handle comes from Heinlein's novel, 'The Rolling Stones.'

    Hazel Meade (Stone) was essentially the (very libertarian ish) matriarch of the title family in the novel.

  • ||

    "roughly half of the 80 Branch Davidians killed were not white""

    So the headline should have been:
    Federal forces burn down a building full of members of an unpopular cult;
    Women and minorities hardest hit!

  • ||

    ""prolefeed | September 24, 2009, 11:36pm | #

    Whereas this really long post inspired me mainly to scroll down to the end -- and Mr. Beck inspires me to change the channel.
    ""

    You know if there really was a talking head that encouraged citizens to actually resist the income tax, and gun laws, (and speech laws) by arms if necessary,

    dude, I would totally tune into that show.

    Glenn Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, the talking heads we have now, are by no means radical enough. They are just slightly different than MSNBC.

    I am half surprised that they weren't condemning the Tea Parties along with CNN.

  • ||

    Actually it's from 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', although it's the same character.

    Hazel Meade was a 12 year old redheaded girl who was involved in the lunar revolution. She ran the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of kids that handed out pamphlets and pulled pranks on the dragoons. At the end of the novel she marries into the Stone clan, and sppears in several other novels.

  • ||

    It's a pleasure to say:

    Shut the fuck up lonewacko

  • ||

    Damn, how did I forget her in 'Moon'?

    I recently reread 'Stones', prior to handing it off to my nephew, so apparently it was at the front of the brain :o)

  • jester||

    If you are against ObamaCare you are a racist gun-stockpiling militia member waiting for coded signals from caudillos Beck and O'Reilly to begin shooting. The essence of Neiwart's argument.

    Talk about lunatic fringe. What a sorry ass fuck of a reporter. Either he is a shill for the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party (my guess), which makes him a dishonest manipulating fuck...or...he is about to report on the thrill of alien abduction by focusing on frequent satisfying anal probes.

  • ||

    We're all Racists now . . . Oh, and Keynesians.

  • B||

    Seriously, anyone who sees any equivalence, at all, between what O'Reilly and Beck say and Hamas is too fucking dumb to even bother replying to in any meaningful way. Why are we taking serious some idiotic asshole who spouts pathetically hilarious pop-sociology bullshit about validation in order to stifle those who don't think Barack Obama is the greatest fucking thing since George Washington?


    Blaming Beck and O'Reilly for random acts of violence is about as intellectually sound as blaming The Beatles for the murders committed by the Manson family. It is even more retarded when you consider this ignorant fuck is claiming "Go blow up the Jews" is the moral equivalent to "Barack Obama is a socialist".

  • ||

    Fun little dialog in the comments on the Neiwart post between "RunAmok" and everyone else. It looks like he gets banned, and Crooks & Liars comes out looking completely pathetic for it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This article has inspired me to commit violence against Neiwert. Or maybe play violins for him. I'll wait to see what it inspires everyone else to do.

  • Joe M||

    Thanks for that post, Fist, you validated my own plans for violence.

  • ed||

    We Americans have always been skeptical of our government. It didn't "happen" in the 1990s. The nature of the anxiety has evolved over time as government power has expanded, but this (mutual?) mistrust has been there since before the Revolution.

  • Just Admit That You Were Wrong||

    This post reminds me of how brilliant Libertarians are at defending their own beliefs through a maze of hair splitting and semantics.

    Walker writes a mind-numbingly long reply that seems more interested in burying his foibles in a mountain of defense.

    Libertarians love using lawyer logic to mangle the discussion to the point where you wouldn't even have time to address every single complaint, even if you gave shit. All in all, this defense is hardly meaningful.

    Smart people believe weird things because they're good at defending those beliefs.

  • MNG||

    I'd say the difference between Hamas and Klan speech and Beck, Ozzy and porn speech on the other is that the former is speech specifically urging the very violence it triggers while the latter is not. Ozzy doesn't say "go out and commit suicide" he just sings about suicide in general; porn doesn't say "go out and rape girls" it just says "having sex like this is great"; and Beck and O'Reilly don't say "go out and do violence" they just say "our nation is in trouble, the other side is evil blah blah blah." On the other hand Hamas and the Klan urge people to do the very violence that later people take them up on. That's a huge difference imo.

    The real problem with Beck, O'Reilly and Limbaugh is they are stunningly stupid and boring. And they are a bunch of intellectual pussies (well, perhaps O'Reilly not so much).

  • MNG||

    "If Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are inciting violence, then so are Michael Moore and Naomi Klein. Witness the anti-globalization rioters in Pittsburg, and at previous economic summits."

    I think this is right, but I'll throw out there that I don't think those folks have killed many people while in recent years some right wing nuts have done so.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Just Admit That You Were Wrong

    OK. Wrong about what?

  • ||

    To put it in George Carlin-eske phrasing:

    Selling coffee is legal, wearing bikinis is legal, so why isn't selling coffee while wearing bikinis legal?

  • Joe M||

    I'd say the difference between Hamas and Klan speech and Beck, Ozzy and porn speech on the other is that the former is speech specifically urging the very violence it triggers while the latter is not.

    If you think this, you've clearly never listened to Glenn Beck. He regularly, consistently, explicitly says on his radio show that violence is not the answer, and he absolutely does not advocate violent actions. Also, what particular violence has been triggered? Legally carrying a gun isn't a violent action.

  • Jesse Walker||

    To those who've complained: This is a long reply because it's a response to a long post. Not that I can blame Neiwert for that -- he was replying to a long article.

  • ||

    "Right wing violence" (or anything that can be spun as such) is totally in character for the right, and so demonstrates what their character is, and so is in character w/ it.

    Left wing violence is out of character, so says nothing about their character, and since there is therefore no violence in their character, this violence is out of character w/ it.

    In other words, their violence only matters if it fits in w/ their preconceived notions of them and of their opponents. Your 'violence' is what you're about. My violence is just an excess of passion and idealism.

  • Untermensch||

    Just looked at the Neiwart article. I think there is more to his argument than Jesse gives him credit for, at least if his argument were a call for both sides to be truthful in their rhetoric.

    But instead Neiwart shows the special pleading characteristic of both sides in full force, something most of his commenters don't seem to be able to see.

    He has to show that there is a moral and tactical disparity between his side and the other side, so it quickly ends up at, in effect, "well, our side isn't stupid enough to actually take rhetorical calls to violence seriously, so we're not guilty, while you mouth-breathing idiots can't make that same distinction, so you are guilty." I keep seeing this over and over again from my friends on the left, who minimize their own side's rhetorical violence while maximizing that of the right, usually also ignoring the track record of both sides in trying to enforce ideology by force.

    I also found it interesting the way the commenters used the case of the Goldmarks to try to deflect legitimate criticism of their case. E.g.,

    If you knew diddly spit about the gruesome, unfathomable nature of the Goldmark murders, you'd stop trying to denigrate what Niewart is explaining.



    That's nice. Since the Goldmarks were murdered, in actions explicitly condemned by those on the opposite side, no criticism of Niewart's points can be voiced (it's "denigration" instead).

    And when someone asked why it was bigoted to talk about those on the left critically, but not to call non-leftists as "tea baggers", there was this gem of a response:

    the screamers and yellers, with no substance to their arguments, or having arguments based on lies? Nope. pretty much wingnutty. Don't think it's bigotry in the least.



    So anyone who doesn't agree with Obama can have no "substance" to their arguments? It seems the mark of a true bigot has always been that he believes his bigotry is not bigotry but grounded in fact. It's not bigotry, it's just the way things are.

    I also love that the commenters there refused to admit it when they were hoisted on their own petard in a few cases...

    I know it's pointless to shadowbox with these folks here, and there is plenty of echo chamber on H&R as well, but I think most of us here actually recognize it, while there is a pretty strenuous effort to enforce orthodoxy over there (look at the number of attempts to ban opposing voices and the number of comments removed). I'm going to start pointing my hard leftists friends to that site and ask them about the vaunted "openness" of the left, because it sure isn't in evidence on that site.

  • ||

    What justifies violence more, over the top rhetoric or dismissal of your side's violence (like http://www.star-telegram.com/190/story/1634691.html in this morning's links thread) as youthful idealism, no big deal, nothing worth condemnation, etc?

  • smartass sob||

    @Homer, @Hazel Meade:

    Thanks for the info. It's been twenty-something years since the last time I read "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress." It was one of my favorite Heinlein novels, so perhaps it's time to read it again.

  • Joe M||

    This entire thing is ridiculous, because the vast majority of Tea Party protestors have no violence in mind. Meanwhile, the anti-capitalism protestors at the G20 are smashing windows and talking about 100 potential targets.

    I'm probably a fascist for pointing this out.

  • Warty||

    They're not so much anti-capitalism protesters as much as they are pro-smashing protesters. Smashing is fun.

  • Gneissguy||

    New Page 1







    @kwais
    "You know if there really was a talking head that
    encouraged citizens to actually resist the income tax, and gun laws, (and speech
    laws) by arms if necessary,


    dude, I would totally tune into that show."

    OK, here is something to tune into kwais. http://freetalklive.com/

    Free Talk Live is hosted by a couple of Free State Project
    members that are encouraging people not to be sheeple. You can listen live if
    you are lucky enough to live in the right area but they also put out all of
    their shows as podcasts.




  • ||

    Joe M, Obama wants me to tell you that Ayers told him to tell me to tell you that you most definitely ARE a racist for saying that.

  • ||

    Correction: a Fascioracist.

  • ||

    I recently reread 'Stones', prior to handing it off to my nephew

    Think about Tunnel In The Sky for him if you've never read it yourself. Fantastic book.

  • ||

    The Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project...said it will send groups out across the city this morning to cause further disruption, according to its Web site...66 people were arrested...as officers wearing body armor used tear gas to break up crowds of demonstrators wielding steel trash bins as battering rams...42 people were arrested last night near the university, while 24 were picked up earlier on charges ranging from failure to disperse to inciting a riot...At least two police officers received minor injuries, he said. About a dozen businesses suffered damage...70 groups have endorsed the march, which is shilled billed as non-violent...



    Yeah, but you've got to watch out for those violent tea-baggers, they might say something mean to you.

  • ||

    It appears that congress is going to "reform" our health care whether or not 85% of us are satisfied with what we now have. So instead of looking at tort reform or loosening regulations that inhibit insurance competition among the proposals from Beck, O'Reilly and others, we will have a complete remake of our health care delivery system.

    I have seen that even our peaceful "march" on DC on 9/12 will not stop ObamaCare and even after our show of distaste for the government option, Speaker Pelosi is about to reinstate it in HR 3200. Thus the economic freedom issues (i.e. mandatory health care requirement under government mandates) and civil liberties (i.e. IRS held financial and doctors/hospital held medical records released to the government) will remain in some form. I don't trust the conference committee outcome even if the Senate bill is milder in appearance, which it seems not to be in the first place.

    Our successful efforts to remain non-violent and civil, unlike those from those at the G-20 meeting, has not worked with congress and this administration, but those of us who oppose ObamaCare and other infringements on our liberties have not yet utilized the full range of MLK's peaceful tactics. We should be prepared to follow the example set in Tennessee to shut down government after the governor and legislature proposed to vote in and approve a state income tax in 1999. The MSM seems to have neglected to report much on this, so go to glennreynolds.com/?p=8 for some details.

    With the reported 26,000 TEA Party organizations in our great country, we could make life difficult for those cloistered in DC.

  • MNG||

    Joe M
    I thought I was agreeing with you. I've never heard Beck call for violence. Hamas and the Klan do. That's the crucial difference. Sorry if I was not clear.

  • Rich||

    Think about Tunnel In The Sky for him if you've never read it yourself. Fantastic book.

    I second the recommendation. Read it in elementary school and became a science fiction fan. (The libertarianism kicked in later.)

  • Joe M||

    MNG, sorry, I misread the commas and "ands."

  • ||

    I'm not saying we're there, but at what point would a call for violent resistance be appropriate?

    For exampe, what if the President or Congress was Constitutionally illegitimate (that is, cancelled elections or were Constitutionally ineligible for office yet refused to step down)?

  • an occasional commenter||

    I am going through a background reinvestigation to keep my security clearances up to date; for the first time there is this (paraphrased) question: 'Do you now, or have you ever, belonged to a militia?' It is next to the questions about belonging to an organization that advocates the violent overthrow of the US Government.

  • Rich||

    for the first time there is this (paraphrased) question: 'Do you now, or have you ever, belonged to a militia?'

    *Please* tell me the (actual) question was not 'Do you frequent Reason Hit and Run?'!

  • ||

  • \"Markets Are Magical!\"||

    I'm howling at the comparison of G20 protesters to tea baggers.

    Look, G20 protesters don't define a large portion of Liberal functioning, but tea baggers, and Fox pundits do for Conservatives. More importantly, they have much greater influence on their chosen political group.

    Face it, around the world, Conservative thought is predominantly associated with cruelty, nutty ideas, and nutty behavior. Of course, this relatively small group of Conservative advocates, most of which are found in the Southern U.S., somehow believe that they know something that the rest of the world doesn't. Bah, peasants!

    Are you guys still repeating the myth that the CRA was the cause of the economic collapse? That was a beauty of a lie, and some people clearly fell for it, since they're still repeating it. Facing the truth about the situation is much more difficult because it would demonstrate how irrational, and negative the market can be. You can't effectively sell that, so you have to lie about those effects in a cowardly fashion with ample bitterness.

    The same thing is being done with the health-care debate. It's not about accuracy, or having a discussion, it's about trying to destroy the discussion, period. We've seen it in the past, and we're seeing the same thing again today.

    You have to realize that to most other people, you come across as crazy. There's a reason for that. Think about it. How many predictive failures are you sad twats going to have to endure before you develop some reasonable doubt about your chosen religion?

    Shock therapy? Sex? A lasting romance?

  • Untermensch||

    Where did "Markets Are Magical" come from? He clearly has NO idea what discussion goes on here-or he wouldn't be calling us "conservatives" to start with-but wants to lecture readers on what they really believe. Nice of you to visit, Magical, and it's good you could vent some spleen, but if you had any goal other than to try to piss on us, you failed. How about engaging with what people here, you know, actually say?

  • ||

    "More importantly, they have much greater influence on their chosen political group"

    Says the gal from a party that has installed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Is Pelosi really more 'mainstream' than Glenn Beck? Or are they two sides of the same coin?

  • ||

    """Think about Tunnel In The Sky for him if you've never read it yourself. Fantastic book.""

    That was one of my favorites.

    """'Do you now, or have you ever, belonged to a militia?' It is next to the questions about belonging to an organization that advocates the violent overthrow of the US Government."""

    Well, according to the Constitiution, militias are necessary for a free state. Maybe it's just their way of admiting we are no longer free. ;-)

  • \"Markets Are Magical!\"||

    "I'm not saying we're there, but at what point would a call for violent resistance be appropriate?"

    Oh, shut up you kook. Listen to you itching for a civil war because of a fucking health care debate. Of course, like with most Libertarians, this is fantasy talk meant to alleviate your clear lack of influence in society. You have the ambition of an alpha male, and the brains of hysterical woman.

    How can you claim legitimacy as a political force when you speak with such divisive, and absurd language? I mean, do you even care about having other people listen to you?

    You don't seem to get it R.C. Cola, if you want people to take your ideas seriously, then you have to convince other people to feel the same way about them. You are not functioning on any foundation of absolute truth. You are selling an idea. The burden of proof is on you. If you can't convince others, then speculating on armed resistance comes across as little more than a form of sour grapes for the mentally ill.

    You're rhetoric is one of the reasons that dedicated Conservative types are seen as loons by a large number of people inside, and outside of the U.S.

    If you think the public is going to back such deluded talk, then you've spent way too much time in your echo chamber. You would be in for a rude awakening.

    It's a good thing that Libertarians are so full of bluff, or else I would have to come over there and sit you down myself.

    What a bunch of kids.

  • Jesse Walker||

    How can you claim legitimacy as a political force when you speak with such divisive, and absurd language? I mean, do you even care about having other people listen to you?

    There's a lack of self-awareness here that I find charming.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Face it, around the world, Conservative thought is predominantly associated with cruelty, nutty ideas, and nutty behavior.


    Around the world, it is perfectly acceptable for the police to conduct searches for any reason, to require criminal suspects to testify against themselves, to execute women who committed adultery, etc.

  • ||

    Well if you look at the governments around the world that engage in that behavior, they are more conservative than liberal.

    Law and order types are generally conservative. Break the law pay the price. It's usually conservative members of SCOTUS that support the powers of authority.

    Which memebers of SCOTUS support restraining a person to get his body fluids?

  • ||

    Boom. There it is. He just opened his fly. More proof liberals only give a shit about artistic speech, and have no will or desire to protect political speech.

    Even that's limited. Try buying a Skrewdriver album in America anywhere but some neo-nazi website. I've even had to even do a clandestine backroom exchange in an underground record store, because anti-rascist zealots have threatened to burn the owner's store down for openly carrying any of their later catalog.

    While we're on the subject, I own every one of their albums, and it has never once crossed my mind that their rascist nationalism was anything but retarded. (Their early stuff wasn't rascist. They were part of Britain's the original '77 wave. And if obscenely catchy 3 chord punk/street rock is your bag, they made 3 or 4 of the most kick-assed albums of that era. Also, it's a free fucking country and I'll listen to whatever the fuck I want)

    Albeit this is not early 80's Britain, but I can't see the lyrics changing ANYONE'S ideas about race and government that didn't already feel that way.

    I can own Midnight Oil records, and still not think it's politically viable to return Australia to the aborigines. I can own Crass records and still think Anarcho-socialism is a goofy pipe dream. They're just ideas put to music. I like music. And if people think we should ban IDEAS, then they're the fascists. Period.

  • JB||

    David Neiwert is encouraging political violence.

    Those who suppress political speech encourage political violence.

    If people can't rant about the idiots on the other side (or sides), then maybe they will start taking potshots at them. The rage has to be expressed some way.

  • JB||

    As for the retarded G20 hippies that drove the Volvos that mommy and daddy bought them down to the protest, they are all losing their shit because some National Guard military police are involved in arresting people for assault and property damage:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8CNa_viKg0

  • ||

    JB, I guess it depends on if you believe the video is real. Many seem to think it's fake.

  • GILMORE||

    Just Admit That You Were Wrong | September 25, 2009, 7:39am | #
    This post reminds me of how brilliant Libertarians are at defending their own beliefs through a maze of hair splitting and semantics.

    Walker writes a mind-numbingly long reply that seems more interested in burying his foibles in a mountain of defense.

    Libertarians love using lawyer logic to mangle the discussion to the point where you wouldn't even have time to address every single complaint, even if you gave shit. All in all, this defense is hardly meaningful.

    Smart people believe weird things because they're good at defending those beliefs.


    'weird'?

    Basically the guy seems to be saying, "right, wrong, whatever! you got pwned!"

    I think the whole rhetoric vs logic distiction might have passed this fella by. Maybe its the modern short attention span. "man, you might have had a point, but it was like hard to read and long and gave me a headache so your shit is totally not as cool as the guy who told me bush was hitler and gave me a cookie".

    It seems like if you cant put an idea on a tshirt these days people cant keep it in their heads.

  • ||

    I think this is right, but I'll throw out there that I don't think those folks have killed many people while in recent years some right wing nuts have done so.

    Yes, right wing nuts have killed a few individuals in isolated acts of violence - and of course, one large-scale event in 93. Not by coordinated action as militias however. The right-wing militas have never actually attempted anything beyond a few largely self-gratifying training exercises in the woods. These people just like to imagine themselves as revolutionaries, they are not serious enough to attempt anything in groups of larger than one or two. In that sense, they are equivalent to the Che shirt wearing talkers you find at anarchist meetings in Eugene, Oregon.

    On the other hand, FARC is still killing and kidnapping people in Colombia, Chavez is still funding them, Castro is still imprisoning dissidents, and so are the Chinese.

  • GILMORE||

    also, STFU lonewacko

  • ||

    JB,
    I just saw your video, pretty funny. Looks like a poorly done fake.

  • ||

    I am going through a background reinvestigation to keep my security clearances up to date; for the first time there is this (paraphrased) question: 'Do you now, or have you ever, belonged to a militia?'

    What retard wrote that, anyway? By law, every adult male is a member of the militia.

  • ||

    You have to realize that to most other people, you come across as crazy. There's a reason for that. Think about it. How many predictive failures are you sad twats going to have to endure before you develop some reasonable doubt about your chosen religion?

    Post Office
    Amtrak
    Pentagon spending
    Public Schools
    All public construction projects
    VA system
    Social Security
    War on drugs
    FDA
    Soviet Union

    Yeah, those market fundies sure do have a lot to answer for. If only they would pull their collective heads outta their arses and realize the kind of good that can be accomplished by intelligent allocation of resources vs. KAOS (tm). Central planning is where it's at.

  • JB||

    JB, I guess it depends on if you believe the video is real. Many seem to think it's fake.

    I doubt it's fake. There are 2,500 National Guard deployed around Pittsburgh:
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,554600,00.html

    Those are likely military police (MPs) from a National Guard unit or units.

  • an occasional commernter||

    Well, according to the Constitiution, militias are necessary for a free state. Maybe it's just their way of admiting we are no longer free.

    In their defense, there are many things on the form that are not illegal, they just throw flags that maybe the person should not have access to some kinds of sensitive information. Things like indebtedness, criminal record, providing guidance to foreign governments, etc. In all cases you are given the opportunity to explain, and typically the passage of time makes issues less important. I just found it interesting that the question was new (AFAI recall), and that it was lumped next to being a member of terrorist organizations.

    What retard wrote that, anyway? By law, every adult male is a member of the militia.

    FWIW, the actual question was "Have you EVER participated in militias (not including official state government militias) or paramilitary groups." For those truly interested, google "Standard Form 86," the paper form is available on-line.

  • ||

    A good reason to always keep your paramilitary groups informal. :P
    They can't prove shite if there are no records, membership cards, meeting minutes, or whatever it is that paramilitary groups take at meetings (ammo usage accounts?).

  • Craig||

    Has anyone on the left bothered to research any of the demographics of those who listen to right-wing talk radio or watch right-wing cable news shows? Just a guess, but the average perpetrator of the crimes in question probably falls pretty far from the mean.

  • Jim Treacher||

    Having been branded an "eliminationist" myself by Neiwart, he doesn't seem to be too careful about using the term. Apparently he defines it as "anything or anyone I, David Neiwart, do not like."

    Oh, and it was because I said this, in reference to the kid who broke into Sarah Palin's e-mail account: "We are the vermin we've been waiting for." Eliminationismism!

  • Rusty Shackleford||

    A good reason to always keep your paramilitary groups informal. :P

    Damn straight.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the employment office to collect some checks.

  • dennis||

    Didn't you die in the third grade?

  • Rusty Shackleford||

    Didn't you die in the third grade?

    Paper reports of my death have been greatly shredded.

  • mec||

    Here is some violence-positive talk from talk radio:

    Announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [gunshot] [gunshot] [gunshot] [gunshot]."

    Announcer: "Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/archives/air_america_under_investigation_for_bush_gunshot_skit/

  • jester||

    "FARC is still killing and kidnapping"

    I can identify with that. I was kidnapped by those fuckers in 98. Yep, they're assholes.

  • jester||

    And so a very personal fuck you to Oliver Stone, Hugo Chavez and any leftie fuck that defends them. They even kidnapped my leftie friends with me. WTF.

  • Anonymous||

    Here is some violence-positive talk from talk radio:

    Interesting. The government is the one doing the violence, what with the taxes levied upon penalty of imprisonment and backed by police ("[gunshot] [gunshot] [gunshot] [gunshot").

    And yet they don't seem to be advocating that. Strange violence.

  • ||

    Hazel Meade | September 25, 2009, 1:13pm

    The right-wing militas have never actually attempted anything beyond a few largely self-gratifying training exercises in the woods.



    Nor will they ever if the most active militias aren't acknowledged as such in favor of pointing to the least active ones as who this describes.

    I honestly ask, what exactly would the minutemen types need to add to their repertoire in order to meet the definition of a right-wing militia? Move to Montana?
    Until they do that, will mounting armed militia patrols simply not count?

    During the past decade what exactly outshone immigration as a right-wing cause with the ability to foster the kinds of things referred to here such as conspiracy theories, racist sentiment and violence? Nothing? Were we waiting for someone to get shot over the gold standard?

    So the reason to stick with the idea of "right-wing militias" being confined to those same 20 guys in that one forest would be a little telling.

  • ||

    Jim Treacher | September 25, 2009, 5:54pm

    Having been branded an "eliminationist" myself by Neiwart ... because I said ... "We are the vermin we've been waiting for."



    Google fails to find any relationship between the 3 words Treacher Vermin and Neiwert.

    In any event, if you refer to your political opponents as vermin, you really can't object to someone calling you out on this for using eliminationist rhetoric. It's usage was quite definitively franchised during the 20th century.

    Swastikas and the word Jihad too, have innocent uses. Intelligent people would usually recognize they're best avoided in light of the far more common non-innocent usages.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I honestly ask, what exactly would the minutemen types need to add to their repertoire in order to meet the definition of a right-wing militia?

    Hazel is referring to the '90s militia milieu, a movement that is distinct from the Minutemen. (And which wasn't necessarily always "right-wing" either. If your definition of militia is broad enough to include anti-immigration activists whose heyday came after the earlier movement collapsed, then it certainly ought to include Carolyn Chute's 2nd Maine Militia as well.)

    In any event, if you refer to your political opponents as vermin, you really can't object to someone calling you out on this for using eliminationist rhetoric. It's usage was quite definitively franchised during the 20th century.

    I don't know the full context of Treacher's comment, but I suspect he was aiming to emulate Hunter Thompson-style prose, not Nazi-style rhetoric.

  • Vern the Smokey||

    A protest group is engaged in civil disobedience, at worst, unless it does not have an ideology from the left in which case it is a threat to the left, and is labeled as a bunch of crazies, racists, Nazis, etc.

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