Militia Movement

Militias, Patriots, and Border Vigilantes in the Age of Trump


On April 16, 2019, an armed band of vigilantes calling themselves the United Constitutional Patriots "detained" at least 200 men, women, and children in New Mexico, then called in the Border Patrol to collect the captives. I put detained in quotation marks because most of the kneeling migrants being held at gunpoint were probably planning to present themselves to the authorities at the first opportunity anyway. They were here to seek asylum, after all. But in footage posted online, the gunslingers speak like they've seized an invading army. "We just got a note that a couple of kids are picking up rocks," a woman holding a camera declares as the feds lead some migrants away. "So be careful."

If you remember the days when George W. Bush was president, that story may have given you a gust of déjà vu. Several civilian border patrols cropped up back then too, most famously the Minutemen. These weren't the first paramilitary groups to go hunting for unauthorized border crossers—that had been happening for decades—but the Bush years were a boom time for the practice.

That, in turn, was part of a larger pattern. When Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, the social space that would later be filled by the immigrant-fearing Minuteman movement was filled instead by the government-fearing militia movement. When Barack Obama became president, the Minutemen fell into factionalism and '90s-style militias began to grow again. Donald Trump's reign has seen a new surge of border patrols by nativist vigilantes. What do these shifts mean?

The easy reply is that this is just a matter of which party occupies the White House: Camo-clad right-wing populists are more likely to be afraid of a Democratic president than a Republican one, so they turn their guns outward rather than upward when the GOP is in power.

There is truth to that, but it doesn't explain everything. The Minutemen weren't exactly fans of George W. Bush. (Some of them disliked his immigration policies so much that they called for his impeachment.) And while the border paramilitaries have been re-emerging during the Trump years, the conventional militias—and the broader "patriot" movement of which they're a part—haven't dropped out of view. So what else has been going on?

For one thing, there's 9/11. The Bush-era border groups emerged for many reasons, but it's no coincidence that they took off after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Sometimes you can draw that line directly.

Consider Chris Simcox, one of the founding fathers of the Minutemen. After 9/11, he quit his job as a kindergarten teacher and tried to enlist in the military. He was told he was too old. Then he tried to join the Border Patrol. It rejected him too. After an interlude as an O.K. Corral re-enactor at a Tombstone tourist stop, he started patrolling the Arizona border. We may see Simcox "as someone wanting to circumvent the state," Harel Shapira recounts in his 2013 book Waiting for José: The Minutemen's Pursuit of America, yet "his first inclination was to join the state."

This wasn't a '90s-style story of a man radicalized by the feds' lethal decisions in Waco or Ruby Ridge. The event that inspired Simcox, and many like him, was an attack on the American homeland. The Clinton-era militias were a product of the post–Cold War moment, a time when an external threat was suddenly yanked from the psychic landscape and many Americans started shifting their suspicions toward Washington. The Minutemen emerged at a moment when the nation was on alert for outside enemies again.

The revival of the '90s-style militias coincided with a switch from a Republican administration back to a Democratic one. But it also came when a failed war and a financial crisis were restoking mistrust of American elites. That distrust affected the right as well as the left, particularly among the sorts of folks who are more likely to get politically involved by joining a militia than by joining a get-out-the-vote drive.

But the fear of the enemy outside persisted alongside the fear of the enemy above. It even intermingled with it. One of the most popular conspiracy theories of the era, after all, claimed that the president of the United States was secretly a foreigner. A man closely associated with that story is now himself the president of the United States. And as Trump intensifies Washington's immigration crackdown—which itself has been building since 9/11—the paramilitary border bands have been growing more visible too.

The "patriot" milieu was being pulled in different directions even before Trump took office, going back at least as far as the Ferguson riots of 2014. On one side, there are people who resent federal law enforcement but aren't eager to tie local authorities' hands. On the other side, a relatively libertarian element extends its critiques to the local police.

That was further complicated by the sort of drift that often besets movements over time. The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009, is a group of current and former cops and soldiers who initially attracted attention with a pledge to defy liberty-infringing unconstitutional orders. But the group has evolved in sometimes curious ways over the last half-decade. Lately it has spent a lot of time providing security at right-wing rallies.

Two more factors muddle the picture even more. One is the white nationalists of the alt-right, who sometimes draw on the same pool of potential recruits as the militias, though relations between the two movements are frequently frosty. The other consists of the armed "counter-recruitment" organizations that imitate the militias' iconography while advocating leftist (usually anarchist) politics.

The latter include Redneck Revolt (which also does security work at rallies, but on the antifa side), the John Brown Gun Club, and the polar opposite of the DIY border patrols: Land and Liberty, a group whose Facebook feed intersperses denunciations of the immigration crackdown with attacks on gun control and the surveillance state. Instead of celebrating the border vigilantes, it celebrates the civilians who do migrant rescue and relief work.

And if you check in on the militias based in places like the Midwest, far from the Mexican border, the immigration issue often just isn't a major concern for them. "Some of the traditional militia groups didn't even really talk about" the civilian border patrols, says Amy Cooter, a Vanderbilt sociologist who has done extensive fieldwork in the movement. "Or if they did, it was just sort of as an example of what good outstanding citizens should be doing to stop crime."

Some other elements of the patriot movement, such as the 3 Percenters, have been more enthusiastic about the civilian patrols. (Some of these organizations don't, in Cooter's view, properly qualify as militias, since they don't regularly meet to train with firearms.) Few in the movement are prone to Land and Liberty–style denunciations of the border branch of the security state, even though it's been engaged in the very activities—mass surveillance, internment camps, Fourth Amendment–shredding checkpoints—that the militias repeatedly decried in the '90s.

But there are exceptions. Most famously, Ammon Bundy, leader of the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon, has criticized the crackdown, put out a call to sponsor refugee families, and suggested that Trump might be playing up the alleged threat posed by the migrant caravans in order to justify the militarization of the border and the construction of a wall.

"I can't believe some of the people that just want to go down to the border and just wipe these people out," Bundy said in a 2018 Facebook video. "We're talking about militia groups, we're talking about people that actually profess to be Christian, who want to go out and just wipe 'em out….Do you not realize that thousands and thousands of immigrants come into this country a year, and the majority of them are actually benefiting our country greatly?" Anti-racist militiamen often make a point of contrasting their "civic nationalism" with white nationalism. Bundy went further, declaring that nationalism itself "is dangerous."

Bundy received some support from his fans after the video appeared, but he faced fierce backlash too. A few people even accused him of being paid off by a globalist conspiracy. That shouldn't be a surprise. A movement's suspicions don't just flow outward or upward, after all; sometimes they double back on the movement itself.

NEXT: Brickbat: Drink It Up

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  1. I’ll be honest…of the many things that keep me awake at night, the faux rise of militias is not one of them. As long as the militia members do not destroy property, harm people, or advocate for the violent overthrow of the government….I am content leave ’em alone.

    They’re just not important enough to get worked up about.

    1. I disagree and this is one of the reasons I’d prefer to restore a real militia again. When terms/concepts/practices become abandoned, they get taken over by squatters and those squatters will usually then have no problem corrupting it into something that serves their particular preferences even if their preference is the exact opposite of what the thing meant when it was in use.

      Militia is the term used for a community coming together to deal with a commonly perceived external threat. That is far too important an ongoing concept to allow it to be abandoned and corrupted by a bunch of extremist assholes who flirt with the very idea that the community itself is the enemy.

      20 years ago, Utah had to eliminate its admittedly tiny ‘state defense force’ – the level below the Natl Guard that cannot be called into national deployment and the only remnant now of what used to be called state militia – because it found that it was riddled with white supremacist and neo-Nazi sympathizing officers who were supposedly practicing ‘assassination techniques’. Ohio and NY both suppressed public reports about their state defense forces at around the same time. That is exactly what can happen when an idea that is itself common property is no longer taken care of by that community.

      1. Most Militia’s I’ve come across are seem to be more concerned about upholding the LAW in the face of those few minor loud-mouthed communities and/or citizens and/or politicians who want to utterly ignore it and just do whatever makes them popular or accepted at the time.

        I’m all for that — A militia that wants to pretend the LAW of the land doesn’t exist and they can just do whatever they want because they have a big count of loud-mouthed aggressors should be thrown in jail.

      2. Militia is the term used for a community coming together to deal with a commonly perceived external threat.

        Isn’t that what these people are doing?

        You can say its not a threat. You can say its the wrong response. But they’re members of a community coming together to deal with a commonly perceived external threat.

        1. They are people who share an ideology – not a community. They in fact have to invade someone else’s actual community – traveling thousands of miles in some instances – in order to act.

          If these folks were actually living together in some border town seeing these migrants as some threat to their community, then yeah they would be a legitimate militia. They are not that. They are the opposite of that.

    2. +100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

  2. A Reason Article about Immigration, why do I have a feeling there is going to be some Colourful Comments…

    1. Colourful? That’s not how we spell it, “amigo”….

  3. The easy reply is that this is just a matter of which party occupies the White House

    But after you think about it a bit, you realize that, like the homelessness crisis, it’s the amount of news coverage that is strictly a matter of which party occupies the White House. See also, news stories about immigrant children being held in cages prior to January 20, 2017.

    1. +103

      1. +Cindy Sheehan

    2. “immigrant children being held in cages prior to January 20, 2017”


      As if Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama would ever do something so depraved. No, Orange Hitler and his supporters are fully responsible for that stain on American history.


  4. According to Shikha Dalmia, the world’s most eloquent voice for Charles Koch’s immigration agenda, enforcing a national border is morally comparable to enforcing fugitive slave laws. Border vigilantes are therefore no better than slaveholders.

  5. We’re talking about militia groups, we’re talking about people that actually profess to be Christian…

    The more they profess to be Christian, the more likely it seems to be their sentiment.

    1. Or, has anyone actually called for the wiping out of illegal immigrants or just stopping them from crossing the border? (I’m sure there has been at least one idiot white supramicist who has but they are likely a distinct minority).

      1. Not hard to imagine there are many of them, seeing as how many of the regular posters here are perfectly content discussing their plans to start shooting their neighbors in “Civil War 2” if anyone says mean things about Trump.

        1. Bullshit. Nice caricature, but not really reflective of reality.

  6. It’s sad that it is no longer shocking how open border advocates lazily and offhandedly dismiss the abuse of asylum claims.

    1. ?

      Open border advocates don’t care about abuses of asylum claims because they don’t believe that you should need to claim asylum.

    2. Actual advocates of open borders don’t think asylum should be a thing that needs to be claimed, so they don’t believe that any abuse of such a thing can exist. So I’m a little confused what your argument is supposed to be?

  7. “One of the most popular conspiracy theories of the era, after all, claimed that the president of the United States was secretly a foreigner.”

    This was never a popular claim. Very few people actually believed this. It is like claiming 911 truthers were popular while never getting close to above 10% in population numbers. The story was highlighted to make Obama’s detractors racist, not because it was popular.

      1. Want the numbers for Cruz and McCain?

        1. Move that goalpost harder.

      2. How many think he’s not a natural born citizen because his father was a foreigner? Me!


      Scroll to the bottom. 51% of Republicans think it is either “definitely true” or “probably true” that Obama was born in Kenya.

      1. You know these are push polls right?

        For example:

        Do you actually think half of Democrats thought 9/11 was an inside job?

        This is why I laugh at people like you and pod. You are easily fooled by push polling.

        1. I just knew you were going to try to change the subject once Pod’s and my polls were posted.

          I think there are a lot of idiots out there willing to believe conspiracy theories because it fits their personal narrative about how they perceive the world works.

          Some of those idiots are Democrats, and some of those idiots are Republicans.

          Just for once could you put down your narrative flamethrower and think a little bit about what these polls are saying and how that affects not just the discourse, but a conception of a shared sense of reality as well.

          1. How did he change the subject? He gave you an example of why push polls are not accurate. Please try to use some critical thinking.

          2. NY Times:

            “Push polls” — which are not really polls at all — are often criticized as a particularly sleazy form of negative political campaigning. … The questions are skewed to one side of an issue or candidate, the goal being to sway large numbers of voters under the guise of survey research …

          3. So.

          4. The original statement was that Republicans didn’t really believe in birther theories. Your assessment is correct: idiocy knows no single ideology. But that’s the whole point of that counter example poll. The belief in such a theory was attributable not to the party, but to the idiots who happened to be in that party. I wouldn’t attribute the beliefs of those 51% of Dems to their Democrat membership. It has about as much to do with their answer as their hair color or favorite food.

            That’s the nuance that I see missing in this conversation.

    2. Talking heads like Limbaugh and Hannity had a lot of people stirred up.

      1. Most of them talked about it just like Hillarys team talked about it in 2008. Very few cited Obama as being ineligible. We saw the same stories with Ted Cruz and John McCain and eligibility as well.

        The polls showing support, as our two resident idiots provided, show a sort of push poll on the story of the day. You can find the same support from polling on a number of conspiracies from flat earth to the moon landing. It is about how questions are asked.

        There was no mobilization or impeachment push sought to unseat obama meaning support was tepid at best.

        1. I had a long commute then. Spent two and a half hours a day in my car. Had nothing to do but listen to the radio. Believe me, the talk shows were really worked up, and I got the impression that a lot of their audience was worked up as well. Probably because more than a few of my coworkers were. That isn’t a scientific poll. Just what I saw at the time.

          1. Its politics. Each side hypes up their base by attacking the morality of the other side. Only 20% of americans listen to morning radio, which is top 40 music for the most part, which means a minuscule number listens to talk radio.

            This is like the people who claimed the daily show was a huge electoral influence despite its viewership never topping 2 to 3 million viewers.

            1. Good point.

              1. Another point, people who call into talk radio tend to be the most extreme type or ones most married to their ideas.

    3. I’d say that 10% of the population is a pretty significant number to believe in 911 truther shit or Obama’s a secret Muslim or whatever. 10% of the US population is not “very few people”.
      Can you think of many conspiracy theories that were more popular?

      1. Remember that 4% of that is Lizardman’s Constant.

        1. Learned something new.

      2. But 0.6% of the population is a minority we must bend over backwards for?

        Just trying to see where the limits are…

    4. Donald fucking Trump was one of the primary movers of this theory. What does that say about him?

      1. The chief prime mover of this theory was Barak Hussan Obama.

        First, by allowing a biography to be published which stated he was born in Kenya, and not insisting that it be corrected.

        Second, by opposing rather than assisting efforts to make his original birth certificate public.

        Idiots assumed that he fought that in court because it would reveal him to be unqualified for the Presidency. They failed to take into account the possibility that he was just being an asshole.

    5. What were the actual numbers? Because if they actually got anywhere near 10%, that’s pretty damned high for an actual conspiracy theory.

  8. ” I put detained in quotation marks because most of the kneeling migrants”

    How does stupid Walker know who is an immigrant oi who is a foreign invader or otherwise ?

    He doesn’t
    He simply lies as it best supports his position

    1. How does stupid Walker know who is an immigrant oi who is a foreign invader or otherwise ?

      How does stupid hpearce not understand that foreign invader implies armed, uniformed soldier of a foreign government?

      1. Go back to the initial crimea invasion. They were non unnformed soldiers going to stir up resentment in the pro russian areas of crimea.

        1. I’d laugh at anyone who said the Mexicans were doing that in Texas.

          1. La Raza and the Requonquista movement would like a word.

            1. La Raza literally means “The Race.” It’s nothing more than the Mexican version of “I’m proud to be an American.” At least that’s what I gathered when I worked with Mexicans in my restaurant days.

              I haven’t heard about the reconquer movement.

              1. La Raza is one of the largest supporters of the Requonquista movement. Do some research. The Requonquista movement is a Latin American, mostly Mexican, that aims to flood the southwest with Mexican immigrants (and other Latin American immigrants) to the point were they can either force the US to return the Southwest to Mexican control or set up their own country. At least some support the expulsion of non-hispanics as well. La Raza has also been labeled by many as a racist organization, who at times has promoted the supremacy of Hispanics over other groups, including non-hispanics whites, blacks and Indians.

            2. None of what you mentioned are remotely equivalent to government soldiers stirring up resentment in preparation for a military invasion.

              1. They are equivalent to foreigners entering the country to ferment dischord. And you will find both groups receive support from different Latin American governments.

                1. I still don’t see it rising to the level of “foreign invader.”

                  1. Because their aim isn’t to gain control of territory? Oh wait it is. Because they aren’t foreigners? Oh wait they are. Because they aren’t supported by foreign government’s? Oh wait they are, at least in part.
                    Seems like they check most the boxes.

                    1. The comparison was to Crimea. The end result of that was replacing the government with something Russian instead of Ukrainian. I don’t see that happening in this country.

                      I understand what you’re saying. Perhaps a cultural invasion of sorts. But not a military one. Not a replacement of government. Not something worthy of an armed response.

                    2. Let me know when Mexican and Guatemalan tanks roll into border towns. Until then I will continue to laugh at people who say there is a foreign invasion.

                    3. You claim invasions have to be armed. The American Indians and Canadian First people’s would disagree. The first English, Dutch and French settlers didn’t invade by force of arms. They often were welcomed by the natives. That is until they had displaced the natives.

                    4. Seriously? You’re comparing the Europeans colonizing the New World with Mexicans coming over the border? Please tell me you’re joking.

                    5. And the European settlers were armed.

                    6. What did the first European colonizers form here for? And yes they were armed but not for offensive purposes but for hunting and protection. They weren’t military was my point. You deride my point but you don’t care to expand upon why it is mistaken.

                    7. And at least some 9f the coyotes and some of the gang members are also armed.

                    8. Dude, this isn’t an initial colonization. The people crossing the border aren’t remotely equivalent to the first Europeans to step foot off sailing ships into a new land. Believe it or not, but there already is an established Hispanic community. They aren’t rising up to establish a new government or replace the existing one. Not gonna happen. I simply can’t see this as anything remotely resembling an invasion. We’ll have to agree to disagree because you aren’t swaying me and I’m not swaying you.

                    9. The Requonquista movements aim (they were behind a number of the migrant caravans last year’s) aim was exactly to create their own government or join with the Mexican government.

                    10. And they’ve got a 0% chance of achieving that aim. Which means it doesn’t matter. Go ahead and have the last word if you want. I don’t see the point in continuing this conversation.

                    11. You haven’t countered my points and then you try and act like you are being the mature one? Interesting, if sophomoric, tactic.
                      As for them not being successful, if they don’t get their way peacefully, do you think they may decide to resort to violence? We’ve seen that story play out the world over.

                    12. Of course by that time, it won’t be considered an invasion rather it would be labeled a civil war.
                      Not saying this will or won’t happen, but the possibility exists.

                    13. I’m not claiming any moral high ground. I just don’t see your points and comparable to an invasion. That’s all.

                    14. “The comparison was to Crimea. The end result of that was replacing the government with something Russian instead of Ukrainian. I don’t see that happening in this country. ”

                      But that’s exactly what Reconquista wants, it’s what they foment. Just because it (probably) won’t happen doesn’t mean their goals should be seen as benign.

                      At best, you can say that Reconquista is no (as far as I know) funded by or acting on orders from Mexican government, whereas the groups in Crimea certainly were.

                  2. And I am just saying it can be classified as an invasion, that force of arms is not the only way to invade a country.

                    1. Indeed. If 500M Chinese came here peacefully/legally, took up residence, became “citizens”, then as a majority bloc voted to eliminate the Constitution and cede the United States to the motherland, it’d certainly be an invasion. Currently Mexico has moved in, what 11M and counting?

                    2. Also, Reconquista having no realistic chance of success really doesn’t solve any of the problems because we’re still going to have tens of millions of American citizens diametrically opposed to our values.

                      Part of the reason there even is an alt-right/white nationalist movement is because every political party, prior to Trump, completely failed to address the relationship between demographics and nationhood. Naturally, these people took it to the extreme since their views weren’t represented in the mainstream and they felt like helpless victims unable to affect the gradual erosion of our Constitution.

                    3. Currently Mexico has moved in, what 11M and counting?

                      99.9% of whom moved here because they preferred to live in the U.S. rather than Mexico.

                      Anyone who thinks the reconquista movement is some sort of threat that is so serious it requires being suspicious of all migrants needs to have their head examined.

                    4. Can I ask where you get the 99.99% figure? And even .01% of 11,000,000 is a 110,000. If they choose to resort to violence that is a pretty big number to be worried about.

    2. Better yet how he assumed they were asylum seekers looking to turn themselves into the first authorities because they said so when captured. If that were the case couldn’t they have turned themselves in at a checkpoint?

      1. I think that the fact that it has become very common for immigrants to turn themselves in and claim asylum also contributes to that assumption.

        1. Yes, get caught and cry for asylum is an old tactic that has gotten attention lately as the media has chosen the asylum seekers trope.

          1. How are they gonna get welfare unless they claim asylum?

            1. Move to a sanctuary City that issues licenses no questions asked?

              1. And ID theft

    3. How do the these other people in the story?

  9. Makes me think of the war protesters. The ones paraded around when Bush was president, and *poof* disappeared when he left office. Did the policies change? Nope. Did the protesters care? Nope.

    1. – Cindy Sheehan

      1. She never disappeared. She kept protesting. It’s just that she was ignored by the media after Obama became president.

    2. Among the many reasons people thought Bush’s war of lies was a bad idea was the quagmire it would create in the Middle East. And look, it’s still quagmiring to this day.

      Obama didn’t start any decades-long wars based on lies. Maybe that’s why the protests died down.

      1. Libya and Syria would like a word with you.

        1. Obama started wars in those countries based on lies?

          1. Well, he lied about having the legal authority to start a war in Libya. I suppose you could argue that’s not the same as the CIA having shaky (and ultimately incorrect) information about WMDs in Iraq. It’s certainly lazier, but when it comes to government pretexts for abuses of power, sloth is a virtue.

            I will definitely defend Obama against the charge of having started the civil war in Syria. He did no such thing – that one started itself (hence “civil war.”) He did however get us as entangled in it as it was possible to be without officially having boots on the ground. If we’d just stayed the hell away from it from the outset, it’d be Turkey and Iran’s problem. I doubt Putin would’ve bothered to stick his nose in if there wasn’t the opportunity to tweak ours in the process.

      2. Funny thing about quagmires – they’re pretty easy to get out of if you stop digging.

        Obama kept digging.

  10. I put detained in quotation marks because most of the kneeling migrants being held at gunpoint were probably planning to present themselves to the authorities at the first opportunity anyway.

    LOL – umm, no. I’m quite sure they were probably planning to find a roofing job or a position at the slaughterhouse at the first opportunity.

    1. My thoughts. If they wanted to turn themselves into the authorities why did they cross so far from where they knew aforesaid authorities where located?

      1. or just turn themselves in at a port of entry?

        1. Basically my point.

  11. This kind of vigilante justice is a reaction to the government failing at its responsibility to protect our borders. I maintain that we will never gain the public support necessary for the kind of open legal immigration policies so many of us crave–so long as the government fails to adequately protect our borders.

    Again, the reason setting the rules of naturalization properly belongs to Congress isn’t because it says so on a piece of paper. It’s because the question of how people become a citizen properly should be set by the citizens themselves–even if the choices they want to make are bad, it should be up to them.

    To whatever extent you see the government fail to do the people’s will on this, you get this kind of vigilantism–and this kind of public support for more draconian rules. If we want to lessen the impact of that, we need to rely on persuading our fellow Americans rather than ignoring the rule of law, telling our fellow Americans that their opinion shouldn’t matter, or insisting that our fellow Americans are fundamentally racist xenophobes because they want to have a say on policies that are well within the proper purview of democracy.

    I knew this girl that left north Africa for the west. She was so glad she didn’t need to cover anymore–right up until the moment the French government told her she wasn’t allowed to cover. Suddenly she wanted to cover, where she hadn’t before. This is human nature. When the government fails at a legitimate responsibility, like enforcing immigration law or securing the border, it makes everyday people care about things they wouldn’t have cared about otherwise.

    We should have an open borders treaty with Mexico, but until we take control of our border, the American people will never support such a thing. Populism is a reaction to elitism. It always has been, and it always will be. If we don’t like populist reactions to our elitism, then the best way to stop populism is to stop being elitist.

    1. And until Mexico controls both it’s borders as well. That does seem to be starting to occur as the number of asylum trains has decreased dramatically.

    2. +100

    3. As long as Mexico maintains a daily minimum wage of $5.00 open borders would be a disaster. Mexico’s population has gone up 20 million in 19 years,they cannot feed or employ them. They don’t educate them, they simply tell them to go north. They took a poll during the Bush 2 years, over 40% of Mexicans want to move to the USA.

    4. “so long as the government fails to adequately protect our borders.”

      It’s more of a frontier than a border. Ill-defined, open, forbidding. It’s a fool’s errand to try to ‘protect’ it. And expectations that the government is up to the task is naive.

      ” If we don’t like populist reactions to our elitism, then the best way to stop populism is to stop being elitist.”

      Populism prospers with the failure of elitist promises. If we want to minimize populism, we still need elites. We just need elites who can successfully deliver on their promise.

      1. “It’s more of a frontier than a border. Ill-defined, open, forbidding. It’s a fool’s errand to try to ‘protect’ it. And expectations that the government is up to the task is naive.”

        Do you have any conception of how stupid that statement is?

        The border is 1,954 miles long. Sound intimidating? Only if you’re innumerate. We have a population of nearly 330 million. That border is THREE FREAKING EIGHTHS OF AN INCH PER PERSON.

        Build a wall? We could build two walls, with a mine field in between, every single year, and the cost would be trivial in relation to our economy. Drop in a bucket.

        We could build a 2000 mile by 10 foot Army base along the border, and average a soldier every ten feet. Probably a better use of them than foreign adventures.

        Securing the border is almost a trivial task, except for one little problem: Our federal politicians don’t want it secured.

        1. “We could build two walls”

          Why stop at two? Throw in an alligator and snake infested moat around every airport, for the security of it all.

          “Our federal politicians don’t want it secured.”

          Yet you keep voting for them, every chance you’re given.

          1. Are you actually answering obvious hyperbole with sarcasm?

            1. That is almost as bad as Snopes fact checking the Babylon Bee.

            2. No. His was sarcasm, mine was hyperbole. But otherwise, yes.

              1. No his was hyperbole, proposing walls and minefields is hyperbole.

                1. Well not Charlie Brown, I should have said Good Grief, coffee hasn’t kicked in.

  12. “A federal judge temporarily blocked Saturday a Trump administration proclamation requiring immigrant-visa applicants to prove they can obtain health insurance within 30 days of entering the U.S. or cover their own health care costs.”

    —-Axios, November 2, 2019

    If it’s not enough to let them in, we must also let them in and give them free healthcare on the taxpayer’s dime, then you’re making it even harder to justify an open border to average Americans. Insisting that legal immigrants to the United States should be eligible for welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, rent assistance, etc. is an excellent way to ensure that we’ll never have open borders with Mexico. Most conservatives don’t even want to extend those benefits to our fellow American citizens.

    1. This is just fucked up. Why on earth do we want to let people into this country who will immediately suckle on the public teat? This is just plain stupidity.

      1. If they were trying to think of a way to make Americans more anti-immigration, they couldn’t have come up with a better decision.

      2. “This is just plain stupidity.”

        Suckling on the public teat is something only real Americans should be allowed to do.

        1. Suckling at the tears is something no one should be allowed to, especially those not born here.

          1. I agree. Suckling at tears is just perverted, especially for infants.

            1. Oh you called out a type error, you got me. When you can’t counter the point resort to nitpicking typing errors or grammar. The last resort of the scoundrel and sycophant.b

              1. “you got me.”

                It’s your comment. You got yourself.

                1. Oh, nice come back. Try your rubber and I’m glue next time. Geesh, in the words of Charlie Brown.

  13. “The Clinton-era militias were a product of the post–Cold War moment, a time when an external threat was suddenly yanked from the psychic landscape and many Americans started shifting their suspicions toward Washington. ”

    OK, look, at the time I lived in rural Michigan, real militia territory. The traffic literally backed up past my house when they were searching Nichols’ farm. (How we laughed at the breathless reports of “fertilizer residue” being found in his barn…) I’ve been to militia events, demonstrated in Lansing with the police watching us through rifle scopes on adjoining roof tops. I think I’m at least a little familiar with the militia movement of that time.

    What drove the growth of the militia movement was that the federal government was committing genuine, honestly evil atrocities. Waco might have been the biggest of its kind, but it wasn’t the first. Neither was Ruby Ridge. There was the MOVE bombing in Philly. There were tax protesters who got burned alive in their homes during standoffs. Horribly abusive enforcement actions against gun owners.

    It really did look at the time like the ramp up to a police state, and that genuine fear was driving the growth of the movement.

    1. I grew up in North Idaho and was a teen during Ruby Ridge. Everyone was talking about it, few supported Weaver but everyone was aghast at the government’s actions. It really fueled anti-federal government sentiment. Add in the 1994 gun control bill, the forced reintroduction of wolves, the Clinton administration’s embrace of anti-logging policies and is it any wonder the militia movement increased?

    2. We should also add the Clinton gun control laws.

      That was a big deal.

      1. In fact, I’ll go so far as to make the following claims.

        1) Before the assault weapons ban, hardly anybody had or wanted an AR-15. After the assault weapons ban sunset, AR-15s became among the most widely owned firearms in America. And that is because of the ban. Like a Muslim girl who never knew she wanted to cover until the government told her she couldn’t, so many Americans never knew they wanted an AR-15 until the government said they couldn’t have one. In fact, AR-15 sales are still largely driven by the fear that they will be banned again. During the Obama administration, every time there was another mass shooting, AR-15 sales would go through the roof. Since Trump was elected, AR-15 sales are down so low that the manufacturers are struggling.

        2) If they want to reignite the militia movement, the first thing they should do is ban assault weapons. Ban assault weapons today, and as sure as the sun rises tomorrow, so will interest in the militia movement.

        1. When governments ban people organize to protect themselves from those actions as much as to protest those actions.

  14. And what about marching bands, drum and bugle corps? Fucking scandalous. Think of the children.

    1. Because they point loaded guns at people too! Great comparison!

      1. If someone invaded my home, I point a gun at them too until the police arrive. The allegory isn’t perfect but it suffices to a point.

        1. Marching bands are equivalent to holding a home invader at gun point? I can’t even…

          1. No, the militias was what I was referring to. BTW, the US has a long history of private funded militias that weren’t supported by Congress. They were considered perfectly legal during the 19th century.

            1. “They were considered perfectly legal during the 19th century.”

              Membership in Quantrill’s raiders was a ticket to the gallows if caught by the Federales.

              1. Probably because they burned Lawrence

                1. At least it was a well-regulated burning.

                  1. What an incredibly stupid rejoinder

              2. Quantril fought for the Confederacy, which the federal government didn’t recognize as a legitimate organization. It was literally a Seditious act. For a more accurate allegory look at the rough riders, or any of a number of privately funded regiments on the union side during the Civil war and the Mexican American war and the War of 1812.

                1. “For a more accurate allegory ”

                  I can’t vouch for its accuracy but you can’t get any more allegorical
                  than Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. I think it was about a vicious gang of privateers called filibusters.

                  “Quantril fought for the Confederacy”

                  Fought is a pretty generous wording for what he did in Lawrence. And it’s questionable whether the Confederacy had any interest in spreading the war to Kansas.

                  1. Which I mentioned below.

                    1. Regarding his tactics.

                  2. Look up the Rough Riders if you don’t get the accuracy. Or the Mormon Brigade. Or privately funded regiments of the Civil War.
                    Your source is a fictional novel that is completely non-sequitor to the discussion of private militias? And the book was about scalp hunters not privateers, BTW.

              3. Additionally the CSA didn’t even recognize the legitimacy of Quantril and Anderson.

                1. I thought at one point they sent up troops to join the rough riders in a failed attempt to take St. Louis. Cooperation on such a project wouldn’t work if one side felt the other saw it as illegitimate.

                  1. See below comment about who the Rough Riders were, AKA the 1st Volunteer Cavalry. Personally funded by Teddy Roosevelt and a number of other wealthy individuals.

                    1. “And the book was about scalp hunters not privateers, BTW.”

                      Taking scalps was routine among the bushwackers during the civil war. (Not so much among the rough riders.) You mentioned an allegorical account of a privately funded militia not authorized by congress and Blood Meridian was the best I could come up with. Allegory is pretty much by definition a fictional literary work, like Blood Meridian, as I pointed out.

                    2. Allegory is not a work of fiction, it is an example. Again, you failed big time, put down the shovel.

                    3. “Allegory is not a work of fiction”

                      You’re saying that Blood Meridian is not allegorical? Maybe you should read it first.

                2. The Rough Riders was Spanish American war. They did at first, but withdrew support because of Quantril’s tactics.

                  1. You can look into Price’s raid in late 1864 to see confederate army collaboration with the bushwackers, the same outfit that outraged Kansas which I mistakenly called rough riders.

                    1. You want to pull the I made a mistake card after going after me for a type error above? Really?
                      The CSA government never recognized or claimed them (one of the reasons they were never granted POW status). Price may have used them occasionally, but that isn’t unusual. Price’s 1864 campaign was also an act of desperation and extremely poorly ran. He incurred heavy casualties for no gain. He was an unpopular commander who wasted troops on a half brained idea to capture Missouri. He was also a Missourian and it isn’t surprising he would coordinate with Missouri guerrillas.

                    2. “which the federal government didn’t recognize as a legitimate organization.”

                      I agree with your statement above about the bushwackers. But the Confederacy was much more favorably disposed to them, even collaborating on military campaigns together. This needn’t have risen to official recognition which was not necessary in any case. Bushwacker ‘legitimacy’ as an anti-federal fighting force was never an issue.

  15. “They were here to seek asylum, after all.”

    The vast majority of them are not eligible for asylum, so seeking it here would mean making false claims on the application and lying to officers about their reason for entering the US illegally.

    Economic opportunity–the real reason most people come to the US–is not a valid asylum claim. Nor is a rampant crime situation in the home country.

    Plus, even if you truly believe the asylum rationals presented, they have an obligation as refugees to use the first safe haven rule under international refugee law. If you’re from a country south of Mexico, crossing through Mexico to get into the US obviates your credible fear asylum claims.

    As always, after we eliminate the US welfare state completely (including public schools) and I’ll support throwing open the borders. Until then, I’m going to vote my pocketbook and ask that we not import poverty that I have to pay for. It’s bad enough that I have to pay for the locals.

    1. How do you know they’re not eligible until you determine it?

      And the welfare state argument continues to be completely, absolutely bunk. You should know that by now, but you insist on repeating lies for some reason.

      I’m here to take your stress away. Since immigrants skew young, don’t take as much government assistance, and still pay taxes, they are, unequivocally, a net boon to the welfare state. They are in fact vital for its continued existence.

      I’m so glad to have cleared that up and eased your worries. Because I’m totally sure that’s an actual concern of yours as you define libertarianism to incorporate the forcible caging and expulsion of innocent human beings.

      1. Statistically, most people who apply for asylum on our Southern border fail to qualify. By standard principles of asylum law, this is hardly surprising, since they’ve generally traveled through several countries from their country of origin, and even if they did have a valid asylum claim, should have pursued it before reaching the US.

        Almost everybody arriving at our border with Mexico is, properly speaking, an economic migrant, not a refugee.

        1. Save me from having to type this.

        2. That is pretty much the official government position. These laws are moronically simple and airtight–unlike bandana republic laws. Anyone with high-school competence pays their own ticket back to avoid being branded a deportee and show up in some Arlo Guthrie ballad.

      2. “Since immigrants skew young, don’t take as much government assistance, and still pay taxes, they are, unequivocally, a net boon to the welfare state. They are in fact vital for its continued existence.

        Then there should be no problem in making them ineligible for said benefits. Or in eliminating it entirely! At which point, I’ll be far more open-borders than I am now.

        “How do you know they’re not eligible until you determine it?”

        The form can be presented to them (in Spanish). When it says explains the valid reasons and the reasons your claim will be rejected, and they still make the claim after having it explained and they still apply and put down their fraudulent reason, then are among the 95% that are adjudicated as ineligible, they’ve wasted resources expended based on their lies. They could just say “Oh, I don’t have one of these reasons.” But they generally lie about it.

        They could have stopped at the first US consolate nearest where they exited the country they want to claim asylum from. The U.S. embassy in Mexico City and the nine U.S. consulates (Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Matamoros, Merida, Monterrey, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, and Tijuana) could accept their applications and they could await their adjudication in Mexico where they have been offered visas. Instead they make a dangerous journey to illegally cross the borders of both Mexico and the US, and then make an asylum claim when caught, which is 95% of the time ruled bogus.

        1. This is true. The ones catapulted back are fools what cain’t read-ner-rite, make up the most pathetic lies to claim asylum once deported, appeal in hopes some sympathetic judge will bend the law for them, then try to sneak back in. The Don’s idea that judges should deny as bogus all fear-of-death claims not previously presented to Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan… authorities makes perfect sense once you’ve followed a few thousand of these cases. A better solution is to quit exporting fascism under Herbert Hoover’s 1929 “good neighbor” policy of shoot-first prohibitionism, but tell that to the Gee-Oh-Pee or Dems.

  16. “Economic opportunity–the real reason most people come to the US–is not a valid asylum claim. Nor is a rampant crime situation in the home country.”

    Only important things like your choice in sexual partners are valid for claims of asylum.

  17. I put detained in quotation marks because…

    Because you’re a two-bit worthless hack that can’t help but fuck with the English language. Detained means simply to impede someone’s forward progress or to hold someone back. You’re using it in scare quotes because you want it to have some official or legal meaning that aligns with your political belief. A meaning that only the king’s men can effect and that these people, who have more skin in the game than you do, can’t co-opt.

    They were detained unofficially but your moral standards don’t allow you to say that. You have to pretend the word detained has special meaning to which the rubes aren’t privy.

    1. “They were detained unofficially ”

      But detained has a connotation of official action. Here’s a joke: The police were having a charity race. One of the supporters watching the race saw a friend bringing up the rear and cried out “Come on, what’s detaining you?” The joke lies in the use of the word, ‘detaining,’ associated with official cop-speak usually, but here in a more informal setting.

      Detain does indeed have a ‘special meaning,’ like other many words in the English language. It’s what gives the language its ability to convey humor.

  18. You have no way of knowing that the illegal aliens were going to “seek asylum.” What’s the matter, you never heard of a citizen’s arrest (emphasis on citizen)? You getting even more cheap labor to mow your lawn and trim your tulips is not “benefiting our country greatly.”

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

  19. Is Jesse overthinking this? The old Nolan diagram is a reliable depictor. You have two 2-position switches that basically distinguish the consistent from the inconsistent. Communists, anarchists and nationalsocialists consistently believe coercion is good and indivisible in their totalitarian square. On that same vertical axis objectivists and libertarians consistently believe freedom is good and indivisible. On the mixed-economy axis mystical conservatives and pagan progressives both believe altruistic motives justify the initiation of force, and imagine rights as divided into individual and economic and try to crush one or the other (as “not really” altruistic). These cover the wholesale trends, and outliers can safely be ignored for purposes of election outcomes and legislative changes.

    1. “Communists, anarchists and nationalsocialists consistently believe coercion is good and indivisible in their totalitarian square.”

      There’s a bit of a problem here, which is that communists like to call themselves anarchists, for some reason I’ve never quite understood. Maybe they heard the phrase “bomb throwing anarchist”, and thought, “Cool, I get to throw bombs!”. You see these idiots protesting at economic summits, calling themselves “anarchists”, and what are they protesting in favor of? Increased regulation and more laws!

      Actual anarchists are down at the bottom corner of the Nolan chart, they’re so devoted to liberty that they have no tolerance for government.

      I used to be an anarcho-capitalist of the David Friedman sort.

      Eventually I figured out that E. O. Wilson’s quip about Communism, (“Great idea. Wrong species”) was likely true of anarchism, too. It’s just not a good fit for human instincts, we’ll recreate government every time. Minarchism *might* be feasible, though.

  20. Not a single mention of the demagogue in office who has explicitly flirted with these domestic terrorists. Why does Reason magazine still exist?

  21. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to ensure that the STATES have an armed & trained citizenry (the Militia) which can be used, when push comes to shove, to defend the STATES from the federal gov’t and from the federal gov’ts disastrous policies [e.g. unrestricted immigration]. See, e.g., Federalist No. 46 (James Madison).
    States no longer have a Militia. With the Dick Act of 1903, the States surrendered the Militia (over which they had control) and allowed it to be federalized – put under federal control. The States’ “national guard” are merely adjuncts of the federal military.
    The States did it for the money. Yes, they got federal funds for allowing the federal gov’t to take over their State Militia.
    It is your State governments which sold you down the river.

    1. Close, but not quite.

      The purpose of the 2nd amendment is to assure that an armed populace exists from which a militia can be raised.

      The analogy I use is, suppose you’re worried that the government will be taken over by arsonists. What’s the answer? A volunteer fire department. That’s the militia.

      But to safeguard the volunteer fire department, you guarantee the right of people to own and practice with firefighting equipment, so that if the government disbands the fire department, and sets fire to the town, you can still pull together people to deal with the emergency.

      That’s the point of the 2nd amendment: It guarantees a right to be armed with “Every terrible implement of the soldier”, to use Tench Coxe’s words, in order that if the government shuts down the militia system, it can still be reconstituted in an emergency.

      Even if the government doesn’t want it to be.

  22. Vigilantes take action when the rule of law is ignored. Don’t forget, laws are also for the protection of criminals from vigilante reprisals.
    The Mexican government loses a gun battle with the Cartel on our border.
    A Cartel murders a Mormon family on the border.
    And you still promote open borders and want the Cartel to have carte blanche? That’s exactly what they want.
    You need to get back to reality.

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