Far right hysteria 

"You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

—Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

So the Bonnie and Clyde of the great Bundy ranch standoff thought they could start a national uprising by murdering two cops in a Las Vegas pizza joint. After executing Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo in the most cowardly way possible, would-be freedom fighters Jerad and Amanda Miller draped the officers' bodies with a Nazi flag and the "Don't Tread on Me" banner flown at Tea Party rallies, and left a note proclaiming a new American Revolution.

The duo then proceeded to a Walmart where they also died in the most cowardly way possible, a murder-suicide, saving the slain officers' colleagues the unpleasant necessity of shooting them dead.

Along the way the pair encountered the proverbial "good guy with a gun," Joseph Robert Wilcox. They killed him, too. Wilcox's mistake was to pull his own concealed handgun without firing. It's something combat instructors say one should never do, although it's a decent human being's first instinct — one good reason ordinary citizens shouldn't carry.

You can't learn combat shooting skills in a few hours with a retired deputy. It's a potentially fatal mistake to try.

But I digress. Can anybody say they didn't see this coming? The day before the Las Vegas tragedy I'd told a friend that between now and Labor Day, I expected to see a large-scale firefight between crackpot right-wing militia types and police and/or federal authorities somewhere in America — Ruby Ridge, Waco, possibly even Oklahoma City all over again.

We'd been talking about those "open-carry" geeks parading around in Fort Worth restaurants; also the self-appointed Texas posse that vowed to forcibly prevent Bowe Borgdhal's Idaho hometown from throwing a welcome home celebration for the recently released POW.

Whatever the truth behind the murky circumstances of Borgdhal's capture by the Taliban, nobody really knows. However, Fox News and CNN succeeded in raising an electronic lynch mob. In essence, these jokers pronounced themselves willing to kill or die to prevent President Obama from getting a bump in opinion polls — the proximate cause of the sickening right-wing media freakout over Bergdhal's release.

But back to Bonnie and Clyde. Supposedly, the Millers were asked to leave the Bundy ranch because of his criminal record. But definitely not because the duo was any crazier than the "Mountain Men" and other armed zealots eager to fight it out with the Bureau of Land Management over Cliven Bundy's God-given constitutional right to graze free government grass.

"I was out there but they told me and my wife to leave because I am a felon," Miller wrote on his Facebook page. "They don't seem to understand that they are all felons now for intimidating law enforcement with deadly weapons. We sold everything we had to buy supplies and quit our jobs to be there 24/7. How dare you ask for help and shun us dedicated patriots!"

Posing as a rancher, Miller did a TV interview sounding no crazier than Bundy. "I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that," he said. "I really don't want violence toward them, but if they're gonna come bring violence to us, if that's the language they want to speak, we'll learn it."

Sounds like something Kevin Costner might say in a movie, right?

Miller was right about the law, though. Pointing a gun at a federal agent is a serious felony, and you wouldn't want to live in a country where it's not. No doubt the BLM was right not to risk a firefight over a couple of hundred scrawny cows. But it definitely emboldened the mob.

Of course there are also deeper long-term issues at play.

"In our recent history," writes Paul Waldman in the Washington Post, "every election of a Democratic president is followed by a rise in conspiracy-obsessed right-wing populism. In the 1960s it was the John Birch Society; in the 1990s it was the militia movement shouting about black U.N. helicopters, and during the Obama presidency it was the Tea Party."

It's also clear that President Obama's race has a lot to do with far-right hysteria. Indeed, the most striking thing about Miller's Facebook page is its sheer banality: Benghazi, Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, the global warming conspiracy, the tyranny of Obamacare, Agenda 21, fluoridated water, gun confiscation, etc.

I get chain emails about this nonsense every day. Along with veiled, and sometimes not so veiled, threats.

To the nutball right, ordinary Democratic voters have become the main enemy. Their apocalyptic theology requires a Satanic enemy, and it's the majority. Some won't rest until they get the violent confrontation they think they want. Then look for the professionals to take down the amateurs, with prejudice.

It's the American way.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Live from darkest Arkansas

    Housebound in an ice storm, the columnist finds himself distracted by online trivia and tempted to yell at the TV.
    • Feb 19, 2015
  • Live from darkest Arkansas

    Housebound in an ice storm, the columnist finds himself distracted by online trivia and tempted to yell at the TV.
    • Feb 19, 2015
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Bill to regulate dog breeders draws opposition inside chamber from industry rep

    A fight could be brewing over regulation of puppy mills, with legislation planned to better protect dogs and opposition already underway from a state representative who makes a living working with commercial dog breeders.
  • Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

    It turns back the clock on civil rights.
  • The hart

    It is hard for a straight person, The Observer included, to imagine what it would be like to be born gay — to be shipwrecked here on this space-going clod, where nearly every textbook, novel, film and television show, nearly every blaring screen or billboard or magazine ad, reinforces the idea that "normal" means "heterosexual."
  • Presbytery of Arkansas opposes bills aimed at gay discrimination

    The Presbytery of Arkansas, the governing body for Presbyterian churches in the northern two-thirds of Arkansas, met Saturday at Clarksville and adopted a resolution urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto SB 202, which is aimed at preventing local government from passing anti-discrimination laws to protect gay people. The Presbytery also expressed its opposition to a pending House bill that, in the name of "conscience," would protect those who discriminate against gay people.
  • Death penalty repeal clears Senate Committee

    The Senate Judiciary Committee has endorsed Sen. David Burnett's bill to repeal the death penalty.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Live from darkest Arkansas

    Housebound in an ice storm, the columnist finds himself distracted by online trivia and tempted to yell at the TV.
    • Feb 19, 2015
  • Live from darkest Arkansas

    Housebound in an ice storm, the columnist finds himself distracted by online trivia and tempted to yell at the TV.
    • Feb 19, 2015
  • In God's name

    Because I'm not running for anything, I can give it to you straight: Christianity pretty much got out of the genocide business when church and state became separated in the United States and Europe following the American Revolution.
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Most Viewed

  • SB202: short-term loss, long-term gain

    Many understandably believe the enactment of SB202 — the legislation that bars local governments from creating protected classes not presently recognized in state law — to be a significant step back for LGBT rights in Arkansas.
  • Rutledge roots for dirty coal

    Grandstanding is one of the unwritten constitutional functions of state attorneys general, but it always helps to know who is in the cheering section.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation