The terrorist specter -- thuggery and treason
There was the Tiller murder; there was the Austin attack, imitating (intentionally?) the method of September 11, though on a smaller scale; now there has been the Pentagon shooting. Much worse, I'm now convinced, is coming.
For starters, check out "Repent Amarillo" (more here), a Christian self-styled "army" infesting that north Texas city, whose agenda can be summed up in a line from my most recent video of the week: "Kick the shit out of people who are not like you". In this case, such people are gays, pagans, abortion-rights supporters, people who have sex outside marriage, those who like "demonic" music, and anyone else whose beliefs, behavior, or tastes do not conform to the barbaric taboos of the Bible.
These thugs are not exactly terrorists, although the harassment they have been inflicting on citizens of Amarillo is shocking. They are more analogous to the Brownshirts or the Saudi religious police. Their mission is to suppress all activity and expression that deviates from a particular ideology; in this case the ideology is Christianity rather than Nazism or Islam, but the principle is the same.
(One wonders why the good people of Amarillo put up with this. What happened to that Texas spirit of armed disdain for bossy busybodies?)
Next, we have the "Oath Keepers" (found via here), a movement dedicated to spreading sedition within the US military, although it's not clear to me how many of its supporters are actually current military personnel. It seems part of the Orwellian character of the far right to declare itself to be the opposite of what it is actually doing; just as whole herds of haters and bigots call themselves "patriots" while displaying that symbol of the vilest treason against the United States, the Confederate flag, so the "Oath Keepers" con-stantly invoke the Constitution while denying the legitimacy of the government duly elected by the American people in accordance with the procedures mandated by that very same Constitution. They wallow in fantasies about martial law and mass arrests and shootings of Americans, in which they would emerge as heroes of resistance -- visions that seem to be more rooted in video-game scenarios than the real world.
To be fair, far-rightists are not the only people who do this. During the Bush administration there were some people on the left who called Bush a "fascist" and imagined that he would contrive some pretext to cancel the 2008 election and continue in power as an open dictator. I recall having several exasperating arguments with such delusionals.
But those people were not stockpiling weapons and wallowing in lurid fantasies of violent "resistance". At worst, a few implausibly threatened to emigrate if Bush were re-elected in 2004.
It's hard to avoid a feeling that, for groups like the re-emerging "militia" far right, the gun fetish and violent fantasies are the main point; the details of the persecution complex, which forms the pretext for these things, are incidental. If bogus "questions" about Obama's birth certificate weren't available, there would be some other pretext for declaring the government to be illegitimate and casting it in the role of the video-game monster against which to deploy all those cool things that go boom.
Of course Obama is not going to declare martial law and put people in camps, but that doesn't mean the seditionists aren't a potential threat. If they look hard enough for a reason to fight, they will find it, whether it's really there or not.
What's really going on here? In my personal opinion, what we're seeing is a growing and violent panic at what are fundamentally cultural changes. Over the last half-century, white supremacy, male dominance, and above all Christianity with its toxic stew of bigotry and taboos, have slowly but steadily been displaced from their former position as defining traits of our society. Blacks, women, and more recently also gays and atheists have demanded to be recognized as equal citizens with equal rights; instead of the married-with-kids model being the only option for everyone, a broad range of lifestyles is increasingly accepted as the norm; the promise of a pluralistic society is being fulfilled. To people who were more comfortable to the old culture built on lies and silence and intimidation, these changes feel profoundly disturbing, even threatening; and the eviction of conservatives from political power in 2008 was the last straw.
Mix those feelings with a gun-fetishizing subculture and a religious ideology which believes it is the only path for everyone and has the right to dictate how everyone should live, and you're going to see an explosion.
We're going to see an explosion.
The bright side is that the width of the gulf, or rather spectrum, separating rational conservatives from the armed crazies and their inciters is now so vast that a total breach seems inevitable. It's true that there are crackpots out there (even a Congressman or two) arguing that the terrorists and crazies have some sort of legitimate point, but I'm seeing more mainstream conservatives aggresively trying to disown them. Our society is healthy enough to beat this infection. But I think there will be more violence -- on the scale of Oklahoma City or worse -- before it finally does.