Sunday, September 11, 2005

That’s One Point For The Militias

As even casual readers of this site have no doubt noticed, I spend a tremendous amount of time mocking and deriding the actions and statements of extremist groups. This is in fact one of the two things I set out to do when I started this blog. I aimed to point out how ridiculous many of these people truly are, and how their more outrageous viewpoints can seep into mainstream discourse with disturbing frequency. But there was also a second purpose, one that I feel I may have neglected: To point out that extremist groups are valuable in that offer opinions that fall outside of mainstream thought, and therefore help us to “think outside of the box”. Even if their main point is wrong, studying how extremists think helps us to view issues in new and perhaps instructive ways. Occasionally, the extremists may even be right.

Let’s consider the American militia movement. They are often (and not without cause) described as being racist, paranoid, and violent. Their hoarding of survival supplies and weapons is described as manifestation of this paranoia. Even Penn and Teller devoted an episode of their excellent TV series “Bullsh*t” to mocking people who take the time to learn basic survival techniques. After all, the government will always be there to take care of us, right?

Which of course brings us to New Orleans. It strikes me that a person who horded large supplies of food and water in their homes might be better off than their neighbors who were starving at the Superdome (of course, this assumes that their home was not completely flooded out). And it just might have been a good idea to stockpile some guns and ammunition so you could protect said supplies against the roving gangs of armed thugs who ran wild after the flood. No need, say the militia critics, the police and National Guard will be there to protect us in times of natural disaster! Well, yes, in their own good time. And let’s say you do hold out for the four days until the authorities decide to show up. Let’s also say for the sake of argument that you and some of your neighbors form small collectives, and set up a fairly effective system of security and supply for your area? Those same police and National Guardsmen will be ready to remove you from your own home, at gunpoint if need be. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Suddenly, a group of people who stock their homes with guns and supplies, plan to take care of themselves at times of crisis, and have a healthy distrust of the state don’t seem quite so far out, do they?

Update: The New Orleans Police Dept. has decided not to forcibly evict persons from their homes. They must have realized the huge potential for a public relations nightmare inherent in such a plan.


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