YubaNet.com
Sunday, August 31 2014

            We Deliver News to the Sierra
News Fire News spacer Latest News spacer Regional News spacer California News spacer USA News spacer World News spacer Op-Ed spacer Enviro News spacer Sci Tech News spacer Life spacer Odd News spacer Cartoons spacer
Features The Calendar features features Weather features Sierra NightSky features features features Road Conditions features Home spacer
Op-Ed
 

Mark Potok: Anti-Government 'Patriot' Groups Ramp Up Again

We live in frightening times.

    Google+    

By: Mark Potok, OtherWords.org

March 6, 2013 - It's déjà vu all over again.

Twenty years ago, the passage of the Brady gun control bill helped ignite the first wave of the "Patriot" movement, a combustible mix of gun-toting militias and baseless conspiracy theories about government perfidy that culminated in the 1995 mass murder of 168 people in an Oklahoma City federal building.

As this year began, the first serious talk of gun control since the early 1990s, a reaction to the slaying of 26 people in a Connecticut elementary school, set off a comparable furor. Along with enraged howls from the radical right, even some more or less in the political mainstream, like ConservativeDaily.com's Tony Adkins, took a page from the Patriot movement as they warned that "martial law" and "suspension of the U.S. constitution" could be coming at any moment.

Patriot leaders like Chuck Baldwin vowed to refuse to register or surrender their weapons, calling on other pastors to do likewise. The Oath Keepers, a Patriot group composed of present and former members of law enforcement and the military, said its people would never succumb to such "unconstitutional filth." Other Patriots warned furiously of secession, nullification, even civil war.

We live in frightening times.

Before the first wave of the Patriot movement died down at the end of the 1990s, law enforcement officials had broken up scores of terrorist plots aimed at the government and others. Now, after four years of a major Patriot resurgence, it seems likely that the movement and its violence will spurt ahead yet again, driven, as it was in the 1990s, in large part by hatred of gun control. The other powerful drivers of the movement have been the re-election of President Barack Obama — who, like Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, is seen as a liberal traitor — and the sorry economy.

The movement's resurgence since 2008, when there were just 149 Patriot organizations, has been dramatic. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported this week, that number reached an astounding 1,360 groups in 2012, a rise of 813 percent in four years. At the same time, the number of hate groups remained above 1,000, as it has since 2010.

Patriot groups are now working overtime to stoke the political flames. Richard Mack was an iconic hero of the Patriot movement in the 1990s, when he was an Arizona sheriff who sued the Clinton administration and won, triggering a weakening of the Brady Bill's background checks for gun buyers. Now, Mack is back as head of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and he says that of 200 sheriffs he met with recently, most "have said they would lay down their lives first rather than allow any more federal control."

Once again, the threat of violence seems to be looming. Already, to the surprise of some analysts, a major new study of domestic political violence from the radical right — "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right," by the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point — found that right-wing violence is up by a factor of four from the 1990s.

Eighteen years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote then-Attorney General Janet Reno to warn about extremists in the militia movement, saying that the "mixture of armed groups and those who hate" was "a recipe for disaster." Just six months later, the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed.

Today, with our country's political polarization at historic levels and government officials being furiously demonized by Patriots, we may be approaching a comparable moment.

In the 1990s, warnings that might have prevented some of the violence from the radical right failed to stick. Now, as we face another large and growing threat from the extremists of the Patriot movement, the country needs to do better. One important start would be to demand that the Department of Homeland Security, which gutted its non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit after unjustified criticism from the political right, rebuild its important intelligence capabilities.

Mark Potok is a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the author of its new report on the rise of right-wing extremist groups. SPLCenter.org
Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org

 

Help us bring you more news. Be a real reader: Support YubaNet

By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.

 

Latest Headlines

Op-Ed

Richard Eskow: Looks Like Burger King's Subjects Are Royally Pissed Off

John Deans: Shell hasn't been able to prove they can operate in the Arctic

Camisha Jones: How to Save the Life of the Next Michael Brown

Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins: Greasing the Path to Military Intervention

Robert L. Borosage: Let's Give Workers Something to Cheer About

Martha Rosenberg | Watch - Elanco is Becoming the Monsanto of the Animal Drug Industry

Robert Reich: Back to School, and to Widening Inequality

James Zogby: Ferguson Is All of Us


More

 

 

 

 

NEWS . Fire News . Latest . Regional . California . USA . World . Op-Ed . Enviro . Sci/Tech . Life . Odd News . Cartoons
FEATURES . The Calendar .Weather . Sierra NightSky . Horoscope . Road Conditions
YubaNet.com . Advertising. About Us . Support YubaNet . Contact Us . Terms of Use . Privacy

YubaNet.com © 1999-2014
Nevada City, California (530) 478-9600