I thought this was an interesting article about the rise of “patriot” groups in America and wanted to add my two cents.
The thing that struck me, both about the piece and the groups profiled therein was the disconnect in how these people saw themselves and what they were doing and how they were viewed by those on the outside.
Stewart Rhodes, a Constitutional lawyer, for instance:
(He) had been fascinated by the notion that if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could have been stopped.
Hitler and Nazis seem to be a central theme with these groups. President Obama and big government are likened to the German National Socialists a few times in this piece.
Immediately, this seems off, as the Nazis are, contrary to any connotations you might get from a name which includes the world “socialist”, a far-right group who would be at odd with many of the liberal policies of the Obama administration, let alone with the idea of a black man running the country.
But “left” or “right”, those are just ideas and the list of crimes committed in the name of each is long. But beyond simple political affiliation, there’s a deeper truth.
The people in these groups tend to see themselves as modern-day George Washingtons, the only men brave enough to stand up to a tyrannical power and do what is right.
But, I see them much differently. I do, in fact, see them as something Hitler was. Not the Hitler of 1939 who invaded Poland, but the Hitler of 1923’s Beer Hall Putsch.
The Beer Hall Putsch involved a group of angry veterans who felt that their country was being betrayed by illegitimate leaders who didn’t have the best interests of their homeland in mind. They too, felt the “system” was broken and needed to be “fixed” by a violent uprising.
It was a spectacular failure and in the immediate aftermath, its purveyors were looked at as bumbling buffoons. Many of the comments I’ve read from people on this present-day story center around the theme of “these are just ignorant rednecks who can’t make a difference and will just end up blowing themselves up”.
Again, all of this should seem really familiar.
Knowing what we know now, history has shown what a huge mistake it can be to underestimate people like this. People whose currency is the anger of the disenfranchised.
What these angry people don’t realize is that while sometimes you do have to stand up to the government, more often than not, you have to stand up to the people who would want to stand up to the government. And not just them, but anyone who would court their votes or their viewership or their political cachet.
There’s a system of government in place in our country that is over two hundred years old. Maybe you don’t think it’s working anymore. By all means, you should feel free to voice this opinion. But just because you feel like not enough people are listening to your opinion and agreeing with you, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to push those opinions onto other people with the threat of violence.
And that’s what this is really about, all high-minded rationalizations about Constitutional Law, aside. This isn’t a promise to uphold the Constitution at all costs, this is a threat to ignore the political will of the majority of Americans and impose your own beliefs upon them. Plain and simple.