Ever since it took Donald Trump a few days to figure out how to denounce Nazis who marched through Charlottesville in August, 2017, the liberal media has been obsessed with the behavior and potential threat represented by ‘white supremacist’ groups. In particular, the mainstream media focuses much of its attention on the activities of the so-called citizen’s militias, particularly when people connected to such groups show up in a public space toting their guns.
The latest such concern can be found in a long article published in The New Yorker Magazine, which appeared previous to a bunch of militia-styled jerks getting themselves arrested for allegedly planning to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a state that has been a focus of media attention since a number of these ‘patriots’ began demonstrating against her lockdown rules.
The militia groups in Michigan first got noticed when it turned out that Timothy McVeigh was briefly involved with the Michigan Militia before he went down to Oklahoma City and blew up the Murrah Federal Building. The resultant publicity put the Michigan group more or less out of business, but it has of late revived, calling itself the Michigan Home Guard. This new group told the author of The New Yorker piece, Luke Mogelson, that they count one thousand members, a claim that Mogelson made absolutely no attempt to verify or even check.
Much of the recent concern about these militia groups has aligned with a narrative about the surge in gun sales that has accompanied the spread of Covid-19. And the fact that these older-generation Boy Scouts show up in public with their trusty guns only tends to underscore the idea that the country may be facing the beginnings of a true, revolutionary movement representing whatever rhetorical nonsense these great patriots put together from a combination of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
Granted, there has been a surge in gun sales. For example, In my state, Massachusetts, a year-to-year comparison shows an increase in background checks for guns sold by dealers to consumers of somewhere around 80%.
Granted, there has also been a disturbing increase in homicides throughout the United States. But the guns that figure in most gun assaults, fatal and non-fatal, are rarely guns that are legally owned, and the average time between when a gun is first purchased and when it is used in the commission of a crime happens to be – ready? – more than 11 years.
I’m not trying to dismiss or downplay the fear and intimidation engendered by the spectacle of some guys walking down the street in their camo costumes and brandishing their AR’s. If nothing else, such displays of infantile stupidity on the part of adults always evokes memories and fears of mass shootings like the massacres at Las Vegas or Sandy Hook.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the legal sale of an assault rifle to a nut like Steve Paddock or Nancy Lanza could result in community-wide trauma and multiple deaths. It’s quite another to foster the impression that behind a dozen or so middle-age schmucks who have nothing better to do than show up at a public rally and wave their guns, there lurks an unseen and increasingly large army of like-minded dopes getting ready to declare a new civil war.
When a guy sells t-shirts and other crap to support the militia on his website tells you that his group numbers a thousand or more, shouldn’t you at least try to verify his claim? Fogelson’s article describes a gathering of some of these jerk-offs at the barbershop of a guy who refused to close down after Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed lockdown rules back in May.
Guess who called up in the middle of this brief demonstration of patriotic lore? None other than Glenn Beck, who hoped he could score the same degree of media coverage that Sean Hannity thought he would get until Cliven Bundy began lecturing Hannity on ‘your Negro’ during the standoff outside his ranch.
What I’m suggesting is that the militia movement wouldn’t ever get beyond the weekend pizza and beer tailgate party except for the possibility that one of the gang might see his picture that night on Fox News. What I’m also suggesting is that the liberal media might consider not trying to compete with the alt-right when it comes to taking those dopes seriously or discussing them at all.