Via Digby, I see that some Oklahoma politicians and teabaggers are trying to put together a legally recognized militia. It would be an all-volunteer thing, which means it would probably end up looking like the one in Louisiana, which is to say primarily composed of out-of-shape middle-aged men fighting pretend wars against pretend feds with real guns. So let’s have one last laugh at them before I get serious.
Now, let’s get serious. It’s unbelievable that anyone in Oklahoma, considering their history, would play this game. They know better than anyone that the kind of violence they’re stoking is far from the principled resistance to tyranny they claim it is, and instead is just a matter of a bunch of cowards stewing in their own hate until they erupt and attack their fellow citizens. Oklahoma has some history. There’s the history that happened in most of our lifetimes:
Death toll: 168 innocent lives. Nineteen were under the age of 6, because the bomb went off under a day care.
But let’s not forget that Oklahoma was home to one of the worst race riots in American history—-the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The term “race riot” is a little confusing, so to clarify, what happened was that a huge group of white Oklahomans organized around a highly unlikely sexual assault and proceeded to terrorize the black neighborhoods of Tulsa. More than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, and the death estimates range from 50 to 300. As with this proposed militia, there was a blending of local authorities in with the vigilante army. And if there’s any doubt that this riot was more like a militia-style attack, let’s be clear that the rioters gathered outside of the neighborhoods they wished to attack and organized before descending. (They also tried to loot weapons from the National Guard.) The residents of the neighborhoods responded by forming battle lines and digging trenches. This wasn’t just some random riot, which goes a long way to explaining how severe the destruction was.
More than most places, Oklahoma should understand the dangers of the militia movement and mob violence. What these incidents have in common should be obvious, but in case not, I’ll spell it out. Right wing violence of this sort follows a pattern. The right wing nuts are angry, because they’re, like Digby says, sore losers. They believe they have an absolute right to dominate culturally and politically, and they see their grip on power eroding. So they settle on some incident that justifies their rage—a phony story about sexual assault (charges were never pressed in the Tulsa case), the Waco incident—but of course the actual violence that they act out has no relationship to their rationalizations. Instead, innocent people are the targets when violence finally erupts. There is nothing principled or noble about it.
Shame on anyone involved in this in Oklahoma.