Nineteen children were killed nineteen years ago on April 19th.
Ten days ago, on April 19th , the American people casually checked off the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. One hundred and sixty eight people were killed. Nineteen of them were children; the youngest was only 3 months old. On that Wednesday in April Timothy McVeigh drove a rented truck filled with explosives through downtown Oklahoma City, lit a two minute fuse, and then parked it in a drop-off space under the daycare room of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building; he was protesting government overreach.
Ten days ago a small group of armed people were milling around in the Nevada desert sporting “Domestic Terrorist” nametags in the hopes of heaping ridicule on Senator Harry Reid who had likened their activity to domestic terrorism. Dinesh D’Souza recounted seeing the “Domestic Terrorist” nametags in a post to Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze”. The inhabitants of “Camp Tripwire” were milling about carrying their AR15s and AK47s with nothing to intimidate; their armed closure of interstate 15 had resulted in an apparent victory. Several days earlier the widely held belief was that “The Battle of Bunkerville” would erupt into a shooting battle before the anniversary of the Mount Carmel fire. By April 19th the cows were home and the only important thing they had left to do was protest government overreach.
David Koresh's Mount Carmel compound outside of Elk Texas burned to the ground on April 19th 1993 after a fifty-one day siege by federal agents. The federal agents tried knocking down walls and pumping in tear gas while inside the members of “The Students of the Seven Seals” Christian Cult set up fires and shot each other. When the rubble was cleared the bodies of 76 people were discovered, 20 of them had been shot, and one three year old had been stabbed to death. During the 51-day siege, out on Elk road, a disorganized group of protestors and gawkers assembled. Amongst them was Timothy McVeigh.
The similarities between Bunkerville’s “Camp Tripwire” and Mount Carmel’s gawker camp are striking. Both contained people with wide ranging fluidly heterodox religious views; often focusing on the second amendment as some great commandment sent from god. They both contained people who firmly believed that the US government is implanting microchips in people’s butts. Both camps also had a large number of ex-military who believed that show of deadly force was needed to counter some perceived threat in civilian America. At Tripwire many ex military were organized under the banner of the “Oath Keepers” organization; at Mount Carmel Timothy McVeigh would emerge as the most famous ex-military gawker.
The rhetoric emanating from both camps also made repeated mention of a shooting that occurred on August 31st 1992 in Ruby Ridge Idaho. There two members of a family of extremely religious white supremacists were killed in an operation that FBI director Louis Freeh would describe as "synonymous with the exaggerated application of federal law enforcement".
One important difference between the Mount Carmel gawker camp and Camp Tripwire was that the religious wingnuts at the center of the storm were isolated from the armed militia by armed FBI agents. At Camp Tripwire Cliven Bundy regularly got up on stage and proclaimed the content of specific auditory revelation he had received directly from god.
Cliven Bundy’s racist remarks eventually led to his becoming a pariah to the right-wing personalities. It is a bit scary that so many people would come in armed support of such a transparently racist individual. It is, perhaps, scarier that the right-wing pundits and the armed militiaists would not balk when the Mormon father of 14 began providing the details of his personal revelation. God spoke directly to Cliven Bundy and provided him with specific instruction for the armed militia, and the armed militia went and did some of the stuff. Stuff like dressing up in military fatigues, strapping a semi automatic rifle to their back, and stopping traffic on the only transportation artery in the area.
“It come to my mind real plain — the good Lord said, ‘Bundy, it’s not your job, it’s THEIR job.’ So we come back over here and heard that they had brought some cattle back. So I want you to understand... This is not my job, it’s YOUR job."
-- Cliven Bundy
I fear that the perceived success of the militia in the “Battle of Bunkerville” will facilitate the hardening of dangerously violent people like Terry Nichols, Michael Fortier (and his wife Lori), and timothy McVeigh; or new individuals driven to extreme lengths by some Birther-Oathkeeper-AntiVax-Truther-ChipButt- Heterodox (BOATCH) paranoia.
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
― H.L. Mencken
Many politicians, from local wanabees to Rand Paul, jumped on the media frenzy over this standoff. They did so in order to promote their own brand, but ended up validating the echo chamber of fantastical hysteria that these armed militias are developing. They maintain that there is some lofty fight against government overreach that ties them to the spirit of the Camp Tripwire crowd, but it begins to sound more like they are promoting themselves to a group they see as gullible enough not to look for reasonable truth behind what they can use for justification.
Rand Paul is a first-term senator; the sitting president of the USA was a first-term senator when he was first elected POTUS. While running for senate Rand supporters famously subdued MoveOn activist Lauren Valle who had shown up at a Rand rally with a sign; the Rand supporters wrestled her to the ground and stomped on her head. With an armed militia to add firepower to his cause he may be ready to attempt a presidential bid in 2016?
"But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."
-- Sinclair Lewis