Well, the Year of our Lord 2016 has brought some light relief.
The scamps from the Bundy ranch have branched out north, occupying a Federal building in Oregon to "support" two ranchers who burned 300 acres of Federal land. Why did they burn the land? The ranchers say it was a "controlled burn". The Feds say it was an attempt to cover up illegal hunting. At either rate, the hunters, from all accounts, have accepted their comeuppance and are willing to turn themselves into Federal authority.
But those miscreants from Bundy Ranch down Nevada way are having none of it. They sense tyranny, and "molon labe" motherfucker, they're going to be there to fight it.
This is nothing new. Richard Hofstadter spoke of the paranoid style in American politics. There has always been a strain in the US body politic which was convinced it was at war with an illegitimate regime. This strain led to the Whiskey Rebellion at the Republic's birth, and, of course, the Civil War.
One would think that in an era of globalization, MTV, and Hollywood, this strain of US politics would have found its grave. But, of course, those factors feed its fevered fantasies.
As the world becomes more homogeneous, some people cling more fervently to their peculiar traditions. In general, particularism is nothing to be feared. I like the fact that Basques, my ancestors, hold onto their unique language. But, in some cases, that particularism leads to things like waving the Confederate flag of treason, or the belief that the Second Amendment sanctions rebellion against a Constitutionally sanctioned government.
So here we are, in Burns, OR, with a posse of refugees from Bundy Ranch claiming to represent the true, original meaning of the Constitution, against what anyone else may think. They are our latter day Puritans. (The fact that many of them are Mormons makes one wonder what the main LDS church thinks of them.)
They are imbued with equal parts hate and fear. Hate that "their country" is changing, and fear that they don't have the power to hold back the flood. When gays can marry and black folks won't be silent in the face of their oppression, one can see how their world is being turned upside down. So, of course, they turn their ire on an "out of control" federal government, as if the locus of social change resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (Although, a biracial liberal President does nothing to assuage their fears.)
Thus we have the standoff over a cause whose protagonists want no part of. Many of the thugs have made suicide videos, bidding farewell to their loved ones, thinking Waco or Ruby Ranch is right around the corner.
The Bush Department of Homeland Security commissioned a report which was released by the Obama DHS—and then retracted after a caterwaul of protest—which said that the immediate threat to the United States was from home grown right wing terrorism. San Bernardino and Boston aside, there has been nothing in the past eight years which has gainsaid that assessment. From bombings of abortion clinics to firebombings of black churches, most of the terrorism since 9/11 has been of the right wing variety. Facts are facts. Right wing terrorism, with the exception of 9/11, has been the common threat to Americans' life and property.
I'm tired of being "understanding" of right wing fears. Those fears are based on a loss of privilege, a privilege which, for the most part, was unearned. The country is moving to the left, and no amount of gnashing of teeth will change that. The sooner that the "molon labe" folks realize that, the sooner we can gather together to manage the change. The change is here. The question is whether it will be accommodated in a civilized fashion, or be roiled up in rear guard actions.