Adele Stan, a writer for the left wing blog AlterNet has written an insightful article on the codes used in the language and actions of the far right American militia movement that is growing and is usually seen as the basis for the various Tea Parties that take place from time to time. We had one yesterday here in the D.C. area. The article is insightful, informative and fairly breathtaking. It is here if you wish to read it. The article is called "The Wing-Nut Code: What Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Are Really Saying to Their Followers."
Now I am fully aware that I am going to get the whole ‘that Barnes is a Communist’ thing as a result of posting this. Be aware that the woman who sent this to me is a divorced mother of two twin boys who are nine years old, an American born physician (M.D. in internal medicine) of East Indian descent, a former major and physician in the U.S. Air Force and a highly respected doctor in the Northern Virginia area. She has a private practice here now and is not involved in left wing politics here in Virginia or anyplace else. She does not have the time for it. So there is no axe to grind here. She is simply scared of all the revolution talk among otherwise seemingly normal Americans. Get that?
Although these people like to pretend that their "Tea Party" movement has its roots in the American Revolution, in fact, it has its roots in states’ rights and secessionist sentiment as it prevailed prior to the American Civil War. Now to be fair here, although I never went to law school, I have always been led to believe by Southern lawyers who I count as personal friends that States’ Rights has never been clearly settled and that the Constitution allows for a state to go its own way in many areas.
To be honest, within reason, I have no problem with that. Texas is not New Hampshire and California is not Missouri which in turn is not Pennsylvania. Virtually nobody comes close to Delaware (it has three counties!) except maybe Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (yes that is the full and proper name of that state). These are totally different places with differing populations and differing histories and very dissimilar current needs relative to very specific population demographics.
These states have different needs, exist in different topography and cultural surroundings and they need different answers to some degree to the same governmental problems. I get that and as far as that goes, I can support this within a Union of states where everybody understands that ‘government’ is a broad blanket for various problems at best. My problem here is not with various parts of the country finding different answers to the same dilemmas. My problem is with violence and the threat of violence based on some vague feeling that "the government" is not open to their needs.
And here is why this scares me.
To some degree, these people are correct.
The problem for me is that instead of doing the normal, typical, Eisenhower to Johnson era "lets go to the polls and throw the bums out!" sort of thing that was the hallmark of "American Dream citizenship" of my childhood and high school years, we now have various and completely different segments of the population embracing a radical right wing, "lets get our guns and shoot the bums out!" philosophy.
And to be honest, brother and sister veterans and our supporters, that scares the living poop out of me!
And perhaps the biggest reason it scares me is that because a huge slice of American veterans are now embracing this philosophy. I hear this a lot from veterans in the D.C. area and the rest of the country when I correpsond with them.
It is understandable that people in physical pain, who have lost limbs and sanity and any hope of a normal future would feel this way. I said it is understandable…I did not say it was acceptable.
The burdens of citizenship have fallen on veterans, and specifically disabled veterans, much harder than they have fallen on anyone else. We disabled veterans know much more clearly than any other citizens what the real cost of citizenship can be for an individual, sometimes it calls for a slice of one’s life itself, right down to the personal core of it.
In my personal case, I am missing body parts as a result of my service in the U.S. Coast Guard that must go unmentionable in polite society. I lost this aspect of my life as a result of my service to my country. Believe me when I tell you this, it affects my life. Lets just leave it at that and move on.
The real point here is this; what is our reaction to these real and perceived abuses to our "rights"? What is the proper way for an American veteran to react? Is violence something we should all consider?
And if violence truly is something we should consider, what would the consequences be for all of us as a group and as individuals? What would the consequences be for our communities, our families and friends, our futures?
What is the proper stand here for freedom loving Americans and specifically for those of us who have borne the burdens of democracy to a much greater extent than any other citizen? Is adhering to extreme right wing philosophies of "activism" the proper course of action for us?
CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)