Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What About These Guys?

Attorney General William Barr carried on yesterday about “protestors” (his air-quotes) who are threatening life, liberty, and the pursuit of white bread by a Wall of Moms.  They are, according to him, real threats so they must be met with tear gas and rubber bullets.  But when a bunch of armed ammosexuals stormed the Michigan state capitol and threatened to kill the governor, he knew nothing about it, and besides, that’s Michigan’s problem.

So don’t expect federal troops to respond to these guys.

Before his political awakening this spring, Peter Diaz lived a quiet life near this leafy liberal bastion at the base of the Puget Sound. He ran a tree-trimming service and a business that built office cubicles. He was 37 and had never voted.

Now he has formed his own political party and is the leader of American Wolf, a roving band of civilians who have anointed themselves “peacekeepers” amid months of tense protests over racism and policing. In the name of law and order, members of his informal group have shot paintballs at demonstrators and carry zip ties and bear spray as they look for antifascists. Diaz has done “recon” in Minneapolis and Seattle’s “autonomous zone,” and drove his American Wolf mobile home to Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day with President Trump.

America’s summer of anxiety and rage has swept up men like Diaz, energizing conservatives who are deploying to the front lines of the culture war. Across the country, conservative armed civilians have surged into public view — marching on statehouses, challenging Black Lives Matter protests, chasing Internet rumors — and bringing the threat of lethal force to local politics. Their emergence has prompted congressional hearings on the surge in anti-government militias and domestic extremism and has alarmed researchers who track hate groups.

Unlike the old image of militiamen as fringe elements motivated by a desire to overthrow the federal government, these groups often rally in defense of the president and see themselves as pro-government allies of local law enforcement.

“We’re the silent majority,” Diaz said, standing outside his house with a .45-caliber Remington handgun on his belt. “It’s time to act.”

[…]

The federal agents clashing with protesters in Oregon are “our Portland heroes,” Diaz wrote on Facebook last week — not performing illegal arrests, as critics have alleged, but making “strategic detentions” of high-value targets. Diaz visited Portland, Ore., earlier this month to offer federal agents free beer and homemade medals of valor as a show of his appreciation.

Gun-toting civilians have stormed the Michigan Capitol demanding the state lift coronavirus restrictions, and rushed to the battlefield in Gettysburg following a flag-burning hoax. After a member of a civilian militia in New Mexico shot and critically injured a man, a prosecutor in Albuquerque earlier this month sued the militia in an attempt to stop it from showing up as a military unit at protests and assuming law enforcement duties.

With a hodgepodge of military garb and over-the-counter assault rifles, such self-styled “patriots” come from lots of backgrounds, but they are predominantly white and male. They are often veterans who say the mission now is to defend the Constitution and the freedoms they fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet a naked lady and a guy with a leaf blower are the real threat to Democracy.

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