BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
"Is it scary? It sure is": Oklahoma Tea Party leaders want an armed militia to combat the federal government
Oklahoma Tea Party leaders are talking about creating a new volunteer militia to defend the state against encroaching federal government
Coming on the heels of the arrests and indictments of the Hutaree militia group in Southern Michigan and given the fact that April 19 is the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing – the day that Tim McVeigh exploded a truckbomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killing 168 people -- at first glance I thought the story I was reading had emanated from the fevered minds of the writers at The Onion -- one of the nation’s premier humor/satire publications where no issue is off limits.
But I soon realized that this in fact was a serious news dispatch from two Associated Press writers, Sean Murphy and Tim Talley.
According to Murphy and Talley, Oklahoma Tea Party leaders are so “frustrated by recent political setbacks” that they have been talking with state legislators about the possibility of creating “a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.”
The AP report pointed out that “Tea party movement leaders say they've discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.”
"Is it scary? It sure is," said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party – which held its first open meeting for the general public in October of last year – and the head of an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. "But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?"
Gerhart, a carpenter by trade, was a recent guest on Oklahoma Forum, “your source for meaningful discussion that informs, engages and connects each Oklahoman.” On November 8, 2009, at the Sooner Tea Party Blog – “limited government; individual freedom; personal responsibility” – Gerhart posted a piece titled “The Battle for the Republic Begins,” in which he maintained that “the power to stop Obama in his tracks” resides with the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
While Gerhart has a “Page” at the Freedom Works website, it appears that he hasn’t posted anything since September 30, 2009.
"Have they heard of the Oklahoma City bombing?" said Joseph Thai, a constitutional law professor at the University of Oklahoma. Such actions could "throw fuel in the fire of radicals," he said.
“State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, a Republican candidate for governor who has appealed for tea party support, said supporters of a state militia have talked to him, and that he believes the citizen unit would be authorized under the Second Amendment to the Constitution,” AP reported. The founding fathers "were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt. They really weren't even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other," Brogdon said. "The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government."
Another Tea Party leader, J.W. Berry of the Tulsa-based OKforTea, helped initiatite the discussion through his newsletter under the subject "Buy more guns, more bullets."
"It's not a far-right crazy plan or anything like that," Berry said. "This would be done with the full cooperation of the state Legislature."
Think Progress reported that Berry “has posted rants against President Obama: the ‘Muslim President’ — a ‘reincarnation of Pol Pot’ who is trying imprison Americans for resisting health reform. One ominous posting from Berry says that his militia should ‘launch a thousand guerrilla attacks on the plans that these people have to ruin us and our country.’”
In addition, Think Progress pointed out, “Berry frequently cites conservative news outlets like CNS [formerly the Media Research Center’s Conservative News Service which now calls itself the Cybercasat News Service] and notes that he draws inspiration from the white supremacist thriller “The Turner Diaries” [the William Pierce-authored novel that inspired Tim McVeigh]. Despite his extremism, Berry has met with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and other members of the Oklahoma Republican delegation, and counts them as ‘rock solid.’”
Not everyone thinks the state militia is such a great idea: “This is yet another example of the inability of national tea party leadership to control a large portion its core base,” Eric Ward of the Chicago, Illinois-based Center for New Community, told BuzzFlash. “The push by Oklahoma Republican Party elected officials and its tea party cohorts to form its own private army is short of outright sedition against the United States. The fact that national tea party leadership has failed to speak out immediately on this should send chills through the hearts of every American committed to civil rights, the Constitution, and civil rights.”
"If the intent is to create a militia for disaster relief, we have the National Guard," said Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "Anything beyond that purpose should be viewed with great concern and caution."
AP reported that Democratic Gov. Brad Henry's communications director Paul Sund “also discounted the militia discussion, saying the National Guard handles state emergencies and security. Federal authorities say that radical militia groups have not emerged in Oklahoma, unlike many other states, in part because of the legacy of the Oklahoma City bombing.”
Eric Ward, a longtime anti-racist activist whose organization monitors right wing organizations, suggested that “What we are seeing is a naked power grab by those who lost the presidential elections. In any other country this would be seen as the start of an attempted coup against a democratically elected national leader. A coup steeped in fantasies of old white supremacy and racialized vigilantism.”
It is unclear whether the Oklahoma legislature will take action on the Tea Partiers suggestion that a volunteer militia be created to protect Oklahomans from the federal government. For now, State Sen. Randy Brogdon and Tea Party leaders Al Gerhart and J. W. Berry are making the folks Merle Haggard sang about in "Okie from Muskogee" seem like downright liberals.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
BUZZFLASH NOTE: Since 2000, BuzzFlash has been warning of the danger from a well-armed seditious right. Yesterday, in the editor's blog, we took note again of the grave threat that those who would commit treason pose to the government of the United States in a commentary, "Sedition is Coming to a Town Near You: The Potential Domestic White 'Christian' Terrorists in Our Midst are Locked and Loaded."