The left has its extremist, but seldom do they seem to embrace the love for violence and every insane conspiracy theory imaginable that permeates the far right - which nowadays seems to encompass half of the Republican Party base. The GOP and its Christian Taliban cadre are hysterically screaming about the danger that transgender folks comprise in rest rooms, yet they are turning a blind eye at the frightening lunacy that is going on among elements of the GOP base. A piece in the Washington Post looks at these self-styled "patriots" who are living in an even greater fantasy world than most Christofascists. Here are story excerpts (Note how Trump is viewed as legitimizing these nutcases):
B.J. Soper took aim with his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and fired a dozen shots at a human silhouette target. Soper’s wife and their 16-year-old daughter practiced drawing pistols. Then Soper helped his 4-year-old daughter, in pink sneakers and a ponytail, work on her marksmanship with a .22-caliber rifle.Deep in the heart of a vast U.S. military training ground, surrounded by spent shotgun shells and juniper trees blasted to shreds, the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard was conducting its weekly firearms training.
“The intent is to be able to work together and defend ourselves if we need to,” said Soper, 40, a building contractor who is an emerging leader in a growing national movement rooted in distrust of the federal government, one that increasingly finds itself in armed conflicts with authorities.Those in the movement call themselves patriots, demanding that the federal government adhere to the Constitution and stop what they see as systematic abuse of land rights, gun rights, freedom of speech and other liberties.
Law enforcement officials call them dangerous, delusional and sometimes violent, and say that their numbers are growing amid a wave of anger at the government that has been gaining strength since 2008, a surge that coincided with the election of the first black U.S. president and a crippling economic recession.
Soper started his group, which consists of about 30 men, women and children from a handful of families, two years ago as a “defensive unit” against “all enemies foreign and domestic.” Mainly, he’s talking about the federal government, which he thinks is capable of unprovoked aggression against its own people.
The group’s members are drywallers and flooring contractors, nurses and painters and high school students, who stockpile supplies, practice survival skills and “basic infantry” tactics, learn how to treat combat injuries, study the Constitution and train with their concealed handguns and combat-style rifles.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS and the watchdog groups that track the self-styled “patriot” groups call them anti-government extremists, militias, armed militants or even domestic terrorists. Some opponents of the largely white and rural groups have made fun by calling them “Y’all Qaeda” or “Vanilla ISIS.”
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism, said there were about 150 such groups in 2008 and about 1,000 now. Potok and other analysts, including law enforcement officials who track the groups, said their supporters number in the hundreds of thousands, . . .
a “Second Wave” is spreading across the country, especially in the West, fueled by the Internet and social media. J.J. MacNab, an author and George Washington University researcher who specializes in extremism, said social media has allowed individuals or small groups such as Soper’s to become far more influential than in the 1990s, when the groups would spread their message through meetings at local diners and via faxes.
Stephanie Douglas, who retired in 2013 as the FBI’s top official overseeing foreign and domestic counterterrorism programs. “Free speech doesn’t make you a terrorist just because you disagree with the government. But if you start espousing violence and radicalizing your own people toward a violent act, the federal government is going to take notice.”
Shortly after the Bundy ranch confrontation, two of Bundy’s supporters who had been at the ranch, Jerad and Amanda Miller, killed two police officers and a civilian and also died in a Las Vegas shooting rampage. Police said the couple left a note on the body of one the officers they had shot point-blank. It said: “This is the beginning of the revolution.”
Critics say such talk is naive nostalgia for a 1950s America that wasn’t ever really such a homespun paradise in the first place. And they say the groups that have sprung up in response are far more dangerous than Soper and others want to make them seem. . . . Soper’s research also led him to some of the Internet’s favorite conspiracy theories, including a purported U.N. plot to impose “One World Government.” And Soper, like most in the patriot movement, became a believer.
He suspects that the United Nations, through a program called Agenda 21, wants to reduce the global population from 7 billion to fewer than 1 billion. He said the federal government may be promoting abortions overseas as part of that plot, and also may be deliberately mandating childhood vaccines designed to cause autism because autistic adults are less likely to have children.
Soper said he could not rule out the possibility that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks. He suspects that the government and the “medical community” have had a cancer cure for years but won’t release it because cancer treatment is too profitable for pharmaceutical companies.
MacNab, the George Washington University researcher, said Trump has been a powerful recruiting tool for groups angry at the government. “The tea party built little bridges between the fringe and the mainstream,” she said. “With Trump, it’s an 18-lane superhighway. He’s literally telling them they’re right.”
Be afraid, and not of the government.One of the men indicted in the Bundy ranch case is Gerald DeLemus, who was New Hampshire co-chair of Veterans for Trump and was named by the Trump campaign as a New Hampshire alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.