Tag Archives: Militia Movement

Gun Nuts, Militias, and American Extremism in a Globalized World

Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh speaks incoherently while possibly sweating profusely.

Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh speaks incoherently while possibly sweating profusely.

Do you ever get the feeling that the world is a vast, exceedingly complex entanglement of random chance occurrences, flawed human decision-making, and constant disruption brought about by the break-neck pace of technological change and ideological formulations that create a series of interconnected problems immune to any and all simplistic solutions? If so, then it’s likely that you’ve never been a militia member.

It seems that these days, America’s home-grown breed of Far Right, paranoid nutballs known variously as “patriots,” “gun nuts,” “sovereign citizens,” and “militia members” are occupying way too many headlines. And if anything unites this otherwise diverse and motley crowd of barrel-stroking bubbas, it’s their proclivity towards exceedingly simple responses to a very complex world. They tend to shoot first and ask the wrong questions, particularly when it comes to the issues of government power and how American society is organized in an globalized world where corporations, not states, are pulling the levers of power and the notion of national loyalty seems hopelessly antiquated.

Case in point: a California man by the name of Brent Douglas Cole has been recently accused of shooting a California highway patrol officer and a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger in Nevada County, California. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dug a bit into Cole’s background and found that he’s a full-bore, conspiracy theorist, gun-fondling, sovereign citizen looney toon. Wonkette notes that Cole thinks the U.S. is dousing the atmosphere with chemtrails, believes Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and, of course, seems to think that the Jews control the world (because when it comes to world domination, you gotta fit the Jews in somewhere). Talking Points Memo provides a snippet of Cole’s court documents in which he claims that “I am being persecuted for being a gun owner, and for exercising my inherent Right by unwitting or unknowing accomplices of a seditious conspiracy against rights instituted by foreign powers inimical to the United States of America.” Ho boy.

Cole’s attack follows in the wake of other recent militia/sovereign citizen actions such as the Las Vegas shooting of two off-duty police officers and a civilian by Tea Party/Gadsden Flag-waving militia sympathizers Jerad and Amanda Miller, and the high-profile stand-off between Nevada bumpkin Cliven Bundy (whom I wrote about here) and the BLM over Bundy’s refusal to pay his cattle-grazing fees. Jerad Miller expressed public sympathy for Cliven Bundy, but what unites the Cole, Miller, and Bundy cases is a common anti-government thread: these people think that the American government has become too big, too tyrannical, and that it has abandoned “traditional” American principles. They want to restore American back to a better time, which must have existed…sometime. It’s a simple, comforting goal that nevertheless seems so out of reach.

As Erin Kania writes, the modern militia and sovereign citizens movements are drive by a core belief “that the federal government of the United States can no longer be trusted” and they fear that “the government is not looking out for the safety and protection of its citizens, but is instead attempting to limit the rights and liberties that the Founding Fathers and Constitution intended all individuals to possess.” Moreover, these groups believe that the government is embracing global policies at Americans’ expense, and that an essential part of the globalist agenda involves taking away Americans’ guns.* Contained within these general, overarching beliefs are a sordid cornucopia of nutty ideas about the New World Order, the Zionist threat, white supremacy, and the existence of what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “secret treasury accounts” that supposedly enslave newborn Americans to a shadow government, or something.

Conpiracy-minded gun nut Brent Douglas Cole is accused of shooting to law enforcement officers. For freedom, of course.

Conspiracy minded gun nut Brent Douglas Cole is accused of shooting two law enforcement officers. For freedom, of course.

But you don’t need to get down into the movements’ paranoid weeds to see their common themes. As historian Darren Mulloy notes, “In the broadest terms, the emergence of the Militia movement in the late 1990s appears to be connected to a sense that the United States was a nation in decline: politically, economically, morally, spiritually.”* Implicit within these beliefs is a serious uneasiness with change and a sense that the American past has been dangerously altered for the worse and must be restored to its original, pristine form. This “restorationist” view of history unites all elements of the modern American Far Right; indeed, it’s the life force that crackles along the wingnut spectrum, animating gun nuts, militia members, sovereign citizens, and Tea Partiers alike.

The “restorationist” view of history is a fundamentalist view, and, like all forms of fundamentalism, it proposes simple, clear-cut answers to very complicated problems by advocating a return to basic, “fundamental” principles. In the mind of the Far Right, America wasn’t a nation conceived by brilliant but flawed individuals who accepted the necessity of political compromise; rather, it was a nation blessed and conceived by the (white Protestant Christian) God who used the Founding Fathers as modern-era prophets.

In her essential study of the modern right-wing Tea Party movement, historian Jill Lepore explains that “historical fundamentalism is marked by the belief that a particular and quite narrowly defined past — ‘the Founding’ — is ageless and sacred and to be worshipped; that certain historical texts — ‘the founding documents’ —  are to be read in the same spirit with which religious fundamentalists read, for instance, the Ten Commandments,” and that “the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired.” A belief in historical fundamentalism, Lepore notes, means that “political arguments grounded in appeals to the founding documents, as sacred texts, and to the Founding Fathers, as prophets, are therefore incontrovertible.”* In other words, the Far Right, from the Tea Partiers to the militia and sovereign citizens all believe that the Founding past must be restored to reclaim the present from the tyrannical powers of big government and the globalized world order.

Militia and sovereign citizen types aren’t alone in their unease with globalization and America’s internal changes, of course, but what is unique is how they respond to these changes by adopting a straightforward “lock and load” mentality. If change poses a threat, then they plan to riddle change with bullets until it learns its place. This makes a strange amount of sense when you consider the very real and symbolic role that guns have played in forging American identity.

To understand what drives Far Right gun nuts, consider how America must have appeared to a white male who grew up absorbing all the myths of American exceptionalism. During the early twentieth century, and more conclusively after World War II, the United States emerged as the dominant world superpower — a position it largely still retains today. And the thing about being a citizen of the world’s superpower is that it bestows on you all the rights and privileges that such citizenship entails. Basically, you get to think that your country is where true freedom lies; that your country always operates on the noblest of motives; that your country knows what’s best for the rest of the world; that your country will always have the KFC Double Down® for only $6.00! Truly, these are the things that make America great.

The Tea Party: don't let these whack-a-loons teach you about history.

The Tea Party: don’t let these whack-a-loons teach you about history.

But here’s the problem: if you myopically view history from a fundamentalist stance that considers the American founding as a sacred event and American identity as sublimely virtuous, then you’re bound to have a rude-awakening when the myths that you take as gospel turn out to be just that — myths. If these myths were real, then Barack Obama wouldn’t have been elected president, the federal government wouldn’t try to take away your guns, and good-paying jobs wouldn’t be shipped overseas or handed to undeserving “minorities.” Thus, we have the rise of the militia and sovereign citizen types who, in many respects, are reacting to real changes in America and the world, albeit in spectacularly misguided and misinformed ways.

The modern world is now defined by permanent high unemployment, rapidly shifting American demographics, and a technologically interconnected global economic system that allows capital to move freely with little concern for international borders and pits American workers against far-cheaper international counterparts.

In this environment, the barriers that formerly separated the “domestic” from the “global” are rapidly thinning, and the urge to somehow restore America to a fundamentally pure past is enticing to those people who feel that change has left them in the dust. Sociologist Manuel Castells notes that with the acceleration of the modern globalized economy, American workers and small business entrepreneurs have witnessed a steady decline in their standards of living, thereby “reversing the historical trend of the improvement of each generation’s material well-being over that of previous generations.”* Couple these trends with the rise of gay rights, the gender equality movement, the growing non-white ethnic makeup of America, and gun control, and you’ve got a recipe for hot ‘n simmering reactionism-by-gunpoint.

Thus, as Castell observes, the militia, sovereign citizen, and patriot movements see themselves as “defenders of the traditions of the country against cosmopolitan values, and of self-rule of local people against the imposition of global order.” By adopting age-old American preferences for individualism and suspicion of government, the gun nuts have taken up armed resistance to “threats generated by the informationalization of society, the globalization of the economy, and the professionalization of politics.”*

America’s gun nuts, patriots, militia members, sovereign citizens, and Tea Partiers demonstrate how history can be misused to further a reactionary agenda based on weirdly fundamentalist views of the past. The degree to which any one of these groups are willing to use guns to restore America back to its sacred past varies with their level of extremism. But all of them believe that the federal government is the enemy, that all politics should be local (in the case of sovereign citizens, extremely local), and that globalization cannot be allowed to destroy America’s unique identity. Lacking other viable alternatives, they’ve turned to guns, because at least guns offer the most straightforward, literal way to stop something you fear dead in its tracks.

* See Erin Kania, “The American Militia Movement in the Age of Globalization,” Reason & Respect 2 (Spring, 2006): 16.

* See Darren Mully, American Extremism: History, Politics, and the Militia Movement (New York: Routledge, 2004), 12.

* See Jill Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 16.

* See Manuel Castells, The Power of Identity: The Information Age, Economy, Society, and Culture, Vol. 2 (West Sussex, U.K., Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 99-100.

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Cliven Bundy, The Negro, and Poor White Trash

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is the epitome of the VERY angry white guy.

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is the epitome of the VERY angry white guy.

Anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to the 24-hour American news circle-jerk is by now familiar with the ongoing saga of Cliven Bundy, the good ‘ole boy Nevada cattle rancher who’s playing chicken with the federal government over the $1 million in fees that he’s refused to pay for grazing his cattle on federally owned land. Bundy’s become a right-wing folk hero thanks to his aversion to all things “big ‘gubmint,” and he’s attracted plenty of support from armed, anti-federal government militia whack-a-loons who’ve gathered to defend Bundy against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) goon-squads.

Look, given the revelations in recent years detailing the sweeping domestic-spying power of the National Security Agency (NSA), among other issues, criticism of excessive federal power is certainly warranted. But Cliven Bundy’s political views are weirdly a-historical: he denies the existence and authority of the United States Federal Government. In this respect, Bundy de facto rejects the federal constitution as implemented by the Founders back in 1787 and instead lives his twenty-first century life inside a constructed fantasy-world in which the old Articles of Confederation still constitute the law of the land. But while I could (and probably will) write more about Bundy’s political views, I’m instead going to focus on his unique take on race in America.

Thus, we come to a little statement Bundy made, caught on video, in which he detailed his thoughts on black culture. “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said when describing a public-housing project in Las Vegas, “in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do.” And why were these black people so shiftless, according to Bundy?

“[T]hey were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Predictably and justifiably, Bundy’s comments received widespread criticism and even caused political supporters like libertarian homunculus Rand Paul (R-KY) to back off from their previous ballz-out support for the rancher. Bundy’s comments repeat the “blacks as poor urban criminals and welfare cheats” meme that has infected American culture for well over a century. This meme influences every major American domestic policy decision, and it’s one of the secret/not-so-secret reasons why many-a-voter (like Bundy) votes Republican (even some who are registered Democrats). Just think about dealing with your racist relatives at Thanksgiving and you’ll know what I mean.

The most damaging aspect of this critique of the alleged deviancy of “black culture” (a topic about which I’ve written here) is that it denies African-Americans their right to live as individuals. Instead, by lumping all black people into the category of “the negro,” even individual black Americans must exist as representatives of a broader “black culture.” Thus, if you’re, say, a successful professor who happens to be black, American culture holds you responsible for the actions of other black people who commit crimes — because they’re black too. Makes sense, right? We do the same thing for whites, don’t we?

Don't worry, other white people, these poor white trash folk don't reprensent "white culture." Image by Shelby Lee Adams.

Don’t worry, other white people, these poor white trash folk don’t represent “white culture.” Image by Shelby Lee Adams.

No we don’t. And let me provide an example from the nineteenth century to show that we don’t. As you may know, there exists a sub-group of white people in America, generally confined to rural areas and small towns, who’re pejoratively labeled as “rednecks,” “crackers,” “hillbillies,”  “yokels,” “trailer trash,” and other similar titles. In the nineteenth century, middle and upper-class white southerners often called these people “‘poor white trash,” and they often critiqued what they saw as the negative habits on display by this group.

Among the most studious observers of poor southern whites was Alabama lawyer D.R. Hundley. In his 1860 book, Social Relations in Our Southern States, Hundley divided southern whites into seven camps that ranged from the “southern gentleman” (planters) at the top to “poor white trash” at the bottom. While he distinguished these group of southern whites by financial affluence, he also argued that blood lines influenced different groups’ manners and habits — the worst of which were displayed by the poor white trash.

According to Hundley, “laziness” was the chief characteristic of poor whites. “They are about the laziest two-legged animals that walk erect on the face of the Earth,” he wrote, “even their motions are slow, and their speech is a sickening drawl.” Hundley added that “all they seem to care for, is, to live from hand to mouth; to get drunk, provided they can do so without having to trudge too far after their liquor.” Poor whites also liked to eat, sleep, and lie around all day, and Hundley wrote that, “we do not believe the worthless ragamuffins would put themselves to much extra locomotion to get out of a shower of rain; and we know they would shiver all day with cold, with wood all around them, before they would trouble themselves to pick it up and build a fire.”*

Hundley’s descriptions of lazy poor whites should remind you of Cliven Bundy’s description of shiftless, porch-squatting Las Vegas blacks who “didn’t have nothing to do.” Indeed, well-off white people have often lumped poor whites and blacks into the “lazy and shiftless” camp. But Hundley’s poor whites get a level of grace that still isn’t granted to blacks, because poor whites don’t represent all whites. Heck, poor white trash were just one category of whites, and they even shared their upper and middle-class peers’ belief in white supremacy. “The Poor Whites of the South seldom come in contact with the slaves at all, and thousands of them never saw a negro,” Hundley wrote, “still, almost to a man, they are pro-slavery in sentiment…from downright envy and hatred of the black man.”*

Cliven Bundy yearns for a time when black people had decent jobs and weren't lazy, as depicted in this picture.

Cliven Bundy yearns for a time when black people had decent jobs and weren’t lazy, as depicted in this picture.

That’s right, despite all of their crude laziness, which Hundley attributed to a combination of genetic lineage and ingrained habits, poor whites could still claim solidarity with planters and yeomen via their shared hatred of blacks. That’s because “blacks” represented a vast, amorphous, enslaved demographic group defined by broad, negative cultural traits, but poor whites were just that: a sub-group of whites that never symbolized “whiteness” in general and never represented “whites” as a whole. Contrast that with the way modern Cliven Bundy-types still characterize “blacks” as a broad group of people suffering from a shared cultural dysfunction that leaves them prone to crime, deviancy, promiscuity, and other bad habits. To Bundy and his ilk, the blacks on Las Vegas porches aren’t even “poor blacks:” they’re just “blacks” in general, and they need to fix “their” deviant culture.

So remember Cliven Bundy’s comments the next time you read a story about meth-head white trash in Appalachia or prescription drug abuse in the nation’s Heartland, and ask yourself: what’s wrong with white culture that would make these people act like that? If you feel weird saying it that way, that’s because, in America, there isn’t any “white culture” in need of uplift. Whites get to be individuals, but blacks still have to be “blacks.” And that’s a problem.

* See D.R. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States (New York: Henry B. Price, 1860), 262-3, 273.

Big Government and Race: An American Saga

Tea Party protectors are part of a grand tradition in U.S. history, in which the prviledged complain about stuff.

Tea Party protesters are part of a grand tradition in U.S. history, in which privileged white people complain about stuff.

With the Republican Tea Party-backed congressional orcs continuing to lay siege to the Helm’s Deep of the federal government, there’s been a lot of discussion of late, especially by Salon’s Joan Walsh and Think Progress’ Zack Beauchamp, about how deeply entrenched issues of racial resentment are at the heart of the government shutdown. Both point to the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” that for several decades now has effectively convinced insecure white people that “Big Government,” steered by the Democrats, will redistribute state-supported goodies like tax benefits and welfare from the truly deserving ivory nobles to the allegedly mooching dusky rabble.

As I noted in a previous post, there’s a whole lot of truth to Walsh and Beauchamp’s points. Over at the Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore cites recent focus group studies by Stanley Greenberg of Tea Party supporters to frame the current shutdown over Obamacare as the logical end-point of a conservative ideology driven in large part by fear of redistributive government policies. As Kilgore notes, Greenberg’s study concluded that:

[The argument against Obamacare that] is the most important and elicits the most passions among Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans—that big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes. The Democratic Party exists to create programs and dependency—the food stamp hammock, entitlements, the 47 percent.

Greenberg’s Republican Tea Partiers are terrified that black and brown minorities, whom they view as undeserving, will use “Big Government” to take from the deserving (read: whites). Don Swift of the Rag Blog echoed this argument during the 2012 presidential election, linking Tea Party nutbaggery to what the historian Richard Hofstadter termed “the paranoid style in American politics,” in which self-described white “Real Americans” freak out over the thought of variously defined foreign elements taking what they perceive as rightfully theirs. The benefits up for grabs have ranged from tax breaks to suffrage, but the sentiment of “I earned it, you’re taking it” remains the same.

Swift sees the Tea Party, the current vice around the quivering gonads of the congressional Republican caucus, as part of a long streak of fringe, right-wing weirdo groups in U.S. history that also includes the John Birch Society and various Militia movements. These groups, Swift notes, “react against change,” and “they see the government as an agent of unwanted change and they set out to disrupt and replace it.”

The Tea Party is indeed radical, and nuttier than a Planter’s factory, but on thing they are not is fringe. Lest you need reminded of Tea Party conservatism’s political legitimacy, I point to Exhibit A: the Republican Party. There’s a bunch of historical factors that led up to the Tea Party movement, but the most significant of those factors is the resiliency of anti “Big Government” sentiment in American history.

Americans have always had a complicated relationship with government power. Often they have been, and continue to be, justifiably sceptical of it, but just as frequently, Americans of various stripes have embraced “Big Government” when it ensured that state power would be used to benefit white Americans at the expense of non-white minorities. This was especially true in the 19th century with regards to Native Americans and African-Americans. By contrast, when whites have perceived that state benefits would flow to non-whites, they have tended to rail against “Big Government” as the agent of tyranny. Thus, American fears of “Big Government” have been historically intertwined with racial prejudice, the Tea Party being only the most recent example.

Far from being a fringe idea, anti “Big-Government” paranoia is a deeply influential, deeply American cultural sentiment, with roots in the 19th century and wrapped in historical cloaks of hypocrisy and status anxiety. Its staying power attests to its long tradition.

A few glaring examples of this phenomenon should suffice. Take one of the most odious instances of racial injustice of the 19th century: the removal of Native Americans from the southeast in the 1830s. The policy of Indian Removal had its greatest champion in one the towering figures of limited government: President Andrew Jackson. For the most part, Jackson favored laissez-faire economics, states’ rights over federal power, opposed a national bank, and mouthed a general distrust of a government monopoly by “elites.” But, like nearly all Americans of his time, Jackson also believed in white cultural and racial superiority, and was willing to use federal power to enforce those beliefs.

The Trail of Tears: Big government in the service of white Americans.

The Trail of Tears: Big government in the service of white Americans.

In the 1820s and 30s, the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes,” the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creeks, Chickasaw, and Seminoles still lived on the lands of the Old Southwest (GA, AL, MS, LA, AK) that had been guaranteed by federal treaties which (ostensibly) recognized Indians as sovereign people. White Americans in these southern states, however, regarded “savage” Indians as barriers to white settlement and economic gain, and resented federal Indian policy as an affront to white democracy and states’ rights. Whites, especially in Georgia, complained that the federal government lacked the authority to recognize sovereign peoples within states and demanded that it kick the Indians out.

When the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John Marshall, upheld Indians’ rights to occupy southern lands and denied the states’ rights to kick them out, President Andrew Jackson defied the court’s orders, supposedly sneering, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” Jackson thus emerged as the champion of white grievances. After signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830 into law, he ordered the “savage” tribes to remove to Oklahoma, threatening to use Federal power in the form of the U.S. army if they refused to voluntarily relocate. The tragic “Trail of Tears” is Jackson’s legacy.

In one of those great and shameless historical ironies, Jackson, the small government proponent, used big government to enforce the racial and economic whims of states’ rights favoring white southern Americans, who were all too happy rely on federal power to open up lands for white settlement.

White southern Americans, erstwhile supporters of “Big Government” when it was used to their advantage against “savage,” non-white Indian “others,” nonetheless threw the biggest political fit in U.S. history when, in 1860, it appeared that Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party would gain control of the federal government and use it to force the emancipation of slaves and subsequent “negro equality” on the helpless white South. To prevent this impending doom, white southern secessionists decided that “Big Government” was now the enemy, and leaned on states’ rights as the last buffer against Lincoln’s coming tyranny.

The Deep South states of South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama were the first to secede from the Union in 1860-61. In an effort to convince other slaveholding southern states like Virginia, Kentucky, and Georgia to follow their lead, the already seceded states sent secession commissioners out to convince the rest of the Slave South to join the southern Confederacy. Historian Charles Dew documents the secession commissioners’ work in his stellar book, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War.

South Carolina's Secession Commissioner to the State of Georgia, helped framed "Big Government" as the diabolical agent of "negro equality."

James Orr, South Carolina’s Secession Commissioner to the State of Georgia, helped framed “Big Government” as the diabolical agent of “negro equality.”

The secession commissioners gave mind-blowingly racist speeches to convince white southern good ole’ boys that the Republican Party would use the government to enforce black whims as whites’ expense. Take the following lines from a December 17, 1860 speech delivered in Georgia by Mississippi commissioner William Harris. “Our fathers made this government for the white man, rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race,” Harris stated. “This new [Lincoln] administration comes into power, under the solemn pledge to overturn and strike down this great feature of our Union…and to substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.”*

A December 27, 1860 letter written by Alabama commissioner Stephen Hale to Kentucky governor Beriah Magoffin framed a Republican domination of government in equally apocalyptic racial terms. “If the policy of the Republicans is carried out,” Hale warned, “the slave-holder  and non-slave-holder must ultimately share the same fate; all be degraded to a position of equality with free negroes…stripped…of that title to superiority over the black race.*

Its nary much of stretch to compare the rhetoric of the 19th century secession commissioners, who warned that the Republican Party would use its control over the federal government to force “negro equality” on the beleaguered white South, to that of contemporary Tea Party Republicans, who warn that the Democratic Party will take money from hard-working (read: white) Americans and give it to undeserving, shiftless black and Latino minorities. It’s no coincidence that the Tea Party draws most of its strength from the old Southern Confederacy; like the southern secessionists, they fear that state benefits will be transferred from “us” to “them.”

The circumstances have changed, but the broader sentiments remain: “Big Government” is fine when it gives land to white settlers, enforces white racial superiority, and gives “earned” benefits like Medicare and Social Security to whites. But its tyrannical when it threatens to recognize Indians’ rights, mess with slavery, or extend state benefits like Obamacare to lazy racial “others.”

This is why, as CBS news’ Timothy Noah reported last year, Tea Partiers supported arch Ayn Rand drone Paul Ryan (R-WI), despite his plans to destroy Medicare and Social Security: because 70-75% of them are AARP eligible. The Tea Party geriatrics, Noah writes, “are against government benefits for other people,” but rely on anti-government rhetoric  to “convince themselves that Medicare and Social Security benefits are different because they’ve already paid for them through payroll taxes (when in fact beneficiaries take out far more than they put in; that’s why both programs need periodic adjustments).”

By supporting “Big Government” for themselves while denying it to “others,” Tea Party Republicans are continuing a long, mainstream American tradition in which views about state power have been highly contingent on who draws the benefits of state power. As the ruling demographic majority during the United States’ entire existence, white people have been able to walk a hypocritical line, embracing state power in the name of caucasian rights while rejecting the federal government as tyrannical and antithetical to states’ rights when it threatens to serve Indians, Blacks, and Latinos.  But don’t accuse conservative white America of hypocrisy in this matter because…FREEDOM!

* Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001), 85, 98-99.