MSNBC’s audience is such that its anchors have to appear on other shows to solicit viewers for theirs. Duly, Maddow has been making the rounds to promote her McVeigh exposé. The country is currently “experiencing an upswing again in … anti-government extremism,” she told an unreceptive Jon Stewart. “That’s not to say the next Timothy McVeigh is out there, but it is to say that people should not be encouraging …violence against government institutions and people.” (Stewart made fun of this banal insight.)
Ominously and rhetorically the ads for the Maddow documentary ask: “Can McVeigh’s words help us understand anti-government extremists?” Without belaboring the point ─ I’ll leave that to the marvelously verbose host ─ Maddow intends to hint at a tie between McVeigh, who, in 1995, blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, and the anti-statist sentiment suffusing the tea-party protest.
It is possible, allows Scott Whitlock of NewsBusters, “that the ‘anti-government extremists’ the ad refers to are groups such as the recently arrested militia [the Hutaree] in Michigan. But, it’s worth remembering that after the original bombing, journalists jumped to associate McVeigh’s actions with mainstream conservatism.”
Yes, conservatives are always worried about their reputations. But what of the honor and good name of the country’s militias, at large? The state’s agents provocateurs have a reliable record of entrapment ─ bribing and baiting susceptible individuals until they implicate themselves, a possibility pliant press and politicians have failed to raise when introducing the Hutaree militia to a gullible public.
On matters militia, the government’s sources and stool pigeons simply won’t do.
Amy Cooter, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology, conducted two years of field research into Michigan’s much-maligned militia. She was interviewed recently by Ali Velshi, an egg head from CNN. As hard as Velshi tried to extract from his guest the line Maddow and the Southern Poverty Law Center peddle about the “dangerous extremism” of so many patriotic Americans, he came away empty-handed (and headed).
Velshi was assisted by CNN’s not-so-subliminal propaganda. As Ms. Cooter was explaining how regular (albeit above average) the men and women of the militia are, CNN flashed the opposite message on the screen: “They want a revolution; anti-government groups, militia on the rise.”
Despite Velshi’s persistent, leading, and suggestive questions ─ is it too much government the militia is worried about or is it something more sinister than that; are militias attracting a fringe element that likes weapons and is itching for a fight; is there a faction among them like the Hutaree militia ─ Ms. Cooter stubbornly clung to the facts:
Some of the militia members have government jobs, she said. Most of them are slightly more educated than the average American citizen; overall, they are not particularly religious. The majority is married with children. You would not know they were militia if you encountered them in the grocery store unless they happened to have their militia T’s on. All share a “patriotic sentiment.” For members, no longer represented in the political system, the militia is a form of protest and a source of camaraderie. And no, folks on “the fringe” are rare among the militia, and when encountered are usually urged to leave.
The militia’s concerns: the size and reach of government and the flouting of the Constitution the framers bequeathed ─ facts that will be missing in Maddow’s fulmination about McVeigh and the militia movement.
A far more interesting choice for presenter of the forthcoming MSNBC feature on McVeigh would have been the brilliant belletrist Gore Vidal. Like Maddow, Vidal (aged 83) is a gay leftist. Unlike Maddow, he manages to dazzle with his original insights. (Unfashionably, Vidal has also poked fun at assorted anal activists and at all manner of “vulgar fagism.”)
Vidal “became a supportive correspondent of Timothy McVeigh,” and considers McVeigh “a true patriot, a Constitution man.”
Gore Vidal is rare in recognizing the legitimate federal insults to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that motivated McVeigh to commit his crime. He is also unique, on the Left and Right, in acknowledging that McVeigh was not a rube, but a thoughtful man who had fought for his country and was familiar with its foundational principles and documents.
As the most able counsel for the defense (McVeigh’s), the iconoclastic octogenarian would have given his viewers something to mull over; mundane Maddow will not.
©2010 By ILANA MERCER