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The Right to Bear Arms: The Rise of America's New Militia Paperback – December, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
Karl quotes me as saying things orally, such as at the first muster in San
Antonio, April 19, 1994, which were in fact excepted from written materials delivered to the attendees. I did say things like that
orally, but so far as I know, no one was taping my comments and so the quotes are actually paraphrases.
Karl does a good job distinguishing the militia movement from the racial separatist/supremacist movements. He makes it clear they
are actually in opposition to one another. I would agree that any such book needs to examine both, since they have been connected
by anti-militia propaganda, but he leaves the impression that in their manifestation as independent groups they are comparable in
strength and significance, when in fact the independent militia movement is vastly larger and more important. Independent racist
groups are few and small in number. The major threat from organized racism comes less from such independent groups than from the
ways such people have pervaded law enforcement organizations, where their fascist mentality not only endangers minorities, but the
Karl discovers that militias are comprised of average people who hope that tramping around in the woods will somehow help shrink the size of the federal government. He finds that these groups openly welcome law enforcement professionals as members, so they're obviously doing nothing illegal. And he learns that the handful of racist "militia" groups such as Aryan Nations are pitiably small and laughably ineffective. (The "World Conference" of the largest of these organizations drew fewer attendees than a typical suburban Little League baseball game.)
If you're a Morris Dees-type who needs a boogeyman to get riled up about, avoid this book. You'll find it much too depressing.
The author points out that the militias are by and large made up of regular people who just want to be safe in their own communities from what they perceive to be a government out of control. The militias, contrary to the way they are painted by the liberal media, are not hate groups. They may hate the way the government abuses the Constitution but they are not cross-burning, Jew-hating degenerates. In fact, the author points out that the militias themselves try very hard to distance themselves from that kind of trash.
The focus of the book is about how the militias formed, largely spontaneously across the country, following the outrageous conduct by the federal government at Ruby Ridge and Waco where no reasonable person (who was informed as to the facts) would argue against the fact that the government broke many laws and basically trampled the Constitution with absolute impunity. This book is also about the effect on the militias following the Oklahoma City bombing which both strengthened and weakened the militias in different ways.
The author is not pro-militia, however, and quickly points out the major problems that they have. Namely the fact that the militias are under the spell of extreme paranoia that is fueled largely by conspiracy theories that make one wonder if there isn't something in the water in these communities (another conspiracy perhaps?). This is not to say that these theories are completely false but the way they are portrayed by the militias defies credibility and undermines their already-tarnished image as a bunch of ignorant hicks in camouflage. This is exacerbated by some of the leadership in the movement such as Linda Thompson, a major spotlight-seeker, who comes off as a complete nut who is out of control. Even the most radical militias consider her to be an embarrassment at times. This kind of image, which the media is quick to exploit, does tremendous damage to an otherwise positive cause.
The other major problem is the fact that these militias have such fragmented beliefs and goals that they cannot find common ground to organize beyond a local level. So long as they stay small, unorganized and subject to the outlandish conspiracy beliefs that no reasonable person could accept they will remain vulnerable to the government they rightly fear.