† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.
Who’s Afraid of Virgil Wayne Woolf? A Rant on Guns and Race
In the leader of the NRA Wayne LaPierre’s own words, Obama has “endorsed a total ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of all handguns…[and] the sale or transfer of all semi-automatic firearms”. Never mind that Obama’s been in office for three years and has yet to suggest any substantive changes to gun laws of any kind at the Federal level.
Never mind that while the one of the few non-white groups (The Black Panther Party) to assert the Second Amendment had their leaders killed for their troubles, and were forcibly reminded by law enforcement that only one group is entitled to defend their Second Amendment rights. Militias, which are highly correlated with white pride groups, exist with almost complete impunity. There are no Militia Task Forces that correlate with the inevitable Gang Task Force in nearly every state. There are little to no social and quasi-legal sanctions for wearing white-power regalia, as there is with minority kids sagging their jeans.
The lack of distinction between “people who tend to wear a lot of camo and decorate their homes in Taxidermies R Us” and “RAHOWA nutbars who are two steps from Randy Weavering themselves and their families” serves to keep militia groups under the radar and whitewash their image. So every time another ”isolated incident” happens, they can all claim they were completely innocent, that sort of thing doesn’t happen here, he was such a nice quiet boy, his parents must be so ashamed. No one ever says, “Yes, I’ve been worried about the swastika-wearing militia guys who train in the national forest so I don’t take my kids hiking there anymore.”
Apropos of that observation, does anyone else find it strange that the militia folks camp about half as well as your local Renaissance Festival staff? MREs are not exactly a “self-sufficient” foodstuff, as they take many people, complicated chemistry, and several factories to produce. I don’t see a lot of militia members learning animal husbandry, genetics (snicker), botany, boatbuilding, trailcraft, or distilling/brewing. Do they think Natty Light falls from the sky in handy-dandy cardboard cases?
They use the public roads, public campsites, public airwaves, and the internet (which was financed largely by DARPA, a branch of the U.S. government). They buy coolers and camo gear and guns made in China, nicht die Vaterland, seemingly without the least bit of awareness at how utterly bankrupt and hypocritical it makes the movement look “Keep your dirty government hands off my public highway to the public access to the public beach at the lake in my local National Forest”.
Yes, really. Perhaps it is this silliness that makes it hard to take them seriously as threats to the nation.
The election of Barack Obama has re-energized the militia movement, according to a report by the SPLC (see graph). The FBI concurred a year ago by issuing a bulletin called “Sovereign Citizens: A Growing Domestic Threat to Law Enforcement” finally dubbing them ‘domestic terrorist’s.
But will this be tracked, and profiled in the way we track and profile other groups? Or will this continue to be filed under “boys will be boys” and “another isolated incident…of the month”. If the latter happens, make no mistake that it is more evidence of white privilege that goes unacknowledged by the general public.
Does calling it white privilege upset the journalistic status quo? Too bad. If 300,000 black people were running around in the woods armed to the teeth, there would be a law enforcement response that would make Wounded Knee look like 5 minutes of Bouncy Castle Time at the Fair.
By and large, the people running around in the inner city killing people with guns are killing other inner city people. For them we create mile after mile of cellblocks. For the people running around in the suburbs killing other people with guns, we do nothing. And yet if we do nothing, we say nothing, we leave them alone entirely, as we have been doing, they still persist in crying wolf.
Ignoring problems does not make them go away, and continuing to ignore the increasing danger of white-pride-based militants is not going to improve the situation. If domestic terrorism is a problem, and we are told daily that it is, then we have to suspect the guy in the Cabela’s hat as much as we do the guy in the turban. Otherwise, don’t come crying to me the next time some guy associated with the sovereign citizen or Christian Identity movement shoots up a classroom full of cute little Aidans and Jordyns and Heathers. Because when Antwan or Ibraim or Swamequa shoots someone, it’s a very different story.
Badphairy is a graduate student in public health and an adjunct professor. She has lived in five states, lately of Oakland California. Her writing for CI reflects a combination of passion and humor she employs to make sense of the political spheres of influence in the United States.