Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Freedom Fighter's Creed

Last Friday, the militia group of which I'm a member attended Operation American Spring in Washington, DC. This essay started out to be an "after action report", but the important details belong in another forum. Instead, this is a "lessons learned" report. I've been to plenty of protests in DC before, but this was the first one I attended as part of a group, wearing a uniform. Those two facts completely altered the dynamics, and the lessons I learned came to me as complete surprises.

Now from day one, people have been predicting that OAS would be a failure. That’s not surprising, especially given the goals as specified by its organizers: millions of protesters? Please. Obama, Boehner, etc., stepping down of their own accord? Whatever, ain’t gonna happen. And, OAS started on a weekday.

Besides all that, there were two very telling criticisms of OAS that came from members of the Conservative and Patriot movements.

1. "It will be a bloodbath"
No, it won’t, and no it wasn’t. The Bundy Ranch was an exception: the means by which government controls us is not through guns, but rather through behavioral psychology ("nudging") and, for those of us who fall through that net of propaganda, administrative sanctions. We who went to OAS were never in any physical danger.

(By the way, the government's reliance on administrative sanctions raises the following question: is the most effective way to combat such sanctions through a militia? This will be addressed in the future.)

2. "Militiamen don’t do protests"
This isn't a critique of OAS per se, but rather of how people participate in OAS. I find this one to be the strongest criticism of all. I have tremendous respect for the man who said this, and I still do: difference in opinion does not imply difference in principle. And, I don’t completely disagree with him.

Does this mean that when soldiers march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, they stop being soldiers? Did the WW1 veterans who participated in the Bonus Army march cease to be veterans?

No. What the writer meant by “militiamen don’t do protests” is that when members of a militia attend an organized protest, they aren’t acting in the capacity of militiamen.

But, we who attended OAS as part of a militia weren’t acting strictly in the capacity of protesters, either. What were we, then?

If there is one label that would be applicable, it would be "freedom fighters". Let this, then, be the freedom fighter's creed:
We do whatever it takes to win back our freedom. Period. We speak instead of remaining silent. We speak, we debate, we protest. If we can convince, we recruit. If we cannot convince, we sow the seeds of doubt. If need be, we fight with any available weapons. We don’t complain about “unfair odds” - we turn those into opportunities. If we find ourselves in a “fair fight,” we make it unfair to our opponents, however possible. We leverage our successes and we learn from our mistakes. We let the world know of the rightness of our cause through word and deed and example. The only constraints we have are those imposed by the dictates of our conscience and the limits of our ingenuity. 
No, I wouldn't call our participation in OAS a complete mistake. Sometimes, the lessons that are learned by accident, or in the process of failing, are the most lasting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How History Is Made

The 2014 State Meeting of the Pennsylvania Militias started with a phone call from one of our members. We put him on speakerphone. He was on his way to Nevada to stand with the Bundys and against the Bureau of Land Management. Near the end of the meeting, we learned that the BLM backed down. Perfect bookends for that meeting!

History was made at the Bundy ranch on April 12th, 2014, but not in the way people expected. On that day, the BLM blinked. But they weren't the only ones - we blinked, too:
- Government overstepping its bounds - everyday event, alas
- Americans getting pissed-off at government overreach - that's expected
- Americans getting pissed-off at something other than 2A restrictions - that's rare, unfortunately
- Government flexing its muscle - that's expected, too
- Other Americans showing up in support - also kind of rare, unfortunately, but not surprising
- Government backing down without a shot being fired - now that's "off script"!

That last step is so unexpected, I believe, because we are "educated" to think that the world is shaped by "historical forces" and not individual actions. According to this view, history is something you survive, not something that you make. As such, whatever happens in our country is inevitable, and that we cannot change the world.

News flash: the world is changing all the time. But who does the changing?

On that day, it was the Bundys and their supporters who did the changing. The militiamen and other supporters went there not to make history, but to protect the Bundys from the government, to stand against tyranny. They were there not to be remembered, but because it was the right thing to do.

They made a difference, and that's all that matters. History comes later.