What does the Bundy militia really want?

January 25, 2016

What does it mean to be a patriot? Does it mean upholding the laws of the land without question? Does it mean wrapping yourself in a flag and singing that dreadful Lee Greenwood song? Does it mean claiming an allegiance to the principles of the founding fathers and nothing else? Is Donald Trump a patriot? Is Barrak Obama a patriot? There are as many definitions of patriotism as there are flagpoles. That’s why the specter of the “patriot militia” is both comical and perplexing. I first interviewed militia members in Montana in 1998 and Oregon is now experiencing a new chapter in this both exciting and frightening American story.

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If you live outside of Oregon you might’ve missed the rogue group of militia MEN who took over a Central Oregon wildlife refuge on Saturday, January 2. Since then the Malheaur National Wildlife Refuge has been occupied by a small group of armed men (and the women who have come to cook for them), claiming they have a right to the federally protected land (that originally belonged to the native Paiute people).

Their goal is to “return” the land to the ranchers who can profit financially off grazing on an area that has been designed to protect wildlife, including threatened migratory birds. These men have begun to tear up the land for roads, they have disrupted Native American artifacts, they have prevented biologists from having access to their worksites and have blocked the land from use by the citizens they claim to speak for. So what do they really want?

Not the Dildo Militia

It’s easy for us city people to laugh at these rural activists, mailing them sex toys and branding them as “Y’all Qaeda.” We protest the government with clever signs and they protest it with rifles. Both sides sport beards but ours are worn ironically. While there is plenty of local opposition to the Bundy Militia, led by a “car fleet manager” from Phoenix named Ammon Bundy, there is also some local support. At the root of that support is the wording of the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I know you probably know the 2nd pretty well by now, but do you know the 10th?

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There is a great debate about the reach of the federal government into our lives that crosses political boundaries. Remember how the left pushed back against George W. Bush’s Patriot Act or how the right pushed back against Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act? This debate is as America as apple pie made from GMO apples that were grown with federal subsidies. If you take a literal reading of the tenth amendment, the federal government has no business doing either, and both the left and right are correct. Bundy’s group believes the federal management of this Oregon land for the American people is unconstitutional.

Also not defined as a federal authority is preserving land and protecting animals. Based on this rhetoric, the federal government has no business creating and operating national parks. If you want to march into Yosemite and start grazing your ironic sheep herd, you have that God-given right. I’ve been thinking about building a spa next to Old Faithful in Yosemite myself.

If that sounds crazy, it is. The Constitution was designed to be a living document. The first ten amendments, codified in 1789, are the backbone of our free society, but there have been seventeen amendments since then that give us the flesh and bones. (Although the 27th is pretty self-serving for the federalists.)

The problem is that many militia members (I don’t know if this includes the Bundy gang), don’t believe in anything that follows the original ten (aka, the Bill of Rights). That includes some biggies, like #13 (freeing slaves), #14 (birthright citizenship), and #16 (authorizing federal income tax). They talk about “Supreme Law” and the “Organic Constitution” because there is a belief that the 1789 document was handed down from God (similar to the 1215 Magna Carta and my 1962 Spiderman comic book). Now it’s certainly patriotic to think the U.S. Constitution is “sacred,” but it was written by imperfect men who disagreed as much as modern Republicans and Democrats. And most Americans would disagree with the Bundy militia’s extremist interpretation of the Constitution, making them a lot more like ISIS than they’d probably like to admit.

The Supreme Law folks don’t recognize most federal authority, including the FBI and federal courts. That’s why they think they can hold these “common law grand juries” to “indict” their opponents. They have zero legal power but they can make life hell for the targets of militia members by the filing of endless property liens. It completely subverts constitutional due process protections but the threat of the this action has kept many of the critics, including myself, wary from speaking out against them.

But as much as we might disagree with their macho tactics, this issue about the power of the federal government to infringe on our personal liberties is at the core of the American conversation. It was in 1789 and it is in 2016.

Conspiracy City

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After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, we began to pay a lot more attention to patriot militias. One of the best books on the topic is Kenneth Stern’s A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate (1997). Stern accurately describes the militia world as a giant funnel.

  • At the top level are a lot of issues that many Americans can find common ground on, including gun rights, tax protests and land use regulations (which would include the debate over the best use of the Malheaur National Wildlife Refuge). People’s first contact with militia is usually rallying around these types of “Don’t tread on me” issues.
  • Then the movement becomes focused on anger at the “tyrannical” federal government as the enemy, not as a democratic form of governance by and for the people. Whether it’s old school “revenue collectors” or federally funded botanists, all federal agents are portrayed as enemies of the people (unless they are defending the country against foreign enemies or brown people crossing the border).
  • The next level is where the conspiracy theories kick in. Now that The X-Files is back on the air, these dark theories have whole new audience. The federal government is controlled by a secret cabal (The illuminati, Freemasons, aliens, etc.) working to deprive average Americans of their basic rights to life and liberty. The conspirators control the media, both major political parties, and the banks, so every time you use your debit card you are giving them data to run your life.
  • Below that, that conspiracy theory becomes a very familiar face, the Jews. That cabal is now ZOG (the Zionist Occupation Government), working globally to destroy white Christian society. The global banking system is the arm of their new world order and they have you eating bagels at McDonalds without even knowing it.
  • At the bottom of the funnel are the revolutionaries who believe a “second American Revolution” is needed to banish the Jewish occupiers and restore the supreme law of the founding fathers. This is where we found Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the militia men behind the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 Americans (including 19 children).

There are fewer and fewer militia activists the farther your descend the funnel. However, Stern posits that the more folks who come in at the top on broad issues, like 2nd Amendment gun rights, the more who will make it down to the bottom and a see events like Oklahoma City (and the standoff in Oregon) as a call to violently overthrow the evil federal government.

End Game

What is their endgame? Well, it’s safe to say the Bundy militia wants a federal government that does little more than sail aircraft carriers around the oceans, but they’ll settle for the Bureau of Land Management handing protected lands over to any white man who asks. “I got some cattle!” Ammon Bundy’s father is Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who’s cows have been ripping off taxpayers for years.

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So it shouldn’t be that surprising that there is significant overlap between the federal government-hating militia world and the federal government-hating white supremacist world. Timothy McVeigh’s guidebook was The Turner Diaries, a poorly-written novel about Neo-Nazis killing “race-mixers,” bombing a federal building, overthrowing the government and launching nuclear missiles at Israel. They want to make America great again by taking us back to 1789, when the authority of (straight) white Christian men went unchallenged, before all this “political correctness” encroached on God’s chosen leaders. It all sounds like Donald Trump’s wettest dream.

It’s not clear what the racial beliefs of the white men hold up the Malheaur refuge are. One member has posted several tweets and videos about “Zionists” and nuking Israel. Their website. www.defendyourbase.net, had plenty of wild conspiracy theories (including some about Hilary Clinton) but was just taken down. I don’t know if they wisely unplugged it or it was the oppressive feds (or an anonymous Smoking Man), but it gave us a glimpse into their bent world views.

How to diffuse a stand off

After the disastrous standoffs in Ruby Ridge, Idaho (1992) and Waco, Texas (1993), authorities now know how to manage a siege with white activists (I’ll let others present the data on standoffs with black and Muslim activists). Those events showed the heavy hand of militarized federal law enforcement agencies and children were sadly killed in each.

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After Oklahoma City bombing, the 1996 standoff with the Freemen militia in Montana turned out very differently. While many called for authorities to arrest the men, the feds waited them out for 81 days. They peacefully arrested the eight man who were later convicted for various charges, including threats against public officials.

The siege at Malheaur could go either way. You get the sense the FBI is playing the long game and hoping these guys will just get back to managing car fleets. But they may also be itching for a showdown. The militia movement hasn’t had any martyrs in a while and more than one have expressed a desire to die for the cause. There’s an assumption that Ammon Bundy, who is quite charismatic, can control all these rogue men who are just hanging out in his very unregulated militia. If one the rogues goes rogue, well, they’ll get the battle with the “tyrants” they’ve long dreamt about.

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Malheaur occupiers Ammon Bundy and LaVoy Finicum have both talked to the media and presented their case in a very calm and articulate manner. They raise some important points about about the overreach of the federal government and the lack of the balance between individual rights and eminent domain. But their logic is rooted in a version on the Constitution that is not real. It’s a cartoon verson that cowboys cling to because it’s very simple and romantic. I can see how they are swept up into its poetry. But the real world is complex. We as a society evolve with this living document. Sometimes we decide that land is best used to preserve wildlife and usually we find a way to share it with law-abiding ranchers.

We can make fun of these guys. We can see how they’ve trampled the rights of the people of Harney County while pretending to defend them. We can see them as little boy soldiers obsessed with guns and cowboy hats. We can see them as entitled whites who are the media savvy face of a racist underground. We can see them as armed terrorists who would be dead by now if the were black or Muslim. Or we could see them as sparking a discussion about our faith in and fear of the government and what we should do about it.

As a parent the images from Oklahoma City haunt me. There are now children inside the encampment at Malheaur National Wildlife Refuge, perhaps being used as human shields or perhaps, like in Waco, being set up as sacrificial lambs for their revolution. Let’s hope they feel they’ve made their point and will return the land back over to the birds and biologists soon. My sense is that Bundy’s gang wants to spark a civil war and this isn’t going to end before spring.

Regular updates on the Oregon siege here at OPB News.

 

Why Paris is different. Why everything is different now.

November 16, 2015

Do you get the feeling that things are about to get really ugly?

Sometimes the world shows up to pull the rug out from under your little plans. There was a Friday in 1994 when it was announced that Kurt Cobain had died. Over 150,000 people on Earth die every day but this was personal. I felt like we were friends, fellow travelers. I was incapacitated. How was I expected to I go on without him?

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Last Friday was a another day like that but on such a grander scale. The attacks in Paris came when people who had no vested interest in the global jihadi conflict were just out to enjoy a Friday night in the City of Lights, including doing something I would normally be doing B.C. (Before Cozy), going out to see a band. And it was a band I had been out to see before, maybe on a Friday night, The Eagles of Death Metal. Suddenly coordinated attacks by men, heavily armed suicide bombers, executing Parisians, Americans, and others, flooded our news feed with horrific images.

I was a student in London on July 20, 1982 when men from the IRA set off two bombs in the city, killing 11 people. One of the bombs blew up a bandstand in Regents Park. Seven musicians were killed, with dozens of civilians injured. I had been sitting on the grass next to the bandstand a few hours earlier. It was my introduction to the randomness of terrorism.

Friday night I thought about my many trips to Paris, often hanging out in Les Halles where some the attacks took place. I thought about some of my friends in town for the weekend’s big U2 show. Mostly I thought about what kind of world my french-named daughter, Cozette, would inherit. It was too much to process. And then came time to talk the media but I could only speak as a father who was crushed with sadness.

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My obsession with Paris started in 1978 when I was 14, reading the liner notes from Patti Smith’s Radio Ethiopia album. Patti lead me to poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) and Rimbaud led me to the bohemian world of Paris.  I finally got to Paris when I was 20, and ended up watching the 1984 LA Olympics with a bunch of hash-smoking American girls I met on the Champs-Élysées. It was the first of many trips and wild adventures in Paris that included being chased down Boulevard Saint-Michel by French police for spray-painting my girlfriend’s name all over the Latin Quarter.

But this isn’t about my crazy youth in gay Paris. This is about why this attack is of profound significance. About how on 13 Novembre 2015 the world changed.

My good friends on the left will point out that terror like this happens in the brown and black world all the time and the media never bothers to go into hyperdrive. People don’t change their Facebook profile picture when there is a bombing in Maiduguri, Nigeria. All lives matter, not just white lives in Paris. Brown and black lives matter, too. My good friends on the right will comment that that attitude, while it may be true, cheapens the importance of mourning the innocent people killed in one well-orchestrated heinous attack by Muslim jihadists hellbent on destroying modernity.

I can see the merit of both sides. I’ve written about how we need more empathy in the world, including for parents escaping Syria with their children, fleeing the hell created by ISIS and Assad, as well as bombs, drones and missiles from Russia, America and France. (Who was it that said war is just terrorism with a bigger budget?) I’m also aware that we could now think of ourselves as living in World War IV. World War III was the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West, fought on proxy battlefields, like Vietnam and Nicaragua (with very real casualties). World War IV, according to some neoconservatives, is the war between the Western world and Islamic fascism. I have to say referring to the attackers in Paris as “warriors” insults all men and women in the armed forces who fight based on some (occasionally ignored) rules of engagement. These men were criminals not warriors. Mass murderers not soldiers.

Someday I’ll go to Paris and climb the Eiffel Tower 

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I want to make two points about why the November 13 attacks are different and require our global attention. First, I’ve been lucky enough to go to Paris many times. I have a favorite bookstore and a favorite café to sip cappuccinos and people watch. But even if you haven’t been there, you’ve surely imagined traveling to Paris at some point in your life. We all have an idea about ourselves in Paris, whether it’s hanging out with artists in Montmartre, or studying the gothic majesty of Notre Dame, or walking with a lover along the Seine, or visiting all your favorite spots in The Da Vinci Code. I’ve never been to Maiduguri or Damascus. I’ve never even imagined myself there. Those people matter as much as folks in Paris, but, in my head, I am in Paris quite often and, like Kurt Cobain, they are people I know.

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Why do we go to Paris, in our heads, in our hearts, and on our credit cards? Because Paris represents all that we aspire to be. It’s more than the values of liberty, fraternity and equality. It’s the bohemian ethic of art for art’s sake and the right to express yourself in the purest of forms. Since the 1840s American expatriates have moved to Paris to live a genuinely expressive (“authentic” is so overused) existence. It’s in Renoir’s paintings of café-goers that must have looked much like the cafés where people were slaughtered on Friday night. Obviously, the real Paris has lots of real world problems. (Try getting good cellphone service in the 27th arrondissement.) But the mythology of the artist capital is strong. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) is such a great representation of this. Paris is what we all want our cities to be. I love it when Portland is referred to as the “Paris of the Pacific Northwest.” Sounds so much better than the Mogadishu of the Pacific Northwest.

The triumph of reason over religion

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The second reason is Reason. Paris is the birthplace of the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. This is a topic all my students know well. When French philosophers like Rosseau, Condorcet, and Montesquieu took Immanuel Kant’s ideas of rationality and empiricism as a mandate, the days of theocracy and monarchy were numbered.  There was a reason Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin went to Paris, and it wasn’t the hookers. Casting off the yoke of Churches and Kings for the rational system of democracy inspired the American Revolution and then, on July 14, 1789, the storming of the Bastille in Paris and the start of the French Revolution.

Paris stands as a monument to the triumph of reason over the irrational rule of religion. The Enlightenment gave us modern science, the concept of the balance of power, a belief in individual freedoms and the radical idea that people have the right to pursue their own talents. All these values are in direct contrast to the beliefs of the radical jihadists who defame the name of the 1.6 billion Muslims on earth. They don’t represent modern Muslims any more the Ku Klux Klan represents modern Christians. These men with guns and bombs hate women, music, and art.  They executed people at a rock show, for Pete’s sake. They hate Paris and everything beautiful that Paris represents.

These extremists are so much like the people I have studied for 30 years. They are anti-feminists of the highest order. They reject the feminine in favor of the worship of violence and worldview that has no shades of grey. Their women are slaves and their only joy is in the sociopathy of destruction. And yet, they are human beings like me and the people they seek to oppress and murder. The good news here is that there are plenty of former jihadists, like former racists, who have seen there is a better way to live on this planet. In those men their is great hope of a way out of this mess.

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But I fear it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The difference between September 11 and 13 Novembre is the sinking realization that we are not going to exit this nightmare anytime soon. In 2001, there was hope that, once we eradicated the Taliban it would be all over. That delusion is long gone after Friday for all of us. I’m headed to Washington DC this week and I can’t not think I could end up in another pile of bodies on the evening news as this conflict widens. (A new ISIS video makes it clear that DC is the next target.) If that happens, I hope people won’t say, “Well, even more people died in Syria that day.”

My wife and I still plan to take Cozette to Paris when she’s old enough. I want her to see the fountains in the Jardin du Luxumborg and the brilliant statues at the Centre du Pompidou. When she’s older we can smoke a joint at Jim Morrison’s grave and I can show her Pont Neuf, the bridge I was going to jump off of when was a heartbroken 23-year-old, thinking I was the subject of a silly sad French song. I want her to live in a world where art and freedom are lived with each breath and not sacrificed to fear and religious fanaticism. We are not trapped in medieval times.

The world is at a turning point and it’s time to realize there is no “us vs. them,” only us vs. us. The religious people on both sides who want to bomb and shoot and destroy will only drag us into a war of all against all. That is not rational. That is not a world that has room for love. When I put my daughter to bed on Friday night, with tears in my eyes and her arms around my neck, I sang “Frère Jacques” to her and hoped the world would choose peace over violence when the morning bells were ringing. Recherchez la paix et poursuis-la. (Psalm 34:14)

Maybe you should sit down to pee.

October 6, 2015

I’m learning that internet trolls hate all things feminine or gay (shocker, I know). In the wake of recent blog posts on Donald Trump, fraternities, and last week’s Roseburg shooting, commenters have called me a “pussy” and a “fag” and have accused me of wearing panties and (my favorite new putdown) sitting down to pee.

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This is nothing new. If you think about how boys bully other boys, it’s typically some attempt to feminize them. They’ll accuse them of being gay or, worse, being a female, or even worse, being a vagina! I know this first hand because when I was a teenager my name was transformed from “Blazak” to “Gayzak.” I remember one bully named Ted who stopped me on my way home and announced, “Gayzak, you’re a pussy.” Being a little too quick, I responded, “Well, I guess you are what you eat, dick.” Ted then punched me in the face, not for being homophobic but for meeting his feminization with a better one. (I’ve mentioned this story before in a blogpost about vaginas but I should point out that at our 20 year high school reunion, a few days after 9/11, a very emotional Ted apologized. It meant more than he knew.)

Now I regularly get called “Ballsack” by “clever” trolls who are stuck in the fourth grade and can’t mount an actual critique of my positions. But it all fits into the larger paradigm that’s behind the toxic masculinity that drives schoolyard bullies and school shooters and I would guess explains a lot of what drives America’s favorite bully, Donald Trump. It was clearly a factor in Roseburg. The shooter was mad at the world because he was a still a virgin. If you are a 26-year-old virgin, you probably shouldn’t be angry at anybody but yourself. This theme parallels last year’s mass shooting in Isla Vista, California (six killed, fourteen injured). Don’t die like a boy, go out “like a man.”

The root behind all of this is the devaluation of the feminine, the hallmark of all patriarchal societies. Females are less than fully human. While this predates the demotion of Eve from the Mother of Humanity to the Original Sinner (that BITCH!) by ancient Hebrew priests, it is not universal. Despite the mythology of the essential nature of male dominance, not all cultures are patriarchal and cultures get less patriarchal the farther you go back in time. Cavemen did not rule cavewomen. Hunting and gathering societies were mostly gathering and evidence relays that men and women shared in both tasks.

There is a lot to be said about patriarchy but here are two quick ways that men can keep power over the women who gave them life.

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1. Create a god in your image. For most of our human history, men and women have bowed down to goddesses, the source of life. But early nomadic tribes and their warrior gods invaded goddess cultures, like Crete and Anatolia. Over thousands of years, goddesses were replaced with gods and then just one male God. And as Mary Daly said in 1973’s Beyond God the Father, “If God is man, then man is God.”

I’m going to write more about this important point later, just know if you worship a god who has a penis instead of a vagina, you are part of patriarchy. Also, is your god circumcised and if so, who did it and where is God’s foreskin now? (Sorry, I wonder about these things.)

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2. Devalue all things associated with females, whether it’s ovaries or reproductive rights. Women are “girls” and men who you want to rank over are “ladies.” If a guy is being a pain, call him a little bitch (or the weirdly homoerotic “my bitch”) and accuse him of being on the rag. Call him anything to do with feminine anatomy; fallopian face, labial loser and the ever useful “pussy.” (The hatred of vaginas by these guys really makes you wonder.)

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There is a right-winger who posts a lot of crap on my Facebook page. This is a guy who thinks Russian dictator Vladmir Putin is a bad ass and Syrian mass murderer Bashar Al-Assad is a hero. When I called him out on his sexist language he posted an image of a woman in t-shirt that said, “Obama is a pussy.” My response was, “You must really hate pussy.” He seemed confused.

This is the weird conflicted psyche of the misogynist. In devaluing the feminine you end up looking kinda, well, gay. You think women and “pussies” suck. So what DO you like? Men and cocks? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Holla!) I’m quite fond of the vagina and find it infinitely fascinating, so if you call me a pussy, I will take it as a great compliment. And when I think of the awesome gay people I know and what they have to go through because of asshole bigots, well, I couldn’t think of a better thing to be called. When I hear, “That’s so gay,” I translate into “Fabulous!!”

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But of course, that’s not what the He-Man Woman Haters mean. If you Google “Obama is a pussy,” you also find plenty of images of Obama as a female. That’s the put-down. Female, like your mother/wife/daughter, is the worst thing you can be. Patriarchy makes these boys and men so sexually confused, no wonder so many of them are deathly afraid of cunnilingus. According to the male God bibles, that’s nothing but a dirty devil hole. “She was bleeding from her whatever!”

One more story. Before my neighborhood got the shit gentrified out of it, there was a brothel on my block. A pimp named Freddie hung out there and the license plate on his Caddy just read “TNB.” One day I asked, “Hey Freddie, what does TNB stand for.” He answered, “That’s my street name, Trust No Bitch.” Without thinking of the time Ted punched me in the face, I replied, “Oh, does that include your mother?” That was the day I learned you don’t talk feminism with a pimp.

How anyone with a daughter can hate the feminine so much is beyond me. You have to feel sorry for any woman who is married to a guy who hates pussy and tells other men they are going to be his bitch. Don’t these men know they came into the world through a vagina? (Shout out to my C-Section peeps!) What happened to them that they loathe females so much? Oh, that’s right, they grew up in a patriarchal culture. Eve, that nasty-ass skank biotch.

I have a baby daughter. Besides the fact that keeping her vagina healthy is an important agenda item, I’ve also learned to not wake her when she is blissfully sleeping. Since the bathroom is next to the nursery, one way to achieve this is to pee sitting down. (Trust me on this one.) When you pee sitting down, you can check your email or read a few paragraphs in the latest issue of Men’s Health. It’s kind of a cool thing. (Sitting down is also handy if you are drunk, hungover, really tired, or drunk.) But I also eat quiche, watch Ellen Degeneres, sometimes I wear pink and always call myself a feminist. When I was a boy, I might have been afraid of some of that. (I think a lot of “disco sucks” crap I was into as a teenager was driven by fear of the feminine.) Fortunately, I grew up.

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The point of all this is that if boys and men started listening to women instead of hating them or only viewing them as sexual objects to be cum upon, they might learn some important lessons about how to live. All week I’ve been asking people to ask why boys and men go on these shooting sprees. Perhaps the better question would be to ask why girls and women don’t go on shooting sprees. Stop calling people pussies and start really hearing what people with pussies have to offer.

I don’t have all the answers, just this thought. Maybe men should just sit down and shut up and have a nice pee.

Note: Plenty of liberal guys engage in “bro talk.” You don’t have to be a right-winger to fear the power of pussy.

The following book was mentioned in this post and is available at Powell’s Books by clicking on the cover below.

White Boys to Terrorist Men: Pointless Male Violence and Charleston

June 19, 2015

Seems like I’m having a hard time just writing a blogpost about the baby and/or gender. The news keeps punching me in the gut. My mom and nephew are visiting from Georgia and we were planning a day trip to the Oregon coast when the news broke about the mass shooting in Charleston. My heart sank for so many reasons. Since Trayvon Martin it seems like an almost weekly assault on black America in this supposed “post-racial” America. What must it be like to be African-American in 2015?

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But I also knew it was most likely one of “my guys,” the racist boys and men I’ve been studying for 30 years. When I posted my theory on Facebook, one of my old (white) friends from Stone Mountain, said it was probably just a personal matter. “I am so tired of everyone taking every opportunity to make it a race thing,” she said.

Usually I go into full media mode when mayhem breaks loose. I knew there would be requests for perspective and I might be able to add something of value to the chatter. But I made a promise to the family and I was really looking forward to a little getaway. I got calls from the local stations and Al Jazeera, but I wanted to stay focused on the beautiful sunshine in Cannon Beach and Cape Kiwanda. I checked the updates while I held Cozy and tasted Andrea’s clam chowder. The news just got worse and worse.

Probably the most well-read piece of scholarship I’ve published is a 2001 article in American Behavioral Scientist entitled, “White Boys to Terrorist Men: Target Recruitment of Nazi Skinheads.” It was based on my research on how boys get involved with the racist skinhead subculture. It is the research that brought me to feminist theory and it’s why I can say something about Dylann Roof. He’s the 21-year-old white male who shot nine African-Americans, old and young, male and female, in the sanctuary of their Charleston church.

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Roof was a petty criminal from a low-income background who was a fan of the Confederacy and South African apartheid. His friends say he supported segregation and joked about killing black people and starting a civil war. “He had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say. Strong conservative beliefs,” one said.

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This where I come from. The land where the Confederate battle flag is ubiquitous and you can hear Charlie Daniels sing, “Be proud you’re a rebel because the South’s gonna do it again.” In the late 1980s, I was on tour with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ and we were in a truck stop in Arkansas or Alabama or Appalachia. There was a big bearded bubba with red t-shirt. On it was a Confederate Flag with “The South will rise again” under it. I used it as an opportunity to play my favorite parlor game, Asshole With A Cause. So I asked him,

“Excuse me sir. Can I ask you about your shirt? I’m from Stone Mountain….”

“Grunt.” Approval, I assume, from being from the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Um, yeah, and I’ve heard that saying a million times. The South will rise again.”

“Grunt” A bit of chaw falls out his mouth.

“I just wonder what that means. Because the South has risen economically. All the good jobs are in the Sun Belt now. It’s risen politically. You don’t get into the White House without the Southern vote. And it’s risen culturally. Everybody is listening to Country music or hip hop from the South.”

“Grunt.” He was clearly agitated. “Well, it just means the old ways.”

“So a purely agrarian society.”

“Yeah, like it was.”

“With slavery.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

What an idiot. I kinda wish they’d tell white people like this that slavery was suddenly legal so black people could just shoot these crackers. “Woo hoo! I’m gonna go into this house and get me a negro!” Bam! It’s not 1815. But that would be wrong. Peace and love, right?

My point of telling this story is that there is a white MALE mentality that is popular in the South but is common everywhere that says, things were better back in the good old days, when minorities knew their place, women stayed in the kitchen and “them queers” stayed in the closet. Even mainstream Conservatives blather about “restoring America.” We can only presume that means to 1954, about five minutes before the passage of Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka. Roof himself reflected this when he told one of his victims that he “had to” shoot them. “You are raping our women and taking over the country.”

Of course, white women are overwhelmingly raped by white men and the black population as a percentage of the whole has shrunk according to the 2010 census. But you can’t talk reality to a white male who feels he is entitled to always be the unchallenged king of the hill. How dare these people exist and think they deserve the same rights as me??? The New York Times reported a quote from a black Charleston resident who summed it up perfectly. “We’re not worth the air they don’t want us to breathe,” he said, feeling the shooting was just an extension of what black people face at hands of local whites every day.

I saw this over and over again in the hatred of the racist skinheads I studied in the 1980s and 1990s. THEIR jobs were being taken away by immigrants, minorities and Jewish conspirators. THEIR women were being taken away by feminists and lesbians (and sexy black men). THEIR generation was being polluted by hip hop, homosexuals and really delicious Mexican food. How do you get it back? How do you “restore” America? With the tool men have always used when their backs are against the wall – unholy violence.

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I think it’s clear that Dylann Roof intended to die on Wednesday. He was going to go out “like a man,” guns blazing in “valiant” attempt to jumpstart a “civil war” and go down a hero for the “Southern cause.” I’ve seen variations of the theme a hundred times among racists. The most bloody was Wade Page, who killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple in 2012 before turning the gun on himself. Sorry, Wade. Dylann just knocked you off the throne.

When will this end? There’s a larger conversation about how white people need to FUCKING ACKNOWLEDGE THAT RACISM IS STILL A SERIOUS PROBLEM IN AMERICA, and stop whining about Al Sharpton being on TV. Nothing changes until you own this truth!

But my part here is the issue of straight white males believing they are entitled to anything. We live in a democracy. We’re all working hard to make it work. If you can’t handle the fact we’re trying to make if fair for people who are not straight white males, move to Russia, I hear being an entitled straight white asshole is very popular there right now.

I have no doubt that Roof pieced his moronic worldview together from peers and the plethora of racist websites that will tell you that America is being destroyed because Whoopi Goldberg is still on The View and gay marriage is coming to a bakery near you. These people are intensely unhappy. They see a culture that is leaving them at the train station and instead of racing to catch up, they are getting out their rocket launcher to try to blow the damn train up. How dare that train not wait for me? Everybody on it must die.

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But these boys and men always fail. Timothy McVeigh hoped his 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people (including 19 children) would spark a race war. It didn’t. It did rally Americans to squelch patriot militia groups that wanted to lead a “second American revolution” against the government. Dylann Roof hoped his slaughter would start a new civil war in America. It won’t. Right now black and white folks in Charleston are holding hands and singing. There is a renewed push to get the stupid Confederate battle flag off the lawn of the South Carolina state capital. Dylann and boys and men like him die for a lost cause that should be renamed the pathetic cause.

The message to all those straight white boys and men is this: Catch up. This is an awesome train to be on. It’s mighty and soulful and delicious and you can dance with your hands in the air and love like you just don’t care. We’ll leave the caboose door open for you. Just leave your gun back at the junction. And then come join my multi-racial family at the Oregon coast. I’ll buy you some chowder and a taco.

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