Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, and the militias

-- by Dave

On the same day he was decrying a Missouri State Patrol's intelligence report on militia activity in their state by pointing to a black cop-killer in California, Glenn Beck brought on his old friend Ron Paul for an interview.

It was mostly a chance to sneer at the report because it mentioned the likelihood that some extremists might display third-party political stickers for such candidates as Paul and Chuck Baldwin. The purpose of the exchange was to sneer at the report's concerns, and of course eventually veered into distortion falsification on Beck's part, and paranoia on Ron Paul's part:

BECK: Let me ask you this. We looked up today, and we couldn't figure out why Missouri was putting this whole report together because nobody has been killed in Missouri by a militia member. There was one that I think — where did we find it, in Michigan? And it was an alleged militia member. Yet, ELF has done unbelievable damage, 2,000 crimes since 1979 and over $110 million in damage, but nobody seems to be looking at radicalized terror groups like ELF. Why is that?

Factual point here: Obviously Beck didn't look very hard, since Missouri was notable for having law enforcement officers tangle with hardline "Patriots" during the 1990s, as we detailed here. Did he and his crack research squad somehow overlook Timothy Thomas Coombs?

PAUL: Well, I guess they're in charge and we're not. Sometimes I think, you know, when they attack anybody outside the mainstream means that if our conclusion is correct, that both major parties are about one party, then they want no opposition whatsoever.

But those who are in charge of this must have liberal leanings if they never addressed any liberal groups that commit violence. So it is a pretty good question or pretty good point. Hopefully, it will wake up more Americans to what is going on.

BECK: I mean, we called the FBI. The FBI has four ELF members on their most wanted list — four. But there's not a single person from a militia. Congressman Paul, do you believe this is some sort of a setup? I mean, why all of a sudden the interest in these militias?

Once again, this is a flat-out falsehood. One of the most prominent names on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list is Edward E. Harper, wanted on a variety of child-molestation charges; Harper, as you can see, "reportedly subscribed to Sovereign Citizen ideology and claimed to be a member of the Montana Freemen, a group involved in domestic terrorism activities".

PAUL: Well, it may be a backhanded compliment, because a lot of us have worked real hard to change our government. We have addressed the subject of sound money and foreign policy and limited government. And you know, we even mentioned the Constitution.

And if you have too many people believing that way, we challenge the status quo. So I think if they see us as a threat, they may come out with these tactics to try to demonize us. So it's best to look at it as a more positive thing.


PAUL: And interestingly enough, you know, we are having a rally out there in St. Louis, Missouri coming up this weekend. Maybe it had something to do with them. Maybe they wanted to discredit what we were trying to do in St. Louis.

The whole episode was designed to let Beck and Paul scoff at the accusations that Ron Paul's followers might be militia members, or that Ron Paul himself might promote Patriot-movement beliefs.

The problem with that: Paul in fact has a long history not just of associating with the extreme populist right, but of promoting their beliefs in the public square:

-- He has been proclaiming that Obama is installing a "New World Order" regime for months now.

-- This reflected his long record of public associations with the far-right Patriot movement in the 1990s.

-- These views were manifested in his 1990s newsletters.

-- They were also reflected in his radical-right record in Congress.

-- This included a horrendous record on the Martin Luther King holiday.

More on that record here and here.

-- As a result of all this, he also has attracted a powerful bloc of militiamen and white supremacists.

-- This turned up especially in his recent presidential campaign. More on that here and here.

Somehow, I bet that Glenn Beck never winds up discussing this.

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