Anyway, what we have here is a situation where a relatively small minority of Americans are claiming the right, ultimately backed up by their possession of weapons, to define the True Nature of American Freedom…
How this differs in any important philosophical regard from the position, of, say, the Provisional Irish Republican Army, I cannot say.
How it differs in any practical sense, well (McVeigh cough) who knows.
Which brings us to this excerpt from a must-read piece by Barton Gellman about the Jan. 6 insurrection (boldface mine):
The committed insurrectionists, Pape judged, were genuinely dangerous. There were not many militia members among them, but more than one in four said the country needed groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. One-third of them owned guns, and 15 percent had served in the military. All had easy access to the organizing power of the internet.
What Pape was seeing in these results did not fit the government model of lone wolves and small groups of extremists. “This really is a new, politically violent mass movement,” he told me. “This is collective political violence.”
Pape drew an analogy to Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, at the dawn of the Troubles. “In 1968, 13 percent of Catholics in Northern Ireland said that the use of force for Irish nationalism was justified,” he said. “The IRA was created shortly thereafter with only a few hundred members.” Decades of bloody violence followed. And 13 percent support was more than enough, in those early years, to sustain it.
“It’s the community’s support that is creating a mantle of legitimacy—a mandate, if you would, that justifies the violence” of a smaller, more committed group, Pape said. “I’m very concerned it could happen again, because what we’re seeing in our surveys … is 21 million people in the United States who are essentially a mass of kindling or a mass of dry wood that, if married to a spark, could in fact ignite.”
Most won’t engage in violence, but in the U.S.’s remote tribal hinterlands (as the much of the U.S. news media refers to various parts of the world), that percentage would be higher, and that does create havens where a small number of committed, violent people can operate with relative impunity (during the Troubles, the term of art was ‘bandit country’). I would like to think professional Democrats will get a handle on this, but what is more likely is that they’ll just acquiesce and surrender, in the way the Era of Reconstruction eventually died. In a sense, it will be the 21st century of the Jim Crow South except with a somewhat different geographic distribution.