Militias--too glib?

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Wed Jun 3 05:23:04 PDT 1998

On Tue, 2 Jun 1998, Katha Pollitt wrote:

> p.s. I mean : Justin says he thinks we should not "dismiss" them as
> fullblown SS cadres but "understand" them. I don't think I argued
> against understanding them. Understanding is always good. One can also
> understand something first, and then dismiss it.

Sure, but I don't think it's understanding them to label the lot of them as right wing extremist racist paranoids. In my very limited experience of the Ohio militias, really of some of their members I have met here and there, what I have found is angry and confused working class people, whom, however, are gun nuts. They haven't responded to me, a self-avowed socialist feminist Jewish intellectual who will be working for the federal judiciary and wants in the long run to be a unionside labor lawyer, with hatred or contempt. We've had reasonable political discussions. They find that they don't disagree with a lot I have to say, as long as I listen respectfully and keep off the subject of guns.

It's doesn't take a
> brain scientist to connect the militias and Tim mcVeigh=style
> freelancers

Sure, but most militia members aren't mass murderers, as it should be unnecessary to say.

with the declining position of the industrial working class,
> farmers losing their land, white working-class men feeling squeezed by
> blacks and women, etc etc. Same with the Pat buchanan followers -- isn't
> this what everyone says?


> What bothers me with Alex Cockburn is that i think he actually likes
> them -- he likes the gun fetishism, the macho Western Wild Man thing,
> the rejection of liberal pussyfooting and "pwogwessive" values (his
> term). And he has a whole fantasy going in which the People, through
> jury nullification, resist the State. Meanwhile, he has nothing but
> contempt for people --socialist feminists, say -- who have been on the
> left for decades. At least in his case, the fascination with the
> militias functions as an acceptable way to put white men in the center
> again, and to resurrect some of the most awful aspects of pre-feminist
> masculinity.

Well, maybe. Me, I'm a "new age sensitive guy," in Christine Lavin's words, not that I do "new age" philosophy, but I hate guns, don't care for sports, like to cook and according to my wife do about 20% of the childcare,w hich obviously isn't enough, but may be more than most guys. I'm definitely one of the overeducated intellectual left wing weenies that Cockburn despises. I have no affected for the he-men of the wild West. I just haven't met the militia types of whom you speak. I don't doubt taht they exist, but they are just part of the tendency.

Have you heard of the Carolyn Chute Maine militia? Wasn't that in The Nation?


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