Henwood vs. Cockburn

Jeffrey St. Clair sitka at home.com
Sat Nov 13 11:33:37 PST 1999

Charles Brown wrote:

> >>> "Jeffrey St. Clair" <sitka at home.com> 11/11/99 03:42PM >>>
> How about Russ Bellant and the Center for Democratic Renewal ? They are quite sober, like me. What have the militas done good ? You avoid that. How come Michigan is so rightwing coincident with militia strength ? I have heard nothing from the militias denouncing Englerism in Michigan. Why not ?
> Sounds like you might be complacent.

I know a lot of sober hysterics, but, admittedly, that may be beside the point. I don't know Bellant's work very well. So I'll refrain from offering an judgment. James Ridgeway may be able to give you an evaluation.

Ridgeway and I did a series in the Voice a few years ago on these guys, right after the Oklahoma City bombing. We interviewed dozens of militia types, Western anarchists, Wise-Users, in Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington. In their homes, in their bars, and, in one bizarre instance, in their casinos. Ridgeway went back to Washington to think about all this. I went back to Oregon City, where many who share similar views are my neighbors.

Are some of them racists? No doubt. Though most have probably never seen a black person, except on television. Are some of them anti-semitic? Without question. Though again, few had ever met a Jew. Are they working class? Most of them: Miners, pulp mill workers, fender-fixers at auto-body repair shops, hard scrabble farmers, mechanics, Vietnam vets, loggers, oil field workers, heavy equipment operators. Men, mostly. But a fair about of women, too. In fact, my favorite interview was with the leaders of a group called Women in Timber. They were lead by a Hoopa Indian woman. Very smart and savvy politically. Not a software jockey in the bunch. These are people both the Reagan and Clinton "booms" overshot. Some of them are likeable enough; others, as Joseph Heller said, give me the willies. But in spending days talking with them, I certainly didn't recognize the portrait painted by people like Chpper Berlet and David Helvarg.

Has the Michigan Militia fought Englerism? I don't know. Ask them. I do know that the Montana Militia has fought Racicotism (which is a western species of the same--Raciocot being the most likely candidate for Sec. of the Interior in a GW Bush administration--talks like Bruce Babbitt, walks like James Watt.)

What good have they done? They've fought the encroaching powers of the police state; they've printed their own money; they've formed collective quasi-communal groups to help each other out when they are laid off, when the bank forecloses on the farm, when they get thrown in jail, or when the FBI or the ATF shoots one their wives in the head; they've opposed Nafta, MAI and WTO; they've attacked the drug war; they've supported initiatives in Arizona and Oregon and California to decriminalize drugs; they opposed asset seizures and the death penalty; they've raised the issue of the expanded domestic use of the military; and, contrary to assertions by some, they are at the grassroots level, at least, fierce critics of corporate power--they hate the big mining companies, the banks, big timber, big beef (IBP), the farm syndicates: ADM and Cargill and Continental Grain; and the pesticide companies, such as Monsanto and DuPont.

And just what the fuck am I complacent about?


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