Call them Y’allQaeda. Call them VanillaISIS. Call them Yokel Haram or al-Shabubba. Say they’re engaging in YeeHawd. By all means, mercilessly mock those dopey hicks who claim to want to spark a revolution against tyranny by taking control of an empty bird sanctuary in Middle of Nowhere, Oregon.
There’s so much material already there to work with, including the signs emblazoned with fiery slogans they’ve posted to warn people off — slogans with, of course, multiple misspellings — and social media pleas for “snacks” that they apparently forgot to pack, despite claims that they plan to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for years. There’s the comically melodramatic “goodbye” videos posted by these idiots to their families — their oath to protect this land has to come first, after all — and the predictable fracturing of the group’s conspiracy theorist support network, part of which has declared that this whole takeover is nothing more than a false flag operation. All of it is deserving of a Nelson-from-The Simpsons-style point and laugh — except of course for the one lingering issue that hangs over this entire thing like an ominous black cloud.
The fact is, as dumb and pathetic as these clowns are, they’re heavily armed. Our government allows them to be heavily armed, despite their ironic anti-government bent. They’re carrying AR-15s and Glocks and no doubt every other kind of popular firearm they could get their hands on — they were, it’s worth noting, free to get their hands on, in this supposed land of soul-crushing tyranny — and when you break it down, there’s nothing more terrifying than a monumental fool with delusions of both persecution and grandeur and a whole lot of guns.
These idiots have guns. What’s more, they were told by our government and its law enforcement apparatuses that with those guns they could get anything they wanted — and they’d never be held accountable for any laws they violated in doing it. Oh, maybe it wasn’t spelled out for them in plain English, but when a tiny wannabe army of angry rednecks surrounded federal agents at the Bundy ranch in 2014 and trained sniper rifles on them, and they were never arrested or faced charges for it, the message was clear: If you have enough firepower you can back the government down, which, coincidentally, is the explicit reason self-styled militia types often amass their own private arsenals. These people, who can own as many guns as they want and who drive on public highways to their big protests and who recruit like-minded “patriots” via videos they’ve shot on their iPhones and posted to the internet and who apply for government loans — these people say they’re being oppressed by the tyrannical U.S. government and that they’re not really free. Therefore, the guns.
It’s a breeze to laugh at the irony here, all the ways the militia crowd — the dregs of which have taken up illegal residence in a closed wildlife preserve visitor center in Oregon — happily benefits from the very government it purports to despise so much. It’s so much fun to sit back and marvel at how they’re asking that their precious snacks be shipped via the U.S. Postal Service. Unlike these doofs who probably won’t last a week, we really can mock them for years. But again, it all comes back to the fact that as absurd as they are, they can kill people. And they’re probably eager to do it. At least until the bullets actually start flying, they want that big bloody confrontation with federal agents because they know that it would bring even more dipshits like them out of the woodwork and start the revolution they say they’re willing to die for as patriots.
And that’s the problem. Because even though they’re laughable, even though they’re a joke, they’re still terrorists. They’re still a heavily armed force that’s declared war on the U.S. and has done so partly for fundamentalist religious reasons and with dreams of martyrdom. It’s hard to take them seriously, because they’re so fucking ridiculous. But we have to, because they’re so dangerous.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.