Sunday April 19, 2020 marked two events. One, a giant middle finger to science and caution as some 400 angry citizens massed together at the Montana Capitol grounds despite a world pandemic that has rational people looking sideways at their own mother with the slightest cough. Yep, despite positive outcomes from social distancing and careful measures there could be no stopping the pursuit of liberty and the recovery of personal rights. If this all sounds like something you’ve heard before, it is. April 19, 2020 also marked the 25 year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing in which a homegrown militia member and domestic terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, killed 168 of his fellow Americans in the name of liberty and his God given rights. If you believe last Sunday’s event taking place on the same day as the tragedy is a coincidence then perhaps you are interested in buying a trunk load of elusive toilet paper.
You can follow the ‘Montana Liberty Rally’ and what appear to be its ‘organizers’ on a public Facebook page. It’s an odd mixture of cconspiracy, anti-vaxers, angry white men, Tomi Lahren wannabes and now, militia groups. If you grab a beer and start scrolling you’ll find the phrase ‘civil disobedience’ popping up fairly often, almost as often as ‘liberty’ and ‘my rights’. Take for example this screen shot that appears to show some frustration with the inability to use public campgrounds. After all, it’s been an odd spring in Montana and who doesn’t want to get out of the house after being asked to stay home for a month? Conrad has a point, just not a very good one. And it’s highly unlikely that this was the same agenda behind the civil rights movement that helped coin the phrase ‘civil disobedience’. Now, maybe search Conrad’s name on that same page and you’ll find a post that should strike you as troubling. This time he has a plan and subtly mentioned in that plan is a call to be joined by armed militia. Well wait, is there another kind? OK, so maybe not so subtle since he’s asking for the ‘intelligence’ to be shared among the home guard. Clearly the ask is to gather as many people as possible at a legally closed public campground. The location, much like the fabled Senior Keg, will be revealed once everyone has been vetted. The word will be passed and hopefully Johnny Law will be none the wiser of the big gathering. However, if the top secret public Facebook posting does lead to the discovery of the location, responding officers should be well prepared to be met by an armed citizenry prepared to defend their right to gather and to protect their campfires. Sounds like another Malheur Refuge standoff in the making, or worse. And be sure to take in the irony of the use of a pre-reservation Apache photograph.
One such militia group did appear at the march to honor McVeigh, err aaahh, honor liberty and personal freedom. The Yellowstone Militia assembled in full mismatched camouflage, Crocodile Dundee knives, assault weapons and grade school issue walkie talkies. In all, three militia men and one militia woman, better than none. If you’re looking for adventure, the answer to a mid life crisis or your arrested development, the Yellowstone Militia wants you!! Not to worry, there appears to be no screening, no grooming standards, no dress code, no physical fitness requirements and judging a book by it’s cover, no aptitude testing.
All attempts at humor and sarcasm aside, this should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and leave you more than a little concerned for the safety of law enforcement officers in Montana, as well as citizens. This is not a renewal of a cycle any of us should be glad see appearing. This is a quickly developing side effect of the ‘Open My State Up’ crowd that will play out badly if left unchecked. Today this unstable minority carries signs, flags, guns, knives and anger. History repeats itself. Tomorrow they’ll be carrying all of that and a virus.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’