Did you know that “citizen militias in the U.S. are moving toward more violent extremism”? So says the cover story in this month’s issue of Scientific American. In a breathtakingly fallacious argument based on one woman’s observations, America’s science periodical has catapulted away from anything remotely scientific to tin foil hat territory. Citing the events of January 6, 2021, SA feverishly tries to make the case that last year’s U.S. Capitol breach was a natural outgrowth of a rapidly growing — and increasingly violent — group of insurrectionists who must be feared.
We should be afraid – very afraid.
Leftist Sociology 101
Sociologist Amy Cooter claims to understand this “violent, extremist movement” after attending three – count them, three – militia events. At one end, Cooter writes, are groups for “grown-up Boy Scouts,” but at the other reside “units that are openly angry, whose members plot violence against government officials and advocate overt white supremacy. Some of the latter stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
How does she support this argument that the U.S. Capitol was swarmed by white supremacists? Actually, she doesn’t – but the signs and symbols were all there. (More on that later.) Further, she asserts these “almost exclusively white” activists are steeped in “racist and sexist attitudes.” These extremely violent militiamen also had the audacity to claim, “the insurrection at the Capitol was nothing more than a protest.” What makes them so threatening, pens Cooter, are the “core values of individualism and self-determination,” which have been “reinforced through right-wing news media and Donald Trump’s rhetoric….”
Ms. Cooter maintains these terrifying people “look to the American Revolution as their ideal historical moment and view the Founding Fathers as nearly impeccable paragons whose perceived individualism, fearlessness and rebellion should be emulated today.” Worse still, their conversations are littered with words like “Founding Fathers” and “Constitution.”
Oh, the horror of such offensive language.
These extremely violent militiamen are the ideological brothers of those who plotted “to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in retaliation for a perceived failure to uphold individual liberties.” Yes, the very same case that is on the precipice of being thrown out of court, in which the Justice Department has indicated they will not be testifying, and, in the end, may come down to a textbook case of entrapment.
The left has a convenient way to identify militia members with “xenophobic attitudes” by watching for a series of signs and symbols. It is a loosely assembled handbook that can be consulted to pinpoint these deranged, malevolent individuals.
The Conversation, whose website subtitle boasts “academic rigor, journalistic flair,” contains a lengthy article naming these “symbols of white supremacy.” The top five include the Confederate Flag, the yellow Gadsden flag (Don’t tread on me), and the former flag of South Vietnam. Other classic markers include Norse mythology symbols – obviously referring to Jake Angeli, the man in the horned Norse hat famously pictured in the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.
Liberty Nation’s international correspondent, Caroline Adana, who hails from Norway, responded to this last “symbol of violence” by asking, “Should we automatically assume that anyone wearing Rasta braids are green activists?” She went on to say, “I am deeply familiar with Norse mythology, and I am very offended by anyone who claims that my culture is somehow Nazi or white supremacist. Show me one other ethnic group who you can just railroad culturally like that and appropriate their cultural heritage for political exploitation.”
As long as we are putting people into identity-ghettos affectionately known as “scary right-wing groups,” we must understand that all militias are not created equal. According to Scientific American, there are two sects – the constitutionalists and a much more frightening faction known as Millenarians, who are “generally more open to violent action.” Despite the lack of citations or footnotes, Ms. Cooter writes: “They [the millenarians] spend more time on conspiratorial speculations about ways the government must be interfering in their lives and fantasize about exacting retribution for those actions.”
This rather nonscientific cover story in Scientific American does not get to the crux of the matter until the next to last paragraph. Unsurprisingly, it is a thinly veiled political shot at former President Donald Trump:
“So, the reality is that the danger has not abated. Quite the opposite: Militia emotions and activity could be easily exacerbated by another political leader who encourages exclusionary thinking and paranoia or by a foreign terrorist attack that nostalgic groups perceive as threatening to America’s safety or culture.”
In other words, should Mr. Trump run for president again in 2024, extremists will be coming out of the woodwork.
Reality vs Narrative
For some reason those on the political left believe reality never makes for a good narrative. Like all good leftists, Cooter does not let facts get in the way of a dramatic, ideologically satisfying theory. Her article is subjective sociological mumbo jumbo riddled with unsubstantiated hypotheses that rely on a limited set of pre-determined suppositions meant to stoke fear in the hearts of Americans.
Certainly, militias in America do exist. It is possible some of them entertain violent beliefs. However, even if we consult the Southern Poverty Law Center – a well-known far-left group – only 276 active militias are currently operating in the United States. Most observers (including Cooter) estimate the “typical [militia] units have no more than 20 or so members.” That amounts to 5,520 people in total. Thus, Cooter’s conclusion that these groups “are not fluke outliers” cannot be substantiated in a country with a population of an estimated 331 million (U.S. Census 2020).
And that, dear readers, is a fact that the editors of Scientific American might want to consider when publishing such strident political articles and trying to pass them off as science.
~ Read more from Leesa K. Donner.