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A couple of years ago, the Clinton administration and its media echo
chamber whipped up a national hysteria about private militias. These men
were said to be masquerading as protective forces when they were
probably plotting terrorist attacks, or, much worse, fomenting hatred of
the government. Better keep close tabs on these guys, the Justice
Department said, before the country swarms with armed and dangerous
vigilantes with a violent political agenda. No surprise here: George
III’s propaganda arm would have said the same thing of Vermont’s Green
Mountain Boys.

During the same period of time, it turns out, the federal government
was systematically amassing its own armed militia force, staffed not by
unfunded volunteer gun enthusiasts but by trained killers paid out of
lavish public funds. Don’t be afraid of them, and forget the lessons of
Waco, because these Marines, Army Rangers, and Green Berets may soon be
coming to your hometown to “protect” you against scary things like
poison gas, radioactive material, and mass hysteria. We’ve got soldiers
stationed in a hundred countries, the implied rationale goes, so isn’t
it about time they were stationed in active duty right here? Talk about
bringing the troops home.

These men in black, on direct orders from Washington, have been
engaged in surprise military exercises in various parts of the country
– not rural areas where the dangerous private militias are said to lurk
– but in cities and towns where local officials are too intimidated to
object. The Pentagon sees this as its new domestic initiative. “Once we
had the luxury of fighting our nation’s wars on someone else’s soil,” a
participating brigadier general told the New York Times, “That doesn’t
exist the same way today.” (Full article about recent New York drills href="http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/regional/021400ny-terror.html">here.)

As for their weapons, we are not talking about semi-automatic
shotguns and the like. The men now “protecting” us have been trained for
mass killing. “I went from being a killer to turning around and being a
defender,” a nuclear weapons specialist told the same reporter. “And I
can tell you, I feel a lot better about this, compared to what I used to
be doing.” Then again, he has to obey orders, and it doesn’t help that
he is a member of one of 27 units operating under the authority of FEMA
and the Pentagon, called the Weapons of Mass Destruction Civilian
Support Teams. Don’t you feel safe just knowing that?

The Pentagon sees the prospect of domestic terrorism as its new lease
on life. And for two years, the Clinton administration has been itching
for some sort of domestic calamity to prove to the American people that
their instinct against having government troops quartered in their
backyard is just silly. The Y2K computer bug didn’t pan out for them –
drat! — and neither did all the trumped up warnings about disasters at
Times Square on New Year’s Eve. But surely something bad will happen at
some point along the way, and the public can be convinced that the
military is more necessary than ever.

There’s reason to doubt that there’s any basis for the hysteria. So
far, the government’s highly publicized arrests of foreign bomb-throwers
have turned up no more than mistaken identities and rushes to judgment
on the part of would-be military commandos. In the Waco case, every week
there are new revelations on just how abusive the federal government was
to that religious community, but no strong evidence that non-government
domestic terrorism awaits in absence of a military buildup.

Moreover, even if the threats were real, there is no reason to think
that the military wouldn’t botch the job just as they have every
“protective” mission in memory. The Kosovars, for example, paid heavily
for the supposed protection they received from the U.S. military. Every
time the government puts its fingers in something — think of the mass
evacuations for last year’s East Coast “hurricane” — it ends up
creating more hysteria and disorder.

But the real danger of active duty military goons wandering the
street is the loss of liberty. There’s only one thing more intimidating
than seeing miles of military vehicles clogging the highway into your
hometown, and that’s watching heavily armed black-suited killers
engaging in “exercises” in your downtown. It sends the message that the
government is in charge, and everybody had better shape up. And that is
precisely the point, after all.

What’s most remarkable about this trend is that the political left –
you know, those lovers of peace and opponents of militarism — have had
virtually nothing to say about this trend. The news of another exercise
hardly ever makes it to the national news, except on news sites like
WorldNetDaily. The country is being systematically militarized without
so much as a peep from the flower children.

And notice too that all this is taking place in the midst of a
systematic campaign to demonize local police. On the New York campaign
trail, Hillary Clinton calls cops on trial “murderers” even before the
jury has spoken, a title she would never use for politically correct
convicted killers. And the Justice Department is forever casting a moral
cloud over local cops and their supposed penchant for racial profiling.
But when it comes to the G-men with the biggest guns of all, we are only
permitted to think of them as defenders of the public interest. Any
questioning of their motives is lunatic paranoia.

Any theories on why we are supposed to despise and fear private
militias and hate and resist local cops, even as we are told to cheer
when the U.S. military comes to town? The answer is one that the framers
(both federalist and anti-federalist) understood: a despotic central
government wants to amass unlimited power unto itself, and it does so at
the expense of lower orders of government and private associations.
Hence, private militias and local police must be regarded as evil and
dangerous while the centralized military state’s soldiers are seen as
sweet protectors.

In the debates over the Constitution, the anti-federalists objected
that the proposed document didn’t outlaw standing armies. Noah Webster
sought to quell the fears of the Pennsylvania anti-federalists with
these words: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be
disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme
power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the
whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to
any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the
United States.”

James Madison, writing in Federalist 46, made a similar promise
concerning the U.S. Constitution: “Besides the advantage of being armed,
which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other
nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people
are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a
barrier against the enterprises of ambition more insurmountable than any
which a central government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the
military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are
carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are
afraid to trust the people with arms.”

From the kingdoms of Europe to your hometown.

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