There’s a joke that’s been running around the Internet lately. It goes something like this:

A Southern Californian man was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found he owned 100 guns and had 200,000 rounds of ammunition stored in his home. By Southern California standards, someone owning a mere 1,000 rounds would be called “mentally unstable.”

In Arizona, he’d be called “an avid gun collector.”

In Texas, he’d be called “a novice gun collector.”

In Utah, he’d be called “moderately well-prepared,” but they’d probably reserve judgment until they made sure he had a corresponding quantity of stored food.

In Montana, he’d be called “the neighborhood ‘Go-To’ guy.”

In Idaho, he’d be called “a likely gubernatorial candidate.”

And in Wyoming, he’d be called “an eligible bachelor.”

End of joke. If you smiled, you’re probably a conservative. But if you didn’t get it – or you think this guy should be committed to a psychiatric ward – you’re probably a progressive.

In case this comes as a surprise to you, our government IS progressive, and I’ll tell you why: Recently the FBI started asking stores to spy on their customers to watch for potential terrorists. In Wyoming our gun collector might be an eligible bachelor, but to the folks in Washington, D.C., he’s clearly a threat. Arrest him!

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The FBI list whipped around the Preppers of this nation like wildfire because, needless to say, we often fit the government criteria as to what constitutes potential terrorists. This includes paying with cash (many of us live on a cash-only basis so we don’t sink into debt), having “missing hands/fingers” (a common plaint in Flyover Country where farm machinery can be unforgiving), making “extreme” religious statements coupled with comments that appear to condone violence (a friend once said, “By God, they’ll get my guns over my dead body” – does that count?), buying bulk amounts of Meals Ready to Eat (hello? Good in an emergency!) and, my favorite, purchasing “night” flashlights. (Please don’t ask me to explain what a “day” flashlight is.)

While allegedly targeting Muslim terrorists, it is worth noting that the FBI’s bucket list was circulated among businesses patently unlikely ever to see such a customer. “Islamic terrorists are not known to hang out in local Army-Navy surplus stores, stocking up on MREs, high-capacity magazines and bi-pods for their long-range rifles,” said Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. “As Brandon Smith over at notes, ‘These are very common purchases, not for terrorists, but for Preppers and Survivalists, who are obviously the targets of the FBI profile, not secret al-Qaida agents.'” Al-Qaida’s goal is to kill everyone. The goal of Preppers is to stay alive. Who needs MREs more?

So as an unashamed and vocal Prepper, isn’t it nice to know I’m walking around with a great big bull’s-eye painted on my butt?

Rhodes adds, “… the current crop of FBI ‘leadership’ considers anyone who wants to be self-sufficient and prepared to be a ‘threat’ that should be relentlessly tracked and reported.”

I’m not the first to point out how eerily this echoes Nazi Germany.

The government seems inordinately afraid of conservatives, constitutionalists, Christians, tea-party members, returning military personnel, Preppers, Ron Paul supporters, Oath Keepers and other such patriots. The one thing these groups have in common is a desire to see our government reduced in size to the constraints outlined in the Constitution. You know, the document every single politician swears to uphold and defend. Gee, it’s almost as if the government is threatened because it knows it’s in the wrong.

So, rather than fix itself, such a government begins to hunt down its critics. And what better way to conduct stings and entrapments than by asking stores to spy on their customers?

Of course, the flaw in all this is the FBI is apparently unaware of how people live in Real America. Once you get out of the heavy metro areas, nearly everyone owns guns and ammo; many of us have stores of food because anything from car trouble to bad weather can isolate us; many of us have gardens or fields that require fertilizer. The ivory tower politicians and government minions are entirely unaware of what it takes to make a living when you don’t work in an office and live in an apartment, or collect your pay at the point of a legislative gun.

Visit any farm in the nation and you have all the requirements for potential terrorism simply by poking around in the barn. In other words, by keeping the definition of “potential” terrorists so broad, every single Prepper or patriot is walking around with a great big bull’s-eye on his butt.

Critics of this viewpoint note how fertilizer is used to make explosives, and therefore anyone paying cash for 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate should be reported. But you know what? That wasn’t specified in the FBI guidelines. Flashlights, MREs and bi-pods for rifles were – all common purchases of patriots and Preppers.

While I do not dismiss the threat of genuine terrorist activities by Muslim extremists, here’s an alternate way to look at things: Terrorists often employ psychological actions to gain submission. So who is terrorizing whom? The government is creating endless bogeymen and telling us we need to spy on our friends, neighbors, customers and fellow shoppers. It is the ultimate sleight-of-hand tactic of “misdirection” commonly used by magicians. They are focusing our attention on all the (cough) “potential terrorists” who are buying MREs and flashlights, while the government quietly goes about disassembling the Constitution and Bill of Rights, particularly that pesky Second Amendment.

Genuine terrorist groups like al-Qaida are not making the laws and regulations in this country. Our government is. Government goons are the ones sticking their filthy gloved hands down toddler’s diapers, groping old ladies and humiliating people in wheelchairs. They’re the ones refusing to prosecute thugs who threaten and intimidate people at voting booths.

Instead, they’re focusing on people buying MREs and flashlights. “Potential indicators of terrorism,” someone pointed out, is another term for those “that don’t think like the state.”

The Oath Keepers website suggests we counter this nonsense by going shopping for preparedness gear. Make the FBI list of potential terrorists so big it becomes useless.

So if you’ll pardon me, I’m a little low on waterproof matches. I’m off to go shopping.

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