March 12, 1995 in Nation/World

Militia Movement Not A Patriotic One

By The Spokesman-Review

The growing militia movement has shown its true colors in recent weeks in two Montana towns.

In Roundup last week, seven self-described “freemen” were arrested and an arsenal of weapons and ammunition captured after a tense confrontation with local authorities. Police believe the suspects intended “to possibly kidnap, try and hang” a District Court judge.

In the Bitterroot Valley, sheriff’s deputies have guarded the Ravalli County Courthouse since two government-hating radicals threatened an armed takeover.

These are not the actions of peace-loving Americans who appreciate the rights guaranteed to all by the U.S. Constitution. These are the actions of new-age vigilantes who, if left unchecked, will cause great damage to our freedoms and system of laws.

Right-thinking citizens in this area should give wide berth to recruiting efforts by such organizations as Militia of Montana. Also, legislators should toughen laws against threatening and intimidating behavior against public officials. And politicians should steer clear of militia meetings altogether.

In the past two months, Idaho’s Lt. Gov. Butch Otter, Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa and Superintendent of Schools Anne Fox have met with the United States Militia Association. Appearances by elected officials legitimize groups whose members attend meetings in olive green military-style sweaters and trousers and black boots.

Surprisingly, Inland Northwesterners who’d never embrace Richard Butler’s white supremacism are falling for the anti-government tactics, pro-gun rhetoric and paranoia of the militia movement. Human-rights groups, like the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment and the Southern Poverty Law Center, believe supremacists are infiltrating citizen militias.

Yet, 300 attended a Militia of Montana meeting at Spokane Falls Community College in December and hundreds more heard MOM co-founder John Trochmann speak last summer at a patriots’ picnic in Coeur d’Alene. Trochmann, one of the seven men arrested in Roundup, denies he’s a supremacist (though in 1990 he spoke at the Aryan Nations compound.)

As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Our country has survived more than 200 years because Americans have a respect for the law and their neighbors - whether they agree philosophically with them or not. They seek changes at the ballot box, not with bullets and intimidation.

Those who believe differently are not as patriotic as they think.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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