Don’t Tread on Me.
If there is one state in the Union where that political statement is a way of life, it is Montana. The Big Sky Country enjoys a storied reputation for being ground zero for anti-government sentiment in the United States.
When Americans who live in other parts of the country think of Montana, they conjure up a mental image of black helicopters and super patriots drilling in camo to resist the New World Order. The state is well known for its libertarian streak.
In the meantime, David Neiwart of Crooks and Liars (a notorious anti-racist website) has put together something interesting for a change. He has largely relieved me (for all the wrong reasons) of the arduous task of explaining exactly why Montana is such an attractive destination for White Zionists of the “mainstreamer” species.
In a new eight page article at Alternet, David Neiwart outlines in detail how White Nationalism has blurred with the Tea Party in Montana. He paints a narrative that rings true in light of my own experiences:
Maybe it’s the gun-making kits that are being raffled off as door prizes. Or maybe it’s the fact that nearly everyone inside this hall at the Ravalli County Fairground is packing heat. But most of all, it’s the copy of Mein Kampf sitting there on the book table, with its black-and-white swastika, sandwiched between a survivalist how-to book on food storage and a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
It is obvious: This is not your ordinary Tea Party gathering.
Mind you, they don’t explicitly call themselves Tea Partiers. Their official name is Celebrating Conservatism. But their mission statement is classic Tea Party — “to restore our country, counties, and cities back to the Republic and the Constitution of the United States” — and Celebrating Conservatism is listed as a member of the national Tea Party Patriots organization. Everyone in Hamilton, Montana — the whole of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, for that matter — knows them as the Tea Party’s main presence in town. Once a month or so, the group holds a potluck dinner at the county fairgrounds that typically attracts a couple hundred people, which in a place like the Bitterroot is a sizeable presence. . . .
I’ve been to events like the one described above. I was surprised to discover that the barrier between the “fringe” and the “mainstream” was far more permeable than I had previously thought. It was one of the major reasons why I reevaluated my previous attitude toward conservatism.
The first steps in a movement are the hardest and most important steps to take. Fantasists are interested exclusively in the endgame. The game is over, the final score is on the board, and it is time to break out the champagne.
No one want to think about an opening drive. That would mean having to confront ugly aspects of reality. More attention will be paid here to correcting this imbalance.