Bill Davis, the founder of an Arizona border vigilante group called the Cochise County Militia [motto: “Doing the job our Government refuses to do!”] has taken pride in recent years over what he says is the group’s responsible and safe surveillance of Mexicans coming illegally into the United States. “To this day, it is the most effective, safest and active of the border watch groups,” the group’s website claimed last year. “We have a perfect safety record since 2001 with nobody hurt while attending a Border Event!”
Now Davis is aiming to take a harder line at the border. On Monday, he told supporters via email that his Tombstone-based militia will be forming a PMC — a private military company, which is “completely legal!!!”
Really, no surprise here. Combining elements like tough economic times with widening wealth disparity, and hysterical, fear-mongering demagogues, who go unchecked by a negligent political party, can really only end one way — violence. I’m just amazed Davis’s crew hasn’t shot a Mexican in the face already.
Not that the option is off the table, mind you. In bragging about his group’s members, Davis remarked, “They all have confirmed kills, from Vietnam or later on.” Apparently, Davis sees the ability to kill as a desirable trait in what I’m sure will be a totally peaceful movement for border security.
As poor people become more desperate, and Washington continues to either neglect them, or encourage their more bizarre behavior, this type of extremist behavior will only worsen. Earlier this month, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature declared they would like to create a new militia.
More recently, Governor Brewer signed the shockingly neo-fascist bill in Arizona, which Duncan calls the “illegal-to-be-brown-without-carrying-your-birth-certificate policy.” In response, Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva called for a statewide boycott of conventions to pressure Brewer into vetoing the bill. Grijalva began receiving vicious death threats, including two from the same person, “who threatened to go down there and blow everyone’s brains out then go to the border to shoot Mexicans.”
Believe me, I totally get the anger thing. In fact, I think anger is the appropriate response right now since most Americans are getting so epically screwed by the government and Wall Street.
However, the animosity isn’t aimed at the right people. It’s not aimed at Goldman Sachs whose executives traded e-mail messages saying that they were making “some serious money” betting against the housing markets, while average Americans started losing their homes. Somehow, Wall Street has avoided the wrath of the teabaggers, and the militias, even as they hand out $5 billion for just three months of work, after handing out $16 billion of bonuses in January.
Unfortunately, the understandable wrath of citizens has been appropriated by the racist, fringe, right-wing movements. Times are tough, so it must be the fault of the Mexicans, or the feminists, or teh gayz.
When a person loses their job, or their home, it’s easier to look down the social totem pole at the nearest minority and try to squash them just to gain some kind of leverage, power, and meaning again. It’s considerably harder — and takes more courage — to look upward to the real villains, the oligarchical plutocracy.
It takes real grit to stand up to huge corporations and punish them for destroying foreign economies through policies like NAFTA, while simultaneously exploiting cheap labor of immigrants, thereby encouraging more mass migration, and stealing US taxpayer money, and shipping jobs overseas, and exploiting workers to hoard another couple billion dollars in bonuses.
I’m sure there are unapologetic racists within these militia movements, who get their jollies from terrorizing frightened Mexicans, but I also think there are just a lot of scared, poor, desperate citizens searching for purpose right now. They’ve lost faith in everything: the government, their ordained child molesters, the idea of societal security (pensions, jobs, work safety, etc.). But that fear is manifesting in terrible threats and the formation of radical groups like the Cochise County Militia.