August 2017 Archives

Threepers

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Mother Jones notes that there was another right-wing terrorist incident this weekend:

Early this Saturday, a day most of the country spent watching the violence spilling over from white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, a 23-year-old claiming to be a member of the Three Percenters militia named Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested as he tried to set off a truck bomb outside a bank in Oklahoma City.

Varnell allegedly told an FBI informant that "I'm out for blood," and "I'm going after government officials." He claimed that the bombing "was not an attack on America, it was a retaliation," then said it was "also a call to arms... The time for revolution is now." Where does this come from? Mother Jones explains that "Varnell described himself as holding 'III% ideology,' and wanting to kick off an anti-government revolution:"

Three percenters, as they call themselves, are ideological descendants of radical and conspiracy-minded right-wing groups dating back to the John Birch society of the 1960s, and running up through the militia movements that grew up in the 1990s--but today the groupings are much larger and bolder.

The movement takes its name from an oft-told myth that only three percent of the male population of the American colonies was willing to fight in the Patriot armies during the Revolutionary War, and the idea is of a loose grouping of self-proclaimed Patriots and defenders of the Constitution, ready to do "whatever it takes" to defend the country against what they see as creeping federal tyranny, and to resist in the case of a foreign invasion or a declaration of martial law. The Oath Keepers, which is the largest and best known, once claimed to have 30,000 members (the man who claims to have coined the phrase "three percenter" is also a member of the Oath Keepers) and emerged into national prominence after a string of standoffs in the West, when members either led or helped to lead armed paramilitary protests that succeeded in forcing federal agents to back off enforcement actions in Nevada, Oregon, and Montana.

Noting their growth since last year's election, Mother Jones notes that "Oath Keepers and unaffiliated Three Percenters have appointed themselves something like the armed wing of the Trump revolution:"

Three Percenters and Oath Keepers have become a fixture of alt-right rallies, where they serve as paramilitary "protection" against attacks from counter-demonstrators. Three Percenter groups and Oath Keepers have always claimed to disavow white supremacy--but militiamen wearing full tactical gear, carrying semiautomatic rifles, and wearing prominent "III%" patches were everywhere in Charlottesville, blending the ideologies of anti-federal Constitutionalists with the hardest core of the white supremacist alt-right. The militias came openly ready for battle, with helmets and body armor.

This mentality of paramilitary paranoia is a troubling indicator...

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