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Because Governments are Always Legitimate

Dennis Henigan is a bit upset that the media is running stories about kinder, gentler militias:

The Michigan militiamen must have regarded the NPR story as a spectacular success. According to NPR’s introduction to the story, the militia movement has “grown less violent in recent years.” Ms. Raston described the Southeast Michigan militia as “benign”.

This judgment seems to have lost the forest for the trees. To point out the obvious, it is possible to help the local sheriff find missing people, collect coats for needy kids, and adopt a local highway, without engaging in military training in the woods with assault weapons. One of the militiamen described his “battle gear” to Ms. Raston as including a rifle with four 30-round magazines, as well as a 9mm sidearm. These people may or may not be racist or paranoid as individuals, but what brings them together is an ideology that should be very troubling to most Americans. The militiamen believe that it is entirely legitimate to form a private army to prepare for armed conflict with our government.

Bravo, Dennis! We all are aware that preparing for armed conflict with your government has absolutely no historical root in the history of the United States. None whatsoever. It’s absolutely unthinkable that any people would even think about using violence against their own government. It is well known that governments are always legitimate, and it has never happened, in the history of man, that a legitimate government has become illegitimate. It just can’t happen! It certainly could never happen here, right?

Look, it’s not like I don’t think the militia movement is a bit silly. I don’t think a group of Americans can get together and declare themselves a legitimate constitutional militia any more than a group of Americans can get together and declare themselves a jury. There’s a certain governmental structure that’s historically gone along with militias in the United States.

Nonetheless, it’s a free country, and if a bunch of people want to get together and hold mock trials as a hobby, well, more power to them. It’s a legitimate exercise of their First Amendment freedoms, just as practicing shooting is a legitimate exercise of their Second Amendment freedoms. As long as they are not professing violent overthrow of the government, which the Michigan group is decidedly not, it’s within the realm of what the Second Amendment protects. I’ll leave Dennis with a quote from a dangerous proponent of militias:

The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. What clause in the state or federal constitution hath given away that important right…. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.

We really have to do something about this dangerous militia thinking that’s recently made its way into our American discorse, that’s for sure! We can let them warp American History no longer!

7 Responses to “Because Governments are Always Legitimate”

  1. Patrick says:

    Sebastian,
    One thing I have never heard from anyone is why have the second amendment if everyone is going to decry the violent overthrow of the government?

    Don’t get me wrong. This is all hypothetical. I’m not talking about overthrowing the government today, tomorrow, or next year. I just want to know how you view the 2A in terms of militia today. How can one be for the 2A, in all of it’s glory of protecting us from a tyrannical government, if nobody is really ever going to use it.

    I noticed in your post “A Modern Militia Act” that you comment that the act is the very reason the 2A was created. To protect us from the government disarming us. Well, if we would *never* use it and if gun owners decry *ever* using it to do what it was meant for, what is the point of having the protection?

    Do you believe that the mere fact we have the protection and have firearms will stop the government from becoming tyrannical?

  2. Mike w. says:

    The militiamen believe that it is entirely legitimate to form a private army to prepare for armed conflict with our government.

    Yeah, this makes them evil & dangerous, just like those like-minded paranoid racists who founded the U.S……..

    Henigan is a masterful fearmongerer, that’s for sure.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Patrick:

    I was making fun of Henigan. I don’t agree with his pronouncements, as the links I provided would indicate. But, generally speaking, I think things need to get pretty bad before you resort fo violence against your government.

    The mechanisms of what a just cause would look like isn’t a simple topic. The problem with folks like the Brady Campaign is they don’t even believe the subject itself is legitimate. I say it is.

    I’m very skeptical of the idea of an organic movement of people rising up against their government. I think if the United States ever becomes illegitimate, the states are the natural means by which it would be resisted, not likely by an organic movement.

    As for the militia, in the sense the militia is the body of the people, I think it still exists today, though it’s fallen on neglect by Congress. But the militia, at least as it existed in the founders time, no longer really exists in effect, even if it does exist, technically, by statute.

  4. Sebastian,

    I believe you’re taking a rather progressive view of the militia. The militia predates the founding of this country (via the constitution) in the same way that the right to keep and bear arms exists independently of the constitution. Statutes merely codified and provided for organizing the militia into definite groups.

    LIkewise, my membership in the militia has nothing to do with the fact that I was once in the military.

    I agree with you that it will be the states that will do the major pushing back in any sort of governmental dispute, but it will be the militias within those states that will provide the teeth to the states actions.

  5. Alpheus says:

    In thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, I thought about some of the things that pushed us to revolution against Britain. I remembered the Boston Massacre, and I remembered how Boston Harbor was completely closed to trade.

    These two things helped me to realize that we probably don’t need to worry about taking up arms against government until we see similar things happening in the future.

    That, and I think if our government ever tries to set up internment camps in the future (like what happened to Japanese-Americans during WWII), I will likely be trying to figure out what I could do to thwart those orders, and to help the interred citizens escape!

  6. Carl from Chicago says:

    Poor Dennis. He can barely keep his head above the water that fills the pool of relevance. Poor Dennis.

    It just must really suck to have his job.

  7. Ken says:

    How dare NPR report on Michigan’s militias as they are, instead of lying about them!!!

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