Magazine article The American Conservative

Millions of McVeighs?

Magazine article The American Conservative

Millions of McVeighs?

Article excerpt

Introducing a documentary marking the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Rachel Maddow noted, "Nine years after his execution, we are left worrying that Timothy McVeigh's voice from the grave echoes in a new rising tide of American anti-government extremism." The ominous subtext: tea today, bombs tomorrow.

It is true that Americans are increasingly frustrated with Washington. According to a new Pew poll, just 22 percent trust the government "almost always" or "most of the time." But Tea Parties protesting tax policy aren't elaborate cover for a plot to blow up federal buildings. The movement is noisy and messy--and better suited to sell bumper stickers than upend the system. A militia it is not.

When their own crowds assemble--a confused spectacle of coat hangers, rainbows, and "Free Mumia" signs--liberals enthuse about democratic health. But when conservatives gather, an angry social pathology is sweeping the land. The Southern Poverty Law Center cites dramatic growth in "anti-government patriot groups and their militia organizations'--up to 512 from 149 in 2008. …

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