Recently, I watched a very interesting report on RTE about the growth of armed militias in America today. There are three basic types, two of which are self-explanatory, with the third being less so. On the extreme right of the political spectrum, there are White supremacist militias that adhere to White Christian values (whatever they are?), and a belief in a hierarchical human species. No points for guessing which race sits atop the pyramid.
Some militias have been around for a very long time, preparing and training for an apocalyptic event in the near future: a race war, no less. Others like the Boogaloo boys, distinguishable by the bright coloured Hawaiian shirts worn under their body armour, are new libertarians who advocate for revolution every 20 years in order to purge society.
Membership of White militias are mainly lower middle class rednecks who have experienced a massive decline in their living condition brought on by decades of globalisation. Many of them are modern recreations of the KKK, whereas others are just plain apple pie eating, dyed in the wool Americans. All have a penchant for carrying guns, the more the merrier. One individual interviewed counted seven weapons on his person. When asked why he was carried so many guns, he said that he was equipped for an all out civil war. Scary stuff!
At the other end of the ideological spectrum are the leftist militias of more recent vintage. For example, the black militias are founded upon the principle of self-defence following in the steps of the Black Panther Party. And, like their White counterparts, they too are well organised and heavily armed units. Additionally, the New Black Panthers are attempting to capitalise on the iconic reputation of the original Black Panther Movement on the 1970's. Undoubtedly, the sight of well organised, heavily armed Black men and women is a shock to the political system. It connects with a deep rooted fear in the White American psyche that dates back slave uprisings of the past. The ghost of Nat Turnner haunts white America.
A third genre of militia is not so easily defined in binary terms. At first sight, they appear to be White supremacist until, low and behold, a Black man appears on a podium spouting support for Donald Trump. The face is not only Black, it is also poor. I, personally, do not know what to make of this contradiction. American politics is unique. It does not equate with the European model at all. For example, it is less class oriented than the Old World and more racially self-conscious. I admit to being bamboozled at times. However, there can be no doubting the extreme antagonism that exist in American society. Militias are manifestations of competing ideologies and perspectives in extremis. The country has never appealed to me as a place I would like to see. Still, I can not help being fascinated as a less than objective observer.