The Media's Militia Hate-Fest.

January 01, 1996  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Media

You’ve got to hand it to those braniacs in the media. Almost before the blast of the Olympic bombing stopped ringing in our ears, they knew whodunnit. Actually, it was a simple deduction for them. The person who phoned in the warning had an American, white-sounding voice; therefore it was (ominous music, please) the militia! Now, now, don’t pay any attention to the talk about this loner security guard with the hero complex. The media had its men long ago. Here’s how the Associated Press (AP) began a story. "The bomber who brought terror to the Olympics was a white male, may not have worked alone and may have shared militia groups’ hatred of international organizations." Of course, this means he just as easily could have worked alone and despised militia groups almost as much as, say, the media do. But that’s not the way AP wanted to slant it. Then there was the headline: "Two Militia Members Potential Suspects in Olympics Blast." "Potential" here serves the same purpose as "may" in the AP story. It takes nothing and makes it seem like something. Heck, as an American male with a white-sounding voice (not to mention one who was trained to blow things up in the Army) I could have been a potential suspect. (I hope I don’t get a call from the FBI now.) When I did a search of the Nexis computer database of newspapers, magazines, and TV news shows and plugged in the key words "militia," "Olympic," and "bomb," I found no fewer than 343 articles containing those terms! Granted, a couple of those pieces actually said there was no reason to suspect the militia. But most of the rest bent over backwards, sideways, and at any odd angle to try to tie these things together. Why? Oklahoma City bombing aftermath

"With the Oklahoma City bombing, there were 36 hours in which it was Middle Eastern terrorists," David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado reminded me. "It’s the same human instinct to rush to judgment against whoever is the modern hate object." Says Kopel, "A lot of what the media thrives on is conflicts of good versus evil. What they put into the ’evil’ box varies with sociology of the times. In the 1910s it would have been anarchists; in the 1930s it would have been sex- crazed Negroes on marijuana. Now it’s the tobacco industry and gun owners." So part of the reason the media hate the militia is because they have guns. (God help them if they also smoke.) But certainly another factor is the media fear what they don’t understand. Since they are so enamored of big government, they can’t possibly comprehend the thinking of people so very mistrustful of big government. Indeed, it’s safe to say that many militia members are downright paranoid, but that’s hardly illegal and hardly a characteristic of only militia groups. Further, both the media and the public have a misconception of the militia because the only time you hear of them, they’ve done something wrong, be it stockpiling illegal weapons or refusing to pay taxes. But, says Kopel, focusing on criminals on the fringe of the militia movement, "Is no more fair than saying that the cops who beat up Rodney King are representative of police throughout the country." Finally, the pot is being stirred by groups which make their living by making you think all militia members are white boys who wear pointed white hoods or greet each other with "Heil Hitler!" instead of "Hello!" (Never mind that the leader of one of the largest militia units, J.J. Johnson of Ohio, is black and that he’s called the media attempts to identify the militia with racism as "drive-by journalism.") One such group is the Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR), which as I documented in a July 8 Wall Street Journal article basically fabricated the "epidemic" of black church burnings. Depending on the gullibility of the reporter, the CDR will say there are anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 militia members and allies, though a 1995 Anti-Defamation League report put the figure at 15,000. Another militia-baiting group is the Southern Poverty Law Center, headed by Morris Dees. The Atlanta bombing, he suggested to wide-eyed reporters, might be a militia effort to "disrupt the one-world movement." It probably never occurred to most of us, militia included, that the modern Olympic games — now a century old — were part of any one-world movement, instead of a forum for athletes to glorify their countries and earn fat endorsement contracts. But Dees profits handsomely from spreading hysteria. According to an August 3 USA Today story, his group has now amassed a fortune of $68 million, even while other civil rights groups are going broke. "Morris Dees is an effective, demagogic hatemonger who’s using his immense talents to get rich by making Americans afraid of each other," says Kopel. "He’s a fraud who has milked a lot of very wonderful, well-intentioned people," Stephen Bright of Atlanta’s Southern Center for Human Rights told USA Today. Says Kopel, "If the militia hadn’t come along, Dees and the CDR would have had to invent them, and they have indeed invented what they mean to a lot of people." That includes virtually the entire U.S. media. Now if they can only find a way to blame the downing of TWA Flight 800 on a small band of militia in Idaho . . .