Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Check this out. Another honest academic, a species as rare as hen's teeth.

CPT R.A. Bear sez: "I think I'm in love."

The transcript:

All right. This is an interesting topic. You may not have been thinking that this was a big deal, but it is. I want to bring in Amy Cooter. She's working toward a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Michigan, and that has meant two years of research into the Michigan militia and similar groups. She joins me now from Ann Harbor.

Amy, this is not news to you, but it is news to a number of Americans, the degree and the scope and the scale of these anti- government groups and how many of them are willing to take up arms to do what? What is the aim? What did you learn? What do these people want to achieve?

AMY COOTER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN PH.D. CANDIDATE: You know, the vast majority of this movement aren't so antagonistic toward the government that they're ready to start a fight. I think what we've seen with this group that's been in the news these last few days is sort of the extreme of this movement.

Most of the militia movements see their involvement as more of a political protest than anything. They do practice. They do target practice and general training with firearms. But for the most part, they're not particularly afraid of the government and aren't worried about them banging down their door and coming after their individual rights.

VELSHI: So in this fight that may happen between them and the government, where do the rest of us fall? Is this a fight? Do they imagine it to be a war? Or is it a "we're armed, and don't -- don't interfere in our lives"?

COOTER: You know, for the most part, like I said, most of these groups don't see this war as coming. For those that do, I think that they see themselves as a last line of defense for their communities. They don't see the average, everyday citizen as being on the side of the federal government or as being a target of their activity, for the most part.

VELSHI: Amy, stay right there. I want to talk about how these people we recruit, who's joining them and whether or not there are people who might be our neighbors. Stand by.

Amy Cooter is with us from Ann Harbor, Michigan. She's a doctoral candidate. She's studying -- she's doing -- she's studying for her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. We're going to talk about these groups that may or may not be a threat to you. She'll tell us whether those extremist groups are, in fact, a threat. Stay with us.



MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: In the case of this group, it was all cast in terms of the coming of the anti-Christ, which the group seemed to associate very closely, in fact, with the United Nations. So it's really quite similar to other militias' ideology but with a very particular biblical kind of twist.


VELSHI: We're rejoined by Amy Cooter. She's a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan.

Amy, you have spent time with -- have you spent time with the Hutaree or other groups?

COOTER: Mostly with other groups, since the Hutaree is this fringe element that isn't representative of the overall movement.

VELSHI: All right. So the people you've spent time with, I would almost say you've been embedded with them; you've spent sort of really good time with them, a lot of time with them. How would you describe them? Would they -- would they strike us as sort of everyday, normal Americans with concerns about too much government, or is there something more? Do they have more of an edge to them? COOTER: I think that most people would be surprised at how normal they are. Some of them have government jobs. In my interviews with them, most of them are actually slightly more educated than the average U.S. citizen.

The overall movement, they're not particularly religious. Most of them are married, have kids. And you wouldn't know they were militia members if you encountered them in the grocery store, unless they happen to have their militia T-shirt on.

VELSHI: And what -- so what drives them? What's their big concern here? Is it too much government or is it something more than that?

COOTER: You know, a lot of these militia members are a little concerned about big government. They feel that the Constitution isn't being followed to the letter of the law. They usually don't see it as a living document.

And for a lot of them, their militia involvement is kind of a political statement, as well as a way for them to continue military service in this patriot sentiment that a lot of them share.

VELSHI: Are they attracting sort of fringe folks who like weapons and might be sort of hoping that there's some kind of battle? Are they -- is there an element in there like the Hutaree that may be sort of not what you're describing?

COOTER: To be honest, that's pretty rare. If those people show up to the meetings of the main group, they're usually either asked to leave, if they're very forward about their ideology, or they quickly figure out that this group isn't going to offer them the opportunity to do that, and they fall out. They may find another group like Hutaree, but those groups are fairly rare.

VELSHI: What -- so what, then, is the motivator? If you feel like the Constitution is not being followed, that there is too much government, what is the motivation to join one of these militias? What are you going to get out of it? What's the takeaway for them?

COOTER: Well, as I mentioned, a lot of it is sort of this protest activity. They feel like they're not especially represented in the Tea Party system, and this is their way of saying, "Hey, we want to hold onto our guns. Don't infringe upon our Second Amendment rights."

And I think you have to be -- pay attention to the camaraderie element, too. In any social group people will band together...


COOTER: ... with people who are like-minded. And a lot of the media folks who have been out to the trainings recently say, "Well, these guys look like grown-up Boy Scouts," and they're really surprised at the image they convey. VELSHI: But did you encounter anything that was like the Hutaree -- the Hutaree groups that were that much further off sort of the mainstream?

COOTER: It's pretty rare. Including the Hutaree here, there are one or two groups that look a little bit like that, yes.

VELSHI: OK. Interesting. Amy, great conversation. Thanks very much for joining us. Amy Cooter is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan.


Dr. Richard said...

As a Ph.D., I do know that honest academics exist. However, few of them get tenure and the majority of them (like myself) are in the private sector and neither teach or pursue traditional "academic" publishing (when we do it is for marketing purposes not academic purposes).

Dr. Richard

tjbbpgobIII said...

It looks to me as though the questioner here, Velshi, is just like all the other, so called media, in that he is trying to cast the same question over and over; 'aren't these people all like the Hutaree' in the way they feel about the .gov.

parabarbarian said...

A short article by Ms. Cooter on The Maddow Blog:

frosty2 said...

Going along with what Dr. Richard said above, this intelligent young lady will probably end up in the private sector also. Where she will make better money and be able to look at herself in the mirror unashamed.

Shaun Appleby said...

I have been reading your blog for the last few days and I can understand the sentiments expressed by Dr. Cooter. Full disclosure, politically I am an unrepentant lefty and am concerned by the tensions emerging as a consequence of Obama's presidency. On the other hand, I can understand the perception of many among the militia movement that events are overtaking their world-view. In some circumstances I could see myself allied with them.

But perhaps not just here, just now. Clearly, as a nation of free people, we have much work to do and challenging values to which we must aspire.

Bottom line: we are all in this together.

Ahab said...

My God, the leading questions! This guy, Velshi, was just about begging her to come down hard on the militia folk she encountered and studied. Good girl, she wouldn't fall into his trap.

PKL said...

It seemed to me that the radio guy was trying to paint all the militias in Hutaree colors... and he didn't get what he wanted.

Anonymous said...

No wonder the interview took the direction it did -- it was on the Communist News Network. Talk about pushing an agenda!

Makes me wish I had a company where I could hire this woman straight out of college.
Go Dr Cooter!!

B Woodman

Fat Balding Caver (ret.) said...

Lots of sighs.

May just have been nerves or habit, but, to me, she sounded pretty pissed off, as though she'd already deffinitively answered the leading questions a dozen times before, and still he was asking them.

Bill Mullins said...

Neither one of those mokes has a clue. Velshi isn't on the same continent as a clue. Cooter has what might develop into a glimmering of a clue.

But they are liberals/statists. What can you expect?

More and more I have come to agree with Michael Savage (whom I classify as a genuine wacko) that liberalism/progressivism/statism really is a mental disorder. To use the Brit term, those people are "mental".

Son of Sam Adams said...

OMG! They haven't thrown her out of the University of Michigan yet? Things must have changed since the '70s.
R.A. Bear should be happy that I'm happily married...else there'd be competition there, for sure.

Ken said...

I'm finishing a doctorate in marketing. If I am spared, I'll go into academia and stick it out. It's a mission field.

Anonymous said...

I train with the SMVM (SE Michigan Volunteer Militia). Amy regularly attends our training sessions. She's cool, and knows that "militias" are not a threat to anyone who wants to follow the US Constitution. I was one of those interviewed by her for her study on militias.


Longbow said...

This is a condensed version of every one of the questions.

"Yeah, I know, I heard what you just said, but they're really all blood thirsty nut-burgers who want to murder lots of people and eat children, right? Right? RIGHT???"

JoeFromSidney said...

I think the whole discussion has missed a point. It's not that the militias want a war, it's that they want the clowns in DC to realize that war is what they'll get if they keep up their present course. It becomes a matter of deterrence. You can deter an adversary only if the adversary really believes you'll fight. The first step in creating that belief is to believe it yourself, and demonstrate your belief by equipping and training yourself. That's what the militias are doing.

Observant said...


You sound like a guy who may be an 'unrepentant lefty', but you are also a free thinker. Not once did you fall back on the three talking points of the left: 1) You're a racist. 2) Where were you for the last eight years when Bush was ruining the country? 3) You're a sore loser. Get over it. Those repetitive responses fail in every aspect to grasp what moderate and conservative voices are saying. Thank you for not employing them.

It's not just that conservatives see 'our' world view being overtaken by current events, but that we see history looping back around to repeat lessons we should have learned long ago. Yet portions of the population seem determined to doom themselves and take us with them.

Yes, we are all in this together and if this current progressive movement succeeds, there will none so surprised when it produces abject poverty for everyone and a totalitarian government as those who have supported it, believed wealth distribution would actually work and thought there was such a thing as a utopia capably administered by isolated, self-interested politicians. The principles openly promoted by this administration and clandestinely enacted by many previous administrations do not work for the people subject to its mandates and madness. It never has and it never will. Everything about such ideology goes against human nature, but it's seductive to people who have been taught that by voting for candidates who will enforce such mandates, they or someone else will get something for free. Nothing is ever free. The economy aside, the cost to individual self-esteem and the human need to produce something of value to themselves and others is destruction. Politics and politicians nearly always refrain from doing anything that does not benefit them, at all costs. I leave room for the rare occasion when a politician may come along who understands he is the public servant, but as I said, he/she is a rare bird.

Remember that you cannot control independent people, but when you can keep them uneducated, poor and angry at another demographic, you rule their lives. The people are dependent on YOU, the government, to take responsibility for them, to see to their needs and to force others provide what they demand. The problem is, it's unsustainable. No one will be happy, not even those who rule, for they will forever being looking over their shoulder worried the masses will revolt against their necessary, ever-strengthening tyranny.

"We must all hang together, gentlemen, or we shall all surely hang separately." Ben Franklin

45superman said...

Mike, speaking of rare (honest) academics, did you see that this New York Times piece about militias includes some good input from Professor Robert Churchill?

Jason Cato said...

"COOTER: Well, as I mentioned, a lot of it is sort of this protest activity. They feel like they're not especially represented in the Tea Party system, and this is their way of saying, "Hey, we want to hold onto our guns. Don't infringe upon our Second Amendment rights."

In the video she said "Two-Party System," not "Tea Party System"

/me either

Shaun Appleby said...


What seems important to me is that we acknowledge that dissent is patriotic and is one of the dynamics built into our Constitution. Whether we agree on the pros and cons of specific issues we should probably get beyond the superficial scaremongering and partisan name-calling which seems to be the whole of the debate over militias and the movement they represent.

It also seems hypocritical of the radical Left to align with the establishment when it suits them after historically making 'civil disobedience' a cornerstone of their own strategy, during the Viet-Nam War for example.

Then, as now, groups and individuals were vilified on the grounds of being loonies or subversives and the underlying argument, whatever its merits, lost in the shouting.

I certainly don't want to get into the weeds of where a lefty like myself disagrees with the beliefs of the militia movement but I can still respect their ethos.

'Low-hanging fruit' like the Hutaree probably need dealing with, as much to preserve the integrity of the rest of the movement as anything. I never expected to be commenting on a militia website but it occurs to me that the country is facing some genuine challenges which are going to shake up our society, economy and culture over the next decade or so. Arguably we are already experiencing some of this.

I probably have a different take on the issues but it seems to me that managing the transition to a global economy underlies many of the events affecting our security and prosperity. And it is hard to argue it has been managed well.

But it is probably worth discussing without shouting. Or throwing bricks through windows, incidentally. We lefties learned that lesson long ago. Much better to get arrested blocking traffic in peaceful protest than damage property, as a rule. You would probably be surprised at how divided opinion is among the Left on things like tariffs, free trade, corporate internationalism and the relationship between citizens and the financial elites.

Beneath the superficial sloganeering and ideology we probably have more in common than either faction realises.

straightarrow said...

Shaun Appleby said, " Beneath the superficial sloganeering and ideology we probably have more in common than either faction realises."

That is probably true, but one very important difference makes it unlikely we can settle the issue peacefully.

Our side just wants to be left alone to live our lives in liberty and tolerance for others.

Your side is willing to send armed men to kill us if we don't do what you want us to do.

That's a pretty Goddamned big divide.

We don't have armed men to send in our stead, it will of necessity be us on the line in the battles. Unlike others here, I no longer hold hope that your side won't send the armed men to kill me if I don't surrender my liberty to them.

The fact that we don't want a war, doesn't mean we won't fight in one if given no other option except loss of liberty.

Anonymous said...


Specify what you mean when you state that you're an "unrepentant lefty" & "can understand the perception of many among the militia movement that events are overtaking their world-view". As for your final line of "we are all in this together", do you mean that in the traditional sense of if America goes down the tubes there's nowhere for Americans to go given their cantankerously independent nature?

Cassandra (of Troy)

Anonymous said...

As others have noted, Velshi was doing the usual "these people are a bunch of violently delusional, right-wing, racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist, religious fanatic gun nuts who really are a threat to the nation & should be hunted down & exterminated by law enforcement, right?" shtick that's been the M.O. of the press/media for decades, & has recently manifested @ Fox News channel & is increasing in severity. So much for it being the "bulwark of conservatism". The NY Slimes "examination" of the "militia movement" that 45superman remarked on is, w/ one exception, a continuation of that theme but the interesting part of that obviously disingenuous bit of "honest & thoughtful" reportage (a.k.a. propaganda) wasn't in the body of the article but instead is in the comments that follow it. Even though it's expected that the overwhelming majority of the commentors will be of the Leftist persuasion, the thing that's really revealing is how similar they are to the denizens who inhabit Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, Crooks & Liars, & similar bastions of "progressive" Stalinism. Oy, what projective kettles they are, & they wonder why people get spooked after being exposed to such murderous vitriol & make preparations to defend themselves against it.

Cassandra (of Troy)

Observant said...


Actually, I agree with you that ordinary people have more in common than the media and political talking heads would have us believe. In fact, I'd say that if you gave both sides a questionnaire, the results would show most people want pretty much the same things. The game, however, is the same as it's always been: divide and conquer. Only this time, the stakes are higher than ever before.

We aren't merely navigating a global economy; we're navigating fundamentally changing America and this change is not one the majority of Americans support, despite electing a president whose goals were evident to those paying attention to more than the MSM. The demographics of voters for Obama were filled with people who not so much voted for him as they voted against Bush. It's an old game: The Vote the Bums Out Game, where the newly elected do nothing substantial to correct the unconstitutional acts of the previous administration, and in fact, continue to march onward to destroy the Constitution's relevance. Not that we would have been better off with McCain. He's on the same path, just in kinder, gentler manner than the current administration's blitzkrieg.

We have simply reached the tipping point; one that has been coming for a very long time.

I agree with you that political dissent is essential to the Republic's health, but the truth is, the Republic is not healthy due to decades of administrations that have betrayed our trust and defiled their oaths of office. People of all political persuasions are awake and angry now and some of the usual psyop tactics fail to work as they have in the past. However, it's always a guessing game to discern if they're pushing us toward where we're headed intentionally or if we're actually making an impact with resistance. After the intense public rejection of health care, the backroom deals and the vilifying of dissent (including Pelosi's unnecessary arrogance of walking through the protestors with her arms linked with the black caucus and the subsequent unsubstantiated claims of verbal and physical assaults) I can't help but wonder if the intent of DC is to generate civil unrest. Those Patriotic Act provisions and executive orders will come in mighty handy in the event society devolves into chaos. Mike has spoken of unintended consequences. I'm not sure anything that's happening is unintended. The question that should always be asked when someone or something persists in light of obvious consequences and continued failure: Who does it benefit? I assure you it's not you or me or any other American who values their liberty. The health care bill will cost Democrats dearly. Why don't they care? Who does ignoring their constituents benefit? We can ask the same question of the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Will this change because of protests or rocks through windows or slogans? No. The MSM is in a blind love affair with their own voices and ideology and the political parties will continue to do what they've done for a very long time. They will continue to ignore the people pointing to the Constitution and they'll continue to play the game that will finally push the fringe people on both sides to do something stupid, or if they can't get what they want there, they'll do it themselves and blame whichever side suits their agenda. They'll continue until they push not just Constitutionalists of the right into taking a stand, but the Constitutionalists on the left as well. And they know what they do.

At that point, most of us will forget whether we voted Democrat, Republican or Independent. Suddenly, we'll be Americans..and we do surround them. The last thing either party or their handlers want is for us to come together and discover we have much in common. We must stay divided for them to win.

Fat Baldy Caver (ret.) said...

If anyone here can contact Amy, I'd be interested if she could post her take on how the interview went.


Shaun Appleby said...


I tend to agree with your questionnaire hypothesis and it is certainly true that a 'divide and conquer' strategy is in play, which is probably what motivated me to comment here in the first place.

Arguably, from my point of view, the 'fundamentally changing America' you noted is a direct consequence of the impacts of the global economy on our citizens and the increasing political leverage of corporate enterprises whom are no longer concerned with the sustainability of American employment if jobs are cheaper elsewhere or worry that they are consuming American wages in increasing profits of the domestic health care insurance industry, for example. Or place losing multi-billion dollar bets with American 401(k) investments which leave the perpetrators with massive bonuses yet devastate the American economy.

I think it would be fair to say that most lefties share a Jeffersonian rather than a Federalist take on the Constitution which I would assume aligns with the views of the militia movement. And on civil liberties issues like the PATRIOT USA Act it seems we have common ground. Not to mention a healthy disdain for the mainstream media.

I'm sure there are things on which we disagree, not least of which the imminence of civil violence and the breadth of potential support for same. The apprehension about 'armed men' taking away personal liberties is one which the militia movement expresses often but it is worth considering the general public may harbour a similar concern regarding independent paramilitary groups. I know that is not the intention but the rhetoric is being framed that way.

For example I fail to understand how the armed march on Washington proposed for the anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing can be good publicity; it may energise the movement's membership but it is more than likely to arouse concern in the broader community. Just sayin'.

I'm sure we disagree a lot on specifics of personality and policies of the respective political parties, but that doesn't concern me so much. What remains a concern is that the status quo is not sustainable for American workers and their families. Whether an insurrection, in the long run, would just create more opportunities for the few who are currently profiting from the situation is worth asking.


Most lefties probably assume that the militia movement seeks to impose by armed force values which they find equally intolerable to their 'liberty.' This may be a misunderstanding but their is an assumption that you guys are the armed vanguard of the Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh world-view which they find intolerable.

If your intentions are merely to preserve existing liberties to which you feel entitled by a sober reading of the Constitution that is a message you should make unequivocally. Both factions are reacting defensively to each other and the media has succeeded in framing us as a threat to each other when in fact the conditions by which we both are oppressed are most likely created and sustained by other powerful interests.


What I mean is that we both share a common sense of an erosion of our civil liberties and our opportunities for prosperity. As a lefty I see these as largely arising from the intrusion of corporate interests who are using their financial leverage to have a disproportionate impact on how are society is governed. The people vote, corporations don't. That is how the Constitution was framed but the outcomes seem to show that these interests are creating wealth for a few at the expense of, and in disregard to, the welfare of the majority of citizens.