After 19 April, I was interviewed by a number of foreign journalists, among them Razvan Sibii of Adevărul (Romanian pronunciation: adeˈvərul; meaning "The Truth"), a Romanian daily newspaper, based in Bucharest. Wikipedia reports that it is "one of the most popular and trusted press venues" in Romania.
Sibii also interviewed David Codrea and after publication sent David a translation of the original article along with this explanation:
I am attaching a (very) rough English translation to this email. It is hopefully better than what Google can give to you... I followed the original Romanian phrasing as closely as possible, so some of the wording might come off a little weird. I apologize for that. A more literary translation would have required that I make significant changes in the way the sentences are organized.
Some folks have asked why I spend the time with foreign news outlets. Aside from the fact that they tend to a. spell my name right and b. quote me accurately (two things you definitely cannot count on with domestic media), I look upon the fight for liberty as a world-wide struggle. Thus, in the interests of some future "Liberty International" I am always happy to explain the Founders' Republic to foreign press. Our enemies think globally. So should we.
The translation is a bit stilted, but I think you'll get the points made. The original link contains a great video clip of J.J. Johnson at the Senate hearing on militias in 1995.
What do America’s “militiamen” want?
"For some Americans, the unabridged right to bear arms is sacred."
Some consider them “fanatics,” others – Americans with a pronounced sense of one’s civic duty. Who are, in fact, America’s “militiamen”? Against the background of the disintegration of America’s economy and the return to power of Obama’s Democrats, the constitutionalist militias have experienced a strong comeback.
They are not neo-Nazis, although some hold extreme right ideas. They are not bloodthirsty, although many own entire arsenals. They are not a majority, although their libertarian principles are embraced by more and more Americans who are angry at Barack Obama’s government. They are an amorphous group of men and women, mostly white, who train periodically in self-defense techniques.
The paramilitary organizations that they have formed are called “militias,” to differentiate them from the government’s armed forces. (The Communists gave the same name to their police units to show that they are the people’s armed forces).The American “militiamen” are a modern phenomenon (and spread throughout America), but they consider themselves the direct successors to the patriotic colonists who fought against the British troops in the 18th century.
The first wave: 1994
According to Professor Robert Churchill, an expert in the subject of American insurrectionist groups, the militia movement’s history begins during the second half of the ’80, with the political and media lobby undertaken by several gun rights organizations.
“The gun rights movement was looking for a way to argue its case. So it commissioned historical scholarship about the American Revolution and the role of the citizens’ militia at the time. Through this scholarship, the idea that the militia was intended from the beginning as a potentially insurrectional deterrent against government abuse seeped out into the gun rights movemement,” says Chruchill. “At the same time, many police departments were creating their own special paramilitary units (SWAT). As the issue of gun control was heating up, these law enforcement units began acting increasingly aggresively. They had become accustomed to using paramilitary tactics in the war on drugs, and now they looked like they were about to begin a war on guns,” says Churchill.
Against the background of these tensions, which were exacerbated by two bloody incidents (Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992 and Waco, Texas in 1993), when federal law enforcement units stormed the compounds of people accused of illegal weapon possession, tens of thousands of Americans began creating armed self-defense groups – in other words, militias.
The Decline: 1995
The militia movement has never had a centralized command structure. Also, being the result of a mostly spontaneous phenomenon, the hundreds of emerging groups that called themselves “militias” didn’t always share the same values and beliefs. From the very beginning, historians and sociologists identified at least two distinct branches in the movement: one which was concerned primarily by what it called the restoration of the American Republic based on individual rights and liberties (the “constitutionalist” militias), and another with racist and apocaliptic overtones, animated by a dark vision of an international conspiracy bent on enslaving the “free Americans” (the “milleniarian” militias).
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a fan of milleniarian doctrines, detonated a massive bomb outside a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. The bombing had great repercussions on all militias, which, almost overnight, came to the attention of both the media and the FBI.
Shortly after the bombing, many milleniarian militias were dismantled and some constitutionalists interrupted their organized activities. Recently, however, with the disintegration of America’s economy and the return to power of the Obama-led Democrats, the constitutionalist militias have experienced a strong comeback.
The second wave: 2009-2010
The militias have acquired new members in the past two years. There are few complete sociological studies of the movement out there, which makes it very hard to identify the exact causes of this comeback. Mark Potok, a director with the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that keeps track of extremist organizations in America, speaks of three major causes for the militia’s revival.
First, one has to consider the economic problems which have tended to radicalize some Americans. Another strong influence is the increasingly violent discourse of conservative politicians and commentators, who put forward various conspiracy theories. Finally, according to Potok, the demographic changes that America is currently undergoing – symbolized by the election of Barack Obama as president – are very disturbing to some white Americans. The great majority of militiamen, however, vehemently deny any accusations of racism.
"David Codrea, American of Romanian ancestry."
Neither the constitutionalists, nor the milleniarians shared the racist ideologies of the Ku Klux Klan or the skinheads, but the millenarians’ paranoid vision of an international conspiracy attracted during the 90s enough individuals with racist and antisemitic tendencies.
“American Ceausescus, Beware!”
Mike Vanderboegh was the leader of an Alabama militia during the first wave, and is now considered by many to be the eminence gris of the militia movement.
“Liberty is a God-given, inalienable right. The present administration thinks that it can dictate to the minority how to act, because they were elected by a majority. But the founding fathers of this republic said that unrestrained democracy is just as dangerous as tyranny. Unrestrained democracy is three wolves and a sheep sitting down to vote on what they will have for dinner. Absent a constitutional menu that says ‘Sheep will not be eaten,’ and absent a sheep dog who enforces the dining room conduct, the sheep will be eaten by the wolves. It will be perfectly democratic and, at the same time, perfectly dictatorial. The armed citizens of the United States are playing the part of that sheep dog,” says Vanderboegh.
He does not hesitate to compare contemporary American society with Romanian society under the Communist rule. “We are witnessing creeping government tyranny – see, for example, the recent health care bill. The Ceausescus of America are walking appetites for personal liberties. I hope that the Obama regime remembers what happens to tyrants such as Nicolae Ceausescu and his charming wife!” says Vanderboegh.
The inalienable right to bear arms
By far, the most important claim made by those who agree with the goals of the American militia movement is the need to protect the right to own arms. The Second Amendment to the American Constitution forbids limiting the people’s right to bear arms. The law, however, does not specify which types of weapons are allowed, which has led to numerous virulent arguments between those who would like to ban at least some types of weapons and those who believe that citizens have the right to own any type of weapon, including automatic rifles, such as the Kalashnikov.
“The second amendment is the ultimate guarantor that the citizen may exercise his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” says David Codrea, whose grandparents emigrated from Transylvania during the first half of the 20th century.
“The American government has forgotten that this amendment says that the right of the people to bear arms cannot be infringed. We are witnessing continued efforts to disarm the people, under the pretext of the war on terror. We are constantly associated with extremism, with hate; it’s funny, I get attacked by people from the left as being a racist and an anti-semite, and I get accused by the real racists and anti-semites as being a sellout because I write for the right of all people to keep and bear arms, regardless of race, color or creed.”
The owner of several pistols and rifles, Codrea believes that disarming the people will not strengthen public safety in any way. “If you think about it, the greatest mass murder in American history was initiated using box cutters. The second greatest mass murder, the Oklahoma City bombing, was done with fuel and fertilizer. Anyone can have access to such items,” adds Codrea.
What the “militiamen” believe in
The Americans who already belong to a militia share their reasons for joining these groups and their plans for the future.
Roy McCarty, member of the Northern California State Militia: “A few years ago, I was living in Arizona, where there’s a real problem with illegal immigrants who are coming across the border. In the little area where I lived, the Border Patrol was getting over 2,500 illegals a month. The Border Patrol was just overwhelmed, so the people who lived down there started a militia to assist them. What we would do is patrol the border, detain illegals and hold them until the authorities came to arrest them. It used to be that joining a militia was a very patriotic thing to do. Things changed when you started getting radicals, like the neo-Nazis. But we are just neighbors helping neighbors in case of floods, fires, earthquakes or other things of that sort. We’re not out to destroy anything or to work against the government.”
William Krause, member of The Liberty Guard of New America: “At this point, 40 percent of Americans are paying for the other 60 percent. The government is not doing anything to fix this – neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. They’re just worrying about taking our money and making the government larger in a socialist-communist way. Here, in Oregon, we have many illegal Mexicans who are in the street all day long, committing crimes, and the police is not doing anything about it. They don’t want to learn English and they won’t try to get a job. If there is a flood or an earthquake, they might just start stealing and looting. But if people are going to threaten us, we’re going to meet force with force. I think it’s really bad and it could lead to civil war.”
Jeff Foust, member of Indian Militia: “We feel that everyone should be prepared for any kind of worst-case scenario. Back in the day, it was normal to prepare to be able to provide for yourself, even in really hard times. People just can’t do that anymore. When you talk about being prepared like that, they think you’re crazy. A lot of people have their eyes closed. Our society is conditioned not to worry about personal liberty.”
“I will resist at the muzzle of my rifle”
Mike Vanderboegh – former leader of Alabama Constitutional Militia and a current militia strategist – explains his reasons, as well: “The new health care bill forces us to buy health insurance. When we refuse to do that, they will fine us. When we refuse to pay the fine, they will come to arrest us. If we refuse to be arrested on our doorstep, they will send for us an armed federal raid party to blow in our doors and take us to prison. At that moment, I will resist at the muzzle of my rifle. The English and the Americans have a long tradition of fighting tyranny.”