60 Minutes' Byron Pitt had a superb segment last night on the sovereign citizens movement, springboarding from the tragic case of Jerry and Joe Kane, two sovereign citizens who mowed down a couple of West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers before themselves being killed.
It was actually a well assembled and insightful piece of reporting, including the analysis provided by J.J. McNabb, who is unquestionably one of the leading experts on the movement from the outside. And while they let movement guru Alfred Adask run off at the mouth, in the end his own radicalism and complete lack of any connection to reality were made self-evident by his own words.
The story particularly featured the work of Bob Paudert, the police chief in West Memphis father of one of the two slain officers. We've discussed Paudert's work previously (more here). He's been adamant that the information that could have saved his officers that day hadn't been disseminated to them because it was being bottled up.
Why is that happening? Well, as we noted then, we need look no further than the right-wing shriekosphere, which has done everything it can to demonize factual reportage of the actual threat of domestic terrorist activity from right-wing extremists:
The incident was yet another reminder that one of the most significant ongoing threats to law enforcement officers in this country comes from right-wing extremists of the Patriot/"sovereign citizen" variety -- people who take Republicans' government-bashing rhetoric to its illogical extreme and declare themselves free of federal laws and functionally laws unto themselves. There are constant reminders of this threat -- from the Hutaree Militia to the Richard Poplawskis out there.
Of course, we all were witness to the right-wing shrieking over that Department of Homeland Security bulletin warning police officers around the country about the nature of this resurgent threat. That's because conservatives are more concerned about whitewashing away these embarrassments than they are with the lives of police officers. They like to use dead cops as props to attack liberals while loudly arguing, as Glenn Beck did a couple years ago, that even paying attention to such right-wing threats is a smear of mainstream conservatives.
Ironically, Glenn Beck was nattering at length on his Fox News show this week claiming that left-wing extremists are about to start killing police officers en masse, which is why they need to destroy their unions. Right.
The unfortunate reality is that federal officials are almost certainly not sharing this vital intelligence with police officers because, whenever they do, they're viciously and loudly attacked by right-wing pundits for allegedly smearing mainstream conservatives. Amazingly, no one in the mainstream media seems to have yet cottoned to the fact that this really is a near-outright confession of complicity.
Indeed, domestic terrorism is sharply increasing in the past two years, as evidenced by the 22 incidents and counting we've documented involving right-wing extremists committing acts of violence against "liberals" and government targets.
But because right-wing talkers only want to discuss terrorism as a "Muslim" phenomenon, we're getting a badly skewed understanding of the nature of terrorism.
Here's that map -- and many of these indeed involve crimes committed by self-described "sovereign citizens":