June 24, 2009

Last week Glenn Beck scoffed at the notion that he had been promoting the notion of state secession, somehow overlooking the fact that he had in fact been promoting the notion of state secession.

So yesterday, to further demonstrate his skepticism, he invited on his Fox News program a fellow named Dan Miller, who runs the Texas Nationalist Movement. As you can see, he provided two full segments of the show to an interview that most kindly could be called “credulous,” and less kindly would make a crude reference to teabagging.

And indeed the Teabaggers’ Parties was an important topic, because Beck raised it himself at the end:

Beck: You actually believe the Tea Parties are, um, are the “gateway drug” to secession. Is that true?

Miller: Well, I think that’s definitely the case for a lot of folks. Because, you know, the Tea Parties have been about venting frustration and anger with what’s going on in Washington, D.C. And what we’re seeing here is a lot of people are looking for solutions, and the solution for Texas is Texas, independence.

Beck: Unbelievable.

Well, it's nice of them to admit that the Tea Parties in fact have been a prime recruiting ground for all kinds of extremist right-wing belief systems, most notably those arising from the "Patriot" movement of the 1990s.

Because there were some noteworthy aspects to this interview that went unmentioned on the air:

-- The Texas secession movement in fact has long been the most significant arm of the far-right "Patriot movement" in that state since the 1990s, when it was responsible for various armed standoffs with law-enforcement authorities and a range of domestic-terrorist acts.

As Media Matters noted when Gov. Rick Perry voiced his sympathy for the movement by appearing with Miller and other members of the movement during the Tea Parties promotion:

The Texas Nationalist Movement is not a random group. In a 2005 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] described the secession movement in Texas as "very hard-line anti-government groups whose views involve anti-government conspiracy theories." Their associates have been responsible for numerous acts and attempted acts of terrorism.

... During the last two decades, members of the Republic of Texas have been arrested numerous times in the course of planning - or carrying out - what can only be described as domestic terrorism:

* In 1997, Richard McLaren, former president of the Republic of Texas, kidnapped his neighbors leading to a week-long standoff between the police and "antigovernment separatists." The standoff ended when McLaren and his four followers surrendered. "After the surrender, a sixth Republic member [was] killed in a gun battle with police, while a seventh elude[d] authorities for four months before being captured."

o During the standoff, McLaren told the New York Times: "We are at war with the United Nations and all foreign entities. We are not at war with the American people, but we are at war with the Federal agencies which have no jurisdiction here." Another Republic of Texas member, who identified himself as Lieut. Richard Keys of the Republic of Texas Defense Forces, said the hostages "were prisoners of war, held under provisions of the Geneva Convention."

* Prior to the standoff in 1997, the New York Times reported that the Republic of Texas demanded "$92 trillion in 'war reparations' from the Federal Government, and it has 'ordered' Gov. George W. Bush and all state legislators to vacate the Capitol building in Austin, none of which seems likely to happen any time soon....The members have passed at least $3 million of worthless but official-looking Republic of Texas checks, and they are simply ignoring state-ordered fines and orders to cease and desist...This month state officials shut two public buildings in Austin because of a bomb threat that they said was linked to the group."

* In 1998, according to SPLC, "Leaders of the so-called Republic of Texas, an antigovernment separatist group whose leader ha[d] been sentenced to serve 111 years in prison, tried to purchase a four-story building and compound to serve as the group's 'capital,' officials [said]. An IRS spokesman [said] Jacques Jaikaran, who face[d] up to three years in prison and $75,000 in fines on a tax evasion conviction, tried to arrange the purchase of a building near Houston that feature[d] machine-gun turrets, a bomb shelter and an operating room."

* Also in 1998, the Republic of Texas plotted to assassinate President Clinton using biological weapons. According to the SPLC, "Officials [said] the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders. One man [was] acquitted of the charges, but Jack Abbot Grebe, Jr., and Johnnie Wise - a 72-year-old man who attended meetings of the separatist Republic of Texas group - eventually [were] sentenced to more than 24 years in prison."

* In addition, "according to an affidavit, Wise and Grebe told an FBI informant that they planned to modify a cigarette lighter so it would expel air instead of propane in order to fire a cactus needle tipped with anthrax, botulism or the AIDS virus."

* In 2000, members of the group planned an attack on the Houston Federal building. The SPLC reported, "Federal agents arrest[ed] Mark Wayne McCool, the one-time leader of the Texas Militia and Combined Action Program, as he allegedly [made] plans to attack the Houston federal building. McCool, who was arrested after buying powerful C-4 plastic explosives and an automatic weapon from an undercover FBI agent, earlier plotted to attack the federal building with a member of his own group and a member of the antigovernment Republic of Texas, but those two men eventually abandoned the plot. McCool, however, remained convinced the un [sic] had stored a cache of military materiel in the building. In the end, he [pled] guilty to federal charges that [brought] him just six months in jail."

Moreover, as the TNM's own Website explains, the current movement is a direct descendant of these radicals and has not disassociated itself from them at all. It's mostly in the process of trying to mainstream those beliefs -- and it's finding fertile ground not merely at those Tea Parties, but on Glenn Beck's Fox News show.

But another point about this stands out: The Texas secession movement became active in 1995 and was engaged in various threatening and violent acts through 2000. Then, for the next six years, it became completely dormant, not raising its head again until 2006.

Now, that couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that the President of the U.S. during those years was in fact the former governor of Texas, could it?

Because otherwise, one would have to conclude that we're looking at a pack of bellyachers who hated the federal government until one of their own was running it, and only returned to the business of bellyaching after that same person had completely botched the job, creating an economic disaster that required the feds to take drastic steps about which the bellyachers could easily bellyache.

Though of course, such a point would never occur to Glenn Beck.

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