April 13, 2010

It was just last week that Oklahomans proudly announced that they were incorporating lessons about the domestic-terrorist bombing of the Murrah Federal Building into their high-schoolers' history texts, because "it's important that every Oklahoman learn what April 19th 1995 really meant to our state."

Someone needs to make sure the adults get those lessons too -- especially the Tea Partying kind:

Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

Tea party movement leaders say they've discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.

One of the key players in this, you'll note, is an Oklahoma legislator named Charles Key. Here's Key being interviewed last May by Neil Cavuto:

Not only is Key one of the progenitors and national ringleaders of the current "state sovereignty" schemes now popular with right-wing Legislatures around the country, but, as we explained awhile back, he was a major player back in the 1990s in trying to translate Patriot movement "constitutionalist" theories into actual law:

For instance Key was heavily involved in promoting conspiracy theories in the 1990 that claimed that the federal government was actually behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that was in reality perpetrated by an adherent of Patriot movement ideology. He even convened a grand jury to investigate the matter, and when the resulting investigation completely debunked his theory, he denounced it:

The county grand jury orchestrated by a conspiracy-minded former state legislator and the grandfather of two bombing victims has concluded that there was no evidence of a larger conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Even before the report was made public in December, former state Rep. Charles Key was attacking the body he helped to create by leading a petition drive, claiming jurors had ignored evidence of a government coverup. The grand jury found no evidence that federal agents had prior knowledge of the plot; that members of a white supremacist compound in eastern Oklahoma were involved; or that two bombs, rather than one, were used — all key conspiracy theories.

The state attorney general and the local district attorney, who both had opposed formation of the grand jury, welcomed the results, as did the grand jury's presiding judge, William Burkett.

As it happens, these activities were underwritten by a rich right-winger who subscribed to the conspiracy theories.

Now, it's one thing to point out the radical origins of these "constitutional theories." But it's also important to understand where they want to take us -- to a radically decentralized form of government that was first suggested in the 1970s by the far-right Posse Comitatus movement.

They essentially argue for a constitutional originalism that would not only end the federal income tax, destroy all civil-rights laws, and demolish the Fed, but would also re-legalize slavery, strip women of the right to vote, and remove the principle of equal protection under the law.

Frankly, a lot more people than Oklahomans need to be reminded of the lessons of Oklahoma City.

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