Rachel Maddow featured a segment last night on her MSNBC show questioning just how far removed from mainstream conservatism the resurgent militias -- embodied by the recently busted Hutaree militia in the Midwest -- really are.
Right-wingers like Bill O'Reilly are adamant that the militias have nothing to do with the Tea Parties and, by extension, the mainstream conservative party.
I had some trouble hearing Maddow, so I kind of blew a couple of the questions. To be clear:
-- What I expect at the April 19 militia march on Washington is, essentially, a smaller Tea Party with guns.
-- The main threat posed by the militias is not to average citizens but to law-enforcement personnel, who inevitably are the first people to have contact with these extremists that provokes violence. Inevitably, innocent bystanders will be involved as well, as they were on April 19, 1995. And the truth is, your average American is far more likely to be harmed by a right-wing domestic terrorist than an international terrorist.
But the chief reason to fear violent militiamen is the threat they pose to our law-enforcement officers, and from a broader perspective, the toxic effect their acts have on our society and the ability of average citizens to feel safe.
In any event, I thought it was a useful discussion, even if the points I wanted to make weren't as sharp as I'd have liked.