It's significant that state political leaders, especially mainstream Republicans, recently denounced the idea of creating an official anti-federal government militia in Oklahoma.
State tea party activists have apparently discussed the idea of such a state-sanctioned militia along with two state politicians, state Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, who is running for governor, and state Rep. Charles Key, R-Oklahoma City, according to The Associated Press.
Creating a separate militia is a dangerous proposal that could encourage right-wing radicalism, the very type that led to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995, that left 168 dead. It was clear the main bomber, Timothy McVeigh, who was later executed, was tied to the philosophies, methods and goals of right-wing, anti-federal government militia groups.
Ironically, the Oklahoma Legislature passed legislation this year requiring schools to teach students about the 1995 bombing. Maybe some adults here need some history lessons, too.
The AP quoted one activist in the tea party movement here, Al Gerhart, saying this about the militia idea: "Is it scary? It sure is. But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?"
Brogdon claimed the Second Amendment allows for such a militia, and Key predicted a bill could be introduced as soon as next year to create the militia, The AP reported.
But what exactly would be the purpose of such a militia?
As many have pointed out, the National Guard here handles state emergencies. Would the proposed militia only serve as a potential anti-federal government armed force? Is that it? Isn't this typical secession hyperbole?
Gerhart later said the militia discussion was only about re-instituting a state guard, the media reported. The story about the proposal created a local and national media storm and drew criticism from mainstream Republicans. Then the militia supporters apparently got cold feet. According to news stories, Brogdon later backtracked on his comments, saying the militia could be used in emergencies and that his focus was really on Second Amendment issues. Key also backed away from his claim about the legislation's timing, according to The AP. Some tea party activists, a news story noted, later disavowed the idea at a state Capitol rally last week.
Supposedly, the basis for this angry militia talk here and across the country is that the federal government has become too large and intrusive, but some of the extremism can be attributed to something more simple: racism. Some people don't want to accept this country elected its first African-American president.
Fortunately, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Gary Jones said this about the idea of a militia in an interview with Politico: "A lot of these people don't care about being the majority, they just want a megaphone. "¦ They're going to look back and see there are not a whole lot of folks following them in this direction."
Another GOP leader who clearly stepped up was Jason Reese, a Republican running for Labor Commissioner.
In a media release, the former Oklahoma Gazette commentary writer said, "I think this is indefensible in a state still scarred by the legacy of extremism in arms. The remarks by Sen. Brogdon and Rep. Key, which unfortunately have garnered national attention, are not within the mainstream of Republican thought."
Hochenauer is an English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma and the author of the Okie Funk blog.