As Ed talked about earlier in the week, I think we are going to see a resurgence of crazy survivalist-style conservatism during the Obama years. I remember from the mid-90s, in southwest Chicago, how’d we get third-hand information from the Militia types, from Michigan or Wisconsin; the shirts, the newsletters, the ideas. From the military gamer conventions I’d go to with my dad, those militia types would have booths here and there, but there was always a bit of sequestering; after the Oklahoma City bombing they practically disappeared. Now with the global market collapse the fevers are coming back, and with the internet that paranoia can be reproduced perfectly across any amount of space.
So I’m going to write notes about what I see swirling out there. I hope the conservative party reforms quickly, if only to keep our liberal impulses sharpened, but mostly to mop up the fevered dreams of those furthest to the right with something productive to do….
1) Glenn Beck doubles down on crazy and dangerous. He compares Obama’s policies to dousing someone in gasoline and lighting them on fire, by pouring gasoline and mocking an execution, Reservoir Dogs style, while listing off parts of the Obama agenda.
What do Glenn Beck’s producers think about themselves when they look in the mirror, late at night and early in the morning? At least Beck didn’t do a dance to Stuck In The Middle.
As fun as this is — and for the people who arrived before 7 a.m. to set up shop, it is very fun — there’s a sense of foreboding this year. At the October 2008 gun show, said one of the organizers of the Jungle Walk ($35 for an Uzi and a stroll through a path of pop-up targets), “it was like a McCain-Palin rally in here. It felt like we were going to win. Then you know what happened.”
Ever since the election of President Barack Obama, gun store owners have reported massive increases in sales of firearms and ammunition. Attendees and sellers at Knob Creek can confirm that. Ron Hansen, a retiree from Michigan, grumbles that the ammunition supply at the show has “declined dramatically” since the displays of only a year ago. Myron Moore, a seller making a brisk trade in pistols and clips, explains that sales spiked right after the election and have slipped only a little because people worry this will be their last chance to stock up. “I’m selling everything Obama’s trying to ban,” he laughs.
Other attendees were uncomfortable revealing their first or last names. As massive as the event is — the Knob Creek Gun Range estimated that around 15,000 people passed through the gates–it does not keep tabs on who comes in. This is a safe haven, where guns can change hands without a lot of paperwork, and where ammunition is relatively cheap, though the prices have skyrocketed in the last few years. A purchase of an old Mauser rifle that would take some red tape-cutting in a gun shop is hassle-free at the gun range.
This is a place where vendors can sell T-shirts that read “The Fourth Reich: Obama-Biden 2012,” and “Hitler Gave Great Speeches Too..” and, most succinctly, “Fuck Obama.” It’s somewhere for people with hard-to-explain interests in World War II memorabilia can pick up items from Wehrmacht uniforms (”I’m putting the stuff together to make me a German officer,” says a man buying a Wehrmacht officer’s cap), Adolf Hitler mousepads (”Next time… no more Mr. Nice Guy”), and coffee mugs with Nazi commanders’ faces etched on them.
In something perfectly formatted for the internet, click through for his photo essay; everything in the photos is described in the article, but it is far more jarring to actually see what he references. Also he takes pages from How To Start and Train a Militia Unit and scans them.