The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Thursday, July 10, 2008
REBELS ON THE GROUND: I contributed a chapter to
Red State Rebels, a new anthology edited by Joshua Frank of Dissident Voice and Jeffrey St. Clair of CounterPunch. The book features a long list of leftist and/or libertarian writers describing anti-corporate and/or anti-government fights in the American heartland. My contribution is a slightly revised version of a Reason piece about the desert anarchists of the New Mexico Mesa.

An excerpt from the introduction should give you the flavor:
Frank grew up on the wheated plains of eastern Montana. St. Clair hails from the humid cornfields of central Indiana. These states span the glaciated heart of the continent, a region carved and ground-smooth by the weight of ice. From a distance, the terrain of the Great Plains appears homogenous.

From a distance so do its politics and demographics. You must look closer to discover the diversity, the radical nuances.

Even the Republicanism of Indiana, sired as it was by the rigid Lutheranism of German immigrants, is wildly different from the libertarian, anti-government Republicanism of Montana and the Rocky Mountain Front. They are not one. Except on the two-color map of American politics, or Barack Obama’s electoral playbook, which writes off this vast region almost completely.

Neither of us fit in the geo-ideological matrix contrived by the mainstream political establishment. Neither do thousands of others, left, right and anarcho-libertarians, who reside in the forgotten midsection of the nation.

And not all of us are children of Ken Kesey and Ed Abbey. Some follow in the footsteps of David Koresh, Reies Tijerina, Randy Weaver, Elvira Arellano or Mary Dann.
I disagree with part of that: To judge from his recent campaign stops, Obama isn't writing off the region, to his credit. I have my disagreements, as you'd expect, with other portions of the book as well. I could do without the interview with Ward Churchill, for example, in which the radical ex-prof defends himself against the charges that got him fired from his university job. I didn't follow the Churchill case closely enough to have an educated opinion of how good his defense is, but when he turns to a topic I did follow closely -- the case of Michael Bellesiles, disgraced author of the firmly refuted tome Arming America -- he mangles the facts so wildly that I have a hard time trusting the other things he says.

But there's a lot of good stuff here too: Alan Bock on Ruby Ridge, Dean Kuipers on Rainbow Farm, David Underhill on Veterans for Peace, Kirkpatrick Sale on secession, Brenda Norrell on resistance to property seizures along the border. There are reports from the South, from the Rockies, from the desert states, from the Midwestern flatlands, from Indian country. Even the essays I don't agree with deal with important stories that for the most part haven't penetrated the mainstream media. The book is worth a look.

Speaking of the red states -- and speaking of self-promotion -- I wrote an obit of sorts for Jesse Helms at the Reason site. Here's an excerpt:
If you asked the average liberal about Helms in 1995, there were two things he was likely to tell you: that the senator was a racist and that the senator was a censor. The evidence for the first charge, if you cared to ask, would be a TV ad he ran in his 1990 campaign, in which a white man crumples a job application after a racial quota keeps him from finding work. The evidence for the second charge would be Helms' crusade against the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal program that funded material he considered obscene.

In other words, the typical Helms-bashers were actually prettifying the picture. The man was a Jim Crow nostalgist who wanted to obliterate the line between church and state, and they were whining about his run-of-the-mill conservative stances on affirmative action and Robert Mapplethorpe. You'd think Helms was just another Republican, notable only for his accent and his ties to the tobacco industry. But he was much more than that. You needn't favor racial preferences or federal art subsidies to find Jesse Helms objectionable.
And then I get into the details. The article was denounced on Stormfront, so I must be doing something right.

posted by Jesse 12:08 AM
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