So Ryan Payne, the betrayed and suspicious ex-sniper, concludes that his government is among "the great oppressors of the world," heads south with his heavily armed "militia" buddies, supports a delusional rancher who has lost every court appearance as his cows illegally convert our public grass to his private cash, opposes legitimate public land regulations (but probably never submitted a formal comment on any government regulation), brags that "If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would've died" and then claims "the protection of divine Providence." (See "Freedom fighter," June 12.)
If the trend continues, Mr. Payne could be in fine company—with Jerad and Amanda Miller, who just killed two policemen and a Las Vegas Walmart shopper before killing themselves, as an apparent first strike to overthrow the government; Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 and injured more than 600 in his militia-inspired bombing attack on federal employees in Oklahoma City, and bragged about easily he could "wreak this kind of hell;" Ted Kaczynski, who killed three and injured 60 in 12 bombings to challenge "the system;" Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of killing three and injuring 264 at the Boston Marathon, allegedly to express his "grievances against the West, [and] distrust of law enforcement;" John Wilkes Booth, who killed one and celebrated "Sic simper tyrannis!; and a too-long list of others.
Of course, an arguably comparable list might include recognized American patriots who either supported or criticized government actions, including the founding fathers (and mothers), combat veterans (from Ethan Allen and Ulysses S. Grant to Alvin York, George Patton and Jessica Lynch), Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo and other civil rights fighters and martyrs, Medal of Honor recipients and others. Each took up arms, took a stand or put their life on the line to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," to save friend or stranger, or to right social wrongs.
And, not unlike extremists in the Middle East, the players on both lists (and both sides) are convinced that God is on their side. And, of course, that the "other side" has abandoned God and sides with Satan. Who knows what God really thinks?
I am very relieved that Mr. Payne and his colleagues didn't manage to shoot anyone. Or get shot up themselves. But history will judge whether he and others ready now to take up arms against a government they disagree with (as bad and good as it might be) belong with Timothy McVeigh and John Wilkes Booth or with Ethan Allen and Jessica Lynch. My bet is that, unless things change, Tim and John would welcome them with open arms.