Guns and ideology — a deadly combination
June 10, 2014 | We have yet another example — not that we needed one — of what happens when you mix anger and disillusionment with antigovernment fervor and guns. It's that last ingredient that makes this stew such a deadly combination.
On Sunday, Jared and Amanda Miller left the apartment where they had been staying and walked off heavily armed. They entered a pizza parlor and shot two policemen who had finished and were just sitting there chatting. Over one body they draped a Don't Tread On Me flag; to the other they pinned a note about "the beginning of the revolution."
Then they walked across the street into a WalMart shouting about revolution and scaring the bejesus out of shoppers. When another man armed with a handgun tried to stop them, Amanda Miller shot him. They then holed themselves up in the back of the store where, surrounded by police, she shot her husband and then shot herself in the head.
Jared Miller was a street performer, and the two of them liked to dress up in costume.
Amanda Miller worked at Hobby Lobby, the crafts store that has been in the news for challenging Obamacare on the grounds that it violated their corporate ("Christian") religious beliefs. However, she had quit that job.
The two of them were staying with a neighbor in her apartment, even though they apparently had an apartment of their own. Ostensibly the reason was because their own apartment had become "unsanitary."
Oh, hi! Can we and our cats move in with you for a while? Our place hsd become "unsanitary." What was that neighbor thinking when she said Yes? The neighbor is now "hurt and disgusted. I have to live with this on my shoulders now. I should have called the cops, but I didn't know they were going to do this." Rule of thumb: When neighbors who rant constantly about revolution invite themselves and their cats to live with you, say No!
There is a lot that is puzzling about this couple. Much of the attention has focused on Jared Miller, probably because of his history of small crimes, including a felony for selling marijuana. He posted frequently on Infowars.com (run by a conspiracy nut radio personality), depicting himself as "an angry, down-on-his-luck man who blamed his woes — decaying teeth, lack of health insurance, and inability to find work — on the tyranny of government" (Mother Jones, Jun 9, 2014). As a measure of the crazy, that website claims that the Millers' shooting spree was "absolutely staged" by the federal government.
Amanda Miller may well have been the driving force behind the couple, certainly the most cold-blooded of the two. In the pizza parlor, it was she who pumped several bullets into the second policeman because he didn't die soon enough. In WalMart it was she who shot the man who tried to intervene. And it was she who fired on her own husband, killing him, before shooting herself in the head. Miss Congeniality she wasn't.
The two of them reportedly showed up at Cliven Bundy's ranch during that standoff, but the militia members assembled there found them too extreme and asked them to leave. How bad do you have to be to be shunned by a bunch of gun-toting, right-wing anarchists?
There's always been a strain of anti-governmentalism running through our history. After all, the United States began as an anti-government revolution, the government in question being that of King George. The Civil War itself was an exercise in rejecting the federal government.
The seeds of the current contagion were sowed by our old friend Ronald Reagan when he declared in his first inaugural address: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Since then the Right has been all about reducing the size of government (to the size it could be "drowned in a bathtub" in one formulation), although that is largely rhetoric. Promises to eliminate one or another (or three ... oops!) departments are now standard parts of Republican presidential campaigns. But when push comes to shove, Republicans are always proposing new ways to enlarge the scope of government activity, especially when it concerns reproduction, sex, or sexuality.
The Tea Party movement raised this anti-government fervor to a very high pitch, aided and abetted by gasbags like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, et al. Propaganda cable news (I mean you, Fox) distorts or ignores inconvenient facts, so the people who rely on such "news" are woefully ignorant.
The Millers shouted about a revolution and seemed to think they were starting one. My fear is that unless we put a stopper in the vial of vitriole, revolution or civil war is a distinct possibility.
Last updated on Apr 29, 2016