Oregon standoff sends poison-cherry-flavored iceberg into the Star‘s website

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Kansas City Star reporter Judy L. Thomas today continues the paper’s loosely organized series linking militias and anti-government fringe groups to domestic terrorism, with a story slugged “Experts: Oregon standoff may be small, but it’s just the tip of a growing militia iceberg.” As talking-heads roundups go, it’s readable and stats-y. As medium-alarmist troll bait, however, it’s a jingly little sack of survivalist gold coins. About which, more in a minute. 

The story’s gist — that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s 2014 dispute with the Bureau of Land Management set the stage for what’s now happening in Oregon, and that more such throwdowns can be expected — as well as its comments add up to a real depression starter. But Thomas’ report isn’t without laughs. Late in the story, she turns the mic over to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, who’s apparently tickled to be asked about this stuff.

Here’s the Levin part of the story in full:

“What this resembles to me is the ramp-up to something more nefarious,” Levin said. “Let’s not get caught in a head fake where we kind of dismiss the risk of anti-government extremism based on what’s going on in this non-standoff.

“We have seen this frayed wire running through American history. And sometimes it sparks and starts a wildfire.”

The Oregon takeover, Levin said, “is a symptom of something many of us are very concerned about.”

“This is the sneeze that everyone’s hearing,” he said. “We are seeing growth in anti-government extremism. And there are more poisonous cherries able to fall off the tree because this pool of people who are susceptible to the message is growing. This is in some ways a snapshot of where we’re going. But it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Dangerous wire, wildfire, sneeze, deadly stone fruit, pool of idiots, snapshot, iceberg dead ahead — hot damn, that’s a clown car of metaphors. (It’s contagious!)

OK, now that we’ve shared a giggle, let’s get back to looking under the rock Thomas’ story just kicked over. At this hour, the comments under the kansascity.com version of her story number into the 20s and include such phrases as the 1990s hit “jack-booted thugs.” Among the dipshit talking points is the predictable objection to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which this week issued a report that Thomas quotes in her story, as its own kind of hate group. And among those parroting that talking point with a side order of racism is commenter “Montgomery Draxel” of Michigan, who farts: “The SPLC is a left wing marxist hate orginization. They hate ethnic European Americans and gleefly champion causes that silence them. They work hard at preventing European-Americans from finding a voice, while calling for stronger unity of non-white ethnic groups in the USA.” (Uh, sic, throughout.) 

That’s pretty typical of the rest of the comments. It’s enough to make you scurry back to the relative warmth of the “you suck” crows who reliably circle Star editorial writer Yael Abouhalkah’s byline. 

Read Thomas’ story here

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