I’m almost schizophrenic about going on my little photography expeditions. On the one hand, when I haven’t gone on one in some time (as is presently the case), I start jonesing to go. On the other hand, the closer I get to a planned or prospective trip, the more I begin to regret it—primarily because I am very much a night person and getting up early on a Saturday is akin to being tortured—and the more I tend to look for excuses (“Well, it looks like the weather will be bad, so maybe I will wait until next week”). How I ended up with a hobby that is directly antagonistic towards my body clock is beyond me. On this mid-October day, however, I was indeed jonesing to go take some photos and I couldn’t back out of it because I was going with my friend, Tsuki. Houston, we have liftoff!
Even when I was a child, I always wanted to “go down in history” in some fashion—hoping that some part of me would live on, even if only as part of people’s memories. Today, many years later and pretty much in the throes of a mid-life crisis of sorts, it seems obvious to me that my chances of being remembered will be slim. But it is interesting how people are memorialized and how they are chosen to be remembered. We’ll see an example of what I mean, bye and bye. The photos here are from the second half of an excursion that my friend Tsuki and I took on a bleak day in late November 2014. Continue reading
There’s a right-wing extremist movement in the United States called the “sovereign citizen” movement. I won’t go into their whole set of beliefs here but one consequence of their ideology is that they love creating counterfeit entities. They create bogus courts, bogus juries, bogus states, bogus governments, bogus colonies, bogus law enforcement agencies, bogus post offices—you name it, they can create their own counterfeit versions of it. About a dozen years ago, some sovereign citizens created a fake Indian tribe that they dubbed the “Little Shell Pembina Band of North America.”
You didn’t actually need to have native blood to joint his group; for $40, they’d “adopt” you. They were generous that way. They would sell fake tribal license plates, fake drivers’ licenses, and other similar documents. On the back of the Little Shell “identification card,” they listed all the wonderful rights and privileges that members had, including the right to explore the North American continent, immunity from military service, immunity from taxes, and so forth. But my favorite is this: “Every Indian is entitled to purchase a railway ticket at half price.” Now just think about this for a second. You are making up, out of whole cloth, any sort of immunity or privilege or right that your mind could possibly imagine. The sky’s the limit, right? But the person who created this card used up one of his precious magic privilege slots with half-price train tickets! You gotta think, that was one train-loving right-wing extremist, you betcha.
I couldn’t help thinking of this locomotophile sovereign citizen as I encountered a fascinating site while driving back home to Columbus from East Liverpool.
In which our intrepid hero encounters some bad noose…
This year I “celebrate” my 20th year of studying extremists in the United States, something that began as a completely unplanned and odd little outgrowth of my dissertation (which had nothing to do with extremism or, for that matter, the 20th century). By January 1995, I was spending a lot of time looking at domestic extremists and the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing essentially changed my life forever, causing me to focus on extremism and terrorism, first voluntarily and soon professionally. I’ve done that ever since. But my very first encounter with extremism occurred decades earlier, when I was a child.