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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe

Waves of history

Friday, October 18th, 2013


When we look back on the future history of freedom, I think last weekend’s “tear down the Barrycades” march in DC will be remembered as a watershed. A few thousand veterans and friends (including Oath Keepers members) not only ripped down those absurd metal walls while DC and Park Service cops stood by, but they delivered them right to the heavily guarded, paranoia-enhanced White House fence: Return to Sender. And nobody even tried to stop them.

Yes, the march was a political event with neocon figureheads like (ugh) Sarah Palin. Yes, it’s probably also true that if George W. Bush had put up the same silly barriers some of these same people would probably have shown up to defend the fences against “terrorists and anarchists who might harm our national treasures during this vital shudown.” But it’s now and they didn’t. And it’s pretty clear that the politicians who tried to make the event their own failed miserably. This was as close as it gets to a real, spontaneous “of the people” action.

Naturally, the dying MSM did their best to ignore both the teardown and the arrogant folly of Obama’s closure not only of open-air monuments but even the view of open-air monuments like Mt. Rushmore. But every reasonable person who heard about such things surely recognized the Barrycades for exactly what they were: silly, spiteful political gestures aimed at the American people; absurdies, and costly ones at that.

The Barrycades and their peaceful teardown exemplified the contempt for government that’s been growing for lo these many years in the same way that the Boston Tea Party did against the British government back in 1773.


When National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis admitted he’d consulted closely with the White House on the closures, then tried to claim terrorism as the excuse, he was resoundingly laughed at. Several headlines even used the term “cries terrorism,” as in “cries wolf,” when reporting on it.

Some of these same publications would have taken any “terrorism” claim as gospel 10 years ago and called for more Draconian laws to “protect” us. Now they sneer. Yes, they’re a little late to the wisdom of skepticism, and maybe this, too, is another “bad when Obama does it, good when a patriotic, Christian Texan does it” thing.

But it reminded me of another tiny moment in American history. This one happened at the very end of the Salem witch hunts, in 1692 or early 1693.

You know the story of the witch hunts. A bunch of pubescent and pre-pubescent girls, excited by a domestic slave’s tales of dark forces, all decided to become hysterical together in the same way their modern counterparts decide to go screaming crazy over the same small-talent-but-good-haircut singer. In wildly theatrical frenzies, they flung themselves to the ground, screaming and carrying on while making accusations that witches were present and doing all manner of evil things.

The first person the “afflicted” girls accused was the very slave, Tituba, who filled their heads with scary stuff in the first place. This brought the little drama-queens a delectable amount of attention. Never mind that it also put the hapless Tituba’s life in jeopardy. Being the center of attention was fun! And having fits was quite a pleasant diversion from stodgy, strict Puritan living.

Looking around for more victims, a growing pack of girls began to pick out the Usual Suspects — poor, ugly, unpopular, marginalized women. (And as things went on, women and men who may have been engaged in feuds with their families.)

Eventually, 20 innocent people were executed, 19 by hanging and one fiercely principled 80-year-old man by being “prest to death” under rocks for refusing to even honor the court by entering a plea to something so absurd. Five more of the accused died in prison.

Time and the sheer insanity of what was going on eventually drove the community to its senses and some of the later accused were found not guilty. One factor in that awakening was that the ever-growing mob of “afflicted” girls eventually ran out of marginal characters to accuse. They began pointing fingers at obviously blameless souls, some prosperous and prominent. That helped put an end to the catastrophe.

One incident, right at the end (which I don’t think is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry linked above), is what Jarvis’s claim reminded me of. A pack of the “afflicted” girls encountered a group of other citizens on a road or a bridge. The girls flung themselves to earth, screaming, writhing, claiming demon torment, and making accusations as usual. But this time, their audience was unimpressed. They simply tsk-tsked and walked around the girls — who picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and (no doubt quite chastened) presumably behaved themselves better in the future.

Now, I certainly don’t expect the “cry terrorism” crowd to dust themselves off and go away so nicely. They’ve had a good 20 years or so of claiming that everything they do — from studying our cute-cat-video habits to trying to keep people from looking at a mountainside — is to “protect” us from terrorism. It’s paid off well for them and they’ve benefited so much by that paradigm that it’ll take them a while (perhaps forever) to realize that reasonable people aren’t buying it any more.

And of course, there are real terrorists in the world and the fedgov can always breathe power back into the word “terrorism.” Reichstag fires are easy to come by when governments are in need of new powers.

And even after one witch hunt dies of shame, another easily arises. Particularly where “innocent” children and ruthless prosecutors are involved.

So I’m not saying we won’t have bad times, bad claims, and more bad law ahead in the name of “terrorism” or some other bogey-man.

But frankly, the whole “terrorism” thing jumped the shark when Jarvis made that ridiculous claim this week. Yes, it jumped the shark as plainly, and almost as literally, as Fonzie did on Happy Days.

And while there will, no doubt, be some future protest where agents of the state don’t stand down, but turn on a crowd in a murderous drive to reclaim authority, for now, the fedgov’s back is broken. It is without authority. And millions of reasonable, rational, ordinary people know this. It’s not just we the marginalized any more.


This was another one of those essays that went off in its own direction. Tiny bits of the above were supposed to serve as mere intro to a follow-up post to Wednesday’s “That feeling small feeling.” My original intention was to talk more about we the not-so-small and we the brave. But forgive me; that’ll have to wait for yet another day.

14 Responses to “Waves of history”

  1. MamaLiberty Says:

    Bravo, Claire. Wonderful encouragement. “Small” is in the eye of the beholder, as with so many things. :)

  2. MamaLiberty Says:

    Oh, and I can think of quite a few uses for all those “barrycades.” Sheepdog trial and rodeo grounds, pony jumps, community garden bed dividers, dog parks, front yards for families with small children (suitably fabricated into a real fence, of course). Lots and lots of things.

    We paid for them. We should be able to have one or two… or a dozen. Looks like they have plenty of leftovers.

  3. naturegirl Says:

    I had that feeling when I saw the guy who went and mowed the lawn at the monument before the march. I thought maybe this is the turning point, at least for a larger group instead of just a few. Maybe finally there’s a shift in thinking that’s beginning to turn to doing the right thing. Maybe it’s starting to change back to some logic again.

    But I am a dreamer, too. I know it’s one thing to think and an entirely different thing to actually take action. I am seeing more encouraging signs.

  4. Matt, another Says:

    The “cry terrorism” of this century is merely new bogeyman taking over from the cry communism of the last half of the previous century. Same rational, same results. Took about 40 years for external communism to crash, hopefully cry terrorism will not take so long.

    I had been thinking today about the great tragedy of very modern times. All of the great “terrorism” or “democracy” successes our corporate-government has to its records were all countries that had stable governments, functioning economies, some version of democracy and some level of diversity. Also, none were threats to the U.S. or pretty much anyone else. Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and now Syria, all victims of the current witch hunt and cry terrorism.

  5. Debby Rich Says:

    Hey everyone I may be wrong, but do you all know that we are now living
    under “Peaceful Martial Law”. Obsma signed into law in March of 2012.
    In that EX order Law, Obama can suspand Congress for 6 months and inforce
    that Martial Law if he so choices. I wonder If this was a dry run. To see how
    we would take it?? Just an idea.

  6. Kent McManigal Says:

    Claire, that was downright beautiful.

    While I rolled my eyes at the government religionists/former pawns/Tributes defying government, I have gotten to the point where I love seeing any defiance of counterfeit “laws” and “authority” no matter who is doing the defying.

    I aim to misbehave. And I like not being the only one.

  7. Paul Bonneau Says:

    [I think last weekend’s “tear down the Barrycades” march in DC will be remembered as a watershed.]

    I think you are right. It’s a beautiful thing when people start ignoring the rulers and their minions. It’s even better when the minions set back and just watch.

    The primary tool of every tyrant is self-enforcement, the tendency of the ruled to follow every dictate reflexively. The barriers were of course symbolic, since any animal could get through them, but the real broken barriers were in the minds of the vets and the cops. Those participating and the rest of us watching discover they don’t really have to obey after all – and that it feels good to disobey!

    Bill Buppert complained about the motivations of the vets:

    I think the motivations are secondary. No movement toward liberty is ever going to be perfectly rational and philosophically consistent. The important point is that they resist.

    I wrote about another event similar in its spontaneity and opposition to the rulers a while back:
    Of course there was a subsequent gun and ammo buy as well, just now finally tapering off.

    Oh, by the way, I think prosecutors are the lowest of the low. They may not fare too well in the coming Revolution.

  8. Roger Says:

    Governments can take violence and apathy in their stride one can be coped with with new draconian laws ‘to keep you safe’ the latter allows them to do practically anything. But ridicule and contempt they have no defense against.

  9. Old Printer Says:

    I hate to splash water on your hopeful article. While it was nice to see the Barrycades removed and deposited where they belong, and certainly the people who did it deserve accolades, it proved little. Just days before, an innocent and unarmed woman was killed by police thugs near the White House. Deadly force could just as easily been used to stop this event. The presence of a U.S. Senator was probably the only reason it wasn’t.
    The naivete of a large percentage of libertarians is breathtaking. It borders on self-blindness. The sickening reality is that there are crazies loose in the world with means being acquired from advanced civilization which can destroy us all. It is self-delusion to think that if we retreat & withdraw from the world they will lay down like lambs and leave us alone. By your own reasoning there is enough past aggression and interference into their affairs by us to account for some pay back.

    If you want some specifics, here they are:
    Iran has more than likely developed weaponized germ warfare agents. Their open push for nuclear capability is probably a cover, a ruse. They have infiltrated agents onto this continent through Venezuela and maybe into this country through Mexico. If you doubt this, then why are there unmarked white cars with Homeland Security Agents combing the lettuce fields and grape vineyards in California?
    Pray that you are old enough to have a Smallpox vaccine scar.
    (The comments from this 2 year old article spell it all out.)

  10. Paul Bonneau Says:

    If you are worried about Iran, the ruling class still has control of your mind.

    [Deadly force could just as easily been used to stop this event.]

    Actually, the rulers were in a no-win scenario. Either they left the vets alone, which was a loss for them; or they attack the vets, which would be an even greater loss. Rulers rule through the appearance of legitimacy. As soon as they lose it, it’s all over for them but the shouting.

    The very best they could do with this (once they made the gigantic mistake of banning these old farts from the WWII memorial) was to try to keep it out of the mainstream media. But they could do nothing about the Internet.

    Do try not to be so defeatist.

  11. winston Says:

    On a side note…this isn’t a crack at Oathkeepers at all since I’m a member and love what they do, but I feel like they wouldn’t even come into play here if things went bad. From what I’ve seen if you were to give a bunch of troops to confiscate weapons or “relocate” people and you’ll give them a moral dilemma…if you gave them an order to fire on veterans…yeah I’m picturing whoever gives that order getting tied up dragged behind a Humvee all over DC

  12. KenK Says:

    This is/was the type of situation somebody like Adam Kokesh would have thrived in had he been at liberty. Too bad his ill-considered stunt last July cause him to be lock up and out of action. Word.

  13. MTYorkie Says:

    If no one is using them, can I have some of them goat panels? :P

  14. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit Says:

    @ML … so, sheepdog trials? For, what, harassment of the little woolly critters? Disorderly conduct? Assault and baaaaattery?

    Putting those poooor border collies in the dock when they vere chust followink orders!

    You really should be looking to go after the shepherd – after all, he’s clearly hanging around with a crook!

    (apologies to our gentle hostess – but I just couldn’t resist)

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