Mike Vanderboegh, a far-right former militiaman and current blogger from Alabama, appears at least partly responsible for a spate of attacks on local Democratic party headquarters and Congressional district offices after Democrats in Congress approved health care reform legislation this week.
“So, if you wish to send a message that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and her party [that they] cannot fail to hear, break their windows,” Vanderboegh wrote on the blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars. “Break them NOW. Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats. But BREAK THEM.”
Vanderboegh was unapologetic in a 45-minute telephone interview with The Washington Post early Thursday. He said he believes throwing bricks through windows sends a warning to Democratic lawmakers that the health-care reform legislation they passed Sunday has caused so much unrest that it could result in a civil war.
“The federal government should not have the ability to command us to buy something that it decides we should buy,” Vanderboegh said. The government, he added, has “absolutely no idea the number of alienated who feel that their backs are to the wall are out here . . . who are not only willing to resist this law to the very end of their lives, but are armed and are capable of making such resistance possible and perhaps even initiating a civil war.”
I found this detail especially telling:
Born in Michigan and raised in Ohio, Vanderboegh said he was not always a libertarian. He once was active in the Young Socialist Alliance and the Progressive Labor Party. “In my youth, I was a communist,” he said. But in the mid-1970s, Vanderboegh read Friedrich von Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” among other books, and had an epiphany.
“From that point on, I could never take Marxism-Leninism seriously again,” Vanderboegh said.
Not exactly a huge psychological leap, is it?: from “smash the state” to “smash Democratic party windows.” The important thing is smashing stuff.
Like many who have gone from one political extreme to the other, Vanderboegh apparently managed to bypass boring stuff like liberal (in the classic sense) values.
I’m reminded again of what Steven Kelman, a Harvard student in the late 1960s, wrote about a fellow student who entered the university as an extreme-right John Bircher and turned into a Maoist two years later. He explained the transformation to Kelman as follows: “I’ve always seen through liberalism.”
Another interesting detail about Vanderboegh is that he lives on government disability checks– funded, of course, by government-coerced contributions from private employers and employees.