The German term “Freikorps” (Free Corps) applies historically to volunteer armies raised to defend the homeland, generally in a garrison role or other minor duties. During the 19th Century, a period known for it’s poisonous levels of Nationalism, the idea of the freikorps was glorified and their members seen as heroes. This myth was firmly in place at the end of the First World War, when new paramilitary freikorps rose up amid the ruins of the defeated German empire. During this period they were composed of disgruntled Germans eager to get revenge on one enemy or another, including especially communists. Unsurprisingly, many of these men wanted permanent have been described as
[men who] have found in nihilism their final confession of faith. Incapable of any true co-operation, with a desire to oppose all order, filled with hatred against every authority, their unrest and disquietude can find satisfaction only in some conspiratorial activity of the mind perpetually plotting the disintegration of whatever at any moment may exist.
Sound familiar? Full of hate, hating authority, nihilistic?
The man describing them was Adolf Hitler, addressing the Reichstag on July 13, 1934. These men had supported his rise to power. He had harnessed their rage and their hate (sound like anyone you know?). And now he had no need of them. Their rage and hate was an obstacle now that he was in power, a liability, and he had done away with them in the Night of the Long Knives.
The Republican and Tea Party fascination with firearms and militias and “Second Amendment remedies” seem to have a lot in common with these freikorps volunteers. Just as the German freikorps saw themselves as the final line of defense of the Fatherland, so too these American conservatives see themselves as the true defenders of the Constitution (ironically, a Constitution they have neither read nor understand).
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who styles himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” is typical. Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arpaio has run his domain like a private fief, much as would one of those post-First World War freikorps leaders. He is a law unto himself and likes to charge with crimes anyone who raises an eyebrow at his activities. As with Palin’s protege Joe Miller, it is illegal to ask questions. As with Bush, the law is anything Arpaio says it is. He would probably arrest me for writing this if his jurisdiction reached into the Heartland.
As a result, it is not surprising that he has raised his own little freikorps. FOX News reports that on Wednesday he “swore in 56 members of a new volunteer sheriff’s posse group that includes “The Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno.”
Other prominent Arpaio Freikorps members are actors Steven Seagal and Peter Lupus of TV’s Mission Impossible, though Arpaio says they weren’t among those sworn in on Wednesday. Arpaio says “They will wear the same uniforms, so you can’t tell the difference.” I don’t know, I think Lou Ferrigno in particular might stand out:
Yes, the posse is armed, and yes, they wear uniforms. Like the freikorps.
The Freikorps already numbers some 3,000 members. Truly a private army to enforce Arpaio’s totalitarian regime.
Their duties? Fox News reports that,
The new posse group will specialize in helping deputies crack down on illegal immigration.
The sheriff says the volunteers’ duties will include bringing arrestees to jail and handling demonstrators who interfere with immigration patrols.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office website describes the posse thusly:
The posse, whose ranks have increased to 3,000 members under Arpaio, is the nation’s largest volunteer posse. Posse men and women help in search and rescue and other traditional police work as well as in special operations like rounding up deadbeat parents, fighting prostitution, patrolling malls during holidays, and investigating animal cruelty complaints. The posse’s contributions are invaluable and essentially free to taxpayers.
It is important to remember that after being officially disbanded many Freikorps joined the attempted Kapp Putsch in March 1920. That is, attempted to overthrow the government. These men also had guns and they didn’t want to give them up. Sound familiar?
Here is something else that will sound familiar:
The caption on the above Freikorps poster? Should sound familiar to you. We are hearing it everyday. We hear it from Arpaio himself: “Protect your home.”
It’s interesting that the more the Republicans accuse liberals and Obama of being Nazis, the more Nazi they themselves look and act.
A little misdirection? Food for thought.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.