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If at First You Don’t Secede… | The Nation

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Leslie Savan

Politics, media and the politics of media.

If at First You Don’t Secede…

…then grab your gun, run for the hills, and hole up in a right-wing paranoid paradise, complete with post-Waco lifestyle amenities like condos, media centers, and arms factories.

The secessionist movement may have peaked, what with the White House last week rejecting petitions from eight states to leave the union. But just in time comes word of two new planned communities that offer a kind of internal secession: You’d get to retain your citizenship and the benefits it confers (like the right to chant “USA! USA!”), but you could at least feel free from liberals, socialists and other vermin as you defiantly stand your ground with like-minded folks who fear the thumb of the feds.

The most radical of these far-right utopias, each still in the planning stage, is the Citadel, a gated (and turreted) community strictly for “Patriots” with a survivalistic bent. The Citadel is “a martial endeavor designed to protect Residents in times of peril (natural or man-made),” according to its website, iiicitadel.com. “If Liberty has been missing from the life of your family,” the sales pitch tempts, “consider the Citadel for your new home.”

Funded by a gun manufacturer, III Arms Company in West Virginia, the Citadel has purchased twenty acres on a mountaintop in Idaho and hopes to expand to at least 2,000 acres in the Obama-resistant “American Redoubt.” Thousands of families would live within its defensible walls and towers, and each tower, in fact, “will house condos.” The Citadel, not to be confused with the military college in South Carolina, would include a fortified castle, a firearms museum and “a modern firearms company that would employ residents.” Although “all of the company’s profits would be donated to the Citadel,” none dare call it a commune.

Indeed, the site warns: “Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans may find that living within our Citadel Community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.”

Being white and Christian is not a requirement for Citadelians, but packing heat is. The Idaho Statesman writes that residents would have to agree to conditions such as:

— Being able to shoot a man-sized steel target at various distances with a handgun and a rifle….

— Keeping on hand an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle variant, at least five magazines, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and other supplies….

— Being armed with a loaded sidearm whenever visiting the Citadel’s town center.

The FAQ page handles any funny feelings you may have, like: “Are You a Bunch of Wackos/Cultists/Racists… etc.?” (“Actually, quite the opposite,” it answers) and “Won’t The Federal Government or Military Simply Blow Up Your Town?”

Why would they? We are a law-abiding group of people minding our own business. We are conducting our affairs in an open and transparent manner. The Citadel Community is designed to be a safe haven and a major tourist destination. The US Government does not make a habit of blowing up law abiding citizens and tourists on American soil.

Glenn Beck seems to think otherwise. In introducing his planned, $2 billion “city-theme park hybrid,” called Independence USA, he explained why he’s going big, really big: “I believe that if we’re ever going to build something like this, I believe it needs to leave the message, ‘You will literally have to wipe us off the face of the earth and wipe us off the map before you can erase the truth that is America.’ ”

The most likely setting for the apocalyptical city-state of Beckistan is Texas, the heart of the secession movement (the nearly 126,000 signatures on its petition to secede far outnumber those of other states). Like the Citadel, Independence would aim to be self-sufficient, providing its own food and energy, but its object of worship is less the gun than the utterly unfettered free market. (Though not really: no Gaps or Ann Taylors allowed, and cars—cars!—will be banned in some areas.)

The architectural love child of Walt Disney and Ayn Rand, Beck’s dream is based on “Galt’s Gulch,” the community inspired by John Galt, capitalist superhero of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. The libertarian mecca, entered through an Ellis Island–like gate, would include a ranch, a media center (from which Beck would run his communications/agit-prop empire), a multidenominational church “modeled on the Alamo,” and the Marketplace, where “owners and tradesmen could hold apprenticeships and teach young people the skills and entrepreneurial spirit that has been lost in today’s entitlement state.”

“At the center—in the middle of the lake that is itself larger than all of Disney Land,” Rightwing Watch writes, “Beck (with the help of [Christian nationalist pseudo-historian] David Barton) will create a massive ‘national archive’/learning center where people can send their children to be ‘deprogrammed’ and elected officials can come to learn ‘the truth.’ ”

There are, of course, lesser forms of internal secession: shutting down the government, impeaching the president for unimpeachable offenses, states arresting federal officers in pursuit of their duties, and the whole Tenther movement itself.

But only by retreating into a well-regulated right-wing community can you achieve the next best thing to true secession: a state within a state-of-mind.

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