April 14, 2010
THIS HEADLINE — A state-run militia? What could go wrong? — is kind of dumb. State-run militias go back to, and actually predate, the founding of the Republic, and they exist even today in moribund form in the statute books, even if they don’t see much action. (I think the last time there was any significant state militia activation was in World War II, in a few coastal states.)
So the problem isn’t a “state-run militia,” but rather the notion of a state going to war with the federal government. That notion isn’t inevitably absurd or wrong, of course — if the federal government went far enough off the rails, it would be the right thing to do, though likely also very costly — but we are hardly in that situation today, and talk that suggests otherwise is kind of silly. On the other hand, that Washington Post headline is also kind of silly, as it suggests an ignorance regarding its subject, militias and the states, that makes it seem as if the headline-writer (who is probably not Dave Weigel) is going for snark without knowing anything regarding what is being snarked about. Some background can be found here. Also in Article I of the federal Constitution.