Trouble’s Looming in the Badlands: Vigilantes, Militias and Radicals

By Catskills-Atlantian anthropologist Shoshaena Grumman

Featured in The Journal of Modern Arterran Anthropology & Sociology, 2871 , Vol. 6(2)

The Convergency – or what is left of it – is a dangerous place. As Arterrans, we all know this: we’ve heard it since we were children, warned by our parents and teachers of the dangers that lurk in the more barbaric sectors of the known galaxy. Murder rates on Pontchartrain are the highest in the Outer Rim – so high that most of its major cities have negative population growth. Xaztechua is ruled both by a ruthless dictatorship and by massive drug cartels. Even Gottia, one of the generally developed Caspian worlds, is flagged by Colonial authorities as a risky destination for interplanetary tourists. It’s a fearful world out there – it can’t be denied.

We are fortunate in that our Judiciary and media typically do not resort to fearmongering. The violent crime rates across the former Convergency speak for themselves, and the data are disconcerting enough without journalistic or political commentary. But in spite of our lack of public terrorist threat status ratings and provocative headlines, there are fringe groups cropping up across the border worlds at the Colonial Outer Rim, which disseminate such incendiary propaganda that entire cities have plunged into social panic. The threat, they say, is that of a foreign invasion on Colonial soil – not a military invasion, mind you, but a form of demographic subterfuge that evades the oversight of our legal system.

In some respects, they’re correct. Massive illegal immigration and high birth rates have rendered some indigenous populations into ethnic minorities on their own homeworlds in the Outer Rim, as well as the Caspian regions of the Inner Rim and Deep Core. That being said, there is little risk of this migratory and reproductive warfare within the Colonies, if not the entire League of Arterra. Home-grown terrorism is always a threat, but those who hold Colonial principles and ideals will never be outnumbered. We do not have an ethnic or racial identity as a civilization; there is no importance lent to racial statistics, as they are irrelevant. What concerns us is a shared set of moral and philosophical beliefs, which so deeply permeate our culture that no amount of foreign interplanetary migration could ever hope to undermine it.

Unfortunately, there are some radical groups within the Colonies that not only seek to transform this into a racial issue, but also promote a quasi-apocalyptic worldview that regards any instance of illegal immigration as a sign of the end times, when Colonial civilization will collapse under the weight of a foreign burden. What they fail to realize is that our own laws do not allow for the taking advantage of the honest taxpayer. With no concept of birthright citizenship, and with no massive welfare state, the Colonies are an undesirable destination for any would-be Child of the Dole. Local law enforcement does a perfectly adequate job of removing those occasional Shatarin colonists on the border worlds. There is simply no reason to fear an impending socio-economic invasion. The mere existence of our Judiciary is enough to prevent it.

But recent events in the Badlands are making it clear that not all Colonials accept this otherwise undeniable fact. Reports of local vigilantes rounding up “illegals” (who, more often than not, are actually Colonial citizens) are becoming disturbingly common in the Outer Rim systems. It may possibly be a popular reaction to the movement of Shatarin military forces at the Arterran borders in the wake of the Convergency’s collapse, but it is clearly fueled by a festering bigotry once unheard of in the Colonies. They view anyone of darker complexion as a Shatarin invader; those who speak a foreign language with their families are nothing less than parasitic Xaztechuans. The radical militias do not care about a person’s actual origins, or the status of his citizenship. They have reduced an individual to his ethnicity, then judged him as an enemy combatant on the basis of his genetics. It is the demonization of apparent foreigners of all backgrounds, which takes innocent Colonials as casualties by extension.

Thankfully, these incidents have rarely resulted in the loss of life, but if these nationalist extremists are not monitored more closely by the Judiciary, we may soon see it become commonplace. There are isolated but increasing incidents of violence against unarmed religious groups during worship services: a congregation of Vahredi believers was tied up and left to die as their temple was set on fire, all because scared, small-minded locals regarded them as honorary Shatarins, despite their adherence to an entirely different faith. The police have done their best to quell possible rebellions and the persecution of minority groups by vigilante militias, and by the Creator’s mercy, the unrest has not escalated to the point of requiring a military intervention, but the future is uncertain.

The Judiciary would do well to keep an eye on these nationalist movements, because they can too easily become a social contagion, and spread out from the Badlands into the more densely populated Colonial Heartland. The radicals are taking the law into their own hands, simultaneously claiming to be bastions of Colonial patriotism, while disregarding the very Judicial system they claim to champion. If the Judiciary is to stand as the supreme legal authority of the United Colonies, these riots cannot be tolerated, and neither can these heinous acts of bigotry against fellow Colonial citizens, who are deemed guilty of crimes they did not commit by men who would not know true patriotism if it punched them in the jaw and slapped on a pair of handcuffs.