This morning, a reader with the screen handle Infidel wrote:
“Ok, bear with me.
“I am not affiliated with law enforcement nor 1% clubs in any manner. I do ride a HD and love it.
“I have written several papers on LEMCs (during my graduate work on subcultures) and the issues surrounding the acrimony expressed by 1% clubs towards the ‘posers’. As well, the seemingly real backlash against LEMC members from other cops and managers. (Begging the question, why belong to a LEMC?)
“This research and interviews took place prior to the rise of the IO and consisted of approx. 20 members of notable LEMCs including the Iron Pigs (and others). Most had nothing bad to say about the 1% clubs and made it clear their LEMCs did not have members that would be placed in positions of investigating 1% club members. Several admitted they passed files to other cops as not to bring unwanted attention to their club. None of the members were in management positions and tended to be ‘street oriented’ rather than seeking higher positions or awards from superiors.
“While little respect was shown by 1%r clubs, with a very few exceptions there seemed to be little actual conflict between the older LEMCs and the 1% clubs.
“Why is the IO despised over and above the others to the point of fight on sight?
“Is there some difference between the ‘regular’ LEMCs and the IO?”
The Aging Rebel replies:
Good question! Let me try to respond in a way that an anthropologist or a sociologist might understand.
First, you need to understand that the Iron Order is a tethered goat, the one percenter clubs are lions and the Department of Justice is the hidden lion hunter.
The Iron Order goes out of its way to provoke confrontations with members of other clubs in order to assert the Iron Order’s dominance over them. The Iron Order is the most aggressively territorial of all the outlaw clubs and, as a simple matter of normal pride, nobody in the other clubs will tolerate being bullied or dominated.
One truism in the motorcycle club world is “Give respect, get respect.” The Iron Order’s club culture is aggressively rude.
Members of all traditional clubs live by an honor code. One aspect of that code is very Norse. Personally, I think motorcycle clubs are a manifestation of a folkway that dates at least to Beowulf ( Fifth Century Scandinavia) and may have originated around the time the Romans crossed the Rhine (about 100 BC). Vikings believed it was cowardly to flee fewer than five opponents. One percenters do not back down from fights. They “hold their mud.” So, when someone tries to bully, dominate or disrespect them they fight – as a matter of honor.
In Denver for example, Mongols, Hells Angels, Bandidos and Sons of Silence all found a way to peacefully coexist. Only the Iron Order started a fight and then used deadly force to settle it.
Another part of that honor code to which all outlaws subscribe requires that one percenters never cooperate with the prosecution. Even when it is their enemy that is being prosecuted they can only testify for the defense. The one percenter world view is that the justice system is arbitrary and unjust. One percenters handle their own business. They stand apart. They are self-sufficient. The motorcycle club world is the last gasp of the American frontier – the frontier reduced to, to use the currently fashionable academic description, an “ideology.” Modern historians usually cite John F. Kennedy’s call for a “new frontier” as an early example of this “ideology.” And that was just about the time outlaw motorcycle clubs – as something separate from, say, juvenile delinquency – became fixed in the popular imagination.
The Iron Order picks and chooses the ways in which it wants its members to present as outlaws (or new frontiersmen) and, as a tactic to assert dominance over other clubs, Iron Order members cooperate with law enforcement. So once they provoke a fight with another club, they cooperate with the police and play the victim. They also carry out assaults on members of other clubs, safe in the knowledge that their victims will not go to the police. I know of one Iron Order club officer who invited a member of another club to fight and would not stop taunting the member of the other club. So the member of the traditional club punched and knocked down the Iron Order officer. And, as the victor tried to walk away, the Iron Order officer at his feet grabbed the victor’s leg and shouted, “Stop! I am making a citizen’s arrest and lawfully detaining you!”
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lies hidden, waiting for the one percenter clubs to retaliate. Those potential retaliations can be used as predicates in federal racketeering prosecutions. Recently in Texas, the Department of Justice unsealed a racketeering indictment against the Bandidos for declaring war on the Cossacks. Besides being factually untrue, the indictment fails to elaborate what might have provoked the Bandits to make that statement. The federal idea is simply that the Bandidos are bad and the Cossacks were their victims.
The idea in this country, in Europe and in Australia, is to achieve public relations victories that will keep the tax dollars flowing into agencies like the ATF – where the average agent makes about $200,000 a year. In reality, motorcycle clubs are not much of a public danger and there really isn’t much need for the ATF – the fireworks and cigarette police which has assumed the role of the motorcycle club police.
The Iron Order exploits all the most popular tropes. They are haunted war heroes, alienated outsiders, rough and tough rebels, and at the same time they are law-abiding, holier than thou do-gooders.
The context of all this is that biker cops, like Jay Dobyns for example, or Ashley Charles Wyatt who goes by the stage name Charles Falco, see themselves a mythic heroes. They present themselves as mythic heroes. Publishers and producers present them as mythic heroes. And, mythic heroes need mythic villains – which is where motorcycle clubs come in. In the same way that only the Iron Order cooperates with police, only police agencies – and the Iron Order and recently the Cossacks Motorcycle Club – bother to manipulate the media. Together, the police and the Iron Order engineer the perceived reality of what happens in these confrontations that the Iron Order provokes. The Iron Order portrays its members as blameless victims who suffer because they are heroes. Local, federal and state police agencies portray modern motorcycle clubs as the Born Losers from the first Billy Jack movie in 1967. As far as most journalists are concerned, motorcycle clubs are the Born Losers preserved in amber because that’s what the police press releases all say.
And, God forbid a reporter should actually get off his ass and investigate alternative angles to a biker story when the police press release is right there in front of him. No reporter has ever gotten fired for trusting the police as an impeccable source but many reporters have been fired for pissing off the cops and losing access to important information that only the police can provide.
All real motorcycle clubs are brotherhoods united by love. It is a considerable achievement to earn a patch from a motorcycle club. Earning a patch is a life altering event – for both better and worse. Most members are better men after they patch. The Iron Order parodies and mocks this way of being a man and members of other clubs are infuriated by this.
Do you get it now?