There is some terrifying news out of Michigan today that should force many Republican elected officials and candidates to reconsider their support for right wing militia groups. As The Detroit Free Press reports:
The federal government has charged six people with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, according to newly unsealed court records. [Pols emphasis]
The FBI became aware early in 2020, through social media, that a militia group was “discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components,” and “agreed to take violent action,” according to a sworn affidavit.
Members of the group talked about “murdering … tyrants” or “taking” a sitting governor, according to the affidavit. One of the relevant meetings the FBI monitored was held June 20 in Grand Rapids. the affidavit alleges. Another meeting was held at a home in Luther, Mich.
Discussions included using 200 men to “storm” the Capitol Building in Lansing, kidnap hostages, including, Whitmer and try the governor for treason, according to the affidavit.
The group met for field exercises and training this year and conducted surveillance of the the governor’s vacation home on at least two occasions in late August and September, the affidavit alleges. They also purchased an 800,000-volt Taser for use in the kidnapping plot, according to court records and members of the plot said they wanted to complete the kidnapping before the Nov. 3 election, according to the affidavit. [Pols emphasis]
This is more than just a bunch of gun nuts dressing up like G.I. Joe and carrying assault rifles in public places. These people were actively working on a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and to take “violent action” against the government. They weren’t just talking; they were practicing.
This also puts a new perspective on the armed demonstrators who stormed the Michigan State Capitol in April; at the time they were described as being angry about coronavirus-related lockdowns, but it’s clear that there were other grievances bubbling beneath the surface. And don’t for a minute think that these armed yahoos weren’t feeling validated by the words of President Trump, who is happy to stroke their egos because he thinks it benefits him politically.
Let’s not kid ourselves here. If you think this news out of Michigan is unrelated to the inflammatory rhetoric from certain Republicans, then you’re lying to yourself. If you think it’s not happening here in Colorado, you’re lying to yourself. We’ve already seen threats of armed militias descending on the State Capitol in Denver.
Republican elected officials cheer these assholes forward with their social media accounts and public statements, so OF COURSE some of them are going to take that encouragement seriously. When Trump tells the “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by,” they listen and they salute.
This includes the likes of Rep. Ken Buck, the Greeley Congressman who moonlights as State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa). Buck has spent a lot of time grandstanding on the threat of “Antifa,” which the FBI acknowledges isn’t even an actual organization; meanwhile, Buck is happy to rile up actual armed militia groups with campaign videos of him playing with guns and criticizing mask-wearing precautions. When elected officials and state party leaders are encouraging violent behavior, it is music to the ears of the kind of extremists who are desperately looking for that kind of validation. We certainly wouldn’t take Buck seriously, but there are enough people who would — and that makes his rhetoric truly dangerous.
When House Minority Leader Patrick Neville promotes his self-serving
lawsuit fundraiser against Gov. Jared Polis because Polis is trying to make sure we don’t all die from COVID-19, there are plenty of people who think Neville is being serious and not just running another grifting operation. When Neville and other right-wing radio sycophants insist that Denver is a burning trash heap that needs to be defended by “patriotic citizens,” they are hyping up the sort of people who already want to do this.
Republicans lose their damn minds when someone uses spray paint in a public place, but they go silent when people are parading around with assault rifles. You don’t think these militia types notice when the 17-year-old guy from Illinois who killed two people in Kenosha, WI is hailed as a hero instead of denigrated as a murderer?
Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert OPENLY EMBRACES MILITIA GROUPS, publicly accepts their support, and has reportedly even asked them to provide “security” for her campaign events. Look at this interview with Boebert from RealVail.com:
REAL VAIL: Gun-toting militia members in Michigan just stormed the state capitol (on April 30) and unsuccessfully demanded access to the floor of the legislature. Some lawmakers said they were intimidated by the show of firepower. Was that appropriate?
BOEBERT: I didn’t see that happen, but … I don’t see why they’re not allowed to. Denver, you can’t open carry in Denver, but right there at our Capitol doors, there’s metal detectors so the public can’t go in there with their firearm. However, even that is a violation of the way the laws read — whenever you are going to restrict law-abiding citizens to come into a public building like that with a firearm.
Boebert doesn’t see why armed people shouldn’t be allowed to storm their State Capitol whenever the mood strikes them. What the actual fuck?
Boebert is also a cheerleader for insane conspiracy theories promoted by the likes of QAnon, but she’s not alone; 17 Republican Members of Congress recently voted NO on a resolution condemning QAnon. If you’re afraid to speak out against these dangerous lies, then you’re complicit in feeding the mindless fury that drives them.
What almost happened in Michigan is abhorrent. You can’t blame these actions directly on provocateurs like Trump and Buck, but ask yourself this: Would it have happened if right-wing politicians hadn’t been egging them forward and calling them “patriots”?
The rhetoric of elected officials and candidates can — and does — have real consequences beyond the results of an election. It’s past time for Republican politicians to start taking this responsibility more seriously.