By Peter Galuszka
Self-styled “militia” members based in Michigan accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also considered nabbing Ralph Northam, Virginia’s governor, according to court testimony Tuesday.
Both Democratic governors were considered fair game because they supposedly had taken strong measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
At a hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., an FBI agent testified that the militia members, thought to be part of a hard-right group, targeted Northam along with several others because of their aggressive stances in containing COVID 19.
A total of 13 people have been charged in connection with the Michigan case. Some were plotting to instigate a “civil war” and the others were planning on kidnapping Gov. Whitmer.
According to testimony, the idea was the seize Whitmer, put her on a boat, take her to the middle of Lake Michigan, damage the motor, set her adrift and see if she would be rescued.
There was no information about what could have become of Northam or if another boating mishap was in planning stages for him.
Reaction against strict methods of stemming the spread of coronavirus have been controversial, especially among conservative circles. President Donald Trump has encouraged such protests and has tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” to prompt opposition.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been among the worst pandemics in U.S. history and have so far claimed more than 215,000 American lives. It has proved to be a big problem as some universities in Virginia have reopened, leading some students to complain that they are being put at risk.
Reactionary feeling has been particularly strong on this blog as some right-leaning commenters have compared Northam’s remedies to trying to evoke a police state. Ironically, both Northam and Trump have contracted the disease.
I’d like to crack wise about all of this but I won’t because it is serious. A personal story: when I worked in Cleveland in the 1990s, I was out on a Saturday with my two young daughters running errands. I saw that the county fairground was hosting a “survivalism” show and thought we might drop in. It was a huge mistake. It was a gun show hosted by militias and survivalists. Among the Confederate and Nazi flags were guns, knives and gear to live for months in the wilderness after a war. The place dripped with anti-Semitism. There were plenty of pamphlets talking about how to destroy the federal government. It was referred to as “ZOG” or “Zionist Occupation Government.” I felt awful that I had exposed my kids to this. The message: Don’t screw around with Midwestern militia.
The news from Michigan shows just how far off base those views are and just how dangerous the mood is right now.