Nine members of the "Hutaree," a Michigan-based militia group who describe themselves as "Christian warriors," have been indicted on weapons and conspiracy charges after a weekend of FBI raids. (See: "Who are the Hutaree?") The arrests are provoking debate about where to draw the line between conservative activists — such as Tea Party members — and right-wing extremists who brazenly plot to use violence against the government:
You can't tar both groups with the same brush: No matter what "our opinion leaders" think, says Tom Smith at The Right Coast, there is a distinction between Americans who literally believe the "Illuminati [is] running the world" and voters who aren't "wild about health care." Even if the media fails to understand that these militia members are "looney toons," not "tea baggers," let's hope the FBI does.
Tea Partiers may dismiss the connection, but there's a serious overlap: "Mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric" may say that "crazies" like the Hutaree don't come from their ranks, says Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post. But that's debatable. Both Tea Party protests and militia violence schemes are "incited" by the same source: "The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day."
"The Hutaree militia and the rising risk of far-right violence"
The Hutaree aren't politically engaged activists, they're cranks: Take a look at the Hutaree website, says Brian Doherty at Reason.com, and examine the "intellectual and cultural milieu" of these extremists. These people aren't political activists, they're "angry loudmouths who've fantasized too much." The courts must decide how much of a "real threat" they are (or were), but it would "surprise the hell out of me" if the Hutaree gave "much of a damn" about politics.
"The Hutaree arrest and getting tough on terror from left and right"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week