or, Walter Mitty Meets the AntiChrist

This is maybe not a fair way to describe Hutaree, since apparently most of their members have some real combat experience. But they do sound more like re-enactors than real terrorists. Their alleged plot to kill a cop and then blow up his funeral procession is a nasty one (considerably more so than the Catonsville Nine’s alleged plot in the 1970s to kidnap Henry Kissinger.) But I’m not sure they were any more serious about it than the Merry Band of Berrigans. I’m also not sure that getting married with their guns at the ready is much different from getting married to their guns. And they’re just too upfront to be real, an FBI dream (and possibly an FBI setup, like the Catonsville Nine.) If I were a real terrorist, I would probably use a re-enactor cover for our group, and nobody would notice us until it was too late.

The legalities of prosecuting them may be complicated, too. The closest analogy would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses, to whom the Selective Service (during WWII, I think) denied conscientious objector status because the Witnesses believe they are not merely permitted but obligated to fight in the final battle between Good and Evil, and therefore are not opposed to “all war”, as required by law. The Supremes took the rather improbable position, not that this final battle is a metaphor, but that it is simply not going to happen, so that the Witnesses could, if they wanted to, qualify for CO status. [Most of them, BTW, demanded clergy status instead, got turned down, and ended up in prison. But I digress.] Since, presumably, that is also the battle Hutaree is training for, the case against them may not hold up any better than the case against the Witnesses, unless the Supremes in the meantime have decided Armageddon is a real war.

The “official” Michigan Militia has disowned Hutaree (rather like the “official” IRA disowning the “provisional” IRA) without necessarily denouncing the principles of that group. The spectrum of right-wing dissent seems to have become denser than it was 20 years ago. One hopes that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is the most competent monitor of such groups, recognizes the possibility that government provocateurs are behind the whole thing. Your tax dollars at work.

Red Emma

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