Militia arrests signal return of armed “patriot” groups

FBI raids on suspected militia members over the weekend jolted a public already concerned about far-right violence that surfaced during the health care reform fight.

Nine suspected members of a “Christian” militia group have been charged with seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and other related charges, federal prosecutors announced March 29. 

The nine are from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where federal raids took place over the weekend.

The indictment names a militia group called the Hutaree as conspiring to oppose the U.S. government by force. The group was planning a double attack on local law enforcement, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Hutaree says it is preparing to fight the “antichrist” until death. On its web site, links to training videos and Biblical-like rants can be found along with a banner across the page telling its members: “Training April 24 contact headquarters immediately.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Hutaree as among the 127 active militias associated with so-called “Patriot” groups. 

SPLC’s Mark Potok  warns that radical right, extremist groups are on the rise. These groups are fueled by racism, especially anti-immigrant racism and rage at the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama, he says.

“Furious anti-immigrant vigilante groups soared … during 2009,” Potok writes.

Violent militia groups who had their “heyday” during the 1990s, including in the Oklahoma City bombing, have reemerged, according to SPLC’s research.

“Already there are signs of similar violence emanating from the radical right. Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers,” Potok writes.

He points out a growing “cross-pollination between different sectors of the radical right not seen in years,” with more cooperation on agendas and ideologies.

Such “cross pollination” may have been at work with the Hutaree group. The media reports Hutaree members contacted another Michigan militia member for help, which he claimed he declined giving.

Hutaree promotes extremist ideas that have found wide acceptance among right-wing political movements, including the Republican Party.

At the GOP’s  2009 Senate-House fundraising dinner, actor Jon Voight got a rousing ovation when he called Obama the “false prophet” in a heavily Armageddon-rhetoric-laden speech.

Similar rhetoric is seen in the tea party movement.

SPLC’s Potok says while the tea partiers “cannot fairly be considered extremist groups,” they are “shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.”

New York Times columnist Frank Rich notes a connection between the tea-bag protestors and racism.

“[T]he health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse,” he writes, comparing the anti-health-care attacks to the 1964 attacks on civil rights legislation.

GOP politicians, most notably Sarah Palin, have been promoting extremism, and even violence, along with their favored news outlet, Fox, and spokesperson Glenn Beck. Examples abound. In the wake of the health care vote, Palin urged her followers not to retreat, but to “RELOAD.” She also put rifle crosshairs over the map of districts of lawmakers who voted “Yes.” Democrats and others have pointed to such language as an example of the way Republicans have incited angry actions and threats.

Beck, among other things, has lectured that “progressivism” is a “cancer” eating America and the Constitution and akin to fascism.

For recent articles on the ultra right and racism:

Beware of the new racist counteroffensive

Tea party’s ugly reality: racism, sexism, homophobia

Health care victory

Photo: From Hutaree website.



Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People’s World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW’s social media presence. Albano had been a staff writer for People’s World covering political, labor, and social justice issues for more than 25 years. She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, including India, Cuba, Angola, Italy, and Paris to cover the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. An award-winning journalist, Albano has been honored for her writing by the International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women, and Illinois Woman Press Association.