Michigan Madness

Robert Brooks Contributor
Michigan Madness
Read Time: approx. 3:51

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on October 9, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up. Photo Credit: Julia Pickett, CC 4.0.

On Tuesday we highlighted the heated debate taking place in the Great Lake state over government-imposed coronavirus restrictions and the perceived limitation of personal freedom. On Thursday, that dispute reached a boiling point when thirteen people were arrested for the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and try her for treason. According to Reuters, the alleged plotters also discussed recruiting a force of 200 at one point to storm the state capitol in Lansing and take hostages, but later abandoned the plan in favor of a scheme to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home. Here was the reaction to the news from both sides:

On the LeftScott Martelle writes for the Los Angeles Times that the “right-wing plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should worry us all.” Martelle says: “Note that gun-toting demonstrators barged into the Capitol in April during protests over stay-home orders that enraged many on the far right. Those were the same demonstrators that President Trump egged on, tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” as the armed group intimidated legislators from their perch in the balcony gallery. Then later, Trump urged Whitmer to make a deal with the armed protesters, tweeting that “Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry.” Martelle continues, saying “Those ‘very good people’ were not to be confused, of course, with the ‘very fine people’ Trump earlier said were among the armed white nationalists who took part in the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., rally that led to the death of a woman protesting the hate-mongers.” Allan Smith of NBC News pointed out that in response to the foiled plot, “Whitmer said Thursday that President Donald Trump is ‘complicit’ in fomenting extremists. “Hate groups [hear] the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry,” she said. “As a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage, or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are complicit.”

On the RightEddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner titled his take: “Media, Gretchen Whitmer struggle to connect Trump to kidnap plot.” In the opinion article, Scarry writes, “The liberal Huffington Post began its story on the plot with this line: ‘A Michigan militia was plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who has come under fire from President Donald Trump.'” Scarry adds: “Just couldn’t resist throwing him in there, could they?” He points to the 15-page court document saying, “President Trump’s name appears nowhere,” and then characterizes the “militia” as a group of “disaffected misfits.” Scarry says, “As a member of the political party that celebrates fake victimhood, Whitmer is loving it.” He continues, saying: “This isn’t really a new thing, though. Every uncovered plot — the FBI finds them all the time — gets blamed on Trump. It’s like last year when Maryland man Christopher Hasson was taken into custody after he was found to have stockpiled a bunch of ammunition and written in a diary about his dreams to create his own white city, which, he said, would only be possible if just about everyone else died. Hasson had mentioned Trump, not due to admiration or support, but in the context of impeachment, an event that he thought would spark chaos and aid in his broader goal of taking down our entire society.” Scarry concludes with: “There was no Trump connection in that case, and no Trump connection in the Whitmer case, either.”

Flag This: Michigan has a sensitive past when it comes to political violence. In 1971, former grand dragon of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan, Robert Miles, was arrested for conspiring to bomb school buses in an attempt to stop forced busing in the state. In 1995, Timothy J. McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. McVeigh was sentenced to death but one of his coconspirators, Terry Nichols of Lapeer, Mich., is serving a life sentence without parole at a super maximum-security prison near Florence, Colorado. Both men were thought to have attended “Michigan Militia” meetings before they blew up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Will this latest development have election implications? It’s hard to say. Currently, in Michigan, Joe Biden is leading President Trump by 6.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average. In the state’s Senate race, Democrat Gary Peters is leading Republican John James by 4.4 points. In 2016 President Trump won Michigan by a narrow margin of 0.23% or 10,704 votes. This was the narrowest margin of victory in Michigan’s presidential election history, as well as the narrowest margin of any state in the 2016 election.