Apr 20, 2009
After more than a decade long silence the Michigan Militia is back
“This is like deja vu all over again."
Those famous words by hall of fame New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra can describe the political situation today. We saw fringe, extremist hate groups promote and show up in full force at last week’s anti-Obama, pro-Republican misnamed “tea parties.”
White supremacists groups, militia groups and secessionist groups pushed the Astroturf “tea party” hard. Just a few weeks before the “tea party,” the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning that violent, anti-government rightwing fringe groups are on the rise. The election of the nation's first black president and the current economic recession are contributing to a resurgence of right-wing extremist groups, which had been on the wane since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
Republicans and conservatives are disputing the report, but last week’s ugly protests just confirmed the report. All this stuff sounds all too familiar to me.
I was in the heartland of the Michigan Militia movement in the mid-1990s. I returned to Michigan after a 20 year absence in 1994, with just an annual visit to see family, after a career in the military. I took my first civilian job as a reporter for a mom and pop weekly newspaper in Lenawee County’s Blissfield. I was immediately stuck by ugly, anti-government rhetoric.
After technically working for the government for so long the rhetoric came as a shock to me. I would on occasion pick up the pirate radio broadcasts from alleged Adrian minister Rick Strawcutter. This stuff was unbelievable. Government conspiracies were around every corner, and the government was guilty of everything from climate control to cameras on stop lights to control and enslave people.
I’m sure much of it was tied up in Republican’s blind hatred of President Clinton and the tax-payer financed witch-hunt to bring him down. After a couple of years at that newspaper, I moved on to the daily in Adrian. One night I decided to cover a seminar on Gulf War syndrome. Almost every where I have worked I have been the only veteran, and as a Gulf War veterans I felt it was my duty to get the word out on this important issue that I really did not know much about.
What I found shocked and angered me, and it was just another anti-government conspiracy pushed by the militia.
But much of that anti-government rhetoric stopped not long after August 10, 1995 with the indictement of Timothy McVeigh for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil until 9/11, and right-wingers don’t believe rightwing extremists groups should be monitored? Give me a break.
This is taken from a letter McVeigh wrote to a newspaper in the letters to the editor section: “Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate "promises," they will increase. More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement. They mess up. We suffer. Taxes are reaching cataclysmic levels, with no slowdown in sight ... Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn't come to that. But it might.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I heard some of that same rhetoric last week.
After blogging about the extremists like the Michigan Militia helping organize “tea parties” I received a comment from Genoa Township resident Michael W. Lackomark, of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, Livingston County, MI.
He told me the Michigan Militia was not a hate group, and the protest was really about “…every year the "Rich" will have less and less, and more of us are going to have to pick up the slack to keep paying on all these government "Promises" .” Man, that sounds familiar.
But the Livingston County connection brought me back to an incident involving a friend of mine and one of my best sources when I worked as a reporter in Livingston County, former Fowlerville Police Chief Gary Krause.
In late 1993 Fowlerville police stopped a car after midnight and found three young men with blackened faces wearing camouflage uniforms. One officer noticed a clip of bullets on the floor of the car. The car was searched, and the police recovered several loaded semi-automatic rifles, 700 rounds of ammunition and various military equipment, including night vision goggles. Also discovered were notes in the car indicating the men had been conducting night surveillance of police department communications. The men skipped bail, and instead 50 militia members showed up for the arraignment, they called cops 'punks in badges,' and they said the next time one of them was stopped they'd shoot the cop.
To take a quote from the 1992 movie “Poltergeist:” “They’re back.”