Thoughts on the Hutaree Raids

By now, I assume you’ve heard of the Hutaree, the religious militia group in the state of Michigan arrested en masse over the weekend for allegedly planning to kill large numbers of police officers with explosively-formed projectiles, or EFPs. Aside from the obvious factors – like the fact that this appears to have been a very serious plot by a bunch of white Americans to, let’s be honest, commit acts of terrorism – there are some other interesting aspects of the event that I think bear discussion.

First of all, I’d like to say that every time one of these plots gets exposed, I cringe slightly. Not because I don’t want these idiots to get caught, but because the exposure, in a sense, promotes whatever the plot du jour was. I mean, when the news came out about the plan to possibly kill a police officer, then ambush the funeral or funeral procession, 99% of people, I suspect, went “that’s horrible!” or “that’s awful!”, or something like that.

0.9%, by contrast, went “that’s fucking awesome, dude. Kill the pigs!” 0.1% responded something along the lines of “Hmmn… They got arrested for it, it must be a right winner of a plan, an’ I reckon I could do somethin’ plenty similar if I puts my mind to it. How ’bout you, Zeke? You in?”

Obviously, I’m exaggerating the redneck hick-ness of the militia fringe a bit… but if anything, I’m probably under-estimating the percentage of people who heard about blowing up cops and thought that sounded like a worthwhile endeavour.

So, that’s why I cringe a bit, every time one of these plots gets exposed: there’s a certain idiot mentality that glamorizes anything someone gets arrested for trying, no matter how stupid, impractical or far-fetched it is, and there’s always some stupid guy who thinks he can do it better. Just look at all the people who keep trying to make TATP from household chemicals…

Another thing I found interesting was the extremely low-key nature of the media coverage here in the United States. “FBI agents arrested a number of members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group throughout the upper midwest this weekend, alleging the group had conspired to kill police officers. In sports, the Kings lost to Minnesota…” When the Underwear Bomber(TM) thing went down, CNN had hourly updates for days, and in-depth coverage to rival the appointment of a new Pope. Likewise the last couple of allegedly al-Qaeda-connected plots. Today, barely 48 hours after the news broke on the Hutaree, they’re completely gone from the news cycle. White terrorists and extremists just aren’t newsworthy anymore, I guess.

Finally, what I found most interesting is the networking and situational-awareness capabilities the various militia groups demonstrated over the weekend. Despite a great deal of secrecy on the government’s part, the basic details of what was happening were disseminated between militia groups and members within minutes, no small feat for a group of people frequently (and incorrectly) portrayed as living in RVs in the middle of the woods, “off the grid”.

On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that they’re just as susceptible to disinformation, misinformation, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and received knowledge as anyone else; at various points, there were reports of “raids” in Florida, California, Wisconsin, and Colorado, none of which – as far as I can tell – actually happened. Likewise, stories circulated amid people “in the know” – or who like to think they’re in the know, I guess – with all sorts of far-fetched details and allegations that don’t seem to be substantiated now that the dust has settled.

Tactical confusion and poor situational awareness are facts of life, but it’s a bit unnerving how willing a depressingly large number of people are to don face paint, start fondling a small arsenal of semi-automatic rifles, and prepare for war against the government just because they’ve been told what they want to hear – i.e. Obama has declared war on all Christian patriots in America, the “next Waco” is happening now, this is it, take no prisoners, et cetera, et cetera…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on March 30th, 2010| No Comments »

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