29 March 2010

Hutaree, Part II: A Test for Skeptics

Members of the Hutaree militia have now been charged with conspiring to kill police officers and use weapons of mass destruction. The documents assert the existence of a plot to kill an as-yet unnamed but presumably prominent local policeman. The idea was supposedly to inspire a number of cops from across the country to attend the local cop's funeral, at which the Hutaree allegedly intended to perpetrate their larger attack. The "weapons of mass destruction" in this case would have been IEDs, which the alleged conspirators hoped to have built for them by technically savvy sympathizers within the larger militia movement. Check out the indictment for yourselves.

Something seems just a little fishy about this story. If the Hutaree are so fearfully obsessed with big, federal government, why would they be targeting local cops or mere policemen from far away? My first skeptical impulse was to assume that some of the Hutaree may have a beef with a local cop over local crime, and may have wanted to conceal the venality of their hostility by making a political or religious crusade out of it. At the same time, skepticism as a matter of principle requires me to leave open the possibility that the Hutaree have been entrapped. Skepticism toward highly publicized arrests of alleged Muslim extremists leads to suspicion of entrapment because there always seems to be an informant goading hapless characters into legal peril. It's not impossible that something similar has happened this time. Some people, however, may not feel similar skepticism this time.

If you think the government is waging an unwarranted war on Islam, Islamism or Islamic states, you may be suspicious every time that government arrests alleged Muslim terrorists. If, at the same time, you think Christian rightists and irregular militias are inherently more threatening to Americans, or you simply don't like them, you may not extend accused militia types the same benefit of doubt, either because you do take them more seriously than any Muslim conspiracy or because you want to see the whole movement crushed. The government may be going about its business in the same way each time (apart from changes in personnel that may come with political turnover), but for many observers the end will probably justify the means whenever they agree with the end.

Don't take any of this as a defense of the Hutaree or anything they stand for. Think of it as a thought exercise instead, and judge for yourselves how you've done on it.


Anonymous said...

You assume some form of reason? How about this possibility? They shoot the officer. A number of cops attend the funeral. They kill those cops with IEDs, the government cracks down on all militia groups and gun nuts in general and threatens to rescind the second amendment, causing a general uprising of the right-wingers who by that point are convinced "big brother" is out to get them. Sounds crazy? These are crazy people we are dealing with. It's no more (or less) crazy than Manson assuming that killing Sharon Tate, et. al, and blaming it on the African-American radicals would cause a race war.

Anonymous said...

After reading the indictment, I see I'm not too far from the truth. I find it odd that, though the indictment claims they were planning on killing a specific police officer, there is no indictment for "conspiracy to commit murder". Unless that will be filed separately by the state DA.

Samuel Wilson said...

Based on your first response, it wouldn't be that farfetched to say that you're behind the whole thing, since I know you'd like such a scenario to unfold so that the militias will be destroyed. I probably should save such speculation for Thursday (check your calendar) but I might not remember it later.

In any event, the Second Amendment can't be "rescinded" as things now stand. It can only be abrogated through a new amendment that would require ratification by a supermajority of states, a political impossibility in the current climate. On the other hand, the sort of cranks who form militias may believe that "the government" would try to "rescind" the 2A by executive order, despite the current President's record of deference to the Supreme Court in gun-rights cases. It doesn't take much to get them going.

Anonymous said...