Truth is often stranger and more twisted than fiction.
So it was last week when we Michiganders found ourselves in the national spotlight by virtue of a plot to kidnap our state’s governor.
The light was especially bright up here as the suspected plan was to “take” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her up north cottage, and possibly leave her in a boat on Lake Michigan. The plan, as reported by FBI and state law enforcement, involved blowing up a bridge as a diversion, and putting Whitmer through a mock trial for treason.
Preliminary investigation reports show that connections were made through social media, and several men participated in the April 30 shutdown protest in the Lansing Capitol. They were photographed, suited up in tactical gear and weaponry. Recorded conversations chillingly smirk about “going hunting.”
Luckily no one was killed in that mess or the subsequent, plot-based arrests. But, as what’s become typical these days, there are many measures vying to pull focus and politicize the baseline facts of the case.
State politicians: Please open your communications to the public (as every local politician is required) to show you weren’t warned. We know of at least one person who researched what happened on April 30 and sent messages to 100 people in the Legislature. Let transparency into the Michigan’s Legislature clear up any confusion. Oh wait, we’re one of only two states whose Legislature and Governor’s Office won’t open to scrutiny.
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf: Kidnapping is no citizen’s arrest. We hope the citizens of Barry County show you what democracy means at the polls.
While details of the suspected plot continue to dribble out, we’re told the ball picked up speed downhill at and after the April 30 protest.
We, as a state need to take a hard look at what happened there, as in hindsight, it was a waving red flag of something dangerously wrong.
According to John E. Finn, professor emeritus of government, Wesleyan University, believes there’s more to come.
“Expect more Michigans,” Finn wrote Tuesday in The Conversation, positing the plot grew from the “militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths” that is getting stronger.
“The FBI and Michigan law enforcement shut down the Watchmen before an egregious crime and a terrible human tragedy unfolded. But as I concluded just last year in my book, there is little reason to think the militia movement will subside soon.”
Finn’s research shows a bright line between Second Amendment and constitutional supporters and domestic terrorism. Other militia groups, like the Michigan Home Guard and Michigan Militia Corps, also see that line, and are distancing themselves from the suspects and the Wolverine Watchmen.
There is a line, and while we should examine the many-factored situation that created this cocktail, our leaders need to be clear, which side they stand on.
We believe wholeheartedly in differences of opinion. We believe in holding government accountable for its missteps. We believe in protest, and in responsible gun rights.
If the claims are true and the men are found guilty, this was not that.
We need to examine closely how we got here to forge ahead. Michigan leaders need to create a state that cherishes healthy dissent, and unequivocally condemns violence.