Plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor grew from the militia movement’s toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) John E. Finn, Wesleyan University (THE CONVERSATION) The U.S. militia movement has long been steeped in a peculiar – and unquestionably mistaken – interpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and civil liberties. This is true of an armed militia group that calls itself the Wolverine Watchmen, who were involved in the recently revealed plot to overthrow Michigan’s government and kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. As I wrote in “Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution,” published in 2019, the crux of the militia movement’s devotion to what I have called the “alt-right constitution” is a toxic mix of constitutional falsehoods and half-truths. Private militias The term “militia” has many meanings. The Constitution addresses militias in Article 1, authorizing Congress to “provide for organizing, arming and disciplining, the Militia.” But the Constitution makes no provision for private militias, like the far-right Wolverine Watchmen, Proud Boys, Michigan Militia and the Oath Keepers, to name just a few. Private militias are simply groups of like-minded men – members are almost always white males – who subscribe to a sometimes confusing set of beliefs about an avaricious federal government that is hostile to white men and white heritage, and the sanctity of the right to bear arms and private property. They believe that government is under the control of Jews, the United Nations, international banking interests, Leftists, Antifa, Black Lives Matter and so on. […]

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