The arrest of 13 people on charges of plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of the US state of Michigan, and attacking the state parliament building and its police personnel, shed light on the phenomenon of militias, whose role is organized by constitutional texts that Americans revere.

The criminal lawsuit papers that the FBI filed with federal court showed the defendants' association with a militia called "Wolverine Watchmen", as Axios reported.

After authorities announced the thwarted plot on Thursday, the governor of Michigan said at a press conference that US President Donald Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacist groups encouraged such actions.

Last April, Trump published a tweet on Twitter in which he expressed his support for the protests against the Democratic Michigan government's measures to close the state to confront the Corona pandemic, and Trump wrote "Free Michigan", at a time when militiamen roamed the streets of Lansing, the state capital, carrying their firearms.

The Michigan governor blamed Trump for being an instigator of such actions (Reuters)

The Militia in the American Context

There is widespread confusion about the phenomenon of militias in the American context, as the constitution and its amendments touched on them and legalized their existence and arming.

In its American context, militia refers to a group of armed and militarily trained citizens, but they are not part of the regular, federal armed forces.

Historically, states have supervised militias with the aim of using them for local defense and natural disasters.

The name of the militias supervised by the states developed to be called "the National Guard" in the early 20th century.

Each state has National Guard forces, which are local military forces that are recognized and encouraged to establish the US Constitution as one of the states' most important rights.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution to legislate the states' rights to form militia (its name has become the National Guard) states that "a well-organized militia may not be violated, and it is necessary for the security of the free state and the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

The Supreme Court has historically defined the Second Amendment as giving states the right to keep a militia separate from the army controlled by the federal government.

The constitution also provides for “calling on the militia to implement the laws of the Union, suppress rebellion and repel invasions, by providing what is necessary to organize and arm militias ... and to administer a part of them provided that it is in the service of the United States, while giving the states the right to appoint officers, and the authority to train the militia according to the rules of discipline Determined by Congress. "

Examples of American militias are:

  • Organized militias established under the Militia Act of 1903 and made up of state militia forces, particularly the National Guard and the Marine Guard.

  • The reserve militia or unorganized militia, which was also established under the Militia Act of 1903 and currently consists of every able-bodied man who is at least 17 years old and no more than 45 years old, and who is not affiliated with the National Guard or the Marine Militia.

  • Many private militias that were formed from small, politicized factions outside the purview of the states, where some Americans form paramilitary organizations based on their own interpretation of the militia concept, and such militias have become a concern over the past few years.

Michigan State Dilemma

The formation of militias in their modern form goes back to the early nineties of the last century, and the state of Michigan in particular has a long history with militias, which are spread today in most of the American states.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nasell said on Thursday that most of those accused of the plot to kidnap the state governor and overthrow the local government are members or partners of the "Wolverine Watchmen" militia, a local militia in the state.

Militia members are accused of illegal arms purchase, illegal surveillance, and conspiracy.

The plans to kidnap the state governor and overthrow the local government are not the first of their kind in Michigan, as a militia called "Hotary" had previously planned to organize an armed revolt that begins with killing state policemen with firearms and bombs, and the authorities arrested its members in 2009.

Reports indicated that the militia attempted to unify several separate militias in the state under the name of its leadership and banner.

The militia was founded by a person named Norman Olson to resist what he saw as a government infringement of the constitutional rights of Americans.

Olson served for years in the US Air Force, before resigning to form militias that believed that there was a conspiracy against the constitutional right to bear arms.

Michigan saw the semi-formal establishment of the militia in the early 1990s, and it has had a strong presence since then, and it has always been the kind that militias in other states aspire to.

The militias, in most cases, combine unified ideologies, and their prosperity in the state of Michigan is attributed to the high proportion of the rural population, as well as the entrenchment of beliefs in favor of individual freedoms in the face of government interference in the lives of citizens.

Militias cherish the rights granted by the Second Amendment to the constitution, which are related to the right to bear arms and form militias, and tend to support a strict and literal interpretation of the constitution. They also tend to secrecy in their activities and avoid appearing as a group that poses a great threat.

The phenomenon of modern militias has spread in Michigan and outside it following armed confrontations between the federal government and several militias, the most famous of which is the case of the Ruby Ridge militia in Idaho in 1992, and in the same year the case of the Davidian sect in Waco, Texas.

News reports indicate that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma Federal Building bomber in 1995, received some training with militia in Michigan.

The rapid rise of social media has prompted a great rapprochement between many militias, especially those who believe in the supremacy of the white race, and their fear about the course of the presidential elections and their procedures has increased their tendency to violence.

President Trump's role

Many commentators argue that President Donald Trump has stoked concerns about the legitimacy of the elections or the strength of radical left-wing groups such as ANTIFA and black rights movements.

The rapid rise of QAnon, an extremist right-wing group that believes in theories of an organized conspiracy aimed at overthrowing President Trump, has drawn the attention of the federal authorities to the danger of these groups.

During the first presidential debate with his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, Trump refused to condemn racist groups that believe in white supremacy.

Historian Christine de Maes, an academic at Cavin University in Michigan - one of the most important Christian universities in the United States - tweeted to blame Trump for spreading a culture of hate, and said, “What is interesting to me about the Michigan governor’s kidnapping plot is how it is not surprising, especially when Trump broadcast information. Misleading is fueling hatred.My white Christian children living in Michigan always hear their classmates repeat the state governor's description as fascist and stupid. This is the reality in which we live. ”

What's remarkable to me about the plot to kidnap @GovWhitmer is how not surprising it is.

Trump has been spewing misinformation and stoking hatred and it works.

My kids' W MI (Christian) grade school classmates call their governor a stupid idiot and fascist.

This is where we are.

- Kristin Kobes Du Mez (@kkdumez) October 8, 2020

Because of the way she dealt with the spread of the Corona virus in the state, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was praised, but she also received a lot of severe criticism for closing the state for months, which was considered by some to be a restriction of constitutional rights and personal freedoms.

The Michigan Supreme Court said last week that the 1945 law, which was used as the basis for many of the state's governor's orders to shut down public facilities, is unconstitutional.