Mainly described as an attempted kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the alleged actions of the apparent white terrorists are better described as a coup attempt.
The allegations went far deeper than attempting to kidnap Whitmer. The allegations included efforts to spark a civil war through an attack on the state legislature. It has also been alleged that the same group had an interest in kidnapping Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
Leaving aside for a moment that the Trump administration has largely brushed aside this act of right-wing bravado in the name of going after political forces on the Left, the actions of this alleged terrorist group are worth noting. If the allegations are proven, their actions amount to the equivalent of the Nazi Munich Beerhall Putsch in 1923, a precursor to their rise to power in 1932.
In 1923 the Nazis attempted an uprising in the city of Munich (in Bavaria). It failed and Hitler was jailed (where he went on to write Mein Kampf). The Nazis were not taken very seriously and as opposed to being crushed as a political force, were allowed to grow. By the time of the Great Depression the Nazis were well-positioned to fight for power.
Part of their literal arsenal were paramilitary units known as Sturmabteilung, otherwise known as the SA or the Storm Troopers. Much like the paramilitary units set up by Benito Mussolini in his march to power in Italy during the early 1920s, the SA was a large ‘gang’ that intimidated – if not terrorized – political opponents and Jews. In many cases the SA received the cooperation of the German police.
The reference to the SA is not to lead anyone to believe that there is an identical comparison with our own situation. What is important, however, is that mainstream media in both Germany (of the 1920s and early 1930s), and in the USA – historically – has tended to downplay the paramilitary extreme Right-wing.
Each time this is underestimated, there is disaster. In the aftermath of the crushing of Reconstruction, white terrorists ran roughshod throughout the South, destroying most evidence of the great advances that took place after the Civil War.
In the Southwest during the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, white vigilante gangs were used to terrorize Native Americans, Asians, and Mexicans, often stealing their land from under them. In 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina, an armed white supremacist coup overthrew a legitimately elected multi-racial progressive, populist government.
Those charged in the apparent coup attempt and kidnapping in Michigan were not wild-eyed crazies who like to play with guns. They are part of a right-wing populist movement that has received active and steady encouragement from the Trump administration to taunt those who believe in democracy.
If you ever had any question as to what is at stake November 3rd, that has, hopefully, now been settled.