This has been a really bad day for eliminationist narratives of a rising right-wing terror.
First, it turns out that George Zimmerman, rather than being a product of Republican / Tea Party / right-wing talk radio, was a registered Democrat.
A federal judge dismissed the most serious charges Tuesday against seven members of a Michigan militia who were rounded up as homegrown extremists accused of plotting war against the U.S., saying their expressed hatred of law enforcement didn’t amount to conspiracy against the government.
The decision is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia four years ago and claimed members were armed for war in rural southern Michigan.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted requests for acquittal on the most serious charges: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies also were dismissed.
The court found that the defendants words did not amount to a conspiracy to commit violence or overthrow the government. Only a few weapons charges remain.
The NY Times at the time of the arrests had quoted a variety of the usual suspects turning the arrests into some larger right-wing trend:
Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a liberal-leaning nonprofit group that tracks far-right networks, said the Hutaree’s philosophy was drawn from a populist strand that fuses fear of a conspiracy to create a one-world government with a belief that a war is imminent between Christians and the Antichrist, as described in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security produced a report warning of a rising threat of right-wing terrorism, citing factors like economic troubles, the election of a black president and perceived threats to United States sovereignty.
Mark Potok, who leads a program that tracks right-wing groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said it first took note of the Hutaree last year amid a surge in new “Patriot” movement groups, race-based hate groups, extremist anti-immigrant groups, Christian militants and other variations.
“We’re seeing all kinds of radical right-wing groups grow very rapidly, especially in the militia world,” Mr. Potok said.
Turns out much of the ballyhoo was hooey.