Far-right extremism: How the plot to kidnap a governor reflects on… Adolf Hitler

The alarming rise in violence from far-right extremists is eerily similar to the rise of fascism in 1920s Germany


Robert Gatzke, Contributor

2020 has been a time of increasingly alarming and bad news. It did not fail to strike again on Oct. 8, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the foiled plot of 14 men in relation to the kidnapping of Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. This should not come as a surprise because the warnings were simply there.

Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, has grown in the limelight over the past six months due to her strict response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her strict approach included a lockdown of the state, respected by many for the public safety in the front of her mind, yet greatly critiqued by her far-right wing constituents. These decisions to lockdown and quarantine the state caused many protests to erupt. 

Unfortunately, President Trump backed these protestors and tweeted three increasingly infamous tweets aimed at Democratic Governors on April 12, 2020. These tweets stated, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Sadly these far-right groups listened to their leader that they idolize and took matters into their own hands. 

The far-right extremist group, Wolverine Watchmen, constructed a plan birthed from these events. The Wolverine Watchmen, a small militia group consisting of only men, was found tied to the Boogaloo movement, which is an anti-governmental reactionary movement in favor of a second civil war. This group was co-founded by its commander, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico. The group would meet at Morrison’s home, proudly representing a confederate battle flag, and host to large gatherings where gunshots could be heard from the property, as they reportedly liked to “play guns in the woods”. Their goal was to storm the capitol building with 200 armed men, ready to violently enter, overthrow, and bring Gov. Whitmer to trial for treason by holding her and others hostage. Their trial would be made and judged by them… From one of the group’s secret meetings in Dublin, Ohio, An unnamed informant said they wanted to create a new society that better adhered to the Bill of Rights. Further information later revealed that they were also planning on “taking out” Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia. These men have been caught before the act and jailed. Is it a coincidence that this group tried attacking the governors of two states that Trump said to “LIBERATE”?

Another similar and infamous right-wing attempt to overthrow a local government was executed and led by a young Austrian man in Bavaria, Germany on Nov. 8-9, 1923. This was a man gathering support from a divided nation on where to go next. A man who was charismatic and claimed to want what was best for his nation. His white European followers believed that he wanted what was best for them. With help from a German politician, Erich Ludendorff, They started their revolution in a beer hall and were able to gather support and carry out their infamous “Munich Putsch”. This failed and their Austrian leader was arrested and tried for treason. That young man was Adolf Hitler. He was sentenced to five years in prison and only served less than one year. He wrote his book in jail entitled “Mein Kampf,” and was able to prosper from his release from jail. He used his publicity from the news and it caught people’s attention through major polarization. He later committed mass genocide and tried to take over the world with his NAZI party, and nearly succeeded. Germany was in a place where they did not know where to go, they were very politically polarized, and many citizens on both sides did not agree with their current government, which was The Weimar Republic. Hitler pounced on his chance to obtain followers and used his divided desperate society to gain supporters for his cause.

All of these characteristics of their society are becoming increasingly more like the United States, a country where it is safe to say that there will be lots of unrest in society no matter who wins this upcoming election. The U.S. is in desperate need of change and it may not be long before people start to join a cause that they should not be in. As we watched the right-wing become more right in recent years, it was only a matter of time before somebody tried something, something like the Wolverine Watchmen Michigan plot. The men involved in the Wolverine Watchmen plot are in an extremely similar stance to a very young NAZI party, as they are ready to enact change and put it into their own hands in heated times. Although the NAZI’s labeled themselves as “socialists” they were a right-wing group against their alternative, communism, who fixated on class, race, and inequality. All of the men are white far-right extremists who were ready to incite a civil war and do so violently, to push their beliefs to another level. 

These men should be a warning sign for what is to come and how it can be prevented. Just because they were arrested does not mean the problem was stopped. Even Hitler was arrested for what he tried. Did that work out well? As the great Spanish philosopher, George Santayana, once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we allow these groups like the Wolverine Watchmen to continue their ways, who knows what the future holds. We have already learned about the dangers of these reactionary movements in history, why let them repeat it on our watch? 

For more information on the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer and others, check out an article from the Amherst Wire’s Talya Torres’s that breaks down the plan and the current aftermath.


Email Robert at [email protected]

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