Ever hear of the Not Fucking Around Coalition? We hadn't either. Even those of us who run into the occasional, er, patriot, remain unaware, for the most part, of the exact nature of the militia subculture. We might decry the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and shake our heads at how crazy the people are, but do we know how many of them there are? More importantly, does the FBI? Do we know where they live?
Estimates range from 15,000 and 20,000 active militia members in over 300 groups to as many as 100,000, but it's hard to know. After Jan. 6, these militias atomized, decentralizing and going local to avoid law enforcement scrutiny. There might be a militia near where you live.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has an interactive hate group map. Contrary to our stereotypes, the militia mentality isn't confined to the South, or the Wild West; there are a surprising number in the Northeast, in places like Connecticut. You might think of Connecticut as Sperry Topsiders and the Mystic Seaport but there are working-class people there, too, and a goodly number are pissed off.
The pissed off part translates across ethnic lines. The wonderfully named Not Fucking Around Coalition is, in fact, a group of black nationalists led by a National Guard and U.S. Army veteran and hip hop DJ named John Fitzgerald Johnson who goes by the nickname Grandmaster Jay. Not allied with the Black Panthers or the Black Lives Matter movement, Grandmaster Jay told Vice magazine that he'd been warning about a white supremacist insurrection like the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol for years, but his predictions fell on deaf ears.
“The terrorism that we saw last week validated everything that I've ever said about why we need to have an entity such as a Black militia: that it’s defensive, not offensive, because those are the very types of people who wouldn't hesitate to stop at the Capitol,” Grand Master Jay told VICE News back in 2021.
As sympathetic as one might feel toward this particular militia group, is the Mad Max scenario of rival militias the future anyone wants for the United States?
If the growth of armed militias seems to have come out of nowhere, it didn't. Much of their ranks came straight out of U.S. foreign policy. Militias have historically risen after periods of war, according to Kathleen Belew, an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago and author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America.”
For the past 30 years, the country has been in an almost constant state of war but with a volunteer army. The military has ginned up recruitment with thinly veiled PR. Top Gun, anyone?
So it's not surprising that after the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, social media was suddenly rife with calls for armed rebellion. Bruce Reinhart, the judge who had issued the FBI warrant, along with his children and family, received death threats.
“I see a rope around his neck,” wrote a user on a pro-Trump message board, according to Vice News. Reinhart is Jewish and his synagogue remained shuttered Friday night for safety reasons. Fox News did its part by propagating an obviously faked photo of the judge boozing it up with Ghislaine Maxwell.
Let's call it the War of the Worlds. Will the sanity of professional pols in the Biden administration prevail? Presumably, but it might be nice to know for sure.
If only it were just an action flick. In the meantime, these folks are making their own movies.
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Yep. It was the Espionage Act.
Federal agents removed top secret documents when they searched former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence on Monday as part of an investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and other laws, according to a search warrant made public on Friday.
F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents in all, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,” according to an inventory of the materials seized in the search. Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility. From The New York Times.