Will Hoyt

“We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an anti-Christ … Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,” declared Hutaree, the recently defunct Christian militia, on their Web site.

The group, based in rural Michigan and including members from Ohio and Indiana, now face charges of seditious conspiracy for a plan to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer and then bomb the funeral caravan using improvised explosive devices. Hutaree, meaning “Christian warriors” according to leader David B. Stone, sought to carry out their plan in hopes of instigating a war against the federal government in which they view as a “New World Order” working on behalf of the anti-Christ, read their indictment issued last Monday.

The group is, undoubtedly, a radical organization that has gone off the deep end. Perhaps more alarming however, is the underlying issue Hutaree’s arrest exposes. They are not alone, and the presence of home-grown radicals is very real.

In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of a rising threat of right-wing terrorism attributing factors like economic troubles, the election of a black president and perceived threats to United States power and sovereignty by other foreign powers. Unfortunately, as exemplified by Hutaree, the warning seems to be warranted.

Recent domestic attacks against the government include John Patrick Bedell, who attacked the entrance to the Pentagon in early March and Joseph Stak, who flew his plane into an Austin, Tx. IRS building in February. Both men framed the federal government as the source of their problems. Stak, upset over tax payments, referred to the IRS as an Orwellian “big brother” that was looking over his shoulder in a suicide note written before the flight.

Hutaree, with a religious foundation, acted under an ideology in which they were soldiers acting out in apocalyptic violence, “before it is too late” to save America and their envisioned way of life.

The influx of these homegrown threats can be attributed to a variety of reasons, but none more than the simple truth that there will always be crazy people looking to express their views. Some, in the case of these radical groups, see violence as their only means of expression.

Some less violent, but equally unnerving, extremists such as Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., deserve equal attention. Phelps, who picketed the funeral of a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq using signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” argues that God hates homosexuality, and the death of soldiers fighting abroad is his way of expressing the U.S.’s tolerance of it. The case against the protestors made by the Marine’s father will be considered by the Supreme Court this fall. As a Kansas native who had my high school graduation picketed by Phelps on the ground of my public school’s openness to homosexuality, I can only hope that the Court makes the right decision by defeating Phelps.

Radical groups will always exist in the U.S.; it is an unfortunate byproduct of free speech and assembly. We need to remember, whenever groups like Hutaree and Phelps cast a shadow, that they are the slim minority of Americans. Moreover, we should be grateful that we have a government that when challenged, addresses these radicals in such a manner that it makes them look foolish and narrow minded. Or do they accomplish that themselves?