In Margaret Atwood’s prescient novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the United States government is overthrown by right-wing terrorists who massacre Congress with guns from Capitol balconies while assassinating the president at the White House.
That plot – now also a television drama -- came to mind Thursday after federal and state authorities charged 13 right-wing extremists with plotting to storm Michigan’s state capitol in Lansing with guns and to kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after kidnapping her and putting her on trial for treason.
All this once again demonstrates why Michigan’s cowardly, Republican-ruled Legislature should ban guns in the building, at the very least, instead of continuing a bizarre policy that encourages crazy people to act out and makes Michigan look like Kookland.
But that won’t happen. These craven hacks in Michigan’s Republican districts don’t want to offend their Second Amendment absolutists who feel the need to brandish murder machines in public. Happiness, as Lennon and McCartney wrote, is a warm gun.
But do gun demonstrations at the Capitol really encourage murderous conspiracies?
Attorney General Dana Nessel thinks they do. She said Thursday that photographs (including the one above) show at least two of the accused conspirators -- 38-year-old twins Michael and William Null -- attended the April 30 rally that featured big guys with beards, armed with rifles, stalking the corridors and balconies and intimidating legislators.
Outside, others carried flags of the racist Confederacy; others waved the one with the snake.
“Some of those individuals are the same people that were charged in these indictments,” Nessel told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Thursday. She added that the conspirators used that demonstration and others like it to recruit.
“Those events were crucial and pivotal in terms of them organizing,” Nessel said.
Plotting to Kill Cops
So why did these 13 white men demonstrate rage in public while allegedly plotting to kill cops, blow up bridges, start a civil war and destroy the government?
Because they didn’t like Whitmer’s orders last spring to shut down businesses and to wear face masks to stall the spread of the fatal Covid-19 virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
They said they had the “freedom” to do as they damn well pleased, even if it endangers others because they have their “liberty.”
And President Donald Trump supported them by tweeting “Liberate Michigan!” on April 17, a day after spring's first anti-Whitmer rally outside the Capitol.
But why doesn’t the Michigan Legislature simply use common sense and ban weapons, just as they would be banned for something like, oh, a Trump rally?
Because the Michigan Legislature is a mockery of democracy. Thanks to cynical gerrymandering after the Tea Party tantrum 10 years ago, a minority of Michigan’s voters elect the majority of Michigan’s senators and representatives. That means this state is ruled by hicks from the sticks, narrow-minded pawns for the increasingly unhinged commander-in-chief.
Instead of wishing Whitmer well Thursday, the diseased demagogue renewed their feud in another rambling rant on Fox News Channel.
“She keeps her state closed,” Trump lied, amid at least two coughs. “What she’s doing is a horrible thing to the people. The churches are closed. The schools are closed. The whole state is closed. The people are being hurt very badly.”
At least this time Trump referred to the governor as “Whitmer,” with no first name or title. In the past, he called her “that woman in Michigan.” (Would he ever refer to any male governor as “that man?”)
Trump often displays visceral disdain for females elected to positions of power. His toxic masculinity is something he shares with the self-described “militias” who may threaten the Nov. 3 elections by serving as “poll watchers” and who knows what else if they dislike the results.
Last week, Trump urged the vigilante “Proud Boys” to “stand by,” as if they were the armed Guardians of Gilead. And Trump’s sexist swagger would fit right in with Gilead, a land ruled by wealthy, male, Christian extremists who allow women to breed babies and not do much more and who execute men and women who are not heterosexual.
You think this is all an exaggeration? You think bad stuff can’t happen here? That fiction never bleeds into fact?
If Trump succeeds in stealing a Supreme Court seat for the reactionary Judge Amy Coney Barrett, she will likely tilt the Court to ban abortion, just the way the male commanders do for the women of Gilead.
You think that’s far-fetched? Barrett’s extremist Christianity includes time spent in a cultish group called People of Praise, which is devoted to reestablishing a male-dominated religious culture.
Oh, and Barrett’s title with that flock: “Handmaid.”