Commenting on the thwarted extremist plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, leftist reporter Walker Bragman was hounded by online commenters for suggesting that the would-be terrorists were radicalized by poverty.
“Can we acknowledge that maybe economic circumstances play a role in radicalizing people?” Bragman tweeted on Thursday night, following news of the FBI revealing the kidnap plot in Michigan. The journalist tried to illustrate his point by attaching pictures of one of the arrested men’s somewhat decrepit-looking house.
This is the home of Joseph Morrison, one of the Michigan men recently arrested for his plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Can we acknowledge that maybe economic circumstances play a role in radicalizing people? pic.twitter.com/zCbNjaZ10B
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) October 8, 2020
“No one is fated to be a far-right terrorist. This is learned and fostered by governmental neglect,” the pundit continued in a long Twitter thread. “We are reaping what we’ve sowed over four decades of trickle-down neoliberal policies.”
Bragman’s take on the anti-government right-wing militants didn’t sit well with many on the platform, specifically because, in the front yard of the coup-plotters’ house there was an American Confederate flag, long a symbol associated with white US nationalists. The journalist was swiftly branded an “apologist” for racists. “Just say you support white terrorism. It’s quicker,” tweeted film writer Alynda Wheat.
*dude owns a house, two trucks and a yard*
“He’s doing fine.”
*and a confederate flag*
“Poverty radicalizes everyone to plot to kidnap governors.”
— Kashana (@kashanacauley) October 9, 2020
Black people suffered this same fate for centuries, in regards to cultural resentment, economic circumstance and neglect from the government. Yet, no one's plotting to kidnap a governor.
This feels excusatory, or when "mental illness" is the rationale for shootings by white men.
— Bärí A. Williams (@BariAWilliams) October 9, 2020
The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill turned the tables on Bragman’s “economic circumstances” point, saying that black families in the country on average have much less than the white ones, but “haven’t plotted to overthrow the government.”
“It’s the whiteness that radicalizes them, not the poverty,” she concluded.
Many commenters disagreed with Bragman’s initial assessment of the men’s home, countering that his perception of the militants’ living circumstances was entirely subjective. “It’s like a modest size house with a yard and some trucks – the American dream!” said author Matthew Yglesias.
These are pictures of neglect, not poverty. A trash-filled yard ≠ poverty. Do you know any actual poor people?
— Osha Davidson (@OshaDavidson) October 9, 2020
I see a nice house, surrounded by nature, neglected by someone who should spend more time cleaning up their trash and less time plotting kidnappings.
— Tim Molloy (@TimAMolloy) October 9, 2020
The much-discussed property is the residence of Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison, two of the 13 men arrested by the FBI. It was supposedly used as a training ground by the suspects in their plot to kidnap the governor.
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According to Michigan’s Attorney General the conspirators intended to instigate a second “civil war” in the US by kidnapping state officials, including the governor, killing law enforcement officers, and taking over the state’s Capitol building.
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