Tensions are pretty high in Virginia. They’re pretty high everywhere else, too, really. After all, if things go badly in the Old Dominion state, they’re not necessarily going to stay there. They have the potential to spread out like a wildfire.
Gov. Ralph Northam has cited what he called “credible” threats stemming from a pro-gun rally scheduled for Lobby Day in the state as his justification for declaring a state of emergency in the state and banning guns in the capitol. Legally, it doesn’t look like he can actually do that, but that’s neither here nor there.
What is, though, is how the FBI made an arrest on Thursday of three neo-Nazis in Maryland and how the media automatically links it to Virginia.
Alarming calls online for a race war. The arrest of three suspected neo-Nazis. Memories of the explosive clashes in Charlottesville, Va., three years ago.
A sense of crisis enveloped the capital of Virginia on Thursday, with the police on heightened alert and Richmond bracing for possible violence ahead of a gun rally next week that is expected to draw white supremacists and other anti-government extremists.
This is how the article starts. A bare mention of the arrest of three suspected domestic terrorists. It then goes into a discussion of the tensions in Virginia.
A lot about what’s going on in Virginia.
Then, after a long time, we finally get to this:
The three men taken into custody on Thursday morning were part of a long-running investigation into the Base. The men were charged with various federal crimes in Maryland, according to the Justice Department.
One of the men, Patrik J. Mathews, 27, a main recruiter for the group, entered the United States illegally from Canada, according to the officials. He was arrested along with Brian M. Lemley Jr., 33, and William G. Bilbrough IV, 19.
Mr. Mathews was trained as a combat engineer and is considered an expert in explosives. The Canadian Army discharged him after his ties to white supremacists surfaced. Mr. Lemley previously served as a cavalry soldier in the United States Army.
The F.B.I. has grown increasingly concerned about the Base as it has worked to recruit more people. The group encourages the onset of anarchy, according to the Counter Extremism Project, an organization that tracks far-right extremists. Experts say that its founder, an American, appears to be living in Russia.
Mr. Lemley and Mr. Bilbrough were charged on Thursday with transporting and harboring aliens along with conspiracy. Prosecutors also charged Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews with transporting a firearm and ammunition with the intent of committing a felony. The complaint also charges Mr. Mathews with possessing a firearm and ammunition while being in the country illegally.
So it takes that long to finally get to the meat of the article and discuss the accused domestic terrorists in question. It should be noted that The Base apparently got their name from Al Quida. It seems that when you translate the notorious Islamic terrorist organization’s name into English, you get “The Base.”
Which really suggests these guys are all kinds of fuzzy.
So what does this arrest have to do with Virginia? So far as anyone can tell, nothing. Nothing at all.
Yes, even the New York Times all but admits that.
According to the authorities, Mr. Lemley and Mr. Mathews made a functioning assault rifle. They also bought more than 1,500 rounds of rifle ammunition, fired the rifle at a Maryland gun range and acquired vests to hold body armor. Although the charges were not directly linked to the Richmond rally, law enforcement officials said the three men had discussed attending it.
Attending doesn’t mean targeting.
That said, Maryland isn’t very far from Virginia so I’ll acknowledge the possibility that these three tools may well have been plotting something for that event. I wouldn’t hold your breath on it, though.
The links itself are tenuous at best. Had Richmond been the target, it’s likely the FBI would have found evidence of concrete plans for an attack of some sort.
No doubt, though, some will look at the timing of the arrest and argue that it’s all the proof one needs to know something was up. I, however, disagree completely. Arrests happen when they happen. Unless these were made in Richmond just as these three dipsticks were gearing up, without some concrete evidence of just what they were going to attack, we simply don’t know.
Yet I find it incredibly irresponsible for the New York Times to tie the two events together like this, especially when there’s so little evidence to do so. In fact, doing so may do more to fan the flames of what’s happening in Virginia more than anything else. Right now, things are tense and all it will take is a spark to light it off.
While I don’t think this will be that spark, it’s likely to add fuel to the fire as Virginian anti-gunners try to justify new measures with this link. The New York Times is supposedly a trusted news organization.
Couple that with the fact that there’s almost nothing indicating the two aren’t linked until the article–a long one–was almost completely finished. And this from a writer who’s a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.
Is it any wonder that trust in the media is at an all-time low?