Trevor Noah Examines the Evolution of the Modern Militia Movement on 'The Daily Show'

Trevor Noah used the recently thwarted plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as a jumping-off point for a deep dive into the history of militias on The Daily Show Wednesday, October 14th.

Noah shared a handful of clips that helped trace the evolution of militias in the United States: They began as state-sanctioned and -regulated entities in the early days of the country, and, by the 19th century, there were laws in place to differentiate between organized and unorganized militias (the former effectively became the National Guard).

Noah acknowledged that militias were far more necessary in early America when the country had different needs and faced different threats. “I mean, hell, Canada was a threat to America back then, which is wild,” he cracked. “It’s like finding out Mr. Rogers used to be a cage fighter.” But the host went on to compare the need for militias in the 21st century to still “wiping your ass with leaves — they used to be all we had, but with all the progress society has made, if you’re still doing that shit, you’re probably a little bit crazy.”

The modern militia movement began to emerge in the Nineties following clashes in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. But they really exploded after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, fueled by racism and conspiracy theories that Obama was a secret Muslim who was going to stay in office forever and even invade Texas. In the years since, modern militias have only gotten more intense as they stockpile arms and build training grounds to practice military-style maneuvers. And, as Noah noted, while early militias were formed to protect America, 21st-century militias seem more intent on ripping it apart; like the so-called Boogaloo Boys, who are driven by the belief that a second American Civil War is coming.

“What these people don’t seem to understand is that a second Civil War would be a disaster for America. Because not only would it kill millions and destroy the country, also we would all have to grow muttonchops again,” Noah quipped. “And, I don’t think I can pull off muttonchops. Or could I? Actually, you know what, maybe I could look good in muttonchops. OK, I’m ready! Let’s do a Civil War!”

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