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Waffle House, Mayhem, Moles & Terrorism

Harvesting oats, southeastern Georgia (ca. 1940)
Harvesting oats, southeastern Georgia (ca. 1940)
Marion Post Wolcott / Library of Congress

We can't resist this New York Times story, which not only begins with maybe the paper's weirdest lede ever but also ends with a fantastic quote.

The opening:

At the Waffle House here, no one can believe that the gray-haired men who came in almost daily for egg sandwiches and coffee could have been terrorists plotting to blow up government buildings and kill masses of people using poison from a bean plant that people in this rural part of the state grow to ward off moles.

What follows is a story about four self-proclaimed militiamen, none younger than 65, who met regularly to plot violence, murder and terrorism, hoping to foment some sort of anti-government revolution. Their method of choice was ricin, a poison made from the castor bean plant, commonly grown in Georgia. That doesn't sound like it'd go well with an order of country ham and eggs.

The closing:

"When you read about people throwing ricin out of the window of a car, it sounds like something out of the Keystone Kops," said Mark Potok, an authority on militia groups and the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Information Project. "But the fact that this was hare-brained doesn't mean there wasn't a real risk of people being killed."

Indeed.


Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at eshatkin@laweekly.com.


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