About the Oath Keepers: boon or bane for the Republic?

Summary:  this posts looks at the Oath Keepers.  Potentially valuable (perhaps even critical support).  Potentially dangerous (perhaps disastrous).  Their goal is commendable; their actions sometimes worrisome.  At worst they could become a nucleus for fourth generation war in the US.  It’s too soon to tell how they will evolve.

Oath Keepers

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Contents

  1. Who are the Oath Keepers?
  2. A look at the Oath Keepers
  3. Background Material
  4. For More Information

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(1)  Who are the Oath Keepers?

From their website:

Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of like minded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our Oath is to the Constitution.  Our motto is “Not on our watch!”  Read complete description here.

Commendable, and if America undergoes hard times the role of such people might become essential!  But organizations are more than their goal statements.  People’s actions differ from their public oaths and prayers.  A few obvious questions…

  • Do the leaders and members of the Oath Keepers have the self-discipline to keep the organization focused on the oath and related issues?  Or will it get hijacked by those with broader political aims, becoming a group of uniformed and armed partisans? 
  • They will stand up to President Obama.  Will they stand up to rogue Oath Keepers?  Or will they turn a blind eye to them.  Rot starts in a basket with a single apple.
  • Are these people we should trust, outside of the official organizations which regulate them?  What fraction of the Keepers are people we should fear, hoping their uniformed superiors keep them on a tight rein?
  • What is their stance on today’s Constitutional issues, such as torture, excessive violence by SWAT teams, and illegal seizures of person and property?  How many follow Rhodes in these matters?

(2)  A look at the Oath keepers

For a balanced view of these questions see “Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason“, Justine Sharrock, Mother Jones, March/April 2010 — “Glenn Beck loves them. Tea Partiers court them. Congressmen listen to them. Meet the fast-growing “patriot” group that’s recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.”  Impressive work, especially since Mother Jones is a often a leftist rag.  Excerpts follow.

Their politics

Oath Keepers collaborates regularly with like-minded citizens groups; last Fourth of July, Rhodes dispatched speakers to administer the oath at more than 30 Tea Party rallies across America. At last fall’s 9/12 march on Washington, he led a contingent of Oath Keepers from the Capitol steps down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Afterward, Oath Keepers cohosted a banquet with the hawkish Gathering of Eagles. This February, a member of the group organized a Florida Freedom Rally featuring Joe the Plumber and conservative singer Lloyd Marcus.  Sample lyrics {see this YouTube video}:

Mr. President! Your stimulus is sure to bust
it’s just a socialistic scheme
The only thing it will do
is kill the American Dream.

Their views

At lunch, when I questioned my tablemates about the Obama-Hitler comparisons I’d heard at the conference, I got a step-by-step tutorial on how the president’s socialized medicine agenda would beget a Nazi-style regime.

I learned that bringing guns to Tea Party protests was a reminder of our constitutional rights, was introduced to the notion that the founding fathers modeled their governing documents on the Bible, and debated whether being Muslim meant an inability to believe in and abide by — and thus be protected by — the Constitution. I was schooled on the treachery of the Federal Reserve and why America needs a gold standard, and at dinner one night, Nighta Davis, national organizer for the National 912 Project, explained how abortion-rights advocates are part of a eugenics program targeting Christians.

… Mack runs the “No Sheriff Left Behind” campaign encouraging state and local authorities to disregard federal laws that they believe violate states’ rights. During the 1990s, he successfully eviscerated a Brady Law provision requiring sheriffs to run background checks on handgun purchasers. Another sheriff who spoke, Mark Gower of Iron County, Utah, uses Mack’s precedent to refuse to act against property owners who violate the Endangered Species Act. The conference’s lifetime achievement award went to Army Specialist Michael New, discharged in 1996 for refusing to wear a United Nations helmet and patch while serving in Germany.

… IN VEGAS, Rhodes took me aside repeatedly to explain that many of those in attendance — including featured speakers like “Patriot Pastor” Garrett Lear (“When a government doesn’t obey God, we must reform it”) — might not represent Oath Keepers’ official message. He and his Web staff have been overwhelmed, he told me, by the amount of policing required to keep people from posting “off message” commentary encouraging violence or racism.

The character of their members, their ability to detect bad apples — and their response to signs of rot

A soldier like Charles Dyer, who in his July4Patriot persona advocated armed resistance against the government, could risk charges of treason. As a Marine sergeant based out of Camp Pendleton, Dyer posted videos to YouTube last year, his face half-covered with a skull bandana. “With the DHS blatantly calling patriots, veterans, and constitutionalists a threat, all that I have to say is, you’re damn right we’re a threat,” he said in one. “We’re a threat to anyone that endangers our rights and the Constitution of this republic…We’re gathering in defense of our way of life.” For a while, he ran a training compound in San Diego, teaching civilians his Marine combat skills.

Dyer, who with Rhodes’ blessing represented Oath Keepers at an Oklahoma Tea Party rally on July 4, was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with uttering “disloyal” statements. He ultimately beat the charge, left the Marines, and reappeared unmasked on YouTube encouraging viewers to join him at his makeshift training area in Duncan, Oklahoma—”I’m sure the DHS will call it a terrorist training camp.” In January, Dyer was arrested on charges of raping a seven-year-old girl. When sheriff’s deputies raided his home, they found a Colt M-203 grenade launcher believed to have been stolen from a California military base. He now faces federal weapons charges and is being hailed by fringe militia groups like the American Resistance Movement as “the first POW of the second American Revolution.”  {FM:  he was acquitted}

Shortly after I asked Rhodes about Dyer — before his arrest hit the news—his testimonial vanished from the group’s website­. Rhodes once endorsed Dyer in glowing terms, but now claims he was never a member because he hasn’t paid dues. Yet Dyer publicly referred to himself as an Oath Keeper, and Rhodes had previously insisted — to Lou Dobbs and anyone else who would listen — that you didn’t need to pay dues to be a member.

{FM:  Dyer was arrested on 16 January 2010 for sodomy with with a 7 year old girl (source).  I see no resolution to the matter}

(3)  Background material

(a)  Words of one member of the Oath Keeper, words with which I agree:  

I’m Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, and long-time crusader for freedom and individual rights. Right now, it is vital that we restore the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our own federal government. If America is conquered or ruined it will be from within, not a foreign enemy.  (from his website)

(b)  The infamous Homeland Security Department assessment report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment“, 7 April 2009.  Often cited by right and left, pro and con.  Does not mention the Oath Keepers.

(c)  A precursor to the Oath Keepers:  “Operation Vampire Killer 2000 – American Police Action Plan for Stopping World Government Rule“, Published by Police Against the New World Order, 1992 — Excerpt:

PURPOSE

 The Police Officers, National Guardsmen and military officers who have contributed to this special publication are aware of a plan to overthrow the Constitutional Republic of these United States of America.  This publication, many months in preparation, was found difficult to compile for many reasons. One important reason was that none of the officers involved were pleased with the duty of bringing to the attention of our colleagues the names and activities of some in our nation who have been in the past (or presently) engaged in what can only be described by law as treason and/or sedition against their own government.

While detailing the plan of these Internationalists, the main goal of this special police publication will be to promote an active program that will defend America from those at work forming an oligarchy of Imperialism against this nation of free people.  The herein-described plan to halt this un-American activity can succeed only with the combined efforts of the People’s Protectors (the Police, Guardsmen and Military) and their countrymen in the private sector.

(d)  Articles about the Oath Keepers:

(4)  Posts about these topics on the FM website

(a)  Posts about the Constitution and our government:

  1. Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  2. The Constitution: wonderful, if we can keep it, 15 February 2008
  3. Congress shows us how our new government works, 14 April 2008
  4. See the last glimmers of the Constitution’s life…, 27 June 2008
  5. Remembering what we have lost… thoughts while looking at the embers of the Constitution, 29 June 2008
  6. A report card for the Republic: are we still capable of self-government?, 3 July 2008
  7. Another step away from our Constitutional system, with applause, 19 September 2008
  8. What comes after the Constitution? Can we see the outlines of the “Mark 3″ version?, 10 November 2008
  9. Are Americans still willing to bear the burden of self-government?, 27 March 2009
  10. “Lights, Camera, Democracy” by Lewis Lapham, 24 May 2009
  11. “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead.” – Supreme Court Justice Scalia, 9 June 2009
  12. More about the tottering structure of the American political regime, 17 August 2009
  13. Listen to the crowds cheering Sarah Palin, hear the hammerblows of another nail in the Constitution’s coffin, 8 February 2010
  14. Another nail put in the Constitution’s coffin, but we don’t care, 9 February 2010
  15. Does the US government have the American people’s consent to govern?, 10 March 2010
  16. Recommended reading about the Constitution, 17 March 2010
  17. Is the US government illegitimate? If so, does that justify violent revolution?, 1 April 2010

(b)  Post about solutions, ways to reform America:

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008
  3. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
  8. What happens next? Advice for the new President, part one., 17 October 2008
  9. What to do? Advice for the new President, part two., 18 October 2008
  10. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  11. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  12. The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
  13. Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October 2009
  14. The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009
  15. Light the fireworks – the campaign starts today!, 9 March 2010
  16. Question of the Day, about reforming America, 12 March 2010
  17. The project to reform America: a matter for science, or a matter of will?, 16 March 2010

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