The Oath Keepers have left obscurity to join up in Ferguson and play Army again, because if there is anything Ferguson needs right now, it’s a bunch of middle-aged white agitators armed to the teeth in order to flaunt their own white privilege in the faces of black protesters who get arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Let’s put this recent development to the side for a minute though. We’ll come back to Ferguson.
Who are the Oath Keepers?
Three months after President Obama took office in 2009, the Oath Keepers were assembled by a Yale-educated man and former aide to Ron Paul, Stewart Rhodes.
Anyone alive as an adult in early 2009 must remember that as a time when right-wing conspiracies were flying wildly about like angry bees whose hive had just been hit with a rock. Obama was a Muslim Kenyan Communist usurper akin to Adolf Hitler who won his office by cheating and was hell bent on destroying the perfect vision of America George W. Bush had left our country with (if you totally ignore the complete economic ruin and two wars started by purposeful lies, of course).
The new President was going to institute Sharia Law and all the Kool-Aid drinking liberals were going to lie down and let it happen. The new Commander-in-Chief was going to disarm the nation while simultaneously butt-fucking nice, white working-class Americans with crippling national debt. Martial Law would inevitably be declared as the fascist Obama government removed all dissenters to live in FEMA camps to eventually be turned into soylent green. It was George Orwell’s 1984 come to life.
Someone needed to protect America from the Obama-fascist machine, and Rhodes answered that call in March of 2009.
The first blog post on their shabby website includes a quote by Gen. George Washington calling to early Americans to decide if they were to be free men or slaves, under the headline”Oath Keepers: Orders We Will Not Obey,” the right-wing group outlined their basic principles.
- We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.
- We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects – such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.
- We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.
- We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor.
- We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union.
- We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
- We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
- We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control” during any emergency, or under any other pretext. We will consider such use of foreign troops against our people to be an invasion and an act of war.
- We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever.
- We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
The members are fiercely anti-government, saying they are sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, many of their approximately 40,000 members are veterans and many are still active-duty members of the Armed Forces as well as former and current police officers, but looking at these tenets, it’s obvious they share a skewed worldview teetering on the edge of delusion. It’s also important to note that many of their members were gathered from Tea Party protests.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has the Oath Keepers filed under Hate and Extremist Groups where they rightfully belong.
Mother Jones published an expose on the group in 2010, which included this quote from Rhodes:
Most of the men’s gripes revolve around policies that began under President Bush but didn’t scare them so much at the time.
‘Too many conservatives relied on Bush’s character and didn’t pay attention,’ founder Rhodes told me. ‘Only now, with Obama, do they worry and see what has been done. Maybe you said, I trusted Bush to only go after the terrorists. But what do you think can happen down the road when they say, ‘I think you are a threat to the nation?’
The Oath Keepers predicted it wouldn’t take long for President Obama to unveil his plans for world domination, maybe a few months to a year after assuming office. We see now (we saw it then too) that their fears were completely unfounded, of course, but being that the President never did commit treason, it has left their group somewhat aimless (and probably seriously in debt from buying all those high-powered rifles with $5000 price tags in order to fight the government).
They had a stockpile of weapons and no one to scare with them.
Cliven Bundy vs. Bureau of Land Management showdown
A dispute over grazing fees and federal land ownership that started in 1993 boiled over in April 2014 between rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management’s Nevada division. Though there are conflicting reports on how much was owed to the BLM by Bundy, one thing was for certain the two camps did not respect each other’s ‘authoritah’ and thus Bundy sent out a call that his land, cattle and money were being taken illegally by the much-hated federal government.
Enter Oath Keepers, stage right.
Finally! The Oath Keepers found one American in bad needin’ of protectin’! Granted that particular American was in the wrong, as even Glenn Beck was willing to point out, but we’re talking about the Oath Keepers here and they were none too happy to show up to the Bundy Ranch in droves dressed like Rambo eager to defend Bundy’s liberties.
Reports came through that the Oath Keepers along with other militia groups pointed their high-powered firearms at police and federal officers without consequence. They even had the winning strategy of putting women and children in front of the federal officers, so that in case the officers opened fire the women and children would die first. Because bravery, duh.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNnXHZNkS_I?rel=0]
Eventually, the Oath Keepers left because they heard that Eric Holder was planning on using drone strikes to kill the militia men. Rhodes opted to pull his men out of harm’s way, which angered other militia groups onsite who went on national TV to embarrass the Oath Keepers for leaving a man behind on the battle field and not holding true to the cause.
Americans watched as grown men playing patriots forced the BLM to leave Bundy be for the time being. Considering the group formed because they were convinced the government was going to create concentration camps in the nation, the whole fiasco really only reinforced just how delusional the Oath Keepers were, since not one shot was fired in their direction while they vowed a blood bath would occur. Over grazing fees. Sheesh.
It was in this moment that the Oath Keepers came to the national spot light.
The Oath Keepers descend upon Ferguson, MO, 2014
After the Oath Keepers tucked their tails in and fled from the Bundy Ranch over a wild unsubstantiated rumor that Eric Holder planned drone strikes on the militiamen they were once again without a cause.
But lucky enough for them, a certain white police officer in Ferguson, MO was about to kill an unarmed teenager in August of 2014 which would allow them to act like human G.I. Joe’s all over again.
After the shooting of Michael Brown, riots and protests broke out in the streets of Ferguson. While the large protests remained overwhelmingly peaceful, several stores were looted and burned to the ground prompting the Missouri governor to issue a State of Emergency and to call in the National Guard as well as police decked out in military-style riot gear.
The Oath Keepers also answered that call and descended upon Ferguson, not to protect African Americans from the police or military, but to protect white business owners from having their stores looted or vandalized and to seemingly aid the police who actually were trampling all over citizens rights with their black, shiny boots.
They came heavily armed and stood guard outside businesses and atop roofs while the police and national guard launched tear gas at unarmed Americans practicing their First Amendment rights. And while the 10th tenet of the basic principles the Oath Keepers swear to uphold the First Amendment rights of American citizens, apparently the rules are different for black Americans, as usual.
The police did not appear to bat an eye at the Oath Keepers while black folks were arrested for disobeying curfew and arrested for stepping off sidewalks. The presence of the Oath Keepers heightened racial tension, since the white guys playing Army and open-carrying were allowed to unofficially police the streets and black folks were hauled off to jail in jam-packed paddy wagons for minor infractions.
Eventually, the Oath Keepers were ordered off of rooftops amid concerns that the men were not authorized security.
Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, said of the group:
Everything that they say that stand for is based on this notion that the world and the government is going to become a dictatorship to try to prevent Americans from having their freedoms.
When you believe that you have to arm yourself in order to protect the people from the government, and you’re such a loosely-organized group that anybody can join you, that’s a combination that can potentially create violent incidents in the future.
Fall 2014 was a cluster fuck to say the least, but the Oath Keepers left once some semblance of peace was restored to the city without shooting any opportunist looters or angry arsonists — luckily — though they did largely fail to uphold some citizen’s rights to the First Amendment. Which is a much bigger failure in perspective.
Oath Keepers return to Ferguson, MO, 2015
Earlier this year, there was a similar incident to the one in Nevada on the Bundy Ranch with a group of gold miners in Oregon who had a similar dispute over land and rights with the Oregon BLM. The Oath Keepers flocked immediately to their cause but were rejected by the miners, who didn’t want a showdown at Sugar Pines Gold Mine in Oregon. One of the mine’s owners said that the incident had become a “circus.”
In short, they were told to GTFO.
Once again, the Oath Keepers returned home to await the impending government takeover of America and to lovingly stroke their weapons.
But just yesterday, the Oath Keepers re-emerged in Ferguson, MO.
As protesters gathered to remember the death of Michael Brown, five armed Oath Keepers were spotted among the crowd. Mother Jones reports they were voluntarily protecting an InfoWars “journalist” from harm, InfoWars being the conspiracy site run by Alex Jones who also believes that a government takeover is imminent. Who would know better than Alex Jones, who has been reporting the government is taking over the U.S. any minute now for the past 20 years. Of course the Oath Keepers are all Jonesbots, it’s the only way any of this makes any sense.
While 40 #BlackLivesMatter protesters were arrested yesterday, among them the long-time activist and Princeton professor Dr. Cornel West, the militia men were free to terrorize protesters. Got that? Peaceful protesters, bad. Armed militia, good? It’s all so absurdly racist and backwards.
When the protesters became agitated with the presence of heavily-armed white bread patrolling in their vicinity, the Oath Keepers told them, “we got your backs.”
And that may be true, perhaps this time they are looking out for protesters, but is rubbing their white privilege to show up armed in case they need to shoot some cops really looking out for everyone?
Given the history of this group, I’d say no. They agitate people, both protesters and police. They command a fearful presence with their beer guts, bullet proof vests and guns. They are an unknown element. They set protesters on edge.
Bottom line, Oath Keepers appear to be bored men and sometimes women who want to get their violence fix, they’re murder junkies, and since they don’t want to be the ones to fire the first shot, they show up during heated arguments in hopes someone else will in order to get in on the action and use their much-prized penis extenders they’ve spent precious time and money stockpiling.
No one asked for your protection Oath Keepers, go home.
Featured Image via TVO In News