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Oath Keepers Rally Reveals Radical Politics of Group

By Ryan Lenz on July 25, 2013 - 3:27 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Propaganda, Patriot Groups

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has always trusted his intellectual pedigree to keep him above the fray.

Boasting a Yale Law School degree and a smooth-talking manner, Rhodes from the start described the group he formed in 2009 — made up largely of law enforcement officials and past and present members of the military — as merely standing up for the Constitution and American liberties. When he urged his members to resist orders to impose martial law or create detention camps, he said, his were merely theoretical worries. After all, he said, Hessian mercenaries once did help the British during the American Revolution and Japanese Americans were rounded up and detained in internment camps during World War II.

He was no conspiracy theorist.

But nearly four years later, if there were any questions still remaining about what the Oath Keepers really are, an event the group has planned for this weekend should lay them all to rest. Starting on Friday at the Farragut State Park outside Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the Oath Keepers are hosting the Northwest Patriots and Self Reliance Rally. The lineup of participating allies is revealing.

There will be a workshop on colloidal silver — a substance that many on the radical right believe is a cure for all kinds of ailments that the government has kept secret from the people. In fact, the substance has no known medical use and, if used with the frequency that some radicals do, turns human skin blue.

There will be seminars on Agenda 21, a United Nations sustainability plan that has no legal enforcement mechanisms or requirements, but that the radical right is convinced is a secret plot to impose socialism on the United States.

There will be representatives from the John Birch Society — a primary proponent of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, the idea that fluoridation of water is a Communist plot, and the charge that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist agent. Also scheduled to attend are Sheriff Richard Mack, a long-time darling of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement who has been encouraging county sheriffs to resist federal gun laws, and Chuck Baldwin, a far-right pastor and “constitutionalist” who moved to Montana several years ago to battle the incursions of the federal government.

Also featured will be training sessions on hand-to hand combat, nighttime military patrols, survival firearms, and preparation of “bug-out bags” — all of these an obvious reflection of the radical right’s obsessive fear that the government is about to move against the American people, seizing their guns and ending liberty.

“If you’re concerned about the future of America, if you’ve awakened to the peril facing our American heritage, our Judeo Christian way of life and the very existence of our future as a nation, if you realize the importance of preparing for an uncertain future and striving for a self-sufficient lifestyle, then there will only be one place to be,” a promotional radio advertisement about the rally says.

These kind of end-of-freedom fears are not new. So-called “preparedness expos” were common during the first wave of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement during the 1990s. Toward the end of that decade, with many on the far right predicting a “Y2K” crash at the millennial date change, tens of thousands of those on the right rushed to the expos to prepare for imminent hard times.

All this seems to obviously fly in the face of Rhodes’ assertion that he is no conspiracy theorist of wild-eyed radical. But, in fact, almost since the beginning, the Oath Keepers struggled to explain away the extremism in their ranks.

Last year, Rhodes and others raced to distance themselves from Charles Dyer, a former Marine and self-described Oath Keeper who led police on a cross-country chase amid allegations he raped his 7-year-old daughter. Although many Oath Keepers claimed Dyer was the victim of a government conspiracy to silence Patriots, he was later convicted.

In 2011, hundreds of armed Oath Keepers descended on the tiny town of Quartzsite, Ariz., to weigh in on a fight between the town’s elected officials, arguing, in effect, that the tiny, desert outpost was the first battle in the fight against the much-feared, socialistic “New World Order.”

Most recently, Mark Kessler, a self-described Oath Keeper and police chief in tiny Gilberton, Penn., formed a paramilitary militia group called the Constitutional Security Force to fight against proposed gun control legislation. Few knew of it until this week, when Kessler posted a profanity-laced video online that got wide attention. “Fuck all you lib-tards out there,” a heavily armed Kessler says in the video. “As a matter of fact, read my shirt,” he says, turning around to show the camera a T-shirt printed with the words, “Liberals take it in the ass.”

Rhodes has shown his paranoia about a coming dictatorship, or loss of freedom, before. Two years ago, he moved to Montana to be part of an “American Redoubt” to make a kind of last-ditch defense of the Constitution. Now, with his latest set of friends in Idaho, he seems to have gone even further to the extreme right.

  • Kristine

    Listen up all you people. I’m frankly tired of all the arrogant trash talk on the internet, one group against another. Ya’ll sound like children, and it doesn’t even matter what the topic is… Could as well be chocolate chip cookies vs. oatmeal.

    Everybody is striving to be on one side of this or that and to satisfy thier egos by demeanering the other side.

    I am not an Oath Keeper, nor do I advocate radical anti goverment philosophies. I am also not going to jump to conclusions about thir motivations.

    But seriously are you folks also brainwashed and hypnotized so much by mainstream media that you cannot see the writing on the wall?

    Do you not see how our current program and the politicians and corporations behind it are systematically taking away our liberties…and they are even smart enough to make our hypnotized, dumbed down general public virtually beg and ask them to do so.

    I will at least give the OKs credit for having thier eyes opened to what is happening to our country, rather than being all wrapped up in what Miley Cyrus is doing and the next techno gadget on the market.

    Do you really mean the OKs are completely off track in what they believe is happening?

    Do you not understand that the UN is a form of world government and will grow to exercise more and more control untill it becomes THE government of all nations and that it will asolutely have a totalitarian control over the rights of all.

    Do you not know that our own government has way more control over us than they were ever intended to? And do you not know that increasingly they believe they have ownership over us and worst, our chidren?

    Do you ppl actually not see what is happening? Do you think America is invincible? Do you not know that we borrow money from other countries just to keep our boat afloat? Do you not know that we cannot pay our debts?

    To believe that one is invincible is the mindset of a teenager.

    I would suggest that instead of blathering about amusing each other with ridicule about the other side because you think you have a better cookie you could open your eyes to actually see what is happening to our rights and independance, both individually and nationally.

    And then figure out what in the world you plan to do about it. It would be time better spent. Because right now you are just sitting around like sluggards with no other intent than to spew meaningless words and discord.

  • R Morgan

    Also I will say that it is quite interesting writing to call a get together of people from all different walks and opinions with Oathkeepers being a PART of it a “Oathkeeper rally”

  • R Morgan

    So what I am hearing here is that….
    Oathkeepers is dangerous because some of its members (which is open) are assholes, that obamacare is constitutional so shut up (so was Plessy).

    So the question is why are these assholes coming to Oathkeepers?

    well you have people of every mental degree coming to any organization, the guy who shot Gabby Giffords was a member of the Democratic Party, so should we castigate the whole party based on a asshole who committed a illegal act?

    I just dont understand the mentality of, we disagree with your point of view and there are assholes who say they are with you, so in turn the organization is extremists?

  • a a d i l a

    Oathkeeper4, there are diverse views on the matter but the main reason why your organization is problematic is that it politicizes law enforcement and the military. There is a very good reason why in a strong democracy the armed forces and police are kept distant from executive power and under civilian authority (i.e. our Commander in Chief).

    The lines between military and police are blurring in America now with complete and systematic disregard for first, fourth, and fifth Amendment protections, even the basic right of habeus corpus — which is the right of defense against criminal accusation — have become essentially meaningless.

    The police forces in many jurisdictions have long acted outside legal parameters and are now stepping up the stakes by investing heavily in political capital to create what amounts to an insurrectionist paramilitary organization that swears fealty to its own interpretation of legality. This is the same sort of activity we saw in Germany before Hitler siezed power: a militarization (or paramilitarization) of political authority.

    If you have been watching the news at all what we are seeing in Egypt today is precisely the consequence of the entrance of the security forces into the political sphere. The inevitable consequence is tyranny of the strong over the weak, which is the most basic cause of the American Revolution and the antithesis of what our Constitution stands for.

    The fact why you cannot perceive that the formation of the Oathkeepers is a radical departure from the basic principles of American justice and social order is all the more reason to shut you down.

  • Gregory

    @ OaKie4life:

    Newsflash! Obamacare is Constitutional and it is the law. Get used to it.

  • Oathkeeper4Life

    I am an Oathkeeper, and we do not encourage the violent overthrow of the US Government. We encourage that the wrong people be voted out of office the legal way. We did not support Kessler’s or Kokesh’s armed marches in D.C. We are pro 2nd amendment, and we urge active duty to not follow unlawful orders, something the Marine Corps. told us we where supposed to do as well when I was in. There is nothing criminal about the Oathkeepers, we are not a Militia (not the Militias are illegal), we do members that are in militias. We think Obama Care is a load of crap and that our congress and senate did us a grave injustice by passing a bill that they even admitted that they did not read, that’s just some great law making right there. We believe that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and we want our government not to pass laws that contradict the Constitution. So what is so dangerous about us that we are on the hate watch. We have members of all races, we are not anti government. We are for small government. Yes we worry about abusive laws like the Patriot Act, and the NDAA that now makes it legal to indefinitely detain anyone even US Citizens with out charges and with out a trial. But you all should be worries about that as well.

  • aadila


    As I wrote above, I am sure there are plenty of Oath Keepers with integrity. The issue is the comparatively large sample of those who may not. So the question then is not your selection bias — i.e., the people you claim to or believe to know, who seek to politicize FED action, presumably for personal gain — but the wider sampling of racists, nutters, and reactionaries seeking power in numbers.

    The SPLC and interested citizens have provided documented incidents of political extremism as evidenced and as pointed out above, the question is not so much why the Oath Keepers are “rejecting” these members after the fact, but why are they coming to you in the first place?

    Why is that?