The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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.

  • Aron

    Ty, you obviously don’t know many Goat Scrapers.

  • Ty

    What’s an extremist? People who are disgusted by the Bush/Obama drone program butchering innocent bedouins. People who understand the flaws of fractional reserve banking? Those are the oath keepers I know.

  • aadila

    I wish Stewart Rhodes would come back and respond to this because I know damn well he reads what Hatewatch says about the Oath Keepers.

    This is a sincere question.

    Mr. Rhodes: if the Oath Keepers is not an extremist organization, why do you have so many extremists flocking to join? The Lion’s club or Rotary is full of civic minded conservative people.

    Why are there never any extremists in these kinds of groups, but they seem to gravitate toward yours?

  • aadila

    Larry,

    What exactly do you suppose it is about the Oath Keeper organization that draws so many right wing extremists like peas in a pod? I mean, Amnesty International or Planned Parenthood doesn’t seem to have this problem. Why do they choose the Oath Keepers?

  • Larry

    Kessler only called himself an “Oath Keeper” until the organization did not support his armed march on DC plans. He then pitched a hissy fit and repudiated Oath Keepers. Adam Kokesh did the exact same things.

    Neither of them were members of Oath Keepers when they pulled their various stunts. Oath Keepers has not endorsed or supported either one.

  • aadila

    If the oath keepers are sincere in their oath, why does it require forming a cabal? It seems to me if these people have integrity — and I don’t doubt that many of them do — the oath alone is sufficient for its purpose. To take the extra step, which is to establish a form of cronyism based on their oath, is to set themselves off from the People, from whom the Constitution derives its authority. If they wish to influence the way things go in America they have one vote like everybody else.

  • Lynn

    I find these people disturbing and frightening. They use some sort of misguided patriotism as their rallying cry and call themselves oath keepers, patriots, or whatever when in reality they are traitors and cowards who seek to intimidate anyone who disagrees with their beliefs, politics, or whatever their current agenda may be. They hide behind their weapons. They remind me of Hitler’s brownshirts. They are bullies of the worst kind. They have guns. I spent 20 years in the military and am appalled at such behavior, particularly by anyone in law enforcement or the military. It breaks whatever oaths they took as part of their jobs.

  • Videriquamesse

    Lest anyone still believe that firearm confiscation and the herding of American citizens into internment camps is the province of wild eyed conspiracy theorists, he would have only to look as far as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. The National Guard forcibly interned displaced residents in the Louisiana Superdome, where there was inadequate food, water and sanitary facilities. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Mayor Ray “Chocolate City” Nagin’s jackbooted thugs went door to door, confiscating weapons, leaving residents at the mercy of roving bands of looters.

  • Aron

    Sean, have you been to an Oak Tagger rally? I have.

    These people are absolutely a threat. Buzz off.

  • Jane Schiff

    http://oathkeepers.org/oath/pledge/?p=1

    Once again we are dealing with those who abhor the separation of church and state:

    We will not register ourselves or our arms. Registration is the prerequisite to confiscation, which is the prerequisite to dictatorship and extermination. We will NOT be photographed, finger-printed, tracked, and subjected to psych-evaluations like convicted sex-offenders just for owning semi-automatic rifles. Doing so is itself an act of surrender and submission, taking the mark of the slave (it is akin to taking the mark of the Beast).

  • Sean

    I see lots of complaints, but few prescribed actions in the comments.

    Are these people a threat? If so, to who or what? My experience suggests the threat is to the status quo. The typical modern/progressive American citizen doesn’t want to be held accountable for much.

    Look at mega-corporations, or law enforcement agencies. Even when faced with criminal charges, it’s exceedingly rare that anyone is convicted and serves prison time.

    While there are no doubt nutjobs, I think the actual threat is that typical American bozo is worried they’ll be called out on their complacency.

  • Gregory

    Nothing from Sam? Well, it is not the first time that he has been let down by his JBS overlords

    I think this illustrates a common occurrence. OaKies and Paulistas demand that we read the Constitution, when it is often quite obvious that they have not actually bothered to do the same.

  • MRJ

    I say: “Lest we forget.”

  • MRJ

    Let’s not forget the actual, stated definition/defense by Alexander Stephens for this documents preamble above:

    “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

    They haven’t stopped this, they haven’t even tried to “move forward” (which is what they chant whenever caught with their obvious racist harassment and criminal behavior to an offended party), and they want to bring it all back.
    “Take America Back!”

  • Gregory

    Good point, KW. Perhaps Sam would like the Constitution of the Confederate States (Preamble quoted below) because it not only includes the blessings of liberty but ackowledges Almighty God. Maybe that is where his confusion lies with regards to divine reference, dang those librul yankees.

    We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.

  • Kiwiwriter

    The Canadian Constitution also leaves out the “Blessings of Liberty.”

    It talks about “Peace, Order, and Good Government.”

    So are the Canadians part of the Communist conspiracy? Just because their flag is red, they use metric, and have socialized medicine?

    Hey, it’s possible: they defeated the US in four wars…

  • Reynardine

    Gregory, Sam has studied being obtuse.

  • Reynardine

    “Molon labe” is what I have to say to these racists who want to abolish Cheerios, even though I never eat those when they’re babies. I bring them up to be bagels before they go to the slaughterhouse.

  • MRJ

    “Aron, you have iron beebees to mingle with such psychotic trash. And for those who are curious, I didn’t die after all.”

    Great, big, brass clangers actually.
    Rey, glad you’re still running.

  • Gregory

    Sam, are you being deliberately obtuse?

  • Sam Molloy

    The Communist Russian and the UN Constitutions leave out the Blessings of Liberty part.

  • Gregory

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Yeah, you are right, Sam, nothing about the masses in that danged ol’ Cawn-stee-to-shun. Just me, mine and I. Yep, no We the People, or more perfect Union, or common defence or general Welfare or ours or ourselves.

  • Schnider

    Sam, the institutions that place “the people in an approximate equal class as insects”, as you call it, are your religious institutions. In the Abrahamic faiths, the distance between human beings and God is stretched to infinity. He is infinitely far above us in terms of everything: infinitely more powerful, infinitely more good, infinitely wiser, infinitely more knowing. He is infinite perfection. So, the contrast between God and us can be pushed no further. We, in comparison with this infinite God, are reduced to zero. And that, quite simply, is the essence of the Abrahamic faiths. God = infinity; humans = zero.
    The Protestant religion is an example of a psychopathic set of beliefs. It takes the worst possible view of humanity. Many Protestants subscribe to a theological doctrine called “Total Depravity”, which proclaims that all human beings are fallen, indelibly stained with original sin, and utterly depraved, with no hope of redemption through their own efforts. We must beg for mercy and be saved by God. We are entirely at God’s mercy.
    Muslims are every bit as locked into the humanity = zero, God = infinity model as the Christians. Muslims pray five times a day, facing East. They bow to the ground in their segregated mosques and murmur their prayers. Women have to pray out of sight of the men, and be dressed in hijabs, niqabs and burqas. Muslims “submit” to God (indeed Islam means “submission”.) They go on pilgrimages to Mecca and perform enormous synchronized grovelling to Allah. “We are not worthy!” To be a Muslim is to be a degraded self-hater. Human dignity and self-respect are reduced to zero.
    The Jews are no different. They have to obey hundreds of ludicrous rules to avoid offending God. Would God really care if you shaved off your beard, didn’t wear your hair in ringlets, didn’t wear tassels, didn’t wear a dark, sober suit? Does God spend his time checking whether a woman has her hair covered or not?
    Just take the example of the story of Abraham, which all these faiths hold in common. God tell’s Abraham to kill his son, has him an erect an altar to do so. Abraham is about to do it until the angel tells him not too because he feared God enough to sacrifice his own son. What type of God would ask such a thing of a man? What God needs to know that man fears him just to satisfy his own ego? What kind of God would put a person through that kind of psychological trauma? Only a tyrant would do such things.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Sam, that’s rubbish, and you know it…you’re making the claim. Present your evidence. I’ve read the UN Charter too, and their Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Show me precisely where it places “the people in an approximate equal class as insects, born only to serve the State.”

    Sorry, you’re just taking a pickaxe to a straw man.

    I’m also tired of hearing about how Communism is on the march and about to take us over. The only places left in the world that still support Communism are Cuba, North Korea, and City College of New York’s History Department.

  • Andrew from Oz

    Sam.

    People like you make me glad I live on the other side of the world, watching on as a detached observer as a nation with so much potential and hope gets destroyed be people who take such extreme views without any basis in fact.

  • Reynardine

    Sam, I don’t know if you are simple, stubborn, or simply stubborn.

  • MRJ

    http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2.....d%3D349718

    This guy is a prime example of the “Molon Labe” thing being espoused by the “Oath Keepers” currently in vogue in some Law Enforcement and some of the Military.

    “Libtards” and “Democrat” now being used as an insult aimed at anyone who believes in the rights of everyone to free/affordable health care, the rights of women, the rights guaranteed everyone by the constitution (note: Everyone), the right to worship, etc… and this guy’s response to it: auto weapons fire.

    Using paper targets as surrogates, this is not so much a “political” statement, or “free speech”, as an obvious threat to those in his community who might have dissimilar views on such things like, oh… racial equality, or women’s rights.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Sam you realize that what you said is demonstrably false, right?

  • Gregory

    Really?

    Show me the reference in the Constitution that says our inalienable rights came from God. Or that anything came from God. I suspect that you will dodge this request as you often do when you are clearly wrong.

    Since it is clear that you know little about the US Constitution, you opinion of the UN Charter or any other country’s constitution is probably a bit suspect.

  • Aron

    Sam, as much as I like you, you can be a real idiot sometimes.

    This is one of those times.

  • What?

    I bet George Zimmerman is an Oath Kreeper… :(

  • Sam Molloy

    I stand by what I wrote. Both the Communist Russian constitution and the United Nations Charter ( constitution) stress the good of the masses, the strength of the State and place the people in an approximate equal class as insects, born only to serve the State. Our Constitution is the complete opposite.

  • Gregory

    are what you called the Communist Russia Constitution. Here is the wiki link,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....viet_Union

    Again, really, Sam?

  • Gregory

    “It was lifted almost word for word from the Communist Russia Constitution.”

    Easily proven as demonstrably false. A simple word search reveals this to be a steaming pile of Bircher nonsense.

    Here you go, Sam. The Charter of the United Nations
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Charter

    There were three Constitutions of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1924, 1936, and 1977. Presumably one of those documents

  • Reynardine

    Aron, me too. Joseph, where are you?

  • Gregory

    Sam,
    Perhaps you should re-read the Constitution. With the exception of the Signatory section (“Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven”), there are no references to God in that document.

    Do you understand the legal and historical differences between the Declaration of Independence and the Constituion?

  • Aron

    Sam, if you keep quoting the JBS verbatim, we are just going to keep mocking you. You’re smarter than that. Please act like it.

  • Reynardine

    Aron, you have iron beebees to mingle with such psychotic trash. And for those who are curious, I didn’t die after all.

  • Reynardine

    In fact, it was Ollie North, back in 1985, who proposed putting FEMA to such uses, and long before that, the Nixon administration was seriously considering identifying and detaining potentially subversive children. This appears to be more right-wing DARVO.

  • Ben

    I should also add, I am a veteran… and have met several Oathkeepers in person. Just like the comment above, one guy was pretty nice and I think just “over eager” and the other two frankly, were frightening most of the time in their extreme unfounded beliefs.

  • aadila

    The oath keepers are exemplary of a miltiaristic class which considers itself above ordinary citizens. There is a reason why in every stable and prosperous culture the military is kept at arms length from political authority. These are tyrants hoping to usurp the government and establish a right wing dictatorship, because they hate America and its values of freedom.

  • Ben

    As a white, southern, 4×4 driving, gun owner… I fit “the mold” even though I am generally liberal. When radical views come up at the shooting range or bar, I stay quiet most of the time just to learn from the “other side”. Since the election of President Obama… I have heard things which I thought I could never hear in this country and seen people believe things… which I couldn’t even imagine. The fantasies and fabrications of this scared and hateful crowd many times are all too true to them. It is sad and disturbing.

  • Matthew Bright

    Personally, I’d like to see them all rounded up and put in FEMA trailers, where they could be watched, but who listens to me?

  • Sam Molloy

    I hope nobody on here would criticize typos, Gregory. That would be chickensh*t. I don’t think I am overly earnest, but I support more of a US Constitutional philosophy than a UN Constitutional philosophy. It was lifted almost word for word from the Communist Russia Constitution. Ours says we have inalienable rights given by God and the Government should be limited to protecting those rights and not grow into an out of control monster trying to make everything totally idiotproof. Theirs says that a person’s duty is to serve the State, which decides the greater good for you. The fact that this group attracts nuts like a squirrel convention does not change the basic values of our way of life.

  • Aron

    The only Oak Tagger for whom I have any respect is our dear departed Joseph. I sure wish he would come back.

    And I hope he’s OK!

  • Harry Bowman

    Kessler has a bit of a “gun control” problem. He shot himself in a bar fight. Amazingly, this did not get him fired.

    http://republicanherald.com/ne.....-1.1195323

  • morgan sheridan

    “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.”

    Ironically, Kessler was in the news today for accidentally shooting himself in the hand.

  • Gregory

    professional not proffessional. Spellcheck is not my friend,bit seems.

  • Gregory

    I know a number of OaKies, both in my personal and proffessional capacity. A couple of them are decent guys, men that I would politely describe as overly earnest. The rest, well, lets just say that they span the spectrum of psychopathy that is modern conservative America.

    Last month I was having a conversation with an OK from the latter category who was trying to alert me to the lurking danger of FEMA camps and property confiscation. Ten minutes into the conversation he then alerted me to the danger of illegal immigrants, who need to be rounded up into relocation camps and deported now, if not sooner. All without a trace of irony, deadly serious. Can’t make this shit up.

  • Aron

    I was at their delayed ‘muster’ on the Lexington Green this year (you know, the one delayed after the Boston Bombing? and the Oat Cakers called it government interference?) Stewart Rhodes can blather all he wants about not having extremist tendencies.

    His followers are another story. I just wish I had thought to record his and others’ speeches. Chilling.