Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Are you an "Oath Keeper"?

I was surprised to learn that Oath Keepers (founded nine years ago) still exists.  The group was founded in March, 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a lawyer and former US Army paratrooper, coincidentally with the inauguration of President Obama.  Oath Keepers organizes former and current military and police to be prepared to resist all unconstitutional orders. As a result, they have been attacked by everyone from Bill O’Reilly on the right (who called them "anarchists") to Bill Clinton on the left (who linked them with "terrorists").

The "Oath" in Oath Keepers refers to the oath military servicemen and servicewomen and police take to defend the constitution. Stewart Rhodes claims he founded OathKeepers to help "defend the constitution from its enemies," most of whom, he believes are in or around the government.

Rhodes thinks neither liberals nor conservatives recognize the need to limit government to Constitutional bounds. "Picture a Venn diagram with 2 overlapping circles," he says. "People in each circle only object to what's going on when they are not in power. But there is a third section that, no matter who is in power, they care about the constitution and distrust those in power. My goal is to grow that third part of the population.” Among the "consistent Americans," Rhodes includes feminist author Naomi Wolf, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Congressman Ron Paul.  Two of them are liberals, the third a Libertarian; none of them are rightwing. Oath Keepers isn't partisan.

That all sounds great.  "We're not a political organization!" they claim loudly, "We champion liberty, American values, and upholding the Constitution, regardless of which political party is power."

Oath Keepers' lists Ten Orders We Will Not Obey. These include: "We will not obey orders to disarm the American people, conduct warrantless searches, detain American citizens as 'unlawful enemy combatants' or to subject them to military tribunal, impose martial law or a 'state of emergency' on a state, or invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty."

But wait.  Wait.  Just hold on a minute ... aren't these the very things the US began doing, in the name of its "War on Terror", 8 years before this organization was conceived?  Then why was this group founded only after the political party in power shifted?

The are the very same rightwing "patriots" who meekly and submissively accepted a major shift toward a police state 17 years ago.  They were silent about all of these things ... completely silent:

  • presidential claims of unlimited executive power
  • limitless imprisonment with no legal recourse
  • warrantless intrusive searches
  • warrantless wiretaps
  • creation of massive databases on citizens
  • repudiation of habeas corpus
  • redefining cruel and unusual punishment as "enhanced interrogation"
  • suppression of dissent
  • arbitrary no-fly lists
  • endless overseas wars

Isn't it ironic that this group was perfectly ok with all of these things as long as they were being done by a large, powerful, and growing federal government that was in the control of "their" political party?  Then, suddenly, after a change of power, they discovered their principles?  Just like that?  Or did they only oppose all these actions by the federal government because they don't like the political party in control?  That would make their motives political, not principled. That's loathsome.  They think all these things are fine, when they are being done to "others."  But if they think they're the ones who might be the targets, then, and only then, they choose to be upset?

These are people, who love to stroke each other at silly flag rallies where they talk about the right to own assault weapons.  But at a time when they needed to take a stand; at a time when true courage and principle were required; they stood down, and remained silent.  Compliant.  Submissive to authority.

When it took courage to stand up and oppose the actions of a runaway government; they were silent.  When public opinion was against those of us who opposed America's perpetual series of wars; they were silent.  When it took guts to oppose the things they claim to oppose; they remained gutless.

These aren't patriots at all; and they are certainly not leaders; these are weak followers of authority; the tools of that authority.

And now they want our respect NOW?   I don't think that's gonna happen.

Respect has to be earned; it's not a right.  And that, friend, is a true American principle.

Oath Keepers and True Patriots, 1941

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