Here's kind of a weird update on something I wrote about two weeks ago, on tomorrow's 2nd Amendment March in D.C., including an open-carry event in which a lot of guys with guns -- including the militia guy who called for people to smash the windows of Democratic offices after health care legislation passed -- were planning an event at Fort Hunt, across the Potomac from D.C. (There's also a presumably gun-free rally in Washington.) I noted that the fast-growing Oath Keepers -- current and ex-military and cops who say their oath is to the Constitution and not to the politicians giving the orders -- had issued an urgent call for their thousands of followers to attend, and so this would be a test of their strength.
Except they sort of weirded out. First they backed out of the Fort Hunt event, in a posting that implied it was because of the association with the vandalism inciter, ex-militia leader Mike Vanderboegh of Alabama (although his name is not mentioned.) That was updated today with this bizarre explanation of the withdrawal, which involves a mysterious government plot against the Oath Keepers:
Then what intel did we get that contributed to our decision to withdraw from the rally? The reliable information that Oath keepers received revealed that:
Oath Keepers is now being targeted for a COINTELPRO style smear campaign by elements within the government to “make Oath Keepers look like a militia- like the Hutaree.”
We received very reliable info from a federal law enforcement officer that the political powers that be in Washington DC are not at all happy with our mission of outreaching to the current serving military and police about their oath (wow, what a surprise), so the marching orders have come down for at least one federal agency to “make Oath Keepers look like a militia – like the Hutaree.” Of course Oath Keepers is not a militia – we are not organizing an armed body of men “to take on the government” as has been alleged by corporate media talking heads. Instead, we are an association of police, military, firefighters, and first responders who are using our First Amendment protected right to free speech to reach out to other active duty police, military and first responders, reminding them of their oath and teaching them more about the Constitution they swore to defend.
It's not so surprising that the Oath Keepers -- whom I've been following closely as they are the subject of a chapter in my forthcoming book, The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, Hi-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama -- would put out such a paranoid statement, because this is a group that is totally rooted in paranoia. Its core principal is a list of Ten Orders We Will Not Obey, many of which are rooted in the worst conspiracy theories about the Obama administration such as concentration camps (really) or confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens.
I don't think anyone has a problem with their right to free speech -- no one tried to stop tomorrow's 2nd Amendment Marches, for example -- or with solidiers and cops reaffirming their oaths. I'll go even farther than that and note most of us believe there are times where -- somewhat irregardless of whether it's constitutional -- it would be moral and ethical to disobey an order from a superior officer (uh, Nazi Germany springs to mind, or in modern U.S. history you might point to the massacre of civilians at My Lai). Those aren't the issues that people have with the Oath Keepers -- the issue is the unjustified panic and fear they seek to spread among the 18 percent or so of people who seemingly will believe just aboout anything these days.
Except now the group is unraveling a bit in its own paranoia. I guess the Kinks were right, that paranoia is the destroyer.
Coincientially or not, Bill Clinton called out the Oath Keepers by name in his speech last Friday marking the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. His entire presentation is very powerful -- I recommend reading the whole thing. I especially liked this quote:
Yes, the Boston Tea Party involved the seizure of tea in a ship because it was taxation without representation, because even the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which had been largely self-governing, had it stripped from them. This is about – this fight is about taxation by duly, honestly elected representatives that you don’t happen to agree with, that you can vote out at the next election, and two years after that, and two years after that, and two years after that. That’s very different.