Civil Disobedience Is Not Terrorism

Just in time for Halloween, the press is telling spooky stories about the Oath Keepers, an organization of current and former soldiers and cops who have sworn to refuse unconstitutional orders. The latest scare piece to cross my screen appeared this week in Alternet under the headline "Right-Wing Extremist Group on Active Military Duty?" The author, Rob Waters of the Southern Poverty Law Center, jumps directly from describing the organization to writing this:

In July, the SPLC also presented Congress with growing evidence that extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military and urged Congress and the military to take steps to ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.

If you click on the link from the phrase "growing evidence," you'll find an article that claims the military is being infiltrated by neo-Nazis. You won't see anything about the Oath Keepers there, which is appropriate, as there isn't anything Nazi about them. The Oath Keepers' founder, Stewart Rhodes, has written several articles for Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and earlier this month he told the Las Vegas Review Journal, "I loathe white supremacists." If you read the comment threads at the Oath Keepers site, you'll sometimes see anti-Semites and other bigots crawling out to spew their propaganda, as they do all over the Internet, but you'll also see the other commenters shouting them down.

Meanwhile, it seems odd to worry that you're "training future domestic terrorists" when you're discussing a group whose plan of action is to refuse to use their weapons. Indeed, after an unhinged fellow calling himself "Citizen Quasar" announced his support for the Oath Keepers on his Twitter feed while also announcing his plans to start a shootout at the Oklahoma State Capitol, the organization's founder denounced him as a "nutbag." Rather than spinning fantasies of a violent uprising, the group is adopting one of the core ideas of nonviolent civil resistance: persuading police and soldiers to disobey their commanders. Waters quotes an SPLC colleague, Mark Potok, who accuses the Oath Keepers of spreading paranoia and argues that "these kinds of conspiracy theories are what drive a small number of people to criminal violence." But if that were true, surely it would be welcome to see a prominent player in that purportedly paranoid milieu pushing a strategy based on nonviolence. That would be a good influence, right?

And how paranoid is the group? The list of commands its members have pledged to refuse includes some that don't strike me as likely, e.g., "orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people." But it also includes commands that are easier to imagine -- or which have already become standard operating procedure. One item on the list is "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." Maybe Waters and Potok haven't noticed, but American police forces infringe on free speech and free assembly at pretty much every major political summit. I wish there had been some Oath Keepers on the force in Pittsburgh during the G20 meeting last month, or at the Republican National Convention last year.

If you review Rhodes' writings online, you'll find complaints about the militarization of police work, a process he links to both the war on drugs and the war on terror; about the expansion of federal power in wartime; about the illegal disarmament of civilians after Hurricane Katrina. In other words, normal civil libertarian concerns about policies already in place, not frantic speculation about the apocalypse to come. (Note that two of the last three links go to essays Rhodes wrote during the Bush presidency. The Oath Keepers were founded this year, but the organizers behind them didn't need a Democratic president to discover the dangers of state power.)

This is the group that has the Southern Poverty Law Center invoking the specters of fascism and terrorism: a network of present and former public employees who are vigilant about the state of our civil liberties. If their vigilance sometimes shades over into paranoia, well, that's a hundred times truer of the SPLC.

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  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Is this the first time Reason has actually come out against the SPLC? If so, I'm taking credit.

    P.S. In case anyone replies to this, their responses will almost assuredly be ad homs, thereby conceding my points and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of libertarians. Dozens of comments here have shown that the phrase "fascist libertarian" isn't an oxymoron.

  • oaktownadam||

    Nice to see you embracing the pre-emptive strawman argument, LoneWacko.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Click here to see me criticizing the SPLC in Reason in 2005.

    Click here to see me informing Lonewacko of the article's existence, and then to see him acknowledging it.

    Scroll up to see him being...oh, let's be charitable and call it forgetful.

  • dennis||

    LoneWacko is an example of meta theater. He has to be.

  • Abdul||

    The bigger problem with the oath keepers is who's interpretation of the Constitution they'll be using when they keep their oaths.

    Lochner-era Oath Keepers won't enforce labor laws. Presumbaly, Bork-following oath keepers will forcibly segretate lunch-counters, or at least non-violently resist the integration of a lunch counter (No, it's true, Ted Kennedy said so!).

    Similarly, cops who enforce time, place, and manner restrictions on public protests are doing their consititutional duty, but some hippies always think their first amendment right to protest tree-nuking trumps my first amendment right not to get to work. The truth is somewhere in between, but do you want to leave it up to each individual cop's own conscience?

  • D.R.M.||

    Well, whose conscience should be in charge of an individual's actions? Should an officer's conduct be excused because he can say he was just following orders?

  • jtuf||

    You bring up a good point, Abdul. I lean towards cops following orders and then later filing an official complaint about their supperiors issuing unconstitutional orders. The one exception is an order to murder. It is possible to compensate a victim for all other violations of his rights, but there is no way to undo the damage done by murder.

  • ||

    "I lean towards cops following orders and then later filing an official complaint about their superiors issuing unconstitutional orders."

    What a fantasy world some of us live in. The police follow orders to ensure their employment and to pay the bills, it takes a true patriot to stand against tyranny.... Sorry for the pause, I had to laugh at the quote "filing an official complaint about their superiors issuing unconstitutional orders." If they are issuing unconstitutional orders, does anyone really think they will care about a complaint? Please!

    Long live the oath keepers, you will certainly go down in history as those that stood against tyranny in a dark time in our history!

    BT

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    Kudos Blount, well said!

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    Abdul, your comment is based on a false premise I would like to correct (or knock down, depending on how you wish to "interpret" my "intent"). The Constitution makes NO reference to segregation or labor laws, and any laws passed by Congress ought to CONFORM TO the Constitution. The Constitution, as the SUPREME law of the land, is NOT subject to "interpretation"; rather it is the duty of the courts to interpret the laws ACCORDING TO the Constitution! In essence, any justice who "interprets the Constitution" either is incompetent by virtue of getting it backwards or has violated their oath of office by engaging in judicial activism. To "interpret the Constitution" means that the Constitution is being held up to an external, superior standard in violation of its supremacy clause.

    In case you missed it, the founders declared that we are to be a nation ruled by laws, not by men. Judges have no such power as what you assert, a common misunderstanding that is caused by a failure to read the Constitution and the Federalist papers and a reliance on the false premises of disinformation junkies.

    You state that "cops who enforce time, place, and manner restrictions on public protests are doing their consititutional duty"(sic)...how does the deprivation of rights under the color of law (a FELONY under 18 USC 242) become a duty in your eyes?? In what universe are you living in??!?

    If your premise is that the police must obey all orders, and enforce all laws, regardless of their illegitimacy, then I guess we're talking about the mirror universe where the Nuremburg Trials never took place. As Jim Traficant would've said on the floor of Congress; "BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY!!"

  • Xeones||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko, you loathsome piece of shit.

  • Mango Punch||

    you'll sometimes see anti-Semites and other bigots crawling out to spew their propaganda, as they do all over the Internet

    Yeah, but some sites more than others.

  • Loo Crock Shill||

    Sites such as... at www.lewrockwell.com.

    Except that those guys never get shouted down. No comments section there, y'see.

  • ||

    Right. Its just a coincidence that Mises, Hayek, Rothbard etc were all Jewish. They sure pick some odd heroes for being Anti-Semites. Idiot.

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    Crock Shill obviously works for the ADL, or the SPLC. These numbnuts call Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (www.jpfo.org) an anti-semitic hate group. ROFLMFWAO!

  • Xeones||

    The SPLC would have totally hated that Gandhi dude.

  • Warty||

    Abdul, cops follow their conscience about as frequently as they go to rainbow parties.

  • robc||

    do you want to leave it up to each individual cop's own conscience?

    Yes.

  • Xeones||

    Well Warty, maybe if you'd invite more cops to your rainbow parties they wouldn't lash out and be such dicks.

  • JB||

    The SPLC is nothing but a bunch of fascist fuckbags.

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    I thought they were "left-wing extremists". Why else do they get bent about people who lean to the political right of Karl Marx??!?

  • ||

    What, exactly, is Southern Poverty Law and why does it need a center?

  • jtuf||

    It was an important institution back when there was wide spread biggotry in the South. The SPLC did some great legal work back in the day. I'm not sure how good the current staff is.

  • ||

    The Oathbreakers don't worship the state, so of course the SLPC thinks they're dangerous extremists!

  • Colin||

    Yes, but if the Republicans once again take over the state, how much do you wanna bet that this type of civil disobedience will suddenly be okay to them.

  • Jay Stang||

    Colin,

    I beg to differ. The "Free Speech Zones" at political conventions started under Bush. Bush gave as many unconstitutional orders as Obama has given or will give in the future.

  • Wickerpeedeeah||

    [citation needed]

  • Gene Berkman||

    The Southern Poverty Law Center concerns intself with things that are of concern - racist and neo-Nazi groups.

    The problem is that they are all too willing to lump anyone they disagree with into these categories, and then send out a fund-raising letter based on hype about the danger of neo-Nazism.

  • ||

    They make money and justify their existence based on the existence of "hate" groups, real or imagined. Mostly imagined.

  • ||

    The SPLC is to right wing extremism what the JBS is to communism.

    Or Roddy Piper's sunglasses are to lizard-like aliens.

  • anonymous||

    Weird, I was thinking the same thing (about JBS and SPLC, that is).

  • ||

    The SPLC is once again chasing windmills in its desire to remain relevant to an ever diminishing audience. Poor little leftists here's a tissue!

  • anarch||

    Mango Punch|10.28.09 @ 3:20PM, your link shows how stealthy they are - it took off as I was approaching!

  • Al||

    SPLC is a hate group. I thought everyone knew that.

    They also don't stand up against neo-Nazis if they're popular.

    They're another one of those groups that outlived their usefulness 30 years ago, but refuses to disband because they make their living off the name the brand made for itself 40 years ago.

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    True, and you don't see the SPLC blasting Ahhhnold Schwarzenegger for making nice-nice with former SS nazis like Kurt Waldheim and for praising Hitler during his bodybuilding days... Neo-Nazi, anyone??!?

  • What about GAY Nazi officers?||

    To the tune of "Lazy Day" as performed by Spanky & Our Gang:

    Jews die, barbed line,
    Search lights shining, Luger fires in the dark;
    Regime, hate dream,
    Darkened sky: smoke stacks puff ashes and sparks...

    He's a gay, and he's half-crazy; he likes to murder Jews;
    He holds his hand erect as if to say: "Bugger you!"

    Nazi gay;
    Wish I could keep him away.
    Nazi gay;
    Gives me intestinal pain.

    He likes sodomy. (He likes bigotry.)
    How he buggers me! (He likes faggotry.)

    Nazi gay, Nazi gay,
    Nazi gay is such a sleaze!

    Blue eyes, blond line;
    Aryan with swastika on his arm;
    Wotan, Ernst Roehm;
    Leering at me, doing physical harm.

    While he's plucking at my feathers, he eliminates the Jews.
    Elimination fascinates him... troubles me, too.

    Nazi gay;
    Waving that thing in my face.
    Nazi gay;
    The Third Reich's secret disgrace.

    As he's petting me (what a felony),
    How it's fretting me (what I have to see)!

    Nazi gay, Nazi gay,
    Nazi gay says I'm a tease!

    [Choral Interlude]

    While he's plucking at my feathers, he eliminates the Jews.
    He holds his hand erect as if to say: "Bugger you!"

    Nazi gay;
    Wish I could keep him away.
    Nazi gay;
    Gives me intestinal pain.

    Nazi gay;
    Waving that thing in my face.
    Nazi gay;
    The Third Reich's secret disgrace.
    (etc.)

  • jtuf||

    Those lyrics are offensive.

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    Those offenses are lyrical.

  • ||

    The come-on headline on the home page indicates that the SPLC would prefer that Oath Keepers pledge that they WILL obey unconstitutional orders. I'd say that's right in line with the apparent thinking of the regime.

  • ||

    "If you click on the link from the phrase "growing evidence," you'll find an article that claims the military is being infiltrated by neo-Nazis. You won't see anything about the Oath Keepers there, which is appropriate...."

    ....given that this is a different link to an different SPLC report than the one your source says the Oath Keepers figure prominently in. The one in the previous paragraph you left out so you could post this instead.

    Wow. How extremely, unbelievably lame of you.

    Yet again with the bait and switch when pretending to rebut articles about militias while never once actually having the balls to address what their critics cite.

    "And how paranoid is the group? The list of commands its members have pledged to refuse includes some that don't strike me as likely, e.g., "orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people." But it also includes commands..."

    Wait, what ? That was it for your examples of the paranoid fantasies, was it ? When referring to a list of 10, where 2 of which refer to concentration camps. Which you had to skip over to get to your example. LMFAO.

    It's Reason. The PR arm of the whackjob far-right. Leave no turd unpolished.

    "Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes ... former aide to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul ... worried about a coming dictatorship ... told conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones. "Imagine if we focus on the police and military. Game over for the New World Order."

    Yeah, just another NWO concentration camp fantasy conspiracy theorist preparing for armed insurrection who's being unfairly portrayed as a nutbag.

  • jtuf||

    Yeah, just another NWO concentration camp fantasy conspiracy theorist preparing for armed insurrection who's being unfairly portrayed as a nutbag.

    Hey, you gotta problem with psychiatric survivors?

    Mad Pride, y'all.

  • jtuf||

  • Jesse Walker||

    given that this is a different link to an different SPLC report than the one your source says the Oath Keepers figure prominently in. The one in the previous paragraph you left out so you could post this instead.

    Wow. How extremely, unbelievably lame of you.

    Kilo, the fact that he felt the need to throw in a link to a completely irrelevent post about neo-Nazis was the point. I didn't "rebut" the other report because it didn't have any additional claims in it worth rebutting (unless you're deeply interested in, say, the SPLC's efforts to read its own symbolism into the date April 19). There's nothing in the "Return of the Militias" article credibly linking the Oath Keepers to fascism and terrorism, so he threw in this other report whose only link is that it also involves the military. That's what's "unbelievably lame."

    Wait, what ? That was it for your examples of the paranoid fantasies, was it ? When referring to a list of 10, where 2 of which refer to concentration camps. Which you had to skip over to get to your example.

    "Skip over"? I said there was more than one that struck me as unlikely, and picked out the single most unlikely "New World Order" scenario -- the one where foreign troops occupy U.S. soil. I thought I might use the "blockading cities" one instead, but then I remembered what the cops in Gretna did to the people trying to flee New Orleans after Katrina, and I remembered that the aftermath of Katrina was one of Rhodes' chief inspirations, and I decided it was possible he was reacting to that.

    Several of the items on that list that sound unbelievable right now could conceivably appear in some form after a major terrorist attack or natural disaster. I don't see anything wrong with cops and soldiers declaring now that they won't go along with such policies in an emergency, and if that vigilance becomes a little paranoid at times -- well, as I said, that's nothing compared to the paranoia of an organization that sees such vigilance as a terrorist threat.

  • ||

    Actually, on 2nd look, you make a fair point given that he's not just referring to other recent SPLC reporting of other military (which I'd consider fair mention), he's tried to make that the topic of the article, at least in the headline.

  • ||

    "When referring to a list of 10, where 2 of which refer to concentration camps."

    You think concentration camps on American soil is a whackjob far-right fantasy? 'Cause brother, we've already had 'em.

    The great irony of this is that any concentration camps we'd see here would almost certainly be "interning" the kind of people who feel under siege by the eeeeebil "far right".

    You think it'll never happen here? Societies, particularly those that erode the checks and balances on their governments for short term gains as we have been, can swing wildly across the political spectrum much faster than any of us would like to believe.

    You wanna just _assume_ the US would never start separating out muslims in the name of security? Fine. But I'll rest a tiny bit easier knowing that at least some of our police and soldiers have already contemplated that possibility and decided they'll resist it.

  • ||

    "You wanna just _assume_ the US would never start separating out muslims in the name of security? Fine."

    No, I just want to assume that if this was the threat this group was concerned with, they would mention it when pressed to explain what shape this threat may take. Instead, when they stop hiding behind the historical citations and this is finally dragged out of them, we find out it's a UN invasion they're going to protect us against. Or more to the point, not participate in.

    "But I'll rest a tiny bit easier knowing that at least some of our police and soldiers have already contemplated that possibility and decided they'll resist it."

    And how about now that you're aware they're instead trying to protect you from the same thing the 9/11 truthers were, except with far fewer numbers ?

  • ||

    Kilo writes:...."we find out it's a UN invasion they're going to protect us against. Or more to the point, not participate in." I ask you, does it matter WHO is doing the invading and taking away your freedom???? It states right in the Constitution, in case you've never READ IT... "against enemies both FOREIGN and DOMESTIC." I can break that down for you if you'd like: FOREIGN... anyone not from this particular nation... oh, maybe Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan... etc.: DOMESTIC..... anyone of THIS nation, perhaps maybe our own government that decides the population is getting too savvy to what is going on, and feels that they are losing control. If you honestly believe that everything the government does is above board and "honest" then I do feel sorry for you.

  • ||

    The SPLC sends out free mailing envelopes asking for donations.I always use their free mailing envelope to send back a paper saying that I don't want to contribute,just to cost them the postage.

  • ||

    So, I guess our Founding Fathers were Domestic Terrorist. Well alrighty then, I'd be PROUD to be in their company. Thank GOD for all the military and LE personnel who understand their Oath of Office and resolve to comply with it.

    Death to Tyrants and their supporters!

  • ||

    I am a member of Oath Keepers, and when you refer to "concentration camps" not happening on American soil... obviously you have forgotten about the Japanese in America being dragged from their homes and put in "interment" camps. Don't fool yourself into thinking that just because the news and hype lulls you into thinking everything is rosey that it is! They are already doing their best to disarm the citizens of this country... and to what purpose is that??? Gee, I wonder if it's so they won't have any resistance when the time comes, whatever that might be. It happened during the holocaust, people were led like sheep to the slaughter, so don't think it can't and won't happen again. Read between the lines!!!

  • ||

    Everybody is aware of the Japanese internment during WW2, pal.
    They were reminded of this throughout the last presidency when the 9/11 Truthers were talking about FEMA concentration camps. Just like you are now, with the same level of credibility.

    What's missing, and what always is, is the part where this threat of persecution is explained as being levelled at someone other than white US citizens based on their political views. You know, what you need to do in order to cite the nisei and look anything other than an assehole.

    Because as we all know, fk the Japanese, they aren't the point. Persecuted minorities aren't the point. The point is to prepare for the NWO takeover of the US where good little conservatives/liberals get put into camps for reeducation.

    A UN takeover of the US being something your group's founder will say he believes can happen within his lifetime if pressed hard enough to sack up and admit what he's talking about and stop hiding behind the premise of avoiding historical, unconstitutional mistakes in future. As though this was ever the point, you frauds.

    BTW, have we forgotten the smallpox blankets ? That happened once upon a time in the US too. What's your plan for this occurring again, given that there are no other bars of sanity for this possibility to hurdle ?

  • MinutemanPatriot||

    I'm a member of Oath Keepers now and I for one don't want anyone to find out the hard way that FEMA has indeed been planning for the internment of citizens since 1982. This was the purpose of the Rex-84 exercises, and instead of Japanese, the plan was to intern about 25 million blacks, which the government at the time felt represented the greatest threat to "continuity of government" (read: continuity of government CONTROL).

    Our government is planning for a nuclear 9/11. In that scenario, the Constitution would be permanently laid aside (source: General Tommy Franks) and whatever target group is blamed for the attack would all be put in camps (i.e., arabs, muslims).

    If we had a genuine biological emergency, not the fake pandemic hype we're seeing at present, how fast do you suppose Congress would pass H.R. 645 and start placing Americans into "emergency quarantine medical centers"? And by Americans, I mean those who by reason of medical, religious or ideological convictions would refuse a mandatory vaccination on the grounds that they believe it would likely kill them or jeopardize their everlasting salvation?!

    Oath Keepers is, if you look, not a whites-only group as you imply. The threat of internment is especially real for nonwhites, but Oath Keepers don't predicate their remarks along racial lines (If you really believe that, then PROVE IT).

    Also, nobody's talking about an invasion of blue-helmeted UN troopers; what a joke the UN is! If there is a threat along the lines of occupation by professional military types, let's call it what it is - BLACKWATER - they were on the ground in NOLA in 2005 doing what Blackwater does best!
    Kilo, you are showing your naked bias. Fess up why you disrespect the Oath Keepers so much... have you been drinking someone's kool-aid?

  • ||

    There we go.

    "It's a paranoid right-wing fantasy!"

    "It actually happened within the lifetime of many living Americans'."

    "Yeah-- well... They're racists!"

  • ||

    "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
    Guess what that is folks.... it's the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.... and the GCA of 1968 is the beginning of the end.

  • ||

    Those who control the dictionary, controls the society. That's why you have to understand 'original' intent.

  • ||

    Response to KILO: You wrote: "Everybody is aware of the Japanese internment during WW2, pal." A) I AM NOT Your PAL, I am a lady who would not give you the time of day were it not for your ludicrous responses on this forum; and B) those examples are only mentioned to remind people what has and can happen, and I think it is pretty biased of you to say (fk the Japanese)!
    YOU ALSO WROTE ".....hiding behind the premise of avoiding historical, unconstitutional mistakes in future. As though this was ever the point, you frauds" Again, as they say... history often REPEATS itself, AND the historical events are utilized as reminders. If you think people that reaffirm their Oath to uphold the Constitution are frauds, then I feel sorry for you. You sound like a very bitter person!
    "BTW, have we forgotten the smallpox blankets?" Buddy, I was born in the 50's and I remember ALL of that! I remember Kent State, I remember people spitting on Vietnam Vets, Riots in Watts, MLK, JFK, The Cuban missile crisis, I remember bomb shelters and the ignorance of going into the basement of a building that could be destroyed and sitting cross-legged with my arms folded over my head waiting for a bomb to possibly drop. You should try perhaps LISTENING to what these people are saying, and not attempt to do your own brand of discrediting. If people are so worried about this NWO, what better way to have the average citizen running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off, then to divide and conquer, and IMHO, I think that is what some of these posters are attempting to do by bringing race, religion and everything else into the mix! It's not about race, religion, color, or anything else, it's about having your basic freedoms taken from you. PERIOD. BTW, what might your plans be PAL, when your city or town is barricaded off, and put under martial law for whatever reason the government comes up with??? hmmmmmm????Maybe you'll be wishing then that some of the LEO and Guard will refuse to shoot you for questioning or refusing their orders. END OF CONVERSATION!

  • ||

    Hello y'all,
    I am an Oath Keeper. So is my wife. I'm proud to stand tall and tell the world I took the Oath. Its time to get off the fence. Our country started down the road to Socialism long before Obama...but he is the individual who seems dead set to close the deal. So sad...Wake up y'all before its to late!!! USAF Ret

  • ||

    "jtuf|10.29.09 @ 7:25AM|#
    You bring up a good point, Abdul. I lean towards cops following orders and then later filing an official complaint about their supperiors issuing unconstitutional orders. The one exception is an order to murder. It is possible to compensate a victim for all other violations of his rights, but there is no way to undo the damage done by murder."

    jtuf, if you think you can "compensate" me for illegal arrest, imprisonment and seizure of property, I invite you to try those acts. You will be disappointed, briefly....

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