Oath Keepers

Oath Keepers in Ferguson Area Condemn Militarized Police; Oath Keepers' Guest Speaker IS Militarized Police

Tensions on the populist right

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Oath Keepers protesting in Ferguson.
Kelly Owens/Facebook

The protests in Ferguson have exposed a tension between two threads on the populist right. On one side, there are people whose resentment of the federal government is closely bound to the idea that the local authorities' hands should not be tied when meting out violence. On the other side, a relatively libertarian element extends its critique to the local police as well as the feds.

I just called those threads "sides," as though they're entirely distinct. In practice, things can get kind of tangled. Consider the St. Louis/St. Charles branch of the Oath Keepers.

The Oath Keepers are a collection of current and former military, police, and public safety officials who have pledged not to obey unconstitutional orders. Institutionally, the group has been harshly critical of the cops' behavior in Ferguson. Last week it released a communiqué that begins like this:

The events in Ferguson have shown us daily that the looting and violence by a few is not being stopped, while the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for redress of grievances is not being respected. The current riot control tactics of the local police, rooted in outmoded techniques developed in the 1950's—and only made worse by the ongoing militarization of our police—are failing the people of Ferguson, giving them a false choice between rampant looting on the one hand, and hyper-militarized police and curfews on the other (which also fail to stop the looting, leaving the mistaken impression among many of the American people that even more militarization and curtailment of free speech and assembly is needed).

Some earlier comments from the Oath Keepers hit a similar note, declaring: "The police should not be militarized in logistics or in attitudes. The people are not an 'enemy.' Police should not make war on the people." The St. Louis chapter's president, Duane Weed, has a Facebook feed filled with critiques of police behavior in Ferguson, along with conspiracy theories blaming violence among the protesters on agents provocateurs. The photo above shows Weed at a Ferguson protest—he's the one on the right. The woman with him is wearing a T-shirt that says "National Cannabis Coalition."

Meanwhile: Last Friday, the St. Louis County Police Department suspended Dan Page, an officer who achieved some infamy during the protests by pushing protesters and a reporter live on CNN. That isn't what got him relieved of duty. He was relieved of duty because someone dug up a video of him giving a talk to Weed's chapter of the Oath Keepers. In his lecture, Page warned that Washington was plotting to impose a dictatorship, offering a conspiracy story of a sort that Oath Keepers often embrace. But he didn't stop there, or even start there: He also declared that the Constitution is a Christian document, fretted that the military was filled with "sodomites and females," and went off on a variety of other bizarre and sometimes offensive tangents. There's plenty in there to embarrass the St. Louis Oath Keepers, but the most embarrassing thing for them should be the sight of Page participating in the very activity their group just denounced. ("We need officers focused on looters, not on bullying the media and protesters," their communiqué declares.)

Weed has told CNN that Page was merely a guest speaker, not a member of the group. And indeed, Page says in his talk that he didn't realize he was going to be speaking to the Oath Keepers ("I thought that this was just a church meeting"), and he always refers to the organization in the second person. He does accept an Oath Keepers pin patch at the end of the video, but he looks a little uncomfortable as he takes it; I doubt he ever wore it. But Page's presence at the meeting—and the friendly reaction he got from at least some of the audience—show how entangled those two threads can be.

So does this Facebook post from Weed…

…with this weak caveat reserved for the comments below it:

The Page incident speaks to more than just the ongoing evolution of the populist right. The point of the Oath Keepers is to resist unconstitutional commands. If just one of the officers deployed in Ferguson this month had laid down his arms and refused to restrict people's right to free assembly, the effect could have been huge. Instead, the biggest incident involving a cop connected to the Oath Keepers featured a man who interacted with nonviolent people by literally pushing them around. He wasn't a member of the group, but he was the only guy bringing their name into the news. Are there no actual Oath Keepers on the force? Either the St. Louis chapter isn't very good at organizing civil disobedience or the police being deployed in Ferguson have no interest in being organized.

I like the idea of public officials defending liberty by defying unjust orders. I'd like the idea even more if, at some point in the last few weeks, I'd actually seen it happen.

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  1. But Page’s presence at the meeting shows how entangled those two threads can be.

    This is why universities can’t tolerate Condolleeza Rice speaking to graduates.

    1. Yeah, I’m not buying the “OMG, he spoke to your members, you must support everything he’s ever said or done.”

  2. My commissioning oath was to the Constitution.

    Did not expire when I left the service.

    1. ^THIS^

      I might be in the Retired Reserve, but I still follow that oath.

  3. There’s no sugarcoating it – there’s a lot of information to digest about the Oath Keepers and the situation in Ferguson, MO.

    1. I’m conflicted — the lefties tell me diversity is good, except now we have a JBT who thinks the feds are here to oppress us.

      Maybe he just doesn’t want competition in his JBthuggary?

  4. So why should I or anyone else care that the Ferguson cop spoke to Oath Keepers? Isn’t dialog a good thing? Looking at the substance of what they are saying, I don’t see a problem here.

    The events in Ferguson have shown us daily that the looting and violence by a few is not being stopped, while the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for redress of grievances is not being respected.

    Sounds like a pretty reasonable assessment of the situation to me. Am I missing something?

    1. A little more detail.

      “I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, but I’m also a killer,” said officer Dan Page, a 35-year veteran, in the video. “I’ve killed a lot. And if I need to, I’ll kill a whole bunch more. If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me. I have no problems with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.” Page added, “I’m into diversity ? I kill everybody. I don’t care.”

      1. That would seem to be a problem for the Ferguson PD. Unless you can show me this guy is writing policy for the Oath Keepers, I am still not seeing the problem here. They let some nutty cop speak at a meeting. What is the big fucking deal?

        1. Allowing him to speak means they endorse everything he said, of course!

          /derp

    2. People wanted to assemble and air grievances, but Festivus isn’t until December.

      1. And the vandals stole the pole anyway.

        1. You know how much you can get for an aluminum pole at a recycling place?!

          /thief

  5. You missed the best quote from the Guardian article:

    Later in his remarks, Page told a questioner in the audience: “Policemen are very cynical. I know I am. I don’t trust anybody. I hate everybody. I hate y’all, too. I hate everybody. I’m into diversity ? I kill everybody. I don’t care.”

    At another point, Page said: “I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord saviour, but I’m also a killer. I’ve killed a lot, and if I need to I’ll kill a whole bunch more.

    1. Didn’t you link this yesterday?

      1. It’s worth repeating, I think 😉

        1. It’s new to me!

        2. /begins work on petition for SusanM hat-tip

          1. Meh, no worries. I’m not part of the Orange Line Mafia anyway 😉

    2. Remember, only guys like this can be trusted to own guns.

      1. The guy seems to have some anger issues. Again, that would seem to be his employer’s problem. I still can’t figure out why Oath Keepers is part of the story.

        1. If you are anywhere near libertarian or conservative and your group invites somebody with violent or racist views to speak, you are responsible for those views.

          Does not apply to Communists, but does to OK or Tea Party groups.

          You know this John.

          1. Reason is keeping its lefty street creed. So there is that I guess.

            1. It is me, or is Reason getting crazier by the day with this story?

              1. I think the story is fizzling. It turns out the cop was probably right to shoot the guy and the rioters are not locals but the usual rabble of paid thugs brought in by the professional butt hurt.

                The story just isn’t want it first appeared but Reason is still trying to milk it for hits.

        2. I still can’t figure out why Oath Keepers is part of the story.

          For three reasons, which I thought I explained in the post, but here goes again:

          1. There’s a split on the populist right. Roughly speaking, the Oath Keepers represent one side of the split; Page represents the other.

          2. The fact that Page spoke at an Oath Keepers meeting, and got a warm welcome from at least some of the people there, shows that this isn’t a clean split; there’s overlap and entanglement.

          3. It’s kind of lousy that the one guy getting the Oath Keepers’ name in the news during the Ferguson crackdown is this authoritarian cop who gave a talk to the Oath Keepers once, as opposed to an Oath Keeper on the force doing what Oath Keepers have pledged to do: refusing to obey unconstitutional orders.

          1. I agree with number three. As far as number 2 goes, do you have a transcript of what the guy said? I don’t see how him getting a polite or even warm response is necessarily a bad thing.

            The thing is that Oath Keepers are not anarchists. They just want to bring the government back in line with the Constitution. That doesn’t preclude there being police or even police being less than cricket in dealing with criminals.

            I think your post shows there is less of a split in the populist right than you think. Even the anti-militarized cop people admit the cops need to be out protecting private property from the mob. At most the two sides disagree on tactics.

            1. As far as number 2 goes, do you have a transcript of what the guy said? I don’t see how him getting a polite or even warm response is necessarily a bad thing.

              No, but I watched the video. I certainly won’t claim that the entire audience was into what he was saying, but it’s clear that at least some of them were.

              As for whether it’s bad?well, I certainly think a lot of the views he expressed were bad. But the point I’m making is that while the split I noted in #1 exists, the story’s not that simple; there’s an overlap too.

          2. 1)Read the shit Jazz Shaw at HotAir had been peddling the last few days.

            2)Read the comments section of those articles

            3)Spot on.

            1. Yep, it is a derpfest on the right at times. Both Hotair and AR15 are full of cop supporters and you have food fights break out if anyone shouts police brutality — you are either against government overreach or you excuse it.

              AR15 is getting better, but too many cops with excuses up the ying-yang for bad shoots, dog kills, and no knock raids.

            2. 1)Read the shit Jazz Shaw at HotAir had been peddling the last few days.

              NOPE. NOT GONNA DO IT!

              2)Read the comments section of those articles

              NOT JUST NO, BUT HELL NO!

              3) yeah, it sucks, but that is what I would expect from the current news apparat in the US.

          3. OK, there’s a split, the Bad Guy is on one side and the Good Guys are on the other. Got it so far.

            The Good Guys had the Bad Guy come to a meeting and talk. I don’t see how this is “entanglement”, without a whole lot more than polite applause.

            It’s kind of lousy that the one guy getting the Oath Keepers’ name in the news during the Ferguson crackdown is this authoritarian cop

            I don’t see how your article, trying to posit some sort of “entanglement”, isn’t part and parcel of what you decry as “lousy”.

            1. I don’t see how this is “entanglement”, without a whole lot more than polite applause.

              Listen to the talk; listen to the Q&A. There’s some clear overlap of worldviews.

              I don’t see how your article, trying to posit some sort of “entanglement”, isn’t part and parcel of what you decry as “lousy”.

              Believe me, if I heard of an officer refusing orders in Ferguson, I would have shouted the news from the rooftops.

    1. You could be poorer too. The typical prog really is just an overgrown teenager who never grew out of not understanding that his parents didn’t own the electric company. Really, that is all they are; over grown children. It is why so many of them I think come from upper class and trust fund baby backgrounds. They really do never learn any better.

    2. The headline of that article alone is so shockingly stupid, it defies rational explanation.

      There are a shit ton of things that would “make me happier” if all sorts of people around me were “forced” to do something different.

      For instance, I could be happier if the contractor I’m going to meet with on Wednesday would replace all the siding and windows on my house for free. Much much happier.

      1. Like I said above, they are on the intellectual level of a ten year old child who doesn’t understand why they can’t stay up and watch the late movie. They are intellectually and emotionally stunted people. No fully functioning adult could believe the things they do.

        1. In case you don’t bother with my link:

          Apart from freedom of expression, the liberal’s idea of freedom is mainly about privacy. It is about a place for whoopee, and for not being held to account or morally judged afterward. In many ways his idea of freedom is the 15-year-old’s: Stay out of my room. Show me respect. And hey, when’s dinner?

          1. I saw that. But you forgot, “what do you mean I can’t leave the light on?”

            1. It’s not my quote, so I have to print it as is. I wish it were mine, but it ain’t.

  6. I was walking by a newspaper box (major newspaper, don’t remember which) with an article about how militarization of the police is “being scrutinized”.

    Welcome to the party. You, know, we’ve sent the invitations before, and they always came back unopened, with “get stuffed you barking tebagger” scrawled on the envelope.

    What changed?

    1. A black man dieded! And this time it’s different.

  7. The cop is a Vietnam vet, so he’s probably not be bullshitting about killing people. Since he doesn’t have a murder conviction, he did all of his killing with the blessing of the state. I don’t quite see how he squares President Johnson’s blessing with his Christianity, but he is clearly proclaiming the authority that the state conferred to him — both in Vietnam and in domestic law enforcement.

    The problem that the proggies have with this guy is that he clearly stated the authority granted by the state to its armed agents.

    Well, that, and the fact that he’s fueled by over-the-top conspiracy theories. What I don’t understand is how a guy could believe such conspiracy theories and still be an agent of the state. The guy even thinks that the Feds consider members of political “3rd parties” to be potential terrorists. Hmmm, maybe he’s the guy who leaked the Missouri Fusion Centers domestic terrorist document to Alex Jones.

    1. He is still part of the state for the same reason lefties who think the CIA killed Kennedy still love the federal government; the conspiracy theory is about affirming their own self importance not actually describing reality.

      1. What does my belief that John Kennedy died by accident say about me?

    2. Yeah, I am no minister, but I have a couple of questions about his Christianity…

  8. What I don’t understand is how a guy could believe such conspiracy theories and still be an agent of the state.

    Could be a good topic for a book..

  9. “The events in Ferguson have shown us daily that the looting and violence by a few is not being stopped,”

    If militarized cops can’t stop looting, then what the hell do we have militarized cops for?

    1. Revenue generation.

    2. To protect government buildings. I haven’t seen any of those burning in pictures of Ferguson.

  10. Weren’t there some in popular media who were snarking about how the militia groups from the Bundy Ranch weren’t showing up to protest at Ferguson? Seems to me the Oath Keepers represent the “Old White Guys with Guns” demographic that was the target of said snarky barbs.

  11. Unfortunately, I am the other oath keeper in the photo. The end of this article is, in my opinion, dead on. We have been pretty abysmal at organizing local police – to my knowledge we have no local members who are active on the police force. And, there is definitely a rift between some membership. Despite the obvious constitutional violations by the police in the Ferguson protests a large portion of our local membership elected not to participate. So, while there have been a number of us onsite over the last couple of weeks it has not been in the numbers that I would have expected. Personally, I am pretty disappointed.

  12. A line from Watchmen (which I might never have gotten around to reading without your review of it) fits so well here: “Life is complicated.” (Or maybe “Things are complicated.”)

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