The Oath Keepers have more in common with Henry David Thoreau than Timothy McVeigh.
(The American Conservative) -- By Jesse Walker --
Mother Jones says they represent “the Age of Treason.” Bill O’Reilly believes they’re “pretty extreme.” When Rob Waters of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about the group, he called on the government to “ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.”
They’re talking about the Oath Keepers, a coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials. And what treasonous, terrorist tactic have these extremists adopted? They have pledged not to obey unconstitutional commands.
Search the group’s founding document and the closest thing you will find to a call to violence is the statement that, should a dictatorship be imposed and a popular uprising break out, its members will not only refuse to fire on the dissenters but will “join them in fighting against those who dare attempt to enslave them.” And even then the “fighting” needn’t necessarily be armed. (They also say they aren’t “advocating or promoting violence towards any organization, group or person.”) Otherwise, the manifesto is a call to stand down, not to rise up. Not every Oath Keeper would appreciate the comparison, but the group has more in common with those dissidents of the ’60s who refused to go to war than with any paramilitary cell.
If you wanted to find a theoretical discussion of Oath Keepers’ plans, you wouldn’t turn to a text on terrorism or guerrilla warfare. You would open the second book of Gene Sharp’s three-volume classic on civil disobedience, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, and turn to the section headlined “Action by Government Personnel.” In “an essentially nonviolent struggle,” Sharp writes, “a mutiny may express itself entirely through the refusal to carry out usual functions of forcing the regime’s will on the populace or waging war against a foreign enemy.” In addition, “police or others may selectively refuse certain orders on a scale too limited to be described accurately as mutiny.” The examples he offers range from the British occupation of India, where a regiment refused to fire on a peaceful protest, to the Nazi occupation of Norway, where policemen frequently flouted the Germans’ orders.
In the current case, there are ten commands the Oath Keepers have forsworn. Those who join the group must refuse
• to disarm the American people
• to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects
• to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal
• to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor
• to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union
• to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps
• to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext
• to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people
• to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever
• to do anything that would “infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances”
Looking at that list, three things immediately come to mind. The first is that resisting such orders should not be controversial—or at the very least, should not be considered outside the boundaries of normal debate. The item about states asserting sovereignty will raise hackles in some quarters, though it’s rooted in the fact that several legislatures are considering resolutions that lean in that direction. Otherwise these are orders that anyone with civil-libertarian instincts would reject on their face. Appearing on MSNBC in March, Crazy for God author Frank Schaeffer dismissed the group as malcontents who think they could “break the law and not follow orders if they don’t like what they’re being told.” But these are not merely instructions the members “don’t like.” They are commands that would be illegal under the Constitution...MORE...LINK