Military and Police

Oath Keepers: Doing What is Necessary to Safeguard Trump Supporters—and the First Amendment

The negative information I read online and in print about the group Oath Keepers is primarily the drivel leftist opponents drool onto their radical publications. And, since the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) considers the Oath Keepers to be “a fiercely anti-government, militaristic group…” I know the group is much more likely to be honorable. “Militaristic?” The group is made up significantly of active and retired members of military and paramilitary government organizations. Brilliant deduction!

With its reference to the Oath Keepers being “anti-government,” the SPLC also infers racism, presuming the group was formed in response to the election of the “first African-American” president, Barack Obama. Of course, the group’s political opposition could have nothing to do with progressive President Obama’s anti-military, anti-police, and anti-traditional America stances.

The SPLC holds this view, even though Oath Keepers vehemently and repeatedly states its opposition to racism in America: “As always, we will not accept anyone who advocates, or belongs to any group that advocates, the overthrow of the U.S. government or that discriminates along racial lines.”

When I read the SPLC’s view on the Oath Keepers, I knew the organization had to be anything but radical or anti-government. As mentioned above, their core membership originates from people who’ve sworn solemn oaths to uphold and defend the very foundation of the government of the United States of America: the U.S. Constitution. But people for whom oaths mean little don’t understand people for whom oaths mean a lot.

Greg Nickels served as Seattle’s mayor from 2002 to 2010. During those years he repeatedly attempted to pass city gun control laws in contravention to both the state and federal constitutions. Fortunately, he was repeatedly slapped down by the courts. One attempt involved banning guns in city parks and at city facilities.

At that time, I recall writing an article for the Seattle Police Officers Guild newspaper, The Guardian. I wrote I would never obey an order to violate anyone’s constitutional rights whether it be the First, Second, Fourth, or Fifth Amendments or any other right expressed in the state and federal constitutions. I wanted to be on record that I would keep the oath I swore when my wife pinned my badge on my crisp new uniform back in 1992.

The Oath Keepers (it’s right there in the name, isn’t it) held similar views, so the group caught my attention. They draw members from current as well as past and retired military, law enforcement, firefighters, and other government first responders. Founded in 2009 by U.S. Army veteran and Yale Law School graduate Elmer Stewart Rhodes, this bunch of, as the SPLC calls them, “anti-government” radicals are otherwise known as “Guardians of the Republic.” And what is our form of government? Everyone, now: a republic. So, the SPLC is telling us that these guardians of our republican form of government are anti-government. Of course, that’s because the Oath Keepers are vehemently anti socialist government the neo-left now espouses.

I haven’t joined Oath Keepers but their mission intrigues me. Being a libertarian, I’m not much of a joiner. I belong to a police/fire motorcycle club and the NRA, and that’s about it. However, my interest in groups like Oath Keepers is increasing for a reason that is hard to escape. When political opponents begin threatening violence and then carrying it out to deter opponents from attending President Trump’s political rallies, what’s the alternative?

While perusing my Twitter feed, which I do infrequently, I saw a tweet from @OathKeepers with an alert: “Volunteers needed to protect Trump supporters at Minneapolis Trump Rally.” Can you imagine we’re at a point in our national political discourse where Americans on one political side feel they need protection from Americans on the other political side when going to a peaceful rally? The Oath Keepers want to assure rally attendees can express their First Amendment rights without being molested by a violent Marxist mob such as Antifa deploys.

The Oath Keepers say they are not affiliated with the Trump organization or with the Minneapolis police on hand to keep the peace at the venue. Oath Keepers say their law enforcement members will be liaisons to the cops. The Oath Keepers emphasis will be to keep rally-goers safe coming/going to their cars before and after the rally. Violent leftist radicals are known for ambushing their political opponents on the outskirts of rallies.

Again, I admit the notion of protecting Trump supporters’ First Amendment rights is captivating to the libertarian in me. However, the peacekeeper in me also considers the devil’s advocate position: is attending a rally, either as an attendee or a member of Oath Keepers, knowing there will be radicals there who want violence, somehow contributing to that violence? I think this is an issue for many people. But is that just emotional, lazy, and timid thinking?

I thought about the alternative. We already know violent leftist groups have viciously assaulted many Trump supporters, Republicans, conservatives, and even journalists. Consider Antifa’s recent serious assault on freelance journalist Andy Ngo in Portland, Oregon this past summer. As far as I know, police have yet to arrest a suspect for the felony assault. The Internet is saturated with leftists assaulting Trump supporters or damaging their property.

So, again, what is the alternative? There are only two I can think of: exercise your rights or effectively lose them. One alternative is to attend the rally and take advantage of the security offered by Oath Keepers. Their protection allows you to stand up and speak and exercise your rights. Another alternative is not to go because you fear the violence. This is understandable, but sadly, the left wins when you choose this route. Realistically, though, not everyone is capable of protecting him or herself and family from violent thugs. But, isn’t this where the Oath Keepers’ strategy comes in?

Make no mistake. If someone is accusing you of being a Nazi or fascist because you support a different presidential candidate or party, that person needs to take a hard look in the mirror. If someone wants to oppose me for my political views, that’s fine. But don’t mis-define me and then use the lie as an excuse to abridge my rights.

Seriously, when people blame people for contributing to the violence, when they are simply trying to exercise their rights despite the other side’s threats of violence, they’re missing the big picture. One side is proactively violent while the other side is defending themselves while trying to exercise their rights.

The diabolical thing is those committing the violence are infringing on free speech and ludicrously asserting that simply being a Trump supporter is inherently “violent.” And it is this fake violence where they find justification in claiming they are being “defensive” when they assault their opponents.

It really is sick.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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