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My Turn: Another view of Oath Keepers

Editor’s note: The writer is reponding to a previous My Turn column about the Oath Keepers.

By Butch Young

“The Oath Keepers.” It sounds nice, and downright patriotic, but the Oathkeepers  mistake “nationalism” as patriotism.
In the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2009 report, “The Second Wave: Return of the Militias,” Larry Keller, a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote that the Oath Keepers “may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival.” Keller described Richard Mack, an Oath Keeper, as a “longtime militia hero” and quoted him as having said, “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government. … ” The SPLC is a great source that exposes hate/racist groups. The Oath Keepers claim to be non-partisan, but the majority of individuals involved in the movement are right-wing extremists. Oath Keepers do not seem to realize that their time and service to the country is over. Continuing the military lifestyle vicariously through civilian militias is very appealing to many veterans, but militias have often turned out to be connected to, or involved with, hate groups. The Oath Keepers are a “militia.”

The Oath Keepers are diminishing the security of the nation they want to protect. The Oath Keepers want to establish authority and control. In reading the pages of their website, they have a “guideline” that outlines what they wish to do. It’s all carefully worded, based on “strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution,” but in other articles on their website, they have a desire to be able to have authority in the event of a national emergency, natural disasters,  assuming powers of law enforcement, form “posses” even taking control of EMTs and firefighters.

The Oath Keepers are overstepping their boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with veterans groups meeting and reliving their days of glory over a beer at the local VFW Post, or bore your family and friends with the stories of the days when you were young. The problem is that the Oath Keepers have protocols that touch the borderline of what can be argued as a planned coup, while giving lip service about “liberty for all citizens.” More often than not, the citizens they’re talking about are citizens like themselves; only those who share their point of view.

In reading their protocols and doctrines, its implied that they are formed to assist law enforcement. No militia nor the Oath Keepers has any legal authority to do this. Here’s why. Military personnel, active duty or veterans, are not equal to law enforcement. This is especially true for veterans, who are now civilians themselves, have no powers of crowd control, nor the authority to arrest or detain anyone, for any reason.

When I was on active duty, we were told that we did NOT in any way have authority over civilians, and were subject to civilian law, just as we were to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The military did NOT make allowances for any civilian laws broken by its personnel.

The Oath Keepers are misleading the public with a self-appointed sense of authority they don’t have. As a U.S. Navy veteran, I have no authority over anyone. Nor do I get off pretending that I do, or want to. No veteran will have authority over me, for any reason.

It’s not legal or constitutional for the Oath Keepers to appoint themselves authority never granted to them by our citizens. If called upon by my government and my fellow citizens, I would be happy to serve again. As a veteran, I have no more nor less recourse than any other civilian. Until then, we need to be good citizens, informed voters and respect the rule of law, even when we don’t completely agree with it.

 

Butch Young lives in Rockwell.

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