"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Oath Keepers

Several months ago a buddy of mine sent me an email on a group called the Oath Keepers. He said I would be interested. He was right. I recently joined the group but I was hesitant...very hesitant. Here is how my thought process has evolved.

First, the group claims to advocate the education of law enforcement and military members simply to obey their oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution. The theory being that if things get bad in this country and the elites demand the eradication of civil liberties, those with the guns would refuse to obey unlawful orders. I have no problem with that at all. Who can argue with refusing to obey unlawful orders? Well, that's another story...

For the last three years I have been shocked at the ignorance and the disdain for the Constitution of the United States by some military officers. I kid you not, I have even been ordered by one commander not to discuss the document while at work. I asked for the order in writing but it was not provided. I have defended the fourth amendment and paid dearly and had military commanders (that's plural) tell me you should not question an armed government figure even if he or she is acting outside the law. Having watched America's finest lay down their lives in combat in the name of freedom, unlike the commanders who demonstrated their disdain for our document purchased with the blood of heroes, I informed these commanders that I found that viewpoint un-American. As Edward R. Murrow said, "We can not defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

So yes, I was interested in the Oath Keepers. But there was a real hitch that gave me pause. Going through the comments on their blogs and forums I noticed a lot of stuff I really didn't agree with...the uber right wing nutty stuff. Not just that, but the Southern Poverty Law Center was raising a stink about them being some kind of right wing religious extremist militia group. I'm certainly not interested in any of that stuff. New World Order and anti-semitism and all the language that comes with that connotation is most certainly not something I'm into. I am very interested, however, in a group that reaffirms the oath of office and the dedication that is needed of our public servants. I think it absolutely vital and I had entertained and even written plans for creating such a group myself to remind military members of the importance of their oaths and to discuss the Constitution so they could better fulfill their duty. Then I learned of this group founded by Stewart Rhodes. So I did more research on the Oath Keepers...

In doing so I learned that Stewart Rhodes was a Yale Law School graduate. For those not in the know, Yale Law is the number one law school in the country. This is one impressive credential and it reassured me that Oath Keepers wasn't just some nut job group. In my research I found Mr. Rhodes' phone number and I gave him a call out of the blue. To my surprise, he answered and talked with me while at some meeting. He told me to learn more I could tune in to his appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews the following day. I did so and saw him painted as a militia wacko (without evidence to support such a portrayal) and accused of creating a group that was simply a facade for the anti-Obama nut movement. While I noted the lack of evidence by Matthews, it still didn't help quiet my concerns.

After all, beyond my professional obligations to my commander in chief, I voted for President Obama and even sent him $1200 (before I realized that as an Air Force officer I could not send money directly to him, so I got a refund). In fact, I traveled to attend his inauguration given tickets by my Congressman. My wife and I stood at the very forward edge of the reflecting pool and relished the moment. It wasn't a perfect moment, but it was thrilling and the hours in the frigid dark cold were worth it. A picture of the event is framed and hung on my wall. Anybody who knows me realizes I disagree with any man, including those I most admire, and upon reflection my views have changed significantly since that frigid day by the reflective pool. I will not support a group that is simply anti-Obama and the charges that Oath Keepers were such a group continued to trouble me.

Over the next couple of months I continued my research and I realized two things. First, the Oath Keepers are not an anti-Obama organization despite many of its members being of that stripe and despite the organization having very real, and very important, disagreements with continued policies from his administration. The group was formed under the previous President and was deeply affected by his policies. Second, I realized something I already "knew" but is easy to forget when it comes to putting knowledge into practice. The Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom for all citizens to enjoy the liberty to disagree with one another over heated and passionate matters without resorting to violence. It is this wonderful, and divine (in my opinion) document that allows us to passionately and fervently differ with each other without giving in to our base violent natures. But we have to share a love of the document and a respect for the rights of others to be, and act, and believe in ways we do not respect, so long as they don't hurt others. I'm reminded of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and the meaningful and useful relationships they had with the clergy in their days. Neither of them were Christian, yet they were passionate about defending the rights of people to believe, rightly or wrongly, what their consciences dictated. I may not believe in the New World Order or any of the language used by some other Oath Keepers, but as long as they believe in my rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution to be myself, I will call them my brothers. Coming together to watch each others' back against the abuse of government, while fighting tooth and nail politically and in debate over our differences...that is truly American.

I will stand with any American who supports and defends the Constitution of the United States and I'm a proud military member who has not only taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but will much more importantly labor and sacrifice to keep that oath. For more information, visit www.oathkeepers.org.


  1. PickYourBattles,

    Thank you for your service, and for your evaluation of Oath Keepers. It is my perception that the Oath Keepers are, like you, standing against all unconstitutional actions by members of the executive branch of government.

    To the extent that Obama is unlawful in his actions, he is subject to everyone's condemnation, not just the Oath Keepers. I'm pretty sure the Tea Party will not endorse Obama for a second term.

    Because they are a positive force in a world going sideways, I would like to see a larger quantity of Oath Keepers.

  2. I am no longer a member of Oath Keepers, but I support them when they do good for America.