Over the past several months, right-wing media have promoted the Oath Keepers, a group established in 2009 and identified by the Anti-Defamation League as "encourag[ing] members of the military and law enforcement to pledge not to follow certain hypothetical 'orders' from the federal government" that "echo longstanding conspiracy theories embraced by anti-government extremists." On February 17, Bill O'Reilly said that he intended to host a member of the group on his next show to "give forth their point of view."
O'Reilly said he would host member of Oath Keepers to "give forth their point of view"
From the February 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Is there one group in America right now that you guys believe is dangerous, is growing fast, and that the folks should know about?
MARK POTOK (editor, Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report): Well, let me give an example. I'm not going to say this group is dangerous and, you know, these people are going to blow up federal buildings -- that's clearly not true -- but there is a new major group called the Oath Keepers. It was started, if I recall, in February of last year. This -- it has grown fairly explosively. It's well over a thousand members. What's interesting about the group is it's composed mainly of military and law enforcement personnel, officers of the law. The thing about the group is what they say is, you know, "What we're all about is simply pledging allegiance -- or re-pledging our oaths to defend the Constitution," which of course is well and fine. But the reality about the group is that what it's really about is the fear that martial law is about to be imposed, that Americans are about to be herded into concentration camps, that foreign troops are going to be put down on American soil. The Oath Keepers says specifically, we will not obey these orders, we will refuse orders to put Americans into concentration camps. Now, is that dangerous? It seems to me the danger is that these are men and women, in the case of police officers, who are given a real power over the rest of us, sometimes the power of life and death. They make very important decisions. And if these men and women are animated by the idea that, you know, foreign forces are about to come into this country and put us under martial law and throw us all into concentration camps, I think there is a certain danger associated with that.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, it's certainly not rational.
POTOK: They're operating on the basis on crazy theories that may cause one of them to draw a gun one day.
O'REILLY: All right. You know what I'm going to do, Mr. Potok? Because it's a very interesting topic. I'm going to invite somebody from the Oath Keepers to come on the Factor tomorrow and give forth their point of view. I think it's a fascinating topic, and we appreciate your time very much.
Right-wing media promote group
Buchanan: "[T]he establishment's reaction seems more problematic for the republic than anything the Oath Keepers are up to." In his October 20, 2009, syndicated column, Pat Buchanan wrote that Oath Keepers are "are ex-military and -police who repledge themselves to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders. If the U.S. government ordered law-enforcement agencies to violate Second Amendment rights by disarming the people, Oath Keepers will not obey," adding that founder Stewart Rhodes "is headed for cable stardom," and that "if the Pelosi-Reid progressives went postal over town-hall protesters, calling them 'un-American,' 'Nazis' and 'evil-mongers,' one can imagine what they will do with the Oath Keepers." Buchanan also stated that "the establishment's reaction seems more problematic for the republic than anything the Oath Keepers are up to. For our political and media elite seem to have lost touch with the nation and to be wedded to a vision of America divorced from reality."
Beck, Drudge promoted story on group. On the October 20, 2009, edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck read from a Las Vegas Review-Journal article about Oath Keepers linked by the Drudge Report, which noted that the SPLC called the group "a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival." Beck responded: "Boy, what would our Founding Fathers say just on that sentence? ... The people saying the government is getting too big and too out of control. All they want to do is make sure you keep your oath to the Constitution of the United States."
Oath Keepers promote discredited conspiracy theory regarding "[m]ass, forced internment into concentration camps"
Oath Keepers: "We Will Not Obey" order "to force American citizens into any form of detention camp."Oath Keepers describes itself as "a non-partisan association of currently serving military, veterans, peace officers, and firefighters who will fulfill the oath we swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders, such as orders to disarm the American people or to place them under martial law and deprive them of their ancient right to jury trial." In its list of "Orders We Will Not Obey," Oath Keepers states the following:
6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
One of the causes of the American Revolution was the blockade of Boston, and the occupying of that city by the British military, under martial law. Once hostilities began, the people of Boston were tricked into turning in their arms in exchange for safe passage, but were then forbidden to leave. That confinement of the residents of an entire city was an act of war.
Such tactics were repeated by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, and by the Imperial Japanese in Nanking, turning entire cities into death camps. Any such order to disarm and confine the people of an American city will be an act of war and thus an act of treason.
7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
Mass, forced internment into concentration camps was a hallmark of every fascist and communist dictatorship in the 20th Century. Such internment was unfortunately even used against American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Whenever a government interns its own people, it treats them like an occupied enemy population. Oppressive governments often use the internment of women and children to break the will of the men fighting for their liberty - as was done to the Boers, to the Jewish resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto, and to the Chechens, for example.
Such a vile order to forcibly intern Americans without charges or trial would be an act of war against the American people, and thus an act of treason, regardless of the pretext used. We will not commit treason, nor will we facilitate or support it.
Detention camp allegation is an anti-Obama conspiracy theory. Media Matters for America has detailed how conservatives have pushed the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is planning to "round up American citizens" into "internment camps." In fact, the military under both President Bush and President Obama has regularly referred to "internment" and "resettlement" while discussing "detainees" and "enemy prisoners of war."
Oath Keepers called "a new player in a resurgent militia movement," linked to other right-wing fringe players
ADL: Oath Keepers "part of an anti-government extremist movement that has grown since President Obama took office." An October 2009 report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) described Oath Keepers as "part of an anti-government extremist movement that has grown since President Obama took office." ADL further stated that "the Oath Keepers encourage members of the military and law enforcement to pledge not to follow certain hypothetical 'orders' from the federal government. These 'orders,' including one 'to put American citizens in detention camps,' and another 'to disarm the American people,' echo longstanding conspiracy theories embraced by anti-government extremists, who claim that the U.S. government is creating a police state."
NY Times: Oath Keepers "a new player in a resurgent militia movement." A February 15 New York Times article described Oath Keepers as "a new player in a resurgent militia movement," adding that the group "has been recruiting at Tea Party events around the country and forging informal ties with militia groups."
WorldNetDaily tied group to criticism of Obama. A March 20, 2009, WorldNetDaily article on Oath Keepers claimed that Rhodes said the group "is not a response to President Obama or his policies," but added, "He said the accumulation of power in the executive branch in recent years has been alarming. The fears crystallized when Obama took office and suddenly had access to the accumulated power. That, he said, is a 'powderkeg.' " The article went on to state that "WND already has reported on several members of the U.S. military who have raised concerns about the implications of Obama's possible ineligibility to be commander-in-chief."
Oath Keepers in coalition with John Birch Society, 9/12 Project branch. Oath Keepers is listed as a member of Friends for Liberty, a coalition that, according to its website, includes the right-wing John Birch Society, the Spokane, Washington, branch of the Glenn Beck-associated 9/12 Project, and Vaccination Liberation, a group that claims as part of its mission to "reveal the myth that vaccines are necessary, safe and effective."