Oath Keepers, the controversial patriot group profiled in our March/April issue, is a national organization comprised of cops, firefighters, and soldiers who promise to disobey any order they personally consider unconstitutional. And while it's not the group's official line, at least some members say they are prepared to use force if that's what it comes to. So it's kind of a big deal for them to call someone else extreme.
But that's more or less the reason founder Stewart Rhodes has withdrawn Oath Keepers' name from a planned April 19 "Restore the Constitution" gun rally where Rhodes himself was slated to speak. Organized as an alternative to the Second Amendment March the same day in Washington, DC, this rally will be held in Fort Hunt, Virginia—which, unlike DC, allows people to show up toting firearms. The armed rally has come under fire for its timing and its aggresive tone: April 19 is a hallowed day in "patriot" circles, and not because of morning baseball; it's also the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the siege at Waco, and the battles of Lexington and Concord (not to mention Oath Keepers' one-year anniversary). In a statement posted yesterday on the group's website, Rhodes attributed the decision to aggresive positions taken by other attendees of the event:
[B]ecause of published statements by some participants in the upcoming Virginia rally, Oath Keepers as an organization feels that a confrontational stance, such as has been published, places this event, in public perception, outside the terms of our stated and published mission...Confronting the government is not included in the Oath Keepers stated and published mission and as an educational organization focused on the current serving, Oath Keepers refrains from confrontation in deed and rhetoric.