Monday, January 6, 2014

Oath Keepers

My comment to the article on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Website about the Oath Keepers

I posted it below the article where it remained for several hours.  It was then marked "Under review by moderator" for several hours, and has now apparently been removed.

Maybe it was just too long.


OK, so we don't know which way the Oath Keeper sword will cut in a crisis, or who will be on which side around what when all the masks come off, but seriously, we need to admit we have a real and overarching problem which they are addressing in a plausible and perhaps necessary way.

We elected a President who says all the right words and does the opposite, leaving the people in a state of profound disillusionment and demoralization. Our corporate media is clearly lying and concealing the truth about any issue that poses a threat to the corporate elite, including the reality that out here on Main Street, for the 90%, there has been no economic recovery and it's still a depression, with growing poverty, hunger, mass unemployment, declining wages, union busting and a great pall of fear and dread. All the while the pundits and talking heads proclaim "It's a boom! A boom!"

The abrogation of our sovereignty by NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT and proposed in the TPP effectively overrides the power of our legislatures and courts to protect our health, safety, environment and labor rights. The legal arms of the Federal Government that prosecuted large-scale corporate and financial malfeasance have been disbanded and the banksters commit global-scale crimes with complete impunity. And the NSA spying and blackmail machine is real, vast, all-intrusive and casts a pall of fear across the land, but has apparently never stopped one terrorist attack. 

The Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Agency represent profoundly anti-democratic responses to a threat which each passing day stands more plainly exposed as an operation of our own Security State, now openly supporting the most murderous terrorists in Syria. The FIMA camps are real. There's one in my neck of the woods on Cape Cod and it looks like a giant prison, not a camp. It must have cost a fortune to build. The militarization of local police forces and accumulation by police agencies of military technology, arms and ammunition is widespread and accelerating. Virtually every terrorist plot that has been exposed and stopped in recent years - and some that have not, like our Boston Marathon bombing  - have turned out to have been hatched and abetted by FBI or CIA provocateurs or under their eyes.

Our economy is careening toward the next global meltdown, which promises to dwarf that of 2009 and will feature a collapse - already underway - of the dollar as the world reserve currency,  Preparations to replace it with a global currency - controlled by the central bankers and utterly beyond any democratic control - are well documented, but the outcome is uncertain. 

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this vast edifice of government abuse has as its target ... us. The regular people. The 90% or the 99%. And it increasingly becomes clear that the War on Terror is about our greed-crazed corporate overlords being terrified of ... us.

In this context, what the Oath Keepers are doing looks like a sane and honorable response by members our military and police forces, mostly recruited from the children of the working people and in a sense still of us. Most grew up believing in a righteous land of freedom and democracy, and many have experienced the hypocrisy and horrors of wars waged against other freedom-loving people under false pretenses.  Among the beliefs they brought with them was the precious principle that the arms-bearing services serve a democratic state and stay out of politics. But what should be their response to a reality where democratic institutions have ceased to be effective and the rule of law is breaking down? If and when the military is unleashed upon an outraged populace, whether to obey or refuse orders will be a political choice, one way or the other.

I write as a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement - which we need to acknowledge could not have accomplished what it did without Presidents from Eisenhower to Nixon ordering a reluctant FBI and Federal prosecutors to protect it.  As a veteran of peace, anti-war, labor and electoral struggles of the '50's, 60's and 70's, I've experienced some very troubled relationships with the Federal and local police forces. Yet ultimately, with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center and countless others, the security forces were constrained by the Constitution and the laws, and we were able to struggle in the streets, the workplaces and at the ballot boxes, sometimes advancing sometimes driven back, as free, proud people defending and exercising our rights.  How different it is now to live in a land where all that is being swept away, where so many of my former companions in struggle, grown accustomed to comfortable salaries and bound by "golden handcuffs", seem powerless or afraid to help lead the fight back.

I have followed with admiration the work and at times the heroism of the staff of the SPLC since its inception. And I admit to feeling deeply disturbed by evidence I've seen of racists, secessionists and insurrectionist groups aligning with the Oath Keepers. Yet to align with the Security State against the Oath Keepers without acknowledging the urgent truth and power in much of what they are saying and the courage of the stands they are taking feels to me like a profound misreading of the moment we are in.

At a time when the Commander in Chief, a former professor of Constitutional Law, is trashing the Constitution on almost every front, I was often inspired to see those fearless leaders of the Labor Left and Constitutionalist Right, Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, standing together against repression, lawlessness and imperialist wars, each armed with a pocket copy of the Constitution.  I'll never share Paul's views about many vital issues, yet in the dark days ahead all of us will find our ideas about who are the "good guys" and who the "bad guys" sorely tested.
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