What do you need to know about the Oath Keepers? Well, they plan to oppose government tyranny with violence, if necessary, and encourage military personnel to disobey orders they deem unconstitutional. “It’s not that the iceberg is coming…we already hit the iceberg,” said Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder and intellectual fountainhead, to a Montana crowd. He also urged them to form citizen militias. “The Titanic is going down.” The anti-government crusader was recently admonished by the Arizona State Bar for practicing in the state without a license.
The Oath Keepers have been on full alert over Agenda 21, a non-binding resolution from the United Nations that encourages countries to pursue pro-environmental policies. Many on the Right have interpreted Agenda 21 as a conspiracy to take away private property (presumably their tinfoil hats) and other civil liberties in the name of sustainability.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has also sent many on the fringe flitting since it passed late last year. NDAA, like a lot of terrorism-related legislation, has prompted some questions from civil liberties advocates. The Oath Keepers, however, are encouraging state and municipal authorities to pass resolutions against NDAA first and use any means necessary to oppose it later. For Agenda 21, they are encouraging outright nullification.
That brings us to the North Carolina legislature. Rhodes gave an almost thirty-minute speech to members of both chambers on “nullification,” a bad idea North Carolina learned about the hard way over 150 years ago. Rhodes made his way from Montana to speak before members of both chambers in the legislative office building about why they need to act now to nullify/oppose Agenda 21 and the NDAA.
Who organized this taxpayer-funded Wingbat Caucus? It was a Patriot Coalition event, organized by anti-immigrant activist Jeff Lewis and Representative Glen Bradley (R- Franklin). Bradley has led the charge on other right-wing policy initiatives/wastes of time, including a study of alternative currency. This time, however, the state’s legislative body was interested enough to offer up a joint meeting from both chambers.
When Bradley introduced bills (H 982 and H 983) to deal with Agenda 21 and NDAA, a few legislators came along with him. With him on both bills is Larry Pittman, who caught attention earlier this year by calling for public hangings of abortion providers. Pittman sent an email to the entire NC General Assembly saying: “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.”
These anti-government conspiracy theorists do more than waste our legislators’ time—they are toxic to democracy. Pushing policy under threat of violence is never acceptable. Not in NC, not anywhere.