Impeachment of Donald Trump looms closer and closer, and, daily, the legitimacy of his “presidency” is brought ever more into question. This man has threatened to declare and wage an 1860s-style “Civil War” against Democrats and anyone else who may have a hand in his ultimate impeachment and/or subsequent removal from office.
Always remember, and please do not ever forget: The Civil War (1861–1865) was a war waged against the very idea of a UNITED States of America. The South attacked the North for the sole purpose of separating itself from the US in order that it might carry on unimpeded with its practices and privileges of buying and selling, willing to heirs, mortgaging, leasing and renting, raping and robbing, and, of course, working to death the bodies and souls of Africans and all of their progeny for time eternal.
Trump retweeted Rev. Robert Jeffress thusly:
….Election, and negate the votes of millions of Evangelicals in the process. They know the only Impeachable offense that President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. That’s the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him…
….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
These are not mere retweets of Trump’s favorite preacher, Rev. Robert Jeffress and his comments on Fox News. To be sure, Trump has embraced and adopted this dark and violent message as his own.
These “fighting words” cannot therefore be dismissed as simply more of Trump’s infamous and incessant braggadocio, or as empty or idle threats. There are literally thousands (and quite probably, millions) of people who take these words to heart, and in fact, have voiced similar rhetoric in the recent past.
That is, not a small number of so-called “militia” groups are preparing or already stand ready to fulfill their “Dear Leader’s” call to arms whenever he may pass the word.
To date, no actual violence has materialized following Trump’s threats; but we ignore or underestimate at our peril the very real (and already demonstrated) potential and proclivity for violence that these people represent. And there is little doubt, again, as impeachment looms or when it becomes an actual reality, that Trump will activate these groups.
Already, following his “Civil War” threat, he has doubled down with even more ominous language, calling the impeachment process nothing less than “COUP.”
Who are these people? What do they want? How organized are they? What is the government doing to confront and counteract them?
The Oath Keepers
The Oath Keepers is a heavily armed, far-right militia group composed of 24,000 active and inactive military personnel. Per their web page, they swear an oath:
to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial. See the Oath Keepers Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey.
Following Trump’s threat, the Oath Keepers posted this:
Here’s the money quote from that thread. This is the truth. This is where we are. We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859. That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.
The reference to 1859 is both curious and telling. That was the year when another “militia” group, of sorts, attempted to foment a general slave rebellion/revolution throughout the South. John Brown’s short-lived revolution was quickly put down by a then little known US Army colonel in 1859, but who two years later would become the celebrated leader of the Confederate Army, one General Robert E. Lee.
Today, Brown is revered as a martyr in the now 400-year-long struggle for black liberation, while Lee (a proud slaveholder) is reviled as a traitor by today’s left wing and liberals. And Lee, amazingly, is damn near worshiped as some sort of southern god by much of the right wing “conservative” movement. Without acknowledging (or perhaps not even understanding, and certainly not appreciating) John Brown or his “militia” movement, the Oath Keepers are right about one thing in their comparison: John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 was a dry run for and certainly did presage the bloodiest war in American history.
Long before Jeffress spoke or Trump retweeted Jeffress’ words, the Oath Keepers had ominously tweeted that, under the US Constitution,
“the militia (that’s us) can be called forth ‘to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ … “All he has to do is call us up. We WILL answer the call.”
And then there was this tweet, again, before Trump’s declaration of possible civil war: “their [the Oath Keepers] favorite rifle is the AR 15.”
The Anti-Defamation League has labeled the group “an anti-government right-wing fringe organization” whose members are “self-appointed armed guards” and hold forth throughout the country in opposition to whomever they define as constituting and practicing unconstitutional government action.
A recent example of their “actions” occurred just last month. They called for “security volunteers” from within the membership and “other capable patriots” to escort and defend Trump supporters attending a New Mexico rally in order “to protect them from potential leftist violence.”
And then last year the Oath Keepers initiated its “Spartan Training Group program.” This is a means of “form[ing] training groups in as many states as possible” to create
“a pool of trained, organized volunteers who will be able to serve as the local militia under the command of a patriotic governor loyal to the Constitution, or if called upon by President Trump to serve the nation.”
The Oath Keepers are not to be confused with ”The Promise Keepers,” an older — and more benign — group of Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals.
The Minuteman Project
In November 2018, Trump threatened to place up to 15,000 US troops on the southern border in response to South and Central Americans massing into caravans and walking toward the US. The Minuteman Project issued an “URGENT CALL FOR TEXAS BORDER OBSERVATION DUTY” to patrol the 2,000-mile border from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas.
Referring to US Army documents, Newsweek reported that the Army was, in fact, alarmed about the possibility of unauthorized armed militias along the border. They noted that in past protests on the border and at entry points, peace had always prevailed, “unless extreme right or left groups attend.” The Army’s misgivings, however, did not carry much weight with The Minuteman Project’s co-founder, Jim Gilchrist, who told potential volunteers to ignore the Army because they, too, were not much different from “US-based PROPAGANDA organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, People without Borders,” among others. He further and more specifically advised volunteers to guard against “the media” and to “use extreme caution when confronted by mainstream media” because “they are not your friends.”
The United Constitutional Patriots
Indeed, yet another group — the United Constitutional Patriots — actually “bivouaced” at the New Mexico/Mexico border, and without even a patina of legality, began posing, posturing, and functioning as actual US Customs and Border Protection forces.
Jim Benvie, spokesman for the United Constitutional Patriots, livestreamed videos on Facebook depicting his militia members capturing and holding migrants until they were turned over to real US officials.
Elsewhere, the United Constitutional Patriots refer to themselves as soldiers in a border “war” tasked to turn back an “invasion” of the US. To this end, they purposely recruited active and inactive military as well as law enforcement personnel.
Indeed, one “recruit” is quoted as shouldering his AR-15 and asking his fellow travelers, “Why are we just apprehending them and not lining them up and shooting them?”
The group’s “national commander” was subsequently arrested on unrelated charges, and at about the same time, Union Pacific Railroad ordered the group off of its property because of overwhelmingly negative media exposure. These events forced the United Constitutional Patriots to discard the “Constitutional” part of their moniker, and they re-invented themselves as “Guardian Patriots.” They also then “retreated” to private land and closed their public Facebook account.
Now, there is little question that these armed militias acted in response to Trump’s inflammatory and, yes, racist rhetoric about an “invasion” and “infestation” of the southern border by diseased and criminal brown people.
Is there any doubt that these people will muster, “snap to,” and mobilize to carry out Trump’s orders?
Federal law is clear about what these groups represent: “[R]ebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof,” is strictly ver boten. Not surprisingly, conspiring to overthrow the US government, wage war against it, or opposing the US government by force of arms — all are strictly prohibited as well.
Again, there should be little doubt that any or all of these groups would view impeachment of Trump as “unconstitutional” and therefore unenforceable and not to be obeyed.
Interestingly, despite these groups’ publicly stated intentions and actual organizing, the Department of Justice has not deigned to even investigate them.
Finally, Trump demonstrates on a daily basis now that he will do just about anything to avoid impeachment and removal from office. For example, only one day after the Robert Mueller probe ended Trump made his now infamous call to the President of Ukraine in an attempt to shake him down for “dirt” on Joe Biden via Biden’s son Hunter. Trump has openly called on both China and Australia to help him win the 2020 election by….digging up “dirt” on Joe Biden. He has called for the arrest of the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff who is spearheading the impeachment inquiry. And Trump’s daily lies, obfuscations, and misdirections now serve as a mere backdrop to what has been a truly vile presidency.
As such, many have become accustomed and inured to this man’s daily depredations and defilement of his office. That is a mistake. Trump enjoys the rock-hard and even rabid support of at least forty percent of this nation-state’s population. That is north of fifty and as many as sixty, million people. It is not a stretch to believe that far too many of them are willing and able to take up arms in his “defense.”