A Portland, Ore., leader responded to a white supremacist terrorist attack in his city by offering an interesting solution to the recent rise of violence by right-wing extremists: He wants to hire more right-wing extremists.
After authorities say 35-year-old Jeremy Christian stabbed to death Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best on a Portland train Friday, James Buchal, the Multnomah County GOP chair, told The Guardian that he believes Republicans should hire right-wing militia groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters as their security force instead of police officers.
“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” said Buchal, a former candidate for Oregon attorney general. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing, too.”
When a reporter asked if this meant that GOP politicians should depend on private security instead of sworn officers, Buchal said: “Yeah. And there are these people arising, like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters.”
Like the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and al-Qaida, these right-wing groups are loose confederations of dangerous people who believe that their ideology should be protected at all costs—even through violence. Instead of the Quran, these radical fundamentalists are zealots about the Constitution, a document they believe was written on stone tablets by Jesus and given to the prophet Thomas Jefferson, who descended from Mount Sinai with the unmolested word of God (that only had to be amended 27 times). And as with most terrorist groups, they are fighting against an unseen plot to destroy their beliefs and replace them with left-leaning impure values.
The Oath Keepers are a right-wing, paramilitary militia composed mostly of white men with big guns. They became famous for roaming the streets and rooftops of Ferguson, Mo., during the 2014 Michael Brown protests dressed in military gear and carrying intimidating weapons.
The Oath Keepers was founded by Stewart Rhodes, an Army paratrooper, Yale Law School graduate and anti-government activist. It is composed of “current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’” The Washington Post reported regarding the group:
The Oath Keepers are many things to many people. For one fervent believer, it’s about the Constitution. For another, it’s about a .50-caliber Bushmaster and his right to carry it. Others talk of fear: fear America has become a security state. Fear President Obama has become a dictator.
Although the group claims to be “nonpartisan,” when one ventures onto the Oath Keepers website, it is a collection of far-right conspiracy theories about globalization, refugees and liberal professors. As of this writing, the first post on the site was written by Stefan Molyneux, the right-wing extremist who believes that blacks have lower IQs and are predisposed to be criminals and who crusades against Martin Luther King Jr. It is also probably a coincidence that the group was founded right after the election of Barack Obama.
The group is based on the idea of 10 “orders we will not obey” that assumes the government is coming to confiscate guns, instill martial law and turn cities into concentration camps.
No, seriously. They actually have a formal declaration that they will “NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps,” and they will “NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.”
One of the weird things about the Oath Keepers is its belief that its members can arrest whomever they want. In 2011, Oath Keeper Darren Huff was convicted of knowingly carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder after he tried to take over a Tennessee courthouse and place officials under citizen’s arrest.
That same year, Oath Keepers descended on the tiny town of Quartzite, Mich., to arrest the members of its City Council and stop the “new world order,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which rates the group as an “anti-government militia.” Then there was the man who threatened to arrest a U.S. senator for the Iran arms deal, and the president of a local Oath Keepers chapter whom authorities found with a napalm bomb.
While the Oath Keepers is a well-organized group of crackpots, “Threepers” is a more loosely defined collection of kooks.
Founded by another “patriot” named Mike Vanderboegh, the Three Percent movement stems from its belief that the American Revolution was won by an army composed of 3 percent of the population, which, according to this liberal ideology called “numbers,” is pretty wrong. (The number was closer to 15 percent, but perhaps they forgot to carry the 1 when they were doing the math. Hey, it involves both algebra and fractions, so don’t laugh.)
Unlike the Oath Keepers, anyone can simply declare him- or herself a Three Percenter, although the group does have meetings on a local level, according to its website. It was surprisingly also founded immediately after Obama was elected, in Alabama, of all places (I actually heard your brain say, “Seems about right”).
Like the Oath Keepers who showed up in Ferguson, Three Percenters are famous for descending on the Bundy ranch in Nevada, but used money donated by supporters to bail out other Threepers to buy iTunes music, car washes and food. They are the same people who also occupied an Oregon wildlife refuge in 2016, an occupation that ended after a shootout when the mighty Three Percenters umm ... well ... kinda just gave up because standoffs are kinda hard.
FBI and Homeland Security officials warn that right-wing extremist groups pose a far greater terrorist threat than Muslim fundamentalists, including those of the Islamic State group. According to the Cato Institute, the chance of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist in the U.S. is 1 in 3,609,709.
Being killed by a right-wing terrorist doesn’t appear to be as rare. In addition to the Portland attack, in Clearlake, Fla., Anthony Hammond was arrested, charged with yelling racist slurs while stabbing a black man with a machete Saturday, and Sean Christopher Urbanski allegedly stabbed Richard Collins III in a knife attack earlier this month.
Yet, Buchal thinks Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are viable options for protecting GOP members “because there are now belligerent, unstable people who are convinced that Republicans are like Nazis.”
Buchal did not mention that he or any of his fellow party members have considered one other alternative: that Republicans could stop acting like Nazis.