Richard Mack

Where Was The Anti-Government Right In Ferguson?

The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, this month presented a dilemma for the anti-government Right. The activists and elected officials who spent the spring fawning over lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s stand against what they saw as an overbearing federal government changed their tune or just went silent when a police force armed with military weapons cracked down on mostly peaceful protesters in Ferguson.

On Tuesday, Gawker’s Adam Weinstein examined the “inherent contradiction” in the membership of St. Louis police officer Dan Page — who was suspended after he shoved a CNN reporter and the video of a violent rant he made came to light — in Oath Keepers, a group whose entire founding purpose is a fear of violent government overreach against unarmed citizens.

…For all their delusions, the Oath Keepers seem tailor-made to counter the surreal overarmed police state that may have played a role in Michael Brown's death by cop in Ferguson, and that has ebbed and flowed through the streets there ever since. The oath that Oath Keepers keep is to disobey a set of orders they believe may be given by government authorities . Hence they swear, in part:

  • We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  • We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  • We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

As Weinstein notes, the Missouri chapter of the Oath Keepers has sent a “letter of warning” to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in opposition to police tactics against the protesters. But the Oath Keepers’ opposition seems to be based less on principle than on strategy — in a separate blog post, the national group objects to the police failure to stop looting while it took aim at peaceful protesters. The blog post also notes that Oath Keepers on the scene in Ferguson were “talking consensus for the benefit of the police and the people equally.” This role of self-appointed mediator is in sharp contrast to the group’s show of force at the Bundy ranch.

Ferguson has exposed some common ground between the anti-government Right and mainstream civil liberties groups — for instance, both the extreme right-wing Gun Owners of America and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed on to a plan to end the program that sends discount military equipment to local police departments.

Gun Owners of America’s executive director Larry Pratt, however, has been uncharacteristically quiet about Ferguson, linking on Twitter to the Missouri Oath Keepers’ letter to Nixon, but also to an article claiming that Michael Brown wasn’t unarmed because he was “young and strong.” GOA sent out an email arguing that violence in Ferguson was just another reason why people should be allowed to own AR-15s.

Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of a group that believes that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the land, has also been strangely silent on Ferguson, despite having spent time rallying against the federal government at the Bundy ranch with armed militia groups that he compared to Rosa Parks.

And then there’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Bundy ally who, as the situation in Ferguson escalated, crowed about the combat supplies that he had amassed for his own department.

Yes, the relative silence of the anti-government Right on Ferguson is inconsistent, but so is their view of the Ferguson protests: In the view of many right-wing activists, the protesters in Ferguson weren’t standing up to the government, they were themselves tools of the government.

There is a school of thought among right-wing commentators that the protests in Ferguson were orchestrated — or at the very least encouraged — by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration in order to stir up racial resentments and increase Democratic chances in the 2014 midterm elections.

This paranoid scenario is in line with Pratt’s fear, expressed last year, that President Obama is on the verge of starting a race war against white people.

The Ferguson protests exposed a key fault line in the anti-government "Patriot" movement: they are against government overreach, but their definition of what counts as government never seems to be quite clear. 

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Hobnobs With Radical Nullificationists

Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times has come across an intriguing Facebook invitation for an event tomorrow in Scottsdale, featuring nullificationist sheriff Richard Mack, anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy’s son Ammon….and Arizona’s current attorney general, Tom Horne.

Horne’s staff has confirmed to the New Times that the attorney general will be attending the “Liberty on Tap” event, so we can move on to questioning why Arizona’s top law enforcement officer will be attending an event that appears to promote the radical belief that the county sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the nation and has the power to ignore federal laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and to arrest federal law enforcement officers.

The invitation for the event notes that Horne will “talk on the concept of the Constitutional County Project.” This project seems to be a small effort to get nullificationists to take over one county in each state to run a system that ignores federal and state laws that they deem to be unconstitutional. The project is honing in on Navajo County, Arizona, which they hope to turn into “a self-sustainable county dedicated to advancing the proper role of Constitutional government, free market principles, and the defense of ‘life, liberty, and property.’”

In a radio interview in June, Mack discussed the Constitutional County Project, whose leaders he said he had met with, saying, "we have got to be able to sacrifice and move to where we can be united and take over a county politically."

Mack was a prominent presence at the Bundy ranch during the militia standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in April and is a regular at anti-government events. He leads the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association, which promotes the idea of the sheriffs as the supreme law enforcement officers.

Cliven Bundy repeatedly said he didn’t recognize the authority of the federal government over the federally subsidized public land on which he grazed his cattle and urged the sheriff to arrest federal law enforcement officers.

Richard Mack: Government Brought In 'Paid Hit Men' To 'Fire On Innocent And Unarmed People' At Nevada Ranch

Richard Mack, the Arizona sheriff who earlier this week compared the stand of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management with “Rosa Parks refusing to get off the bus ”and even the Holocaust, told Alan Colmes yesterday that the federal government brought “paid hit men” to Bundy’s ranch who were “ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”

The Fox Radio host asked Mack, “We can agree or disagree about how much the government should own in terms of federal property, but is this the way to go about changing it?

Mack responded that Bundy’s stand “was peaceful until it got escalated by the federal government in bringing out paid hit men, mercenaries, and you know, getting violent.”

When Colmes asked Mack if he had evidence to substantiate his claim that the government had brought in mercenaries to face down the militia members at Bundy’s ranch, Mack responded, “we have our intel sources” and insisted that “they were there with the military weapons and they were there ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”

The rumor that the BLM hired mercenaries to confront Bundy has been spreading through far-right blogs. Mack made a similar claim in an interview published in Talking Points Memo today.

Sheriff Richard Mack Compares Armed Nevada Ranch Protesters To Rosa Parks

Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack – Arizona’s second most notorious birther sheriff –of course traveled to Nevada this week to join rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management .

In an interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, Mack compared the militia groups standing with Bundy to Rosa Parks and suggested that if reinforcements had not arrived, the Bundy family would have fallen victim to Holocaust-like violence.

Deace told Mack that the Nevada standoff was a “warning shot” and “a test to see if their efforts over the last 40 years to dumb you down in academia and pop culture and install the idiocracy” had succeeded.

Mack replied that it was. “This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus,” he said. 

Deace: I think this is a test to see if their efforts over the last 40 years to dumb you down in academia and pop culture and install the idiocracy – and that’s their numbing agent – to see if you are now compliant to the point of just saying, ‘Nothing we can do, the almighty state has spoken.’ I think this is a warning shot.

Mack: Well, I think it is too, and I think that everything they do is based on this kind of propaganda scheme of the warning shots and trying to make sure other peasants don’t rise up with their pitchforks. Well, this particular peasant said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m not rolling over for this one. You guys are out of line, you don’t own the land, you don’t own our ranch, you don’t own us, and we will stand firm in the principles of freedom that we were blessed with as Americans.’ And that’s exactly what this was. This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus.

Later, the two moved on to criticizing the BLM employees who were sent to enforce a court order to remove Bundy’s cattle from federal land because the rancher has refused to pay grazing fees since 1993. “Any tyrant anywhere is only as good as the collaborating bureaucrats under his command that are willing to actually carry through with his orders,” Deace said. “‘Just following orders’ is the tagline of every tyrannical government in the history of human civilization.”

Mack agreed, noting that a similar defense had been attempted in the Nuremberg trials. “The soldiers that were put on trial at Nuremberg used that as a defense, and it was disallowed,” he said. “They said anybody should know you don’t get to just kill people and then claim that you were just following orders. And same thing for all of this.”

He then claimed that if the militias hadn’t shown up at the Bundy ranch, the family would have been shot.

Deace : They can give all the unconstitutional edicts from Washington, DC, all they want. Any tyrant anywhere is only as good as the collaborating bureaucrats under his command that are willing to actually carry through with his orders. And that’s the part about this that bothers me. ‘Just following orders’ is the tagline of every tyrannical government in the history of human civilization.

Mack: Well, in fact that’s a quote, and I know you know this, but it’s a quote from the Nuremberg trials regarding the Holocaust. And the soldiers that were put on trial at Nuremberg used that as a defense, and it was disallowed. They said anybody should know you don’t get to just kill people and then claim that you were just following orders.

And same thing for all of this. We’re supposed to be the ones in the world that are above such. This is the United States of America, where the rights of the individual are protected by the rest of us in government. And now we have the actual government officials doing just the opposite and almost bragging about it. And so, what I do know is that the people who showed up en masse protected this family and others from being shot.

Michael Peroutka, God, and Christian Reconstructionists At Larry Klayman's Revolution

At last week’s less-than-spectacular kickoff for the Second American Revolution, Larry Klayman announced that President Obama has until this coming Friday, November 29, to resign. If he doesn’t, Klayman and his friends will move forward with their plan to organize mass civil disobedience, force the resignation of President Obama and the Congress, and replace them with a government-in-waiting to be formed in Philadelphia in the coming weeks.

The idea was even too much for Alan Keyes, who decided not to show up at Klayman’s rally in Washington DC last week.  Klayman read the crowd a letter from Keyes explaining his decision, then dismissed Keyes’ argument that Americans should rely on grassroots political organizing rather than Egyptian-style mass demonstrations. Klayman said he no longer believes America can be fixed through elections, at least not until he’s “cleaned house.” Klayman complained bitterly that none of the Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress was willing to attend his revolution rally.

One speaker who did show up at Klayman’s rally was Michael Peroutka, the U.S. Constitution Party’s presidential nominee in 2004 (he got about 150,000 votes). According to the party’s platform, “The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.” Peroutka is also a southern secessionist and Christian Reconstructionist who sees the Republican Party and “Godless” conservative movement as part of the problem.

Just last month, Peroutka wrote, “Anyone, including those who identify with the ‘Tea Party’, who loves America and desires real reform, would do well to disengage themselves from the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.” And in challenging Rush Limbaugh’s rhetoric about Republicans having been “hoodwinked” by Democrats and the media during the government shutdown showdown, Peroutka wrote,

Isn’t it more likely that those who have been “hoodwinked” are those that put their trust in the Republican party and the Godless, conservative movement? Isn’t it beyond time to return to the true American View of law and government, acknowledging the Creator God as the Supreme Judge of the Universe and the written Constitution as the Supreme law of the Land?

At the rally, Peroutka praised Klayman as a “legal restorer,” saying “an order has been denigrated and lost and needs to be found and recovered and restored.” His rhetoric echoes Christian Reconstructionist godfather Rousas John Rushdoony, who said, “The only true order is founded on Biblical law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion.” Klayman is a member of the secretive Council on National Policy, where he has had the chance to rub shoulders with people like Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips, who died earlier this year. In his introduction to Peroutka, Klayman praised Phillips as “a great American” and “one of the icons of the conservative movement.”

In addition to his association with the Constitution Party, Peroutka is the founder of the Institute on the Constitution, a Maryland-based group that spreads Christian Reconstructionist ideas about the law and Constitution through seminars presented around the country. Peroutka’s remarks at the rally echo the Institute’s message that the only law that matters is God’s law:

“There is a God. Our rights come from him. The purpose of civil government is to protect and defend God-given rights. This is the American view of law and government. It also happens to be the biblical view of law and government. America was founded upon the biblical view of law and government….”

According to this Christian Reconstructionist view, God has not granted government the authority to have any role, for example, in education or the alleviation of poverty; God gives that responsibility to churches and families. Religion scholar Julie Ingersoll describes Christian Reconstructionism this way:

For Reconstructionists, the civil government’s authority is limited to protecting citizens from criminals. Family and ecclesiastical authority are established to uphold (and enforce) other aspects of biblical law. That’s not to say that any of these institutions are understood as functioning autonomously; all are under the authority of God and are to function according to biblical law. But each is independent of the others.

The idea that the Bible puts strict limits on government’s “jurisdiction” is at the core of Christian Reconstructionist thinking, and is frequently embraced by more “mainstream” Religious Right leaders. Peroutka writes:

Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.

It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY! (Or to operate a Panda-cam at the National Zoo.)

On a website promoting the Institute on the Constitution’s course, Peroutka says, “As American culture has moved away from the acknowledgment of God’s authority, and the desire for his blessing, American government has untethered itself from God’s requirement that it stay within its limited jurisdiction.” He argues that “When God’s law is ignored, chaos ensues.” Peroutka recently told right-wing radio host Steve Deece that “so-called civil rights laws” are not law because “there is no such thing as a civil right.” And he denounced the proposed Employment Non Discrimination Act as “federalizing perversion.”

Echoing a theme heard frequently at Religious Right events, Peroutka told rally participants they share the blame for the country’s problems because they have allowed “usurpers” who don’t have allegiance to his view of law and government to “rule over us.” He said, “We need to repent of these ways, these things that we have done. Because we have broken the law by allowing this to occur. We are responsible. We need to repent before God.”

Last year, the Human Rights Campaign noticed that Peroutka, a Maryland-based lawyer, was one of the biggest donors to the anti-marriage-equality effort in the state, and slammed his association with The League of the South. Peroutka denied that he is a white supremacist, but called himself a “proud member” of the group; in fact he is a board member. He was a featured speaker at the group’s conference last June, which was entitled, “Southern Independence: Antidote to Tyranny.” The group defines its mission this way: “The League of the South is a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.”   Also:

We also encourage individuals and families to personally withdraw (secede) from the corrupt and corrupting influence of post-Christian culture in America. We call this "abjuring the realm," and it's a real and dramatic first step all of us can take by simply withdrawing our support of and allegiance to the corrupt government in Washington that through its greed, corruption and lack of Christian values has destroyed your children's and grand children's future.

Plenty of other speakers, including a couple of clergy, claimed God’s endorsement.  Even W. Cleon Skausen, the late far-right Mormon conspiracy theorist, was invoked. Sheriff Richard Mack demonstrated a “political prayer” that he said Skausen had taught 250 law enforcement officers at a training session – a series of hand motions to go along with a recitation of the preamble to the Constitution. Skausen, also a member of the Council on National Policy, was popularized by Glenn Beck’s promotion of his book The 5000 Year Leap as divinely inspired. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the book as “an illustrated recipe for turning the United States into 50 little theocracies.”

Klayman himself wasn’t shy about invoking God’s blessing on his revolution:

“Our strength comes from God. We take orders only from him. We don’t take orders from Hussein over there. We take orders from our God, not his. So consequently we are moving forward and we look for your support and your help.” He ended his remarks by saying, “and most important of all, we have God on our side.”

 

 

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