Missouri

Oath Keepers, Preparing For Obama-Provoked Race War, Say They'll Arm Ferguson Protesters. What?

The Oath Keepers, the group that helped provoke the heavily armed standoff with federal officials at the Bundy Ranch last year, made some news last week when they showed up in Ferguson, Missouri, wearing body armor and carrying assault weapons. Now, the head of the group’s St. Louis County chapter says he’s angry that his men were “discredited” by the county police chief – he called their presence “unnecessary and inflammatory” – and the Oath Keepers are planning to signal their displeasure by arming 50 black demonstrators with AR-15 assault rifles.

To prevent those protesters from being shot by police, the Oath Keepers will “surround the black demonstrators as protection.” Sam Andrews, the county Oath Keepers leader, says the event will be an iconic event like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington.

Martin Luther King? Let’s step back a minute, and encourage any Ferguson activists who might be thinking about partnering with the Oath Keepers to do the same, and remind ourselves who the Oath Keepers are and why they were in Ferguson.

At an abstract level, the idea behind the Oath Keepers sounds reasonable, almost noble – getting military and law enforcement officers to pledge to uphold their oath to protect the Constitution, and to declare that they will not participate in acts that would violate Americans’ constitutional rights, such as warrantless searches. Some members of the group have denounced excessive use of force by police. In reality, though, the group’s lofty mission statement hides a far-right, anti-government ideology and a strong dose of race-based paranoia. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, promotes the kind of wild conspiracy theories that have thrived since the election of Barack Obama as president, including the idea that Obama is trying to provoke a race war as an excuse for declaring martial law and discarding the Constitution.

Rhodes is fond of talking about civil war. In December he said that a 2013 Connecticut law banning some assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would lead to an attempt at door-to-door confiscation and “civil war.” Rhodes said last year that if Congress didn’t impeach Obama for his executive actions on immigration, “then they will lose all credibility, and throw us into a TRUE constitutional crisis, because they will have failed to do their jobs, leaving the people with the necessity of pursuing ‘other options’ to stop him.” In May, he said Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason and then hung.

As Right Wing Watch reported, Rhodes gave a speech to the Oath Keepers’ New York chapter in June, in which he “encouraged his group’s members to organize and stock up on food in order to resist the government’s plan to institute martial law after bringing down the country with an economic collapse, a race war, ISIS attacks and unchecked immigration.” From his speech:

I think that keeping with that communist agenda of a fourth-generation warfare assault, the intent is to use an economic neutron bomb — doesn’t destroy the buildings, but it kills the people eventually, it starves you out — cause chaos, and in the middle of all that chaos, spark a race war, and in the middle of that, unleash these ISIS cells that are now all over the country. And they don’t just ignore the influx of these cells, they cultivate it, they give them fertilizer, water and fresh air and make them grow.

Rhodes said “the leftists in this country hate this country, they hate it, and they will get in bed with radical Islamists because they have a common enemy, western civilization.”

The Oath Keepers’ concern for the Constitution doesn’t seem to apply to the constitutional rights of gay people. Mike Koeniger, vice president of the Virginia state chapter, declared last month that a couple hundred sheriffs could defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling if they were backed by Oath Keepers:

Imagine that we only had 200 sheriffs that stood in the gap, and behind every one of those sheriffs there were 2,000 Oath Keepers, being civilian or prior military or whatever, imagine the power of 200 sheriffs…

We’d win. We’d win with just 200 sheriffs and 2,000 people behind each of those sheriffs. And then we win the war.

That’s not the only time the Oath Keepers have waded into issues involving gay rights. Earlier this summer, Rhodes accepted an invitation from James David Manning, a Harlem-based pastor who says gays should be stoned to death, to speak at a July 4 event in Gettysburg that Manning hoped would draw attention to “attempts to divide the races.” Rhodes’ contribution to racial healing at the event was claiming that liberals want to divide Americans by race and prompt another civil war. Manning, for his part, called Obama the “son of Satan” and asked the crowd to join him in yelling, “Sodomites, go to Hell!”

But didn’t Oath Keepers say they were in Ferguson to promote unity? Where’s unity, and where’s the Constitution, in all this?

Take the standoff at the Bundy Ranch, at which heavily armed Oath Keepers and other assorted “patriots” sided with a millionaire rancher who was refusing to pay fees that he legally owed for grazing his cattle on federal land. There’s certainly no constitutional right to break federal law or refuse to pay your bills – unless you adopt rancher Bundy’s radical-right refusal to acknowledge the authority of the federal government altogether. During the Bundy standoff, Oath Keepers founder Rhodes warned that Attorney General Eric Holder had authorized a drone strike on the compound. When that turned out to be false, the group claimed that the rumor itself had been an example of psychological warfare by the federal government.

More from the Bundy episode:

Noting that a number of military veterans joined the armed anti-government protest at the Nevada ranch, Rhodes said that “the politicians and the would-be dictators in Washington, D.C…have to worry if they go too hard, if they drop the hammer too blatantly on Americans like at Bundy Ranch, that the Marine Corps would flip on them. And I think it would. And same goes for the tip of the spear in the Army, Army Airborne, special forces, your Navy SEALs, all of those groups out there, the more hardcore they are as warriors, the more likely they are to look at something like that and say, ‘that’s it, I’m done’ and join the resistance.”

Last year, an Oregon mine owner called in the Oath Keepers to prevent government officials from closing him down before a court could hear his appeal. But the mine owner soon decried the “absolute bullshit” being circulated on social media and said the situation had “taken on a life of its own.” He pleaded with activists to stop calling and threatening the Bureau of Land Management personnel.

Back to Ferguson and the protests that were being held around the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing. Oath Keepers initially said they were there to protect “journalists” working for Alex Jones’ InfoWars. The connection to Jones is not surprising; he is probably the country’s most energetic promoters of outrageous anti-government conspiracy theories, including his claim that killings at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church were part of a government plot to foment a race war and persecute conservatives.

“This is all a set-up.” Jones agreed: “Oh it is. Look at the priming, look at the preparations…. You can see all of the preparation building towards this, this is the big move, it’s a race war to bring in total chaos and then total federalization with this evil Justice Department, they even got rid of the other attorney general who had baggage, they put the new one in for the political persecutions of conservatives and Christians. They’re dropping the hammer.”

At a 2013 Washington, D.C., rally that right-wing activist Larry Klayman convened for the purpose of forcing Obama to step down as president, an Oath Keeper speaker said that the Department of Homeland Security was behind the Boston bombing and committed murder to cover it up.  

Rhodes said this spring that the military exercise called Jade Helm 15 – which right-wing activists warned was going to impose martial law on conservative states – was “conditioning and assessment and vetting” of politicians and members of the armed forces to identify who is willing to go along and “drop the hammer on us.”

Given all this history, Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Gawker’s Andy Cush that he doesn’t buy Oath Keepers’ recent claims to have been in Ferguson to protect protesters.

“I think they realized rather quickly that very few people looked on them kindly, and all of a sudden they became defenders of black protest against police violence,” Potok said. “The reality is they’ve never said anything like that in their entire history. I think it’s ludicrous.”

 

For more on the Oath Keepers, see the Southern Poverty Law Center and Mother Jones magazine.

 

Eagle Forum President: Impeach Kennedy For Trying To Be 'King Of America'

Just a few hours after the Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriage last month, former Missouri GOP chairman and current Eagle Forum president Ed Martin joined Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace to discuss the decision, which he said should lead to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impeachment for acting like the “king of America.”

Martin compared marriage equality opponents to David fighting Goliath, who “taunted Israel like the Supreme Court taunted us with this ruling.”

Saying that merely electing a new president or pressuring Congress won’t be enough to respond to the marriage equality ruling, he said, “David didn’t fight Goliath in the way that Goliath wanted. He fought in a different set of terms. And I will tell you, one thing that has not been invoked in a meaningful way is the doctrine of, is how to limit the judiciary with impeachment.”

“I think we’re to that point” of impeachment, he said, explaining that while the four more liberal justices are “corrupt in terms of their worldview,” Kennedy “has really put himself up as the king of America in a way that the founders would have recognized as a discussion point for an impeachable offense.”

Claiming that evangelical churches are full of “posers” on cultural issues, Deace suggested that the Christian Right should emulate the Southern Baptist Convention’s crackdown on moderates in the 1960s, when, he said, “they exposed and purged all posers.”

Martin responded that he couldn’t speak for churches, but that if the GOP tries to “water down marriage,” that will be “the end of the Republican Party.”

Martin then, bizarrely, compared the emergence of the Republican Party in the 1860s to fight back efforts to extend slavery to the current Republican Party’s “retreat” on the issue of the Confederate flag.

“People have been trying to do that, what they did for years, and our people retreated and surrendered within like two days,” he said of the flag issue. “I’ve never seen the speed with which the culture put our people into rapid retreat. They didn’t even make meaningful arguments about the loss of life and the brother against brother and what the Confederacy meant. They just retreated to the space they were pointed to.”

“It’s an extraordinary moment, but the tide can shift, as you say, if we get back to first principles,” he added.

Anti-Gay Missouri GOP House Speaker Caught Sexting With Intern

The Kansas City Star today reported that the speaker of the Missouri House, Republican John Diehl, sent several sexually charged text messages to a female college freshman who was working as an intern in the state legislature.

Diehl, who is married, has championed the Religious Right’s anti-gay agenda in the state house, and has in turn been praised by state conservative groups for his “moral leadership.”

Earlier this year, Diehl and the president pro-tempore of the state Senate filed an amicus brief in defense of the state’s anti-gay-marriage amendment, leading the Missouri Family Policy Council, the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, to praise the speaker “for demonstrating moral leadership and true integrity in standing up for the sacred institution of marriage and the family values of the people of Missouri.” The state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention thanked him for “fighting to defend biblical marriage.”

“Missourians owe a debt of gratitude to Speaker of the House Tim Jones, Senate President Pro Tempore Tom Dempsey and Speaker of the House-designee John Diehl for intervening on behalf of the state in the Jackson County case where state Circuit Judge J. Dale Youngs ruled that 10 same-sex couples married in other states, but now living in Missouri, are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples,” said Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Southern Baptist newsletter The Pathway. “Their action took political courage and they are to be commended for their leadership.”

Diehl also co-sponsored a 2012 bill to ban Gay-Straight Alliances in public schools, which read: “Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time called it a “hateful and unconstitutional attack on individual rights” and slammed Diehl for backing “a loathsome bill in a cynical attempt to garner support from the right wing.”

Stewart Rhodes: Government Using Ferguson Riots, Ebola & Immigration To 'Spark A Race War'

Stewart Rhodes, whose anti-government Oath Keepers group deploys unofficial militias to places like the Bundy ranch and Ferguson, Missouri , claimed in an interview on Armed America Radio in December that Obama administration officials are using the Ebola virus, immigration, and the riots in Ferguson to “spark a race war” that will ultimately allow them to destroy the Constitution.

Discussing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision not to send the National Guard to Ferguson to quell the violent elements of protests after a grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown’s death, Armed America Radio host Mark Walters told Rhodes, “There is speculation that there were powers at the highest levels of our government that asked him not to do that for the optics.”

“Well, absolutely,” Rhodes agreed. “They knew there were outside communist agitators there for months training people on how to do this stuff and, as you said, they knew precisely what was going to happen that night.”

“You have to wonder why,” he added, “I think you’re on the same track I’m at, where I believe this was intentional to maximize the pain, maximize the chaos, and then be able to say, ‘Hey, here’s the solution, we’ve got to cut down on the First Amendment, we need more monitoring of groups, we need a police-state mindset.’”

Later in the program, Rhodes called Obama an “agent of destruction,” and said that since the Republican Congress is unlikely to impeach the president in the next two years, Americans will have to “step up and take care of business” themselves by forming militia units at the southern border and in cities.

“I see the American people being left with the only real option they ever had, which is to get up and do it themselves, which is to go and go to the border, go and stop the looting and the rioting, take the responsibility that’s always been in their hands to serve as the militia of the people and to step up and take care of business,” he said. “That is going to be the only answer.”

“What we are in is a fourth-generation-warfare assault on the Constitution,” he warned. “They’re using everything they possibly can, whether it’s Ebola or immigration or riots, and trying to spark a race war, trying to divide and conquer the American people. I think you can see an economic attack too coming right up.”

Another Supposed Tale Of Christian Persecution Gets Quickly Debunked

Earlier this week, the Fox affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri, ran a report alleging that a local middle school student had been told by his teacher that he was not allowed to read his Bible in school during his free time:

The parents of a middle school student are upset because they say a teacher told their 12-year-old son he couldn’t read his favorite book in school, his Bible. The parents say their son’s fundamental rights were violated.

Loyal Grandstaff’s parents say they’re taking a “grand stance” to stand up for their son’s freedom of religion after they say a teacher told their son he couldn’t read his Bible in school.

Loyal says he loves reading his Bible and decided to bring it to school before the Christmas break so he could read it during his free time. But the seventh grader said his teacher told him it wasn’t allowed.

“I like to read my Bible because it’s a good book,” Loyal said.

He said he wasn’t reading out loud and said he wasn’t sharing the Bible with his classmates.

“I was just reading, just reading because I had free time. A time to do what I wanted to, so I just broke it out and read,” he explained.

“I feel like it violated his freedom of religion but also his freedom of speech,” Loyal’s dad, Justin Grandstaff, said.

Predictably, like so many other stories of this sort, it turned out not to be true:

A public school principal in Missouri pushed back against a middle school student’s claim that a teacher banned him from reading the Bible in school, claiming that the incident did not unfold as was alleged and that students are more than welcome to read their Bibles in school.

Lance Tobin, principal of Bueker Middle School in Marshall, Missouri, told TheBlaze on Friday that claims made by Loyal Grandstaff, a 7th grader at the school, had not been substantiated when a local outlet published them and that the situation has since been resolved.

“We just all agreed and we talked about school and religion,” Tobin said. “And I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable understanding that their child could have the Bible at school and could read the Bible at school.”

Tobin, who declined to go into specific detail when asked why the family alleged that a teacher had banned the 12 year old from reading the book if that story wasn’t accurate, said that going public with the claims was likely “something that [the family] felt like they needed to do at the time.”

When asked how the teacher accused of banning the Bible is faring in light of the attention the situation has been given, the principal added, “There is no teacher involved whatsoever.”

Tobin added that he was frustrated that WDAF-TV, a Kansas City-based Fox affiliate, aired the story before he had a chance to look into it, but affirmed that the situation has concluded. He would not comment when asked if the story was fabricated.

Alveda King Cites Racist Ferguson Photoshop: 'I Googled It To Make Sure It Was True'

Back in September, a photographer for the St. Louis Riverfront Times took a photo of a group of protestors in front of the Ferguson, Missouri, police station, one of whom, a young African American man, was holding a sign reading “No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he leaves home.” Two months later, as protests were again rocking Ferguson, the image was resurrected as a viral racist meme after someone photoshopped the man’s sign to read “No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he robs a store.”

The image was quickly traced back to its origin and debunked, but not before it had entered the popular conscious of right-wing activists trying to demonize the Ferguson protestors.

Among these, it turns out, is Alveda King, a conservative activist who is a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., who cited the hoax photo in an interview last week with Iowa GOP committeewoman Tamara Scott as she asserted that if a “child is trained” then “he or she will not be in the wrong place at the wrong time” like Michael Brown.

“I just can’t believe that quote,” Scott responded, adding, “It just shows you a whole mindset.”

King responded that she also “couldn’t believe it” but had “Googled it to make sure it was true.”

Rick Wiles Wonders If Ferguson Protests Are False Flag To Push Gun Control And Start A Civil War

End Times radio host Rick Wiles interviewed Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt on his program yesterday, and the conversation inevitably drifted to whether the Ferguson protests are in fact a false flag operation to give President Obama political cover to unilaterally implement gun control laws.

“I was thinking how easily something like this could get out of control and there’s gunfire in the cities, if they go into the suburban neighborhoods and begin burning buildings and upsetting cars, homeowners are going to come out with their firearms and begin defending their property. And that sets the stage for Emperor Obama to say, ‘We have to get guns off the streets and this Congress has refused to implement my gun control legislation, therefore by executive order I am doing this, this and this,’” Wiles speculated.

“If he were to do something like that, I think he would trigger, very likely would trigger, a response that would completely put him back on his heels,” Pratt responded, adding that “precisely somebody talking the way you just hypothesized is why they have their guns, so they can protect themselves from tyrants.”

“And the more this guy wants to look like a tyrant the more he’d better stay within Washington, D.C., because if he starts trying to put his imprint on the rest of the country in terms of gun control, that will be a game-changer,” he added.

Wiles repeated his frequent claim that the “delusional” Obama’s “mission is to start a civil war.” Pratt agreed that Obama is on an Alinskyite mission to “bring the system down,” which he will perhaps accomplish through immigration policy.

Later in the program, Wiles wondered if Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to step down this week because he refused to comply with an Obama plot to use the Ferguson case to “whip up social unrest in American cities” in order to stage a military takeover.

“I’m actually speculating that it may be connected to Ferguson, that the Obamanistas are doing their best to whip up social unrest in American cities and the defense secretary perhaps didn’t sign certain orders to activate national guard troops and to do certain things in the state of emergency,” he said. “That’s just my speculation, but it was an unusual event for him suddenly to be pushed out at the same time that we’ve got Ferguson taking place.”


 

 

Pat Robertson Declares Racism Dead, Calls For 'Racial Agitators' To 'Cool It'

On “The 700 Club” today, Pat Robertson addressed the protests that have been breaking out all over the nation in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of unarmed Missouri teenager Michael Brown.

Robertson said that while “there’s no question” that “African Americans in this society for decades have been subject to discrimination” and that “there has been police brutality in various cities,” that’s all over now and “we live in what amounts to a pretty much even-tempered type of society.”

“Police are very careful in dealing with people, they’re trained to be careful with minorities, and the abuses of the past are pretty much a thing of the past,” Robertson said.

Robertson attacked “the Al Sharptons of the world and other racial agitators” for talking about social justice in the case when “this isn’t a case dealing with social justice.”

“I’m all for social justice, and I think most of us are, but this case is somebody who may have been mentally disturbed, we don’t know that, he may have been high on something, we don’t know that, but whatever it was, the police officer had to defend himself and he was attacked in his police car. So why don’t they just cool it?”

The televangelist said that President Obama, in his remarks on the verdict, should have blamed Brown for his own death because he had broken the law: “What he should have said is what I just finished saying: The young man was breaking the law and he should have been restrained and he did things that were not in keeping with law and order. If he’d said that, it would have been a whole lot better.”

 

PFAW Memo: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

To: Interested Parties
From: Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel, People For the American Way
Date: September 15, 2014
Subject: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees

There is probably little more than a week before the Senate goes out on recess until after the election. One of the most important – and undoubtedly quickest and easiest – things it can do before then is confirm 16 judicial nominees, most of whom have overwhelming bipartisan support.
                                                                                      
One of the most important responsibilities of the United States Senate is to maintain a functioning federal court system. District courts are the backbone of the American judicial system. They are where people turn when they feel their rights have been violated. “Having your day in court” is an essential part of the American ideal. But that ideal cannot be met if we don’t have enough judges to make it happen. Even if every vacancy in the country were filled tomorrow, it wouldn’t be enough: The Judicial Conference of the United States – the entity responsible for assessing the federal courts’ ability to effectively manage their caseloads – has urged Congress to create an additional 85 district court judgeships. So when an existing vacancy can be filled with a qualified nominee, it ought to be done with dispatch.

Right now, nominees for 16 such vacancies can be confirmed within the next few days. Seven of these were fully vetted and approved by the Judiciary Committee and have been waiting for a floor vote since June or July. Of these seven, all but one of them advanced without any opposition. Four alone are from Georgia: nominees who have the unanimous support of the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic and Republican senators. There are no more questions to ask of these nominees, except when they will be allowed to take up their judicial responsibilities and fill empty courtrooms in Georgia, New York, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

The remaining nine were scheduled for a committee vote last week, having had their confirmation hearings back in July. They have been nominated for judgeships in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Four of them – nearly half – would serve in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a state with so many vacancies that it alone accounts for 15% of the nation’s total, but Chairman Leahy was forced by the GOP to delay the vote. Republicans gave no reason for the delay, but they rarely do: Since President Obama took office, Republicans have exercised the right of the minority party to have a committee vote “held over” (delayed) by at least a week without cause for nearly all of his judicial nominees, part of their overall mechanism of obstruction. Fortunately, they are expected to get their overdue committee approval later this week.

There remains plenty of time to confirm all 16 nominees before the Senate goes out for its pre-election recess next week.

The fact that we are heading into an election is no reason not to hold these confirmation votes. In fact, in September of 2008, a presidential election year – and the twilight of George W. Bush’s presidency, no less – Democrats rushed several of his nominees through to make sure they got confirmed before recess (and before his presidency ended). Ten of Bush’s district court nominees were confirmed just one day after being approved by the Judiciary Committee. All ten had had their committee hearings earlier that same month – in some cases, during that same week. The confirmation votes took hardly any time at all, since all ten were considered and confirmed as a bloc by unanimous consent.

Interestingly, three of those 2008 nominees were from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where four of the current 16 nominees could be serving by next week, if given the chance.

Republicans still have a chance to demonstrate that they can prioritize the functioning of the U.S. court system over their own partisan interests. But it seems unlikely. Since last year, the GOP has insisted that no judicial nominee, despite their bipartisan support, advance on the Senate floor without time-consuming cloture votes and roll-call confirmation votes. And it isn’t just the roll-call votes that take time (although each one can take nearly an hour). Without unanimous consent to waive the chamber’s time requirements, cloture votes cannot be held until two days after cloture petitions are filed, and each confirmation vote requires at least an hour of needless “post-cloture debate” even after the filibuster is broken.

If Republicans successfully prevent votes this month, the earliest the courtrooms will see some relief will be in a potential lame duck session.  That means another two month wait until clearly qualified nominees are  able to take their seats in courtrooms around the country.  There is simply no good reason for such delay.
 

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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. 

PFAW’s Diallo Brooks Discusses Michael Brown Shooting on BET

Today People For the American Way Director of Outreach and Public Engagement Diallo Brooks was featured in a powerful BET segment on the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

In the interview, Brooks situates Brown’s death within the larger context of police harassment of and violence toward African American men. “We’ve learned that history continues to repeat itself — that we haven’t healed the old wounds that exist in this country,” Brooks says.

Brooks also underscores the importance of voter engagement in local elections for addressing these issues: “We need to really step up and demand our law enforcement to look like us and to represent us, to be a part of us — to be a part of the fabric of the community.”

Watch the full interview below:

PFAW

Voter Registration in Ferguson Inspires Rather Than Disgusts

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post. 

On August 9, I don't believe 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr. woke up in the morning thinking he would not see the evening sun, his family or friends, the end of the day that started with hope and promise. That morning, I don't believe Officer Darren Wilson left for work knowing his tragic encounter with an unarmed young African American male, who he would shoot and kill, would be the spark that ignited the flame that has been slowly burning in the city of Ferguson - the need for change.

In the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri, community members and civil rights activists are proactively turning pain into power by praying, marching, meeting and yes, registering people to vote -- a move that the leader of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, said this week was "not only disgusting but completely inappropriate."

What is disgusting is that type of commentary and thinking! What is disgusting is for anyone to say, as Wills did, that "injecting race into this conversation and into this tragedy, not only is not helpful, but it doesn't help a continued conversation of justice and peace."

Is that leader aware or in denial of the Missouri Attorney General's 2013 report on racial profiling which shows that out of 5,384 Ferguson Police Department stops, 4,632 were of African Americans? That's disgusting and "completely inappropriate."

Is he aware or in denial that of the 521 arrests made during the report period, 483 were of African Americans? That out of 2,489 stops for moving violations, 1,983 were of African Americans? Shame on that leader and those who are "disgusted" by the simple act of voter registration drives to bring "light into darkness"!

In the shadow of Michael's death and the ensuing protests, I cannot imagine a more profound, inspiring response than voter registration. Justice and peace are close companions of democracy. Conducting voter registration drives at any time -- but especially at this time in a "sick and tired of being sick and tired" city that had just 12 percent turnout in this year's municipal election, 11.7 percent turnout in 2013, and 8.9 percent in 2012 -- is a critical way to address this as both a personal tragedy and a systemic tragedy.

It is not "disgusting" but deserving of those who live in a place that lacks diversity in local government, from the city council to the school board to the police department.

With deep condolences to the parents of Michal Brown, Jr. -- not wanting to "politicize" his death or exploit a grieving family who is calling for justice for the one who left out on Saturday morning and will never return -- what better way to honor them than by sowing the seeds of long-term, much needed change? Even from where I am in Washington, DC, I feel the urgency of the call for change in the homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and community of Ferguson.

The world has watched the dehumanization of a mother's child, police with military-grade gear tear-gassing protesters, journalists arrested and assaulted, and the response of helplessness and frustration that many community members must feel toward elected officials from City Hall to the halls of Congress. As Simon Maloy from Salon put it, "a week's worth of unrestrained police crackdowns...with the blessing or tacit approval of political leaders...will tend to erode whatever trust one has left in the people in charge."

So those of us who are watching should applaud, not complain about or attack, a community that turns a lack of trust in its elected officials into a movement for change.

We should applaud and not attack an inspiring vision for a different future for the rest of Michael's siblings, family and friends -- one in which the local officials are responsive to the needs of the entire community, and better reflect the community's diversity. Be "disgusted" by the city's racial profiling data. Be "disgusted" by the predicament of "driving while Black." Be "disgusted" by efforts to suppress voter participation, in Ferguson and around the country as some have "dusted off Jim Crow tactics" trying to stand in the way of men and women, youth and elder, unemployed and employed, determined to exercise their most fundamental right as citizens.

As the leader of a national alliance of African American faith leaders, I work every day with people who are often part of the first responders to tragedies like this, who walk with the family, who eulogize the deceased and who also organize, connect, and empower. They know the face of systemic injustices and of elected leaders who want to make it harder, rather than easier, for certain communities to participate in our democracy. To make the leap from pain to a promise of peace is a difficult step, but thank goodness for those who are taking it.

As one St. Louis faith leader said, pointing at a voter registration tent set up on a Ferguson street by a local woman and her daughter: "That's where change is gonna happen."

Believe is my favorite word. I truly believe "a change is gonna come." After the protests end, after the national cameras leave, after the marchers from east to west return to their homes, neighbors, and communities, there will be follow-up, there will be change.

Registering, educating and getting out the vote is not "disgusting" or "completely inappropriate." What is "disgusting" and "completely inappropriate" is not responding effectively, productively, and positively to suppression and oppression.

As I read about the homegoing (funeral) service planned for next week, I pause and pray for the family and people of Ferguson. What next comes to mind for Michael Brown, Jr. and for change in Ferguson, is: be inspired -- register and vote! For Michael's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr. and for change in Ferguson: be inspired -- register and vote! For all those who loved "Big Mike," and all the other unnamed youth who have died to "justifiable" or "legal interventions" by law officers and know that Ferguson deserves change: be inspired -- register and vote for justice and for the fulfilled promise of peace!

PFAW Foundation

PFAW Foundation YEOs & YP4 Alum Unite with Missouri Protesters to Demand Accountability

Protesters throughout the nation have come out to march and peacefully protest the unjust criminal system that led to Michael Brown being gunned down in Missouri on August 9, including members of the People For the American Way Foundation family.

In Missouri, two members of PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network have taken key roles speaking out for justice. State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Alderman Antonio French were both part of the protests in Ferguson; Chappelle-Nadal was tear-gassed, and French was arrested. Other members of the YEO Network have also been organizing national petitions, marching, buying food and water for protestors, trying to dissuade looting, among other things.

Chappelle-Nadal, elected in 2010, represents part of St. Louis County in the Missouri Senate. She has been vocal in her criticism of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his response to the crisis in her community.

“I never expected to represent a war zone,” she tweeted Thursday.

French, on the other hand, has been documenting the protests through “advocacy journalism.” Born and raised in O’Fallon, French has dedicated his time in public service to improving the quality of life in north St. Louis, often working in conjunction with police to create safer spaces.

During the protests last Wednesday, French was arrested and then released early Thursday, but the reason behind the arrest remained unclear. His arrest, along with his work documenting the protests, have made him a “national voice against the militarization of police.”

In Miami, another PFAW Foundation voice joined the protests. Young People For alum Phillip Agnew, founder of the Dream Defenders, organized a similar demonstration to protest how “police departments around the country will continue to use black and brown bodies for target practice.”

Many Americans are appalled at the actions taken by law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri this month. PFAW Foundation is proud of the work being done by members of our leadership networks to build a more equal America.

PFAW Foundation

Ferguson and the America We Need to Build

This post was originally published at the Huffington Post.

An unarmed teenager gunned down in the street. Peaceful protesters attacked in a military-style assault. Journalists tear-gassed and arrested to prevent them from covering the actions of government officials. This is not the America to which we aspire.

Many Americans are both angry and appalled at the actions taken by law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri, this week. These actions do not reflect a commitment to the Constitution or to the principles of equal justice under the law and freedom of the press. We applaud the Department of Justice for undertaking an investigation into the violence, and we are grateful that state officials have stepped in to institute a more sensible law enforcement presence. We encourage state and federal officials to continue monitoring the situation and to intervene as necessary to prevent further civil rights violations.

At the center of this controversy is a dead teenager and a grieving family. We recognize that the pain and outrage felt by so many people is grounded in the fact that this kind of killing of young men of color happens far too often. Part of the tragedy is that a killing like this is not surprising. If our commitment to equality and human dignity is to have real meaning, we cannot continue to tolerate conditions that require so many parents to teach their children how to live through a chance encounter with law enforcement.

In the long run, our elected officials must grapple with many complex policy questions, including racial disparities in the administration of justice. Today we support community leaders who are demanding accountability.

PFAW Foundation

Steve King: Since Ferguson Rioters Are All Of The Same 'Continental Origin,' Racial Profiling Is Not A Concern

Rep. Steve King appeared on Newsmax TV yesterday, where host J.D. Hayworth asked him about the rising tensions in Ferguson, Missouri and the call by members of the Congressional Black Caucus for the Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation because of concerns about a history of racial profiling by the local police department.

King, of course, saw no need for such an investigation, claiming that these members of the CBC are basically "saying don't enforce the law," linking the issue to the sporadic looting and vandalism that has taken place by asserting that there is no need to racially profile those responsible for those actions because they are all black.

"This idea of no racial profiling," King said, "I've seen the video. It looks to me like you don't need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that." 

"I just reject race-based politics, identity politics" King concluded. "I think we're all God's children. We all should be held to the same standards and the same level of behavior":

Todd Akin Blames His Loss On Establishment GOP's 'Censorship Of The Truth' And 'Anti-American Agenda'

Former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin continues his comeback tour today with an interview with the Daily Caller, in which he blames his 2012 Senate loss on “the direct attacks of the Republican Party leadership on our campaign,” which he says were part of the party establishment’s effort to push an “anti-American agenda.”

Akin claims his own party sunk his campaign with “censorship of the truth” because they were afraid of the “elite liberal media.”

Akin, for his part, was apparently merely trying to generate “patriotism in the hearts of Americans” when he claimed that survivors of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant.

“I was elected for 24 years as a solid conservative. I was elected over and over again with good majorities,” the former Missouri representative explained. “So I don’t think I’m an example of somebody who can’t win and my loss in 2012 was precipitated heavily by the direct attacks of the Republican Party leadership on our campaign.”



He says that Republicans are cowards when it comes to defending their own against attacks from the left and have ”a habit of leaving their wounded on the battlefield.”

“That wasn’t true in my case — they tried to come back and finish me off,” Akin said.

He said that this fear of defending their own who stray from the party line comes from the power that the left exerts through America’s media.

“There’s a fear on the part of the Republicans of the tremendous weapon of the Democrats and the elite liberal media, and the fact that they can target somebody for just the mere poor choice of words and take them from a respected Congressman to the worst bum in the world in matter of a week,” he said.

“They’re not only doing media assassinations, but they’re coupling that with a censorship of truth,” Akin continued. “It’s not even a dual standard! This is a violation of the sacred trust of the public. It’s an intentional decision to advance a very anti-American agenda.”



He also criticized the GOP for adopting a message that wasn’t appealing to the American public, and shared his own opinion for what a candidate should do when deciding to run for office.

“They chose a message very carefully so they could defend it. But it was a very poor message because it wasn’t something that was going to generate any passion, love or patriotism in the hearts of Americans,” Akin said.

“The tactical point is this: you can never advance good ideas if you are afraid to fight bad ideas,” he commented. “The best campaign is one that stands for truth, and you can explain exactly why you believe what you believe and stand up for what America has always stood for. So you start by doing the right thing, and trust God to do the rest.”
 

Tea Party Nation Exposes 'The Gay Food Nazis' Once And For All

On Saturday, Tea Party Nation emailed readers a TPN blog post, “The Gay Food Nazis,” which argues that progressives are “hypocrites” for supporting portion control and gay rights. Timothy Birdnow, who blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on teachers and called for school to hire George Zimmerman, attacked Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon for his decision to recognize married same-sex couples for tax purposes.

“If controlling the kinds of food and portion sizes that children are allowed is a state-sanctioned function, than shouldn't controlling homosexual imagery and experience be likewise?” Birdnow asks, using an argument also floated by David Barton. “Shouldn’t we be trying to put homosexuality back into the closet to prevent children with genetic tendencies from suffering temptation?”

He writes that “two men or two women can no more be married than can a man and his goldfish,” warning that “the current ‘gay fad’” is part of “the advancement of socialism” and leads to “greater government control.”

Birdnow’s article is nothing new from TPN, which regularly pushes out virulently anti-gay commentaries.

This sort of dissembling is endemic of the "gay marriage" debate (which is itself a term rank with dishonesty; two men or two women can no more be married than can a man and his goldfish, the two being biologically incapable of reproducing in either case. The promotion of homosexual behavior by the Progressives in our society is now reaching a crescendo and the first casualty in this titanic struggle for the right to fornicate in an largely painful and unhygienic fashion and receive societal approval has been the truth.



So Jay Nixon has attempted to backdoor gay marriage (no pun intended) in the State of Missouri.



Homosexuality is but one leg in the dream world of the Left, a world where breeding is not considered a right but a very special privilege. The Left seeks to divorce sex from reproduction, to make sex a simple physical act, a feeding of a hunger. That is why Sandra Fluke can demand free contraception without batting an eye; sex has little to do with creating families or binding yourself permanently to one person, the person who will ultimately help you raise your children. Homosexuality is the ultimate rebellion against this "Bourgeois morality". The Progressives have a powerful incentive to promote being gay.



The Left, seeking a "new man", one freed from the restraints imposed by Christian morality and Nature's God, have risen in rebellion against the entire order of society, against Natural Law, against Divine Revelation. Sex is the bayonet of that revolution.

That last is important because what the current "gay fad" is intended to do is to break this passing along of received wisdom from our forbearers. The Left wants to make a "New Man" and to do that the chain of "contagion" of old ideas and beliefs must be broken. Children must be raised by the State or at least have the State be the primary influence over their intellectual and moral development. Common Core is one of the tools now being implemented to accomplish this, and that is being promoted in both the public schools (the original source for Leftist indoctrination) and the private ones as well.



Strange how aggressive this government - led by committed leftists - is toward dietary problems while at the same time promoting homosexuality. And they HAVE promoted it; they have regularized it in the military, have refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, etc.

If there is a societal interest in reducing obesity, is there not an equal societal interest in reducing homosexuality?



If controlling the kinds of food and portion sizes that children are allowed is a state-sanctioned function, than shouldn't controlling homosexual imagery and experience be likewise? Shouldn't we be trying to put homosexuality back into the closet to prevent children with genetic tendencies from suffering temptation? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The difference in approach is astonishing.



So both obesity and homosexuality may have a biological component and both are bad for the public health. So why are we treating these two behavioral issues differently? If society must discourage obesity, should it not equally discourage homosexuality?

That is the opposite of what is happening. We are celebrating being gay while condemning being overweight. The left's hypocrisy is astonishing.

But that is because the two both serve real purposes to the advancement of socialism. In the case of food the prevention of obesity allows government to grow obese itself, to metastasize as it tells the individual and the family what they can or cannot eat while there would be no similar benefit from the prohibition of homosexuality. The promotion of homosexuality offers many benefits that the Left finds attractive. It damages the family, opening the door to greater government control. It promotes a platform to assault traditional values and particularly Christianity. It creates a solid voting block that favors Democrats.

Put this toolkit to good use and call your Senators today, "pass ENDA now!"

The government may be shut down, but Congress is still on the job, and we need to show them that they need to get back to work not only on the budget but on all of the urgent issues that we care about.
PFAW
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