Edwin Vieira and Stewart Rhodes: Musings On The Militia System
For those who have not yet read the comments thread under Stewart Rhodes’ rebuttal of the SPLC’s mischief, I’m lifting two of the comments and offering them to our full list of readers. And for those who have read these two comments, here is a good way to read them again without having to do all that scrolling under the article to get back to them.
In my seven years as your (mostly) friendly editor, I believe this may be the first time I’ve used a couple of comments to make a stand-alone article. I’m offering these to you because of the masterful content, and the clarity of a certain important message which both posts combine to illustrate. Good thinking; good Intelligence; good writing. Enjoy.
Elias Alias, editor
Oath Keepers Response to SPLC Mouthpiece “Waco Jim” Cavanaugh’s Attack on Patriotic Veterans and Gun Owners
Stewart’s reply to Nick:
Submitted on 2016/08/17 at 4:23 pm
Quoting Nick: “There are over 300 MILLION people in this nation, and I would say that 99.99% of them have no clue as to their duty, and responsibility to the nation.
“The Founders placed a monopoly of power in the hands of the People, but yet we have politicians and media asserting that “these guns should not be in the hands of civilians” without organizations like the NRA, GOA, or Oath Keepers explaining the legal doctrine of “A well regulated militia”, and the nature and theory from men of such political genius as Patrick Henry.”
All that you say in that quote is accurate, except for your including Oath Keepers among the organizations that you assert are not explaining the legal doctrine of “A well regulated militia.” This organization has been promoting and featuring the writings of Dr. Edwin Vieira since I founded Oath Keepers in 2009 (and as you know, I spoke on Lexington Green, April 19, 2009, at a rally organized by Walter Reddy for the purpose of furthering Dr. Vieira’s work to revitalize the militia). You can find some of the articles and videos by Dr. Vieira that we have prominently posted here: https://oathkeepers.org/oath-keepers-academy/edwin-vieira/
And I have now appeared in two films by James Jeager that are based on Dr. Vieira’s writings on the Second Amendment. One was Molon Labe, and the other was Midnight Ride. Both films explicitly focus on the necessity of revitalizing the militia of the several states. That is the point of those films. In addition, Oath Keepers actively helped both of those films become reality. We asked our members and readers to donate to get the films made, and we helped to promote and sell them once they were made. All in the service of trying to cure that planned, intentional ignorance among the population that you complain of.
Nor have I been “tepid” in my advocacy for the restoration of the militia. I actively point out the necessity of a true militia (all able-bodied people in a community, not just Bubba and a few of his pals) in nearly every speech and interview (unlike the spokesmen for the NRA). But then I have to also tell people the sad truth that it is extremely unlikely that we will see a meaningful and effective revitalization of the militia by state statute (or any action by any state government branch toward that end, be it executive, legislative, judicial, or a combo of the three, under their existing state constitutions and statutes) in our lifetime, and that it is especially unlikely to happen before the imminent collapse of our economy and a descent into the intentionally created crisis and disorder that the elites intend to use to further their totalitarian goals.
And that leaves us in the unenviable position of having to do something to provide some measure of local security and a “militia in waiting” – a pool of well trained, organized veterans and gun owners who can step in and fill those slot if/when a real militia system is finally reestablished (likely during a crisis, or, in worst-case, after it is over), while we CONTINUE to advocate for the revitalization of the militia of the several states. And, the steps we are taking with our CPT program and other activities work to recreate that essential element of civic virtue and public mindedness that is essential to the revitalization of the militia, as well as a block of people who understand what is needed, and who have credibility in their community because they have already personally stepped up and volunteered their time by joining and taking part in whatever first responder/emergency response systems already exist.
You should know that the whole CPT program came out of a conversation I had with Dr. Edwin Vieira back in 2010. It was out of that conversation, and a desire to take some concrete steps toward a revitalization of the militia, that I started what we then called “Operation Sleeping Giant” which then became the Oath Keepers Community Preparedness Team (CPT) program in Oct. 2013. And I recently had yet another call with Dr. Vieira on this point, and on that call we both agreed that our CPT program was an important step in the right direction of getting the people trained, organized, and involved in their local community security and preparedness, with a significant point being a return of the Founders’ ideals of civic virtue in the form of public volunteerism and a public focus on the right to bear arms – a shift in focus from individual bearing of arms to protect against criminal attack (which is what the NRA focuses on almost exclusively, as you noted) to a focus on the duty of armed Americans to participate in and provide for community defense and security, as the militia.
Dr. Vieira and I agreed that in the absence of a real revitalized militia, made up of all able-bodied citizens, organized into units, under state statute and under the command of the governor – we need to encourage people to join what first responder structures do in fact still exist, such as volunteer fire, EMT, Search and Rescue, Sheriff Posse (if lucky enough to have one), reserve deputy, police auxiliary, etc, while also encouraging the creation of neighborhood watches with teeth, church security teams, and activating the local VFW, American Legion, Marine Corps League, etc so they see themselves as a Civil Defense unit to assist in time of need.
We also agree that it would be wrong to call any of those institutions and voluntary associations a “militia” since they really are not the same, but we do want to see a maximizing of the participation in such groups and efforts so we will have as strong a local community as possible, in the short term, and most importantly, so we maximize the number of local citizenry who are public minded and filled with civic virtue, who see it as a duty of citizenship to be part of those systems, and who also understand the necessity of revitalizing the militia. Their participation in the limited and inadequate existing first responder and emergency planning systems that currently exist will only help them see what is missing and what is necessary. And the credibility they will have within their community will give them the needed influence to effectively advocate for the revitalization of a true militia system.
Therefore, out of our CPT program and the strengthening of existing emergency response systems can come not just a pool of trained and organized citizens who can be the militia, but also a voting block and advocacy block of well-respected citizens (all part of the existing first responder community) who are calling for the revitalization and actual organizing and equipping of a true militia system.
Doing it this way gets you a maximum number of credible advocates who will be respected and listened to by their fellow citizens when they point out what is missing and still needed, as well as a larger pool of citizens who now see their civic duty and see their right to bear arms as having a very real public purpose, as opposed to a small scattering of advocates such as yourself who are shouting against a Hurricane of indifference by not just the politicians, media, and big name groups who won’t speak the word, but also a lack of civic virtue and commitment to public service, as well as ignorance of even what a militia is supposed to look like on the part of even the warrior class of this nation – the gun owners, the first responders, the police, the military veterans.
You are correct that even among our members in this org their is a lack of understanding of what a militia is, and why we need to revitalize it. And part of the problem is not just the distortion and smear by the media and political elites, but also the black eye the very word “militia” has gotten by the use of that term by people who may be well meaning but are self-evident blundering bafoons, often with Walter Mitty complexes, who parade around in BDUs while wearing Colonel wings, or even General stars, who have not ever served in the military, and have utterly no training, and who were never commissioned by any government body at any level, who are essentially self-commissioned paper tigers who don’t even have a squad, let alone a Company, Battalion or Brigade under their self-appointed, make-believe, so-called command.
All that does is alienate all the military veterans who look on such clowns with utter contempt, and want nothing to do with them, and that is also the image the average American now has of the so-called militia.
And another factor is that many of these self-appointed “militia” leaders see the militia as some secret-squirrel, “Sons of Liberty” guerrilla movement in waiting, and generally advocate that people create small, three to five man cells or otherwise advocate for small, select units that are focused on preparing for guerrilla warfare, rather than on large, inclusive organizations that focus on community security as a whole.
The “Militia movement” that has been around since the 90s, as commonly understood by both opponents, advocates, and the general public, has been its own worst enemy when it comes to PR and when it comes to actually restoring the Founders’ conception of what a militia is.
A true militia is all able bodied citizens of a community, not just a select few in a secret cell of three to five, nor a select few who can field, at most, a couple of squads. That is not a militia even at the town level, let alone at the county level, and surely not at the state level.
What do you call a small group of individuals who put up a website that claims to be the “Militia of X State” or “The X State Militia” who then appoint some “General” or “Commander” over the whole state when he can’t even field a squad or a platoon?
I call that delusional.
But to cure that ignorance and bad PR, I believe it is essential for the credible military, police, and first responders, and veterans, to step up and lead the way back toward a real militia system, and I think the way to do it is through a maximizing of our participation in the scant existing local first responder systems while we also build truly inclusive, bottom up structures, such as neighborhood watches, church security teams and relief societies, and town level watch systems, that invite all able-bodied citizens to participate, train, and organize, while we repeatedly point out that these do not constitute the militia, and while we advocate for a true revitalization of the militia, with maximum credibility.
The people of your state are more likely to listen to you if you are on the local volunteer fire department, EMT team, or Search and Rescue unit, and they are more likely to listen if the majority of others on those teams also call for a revitalization of the militia. And the people of your state are more likely to understand and embrace the need to revitalize the militia if you have lead the way in getting them to participate in public focused security and emergency response units, teams, and structures. They will be more civic minded, and through their training and experience on those teams, more likely to see the need for a real militia. And they will have some training that will help them once they become the militia again.
That is my plan. And I believe Dr. Vieira agrees with it, as being at least part of the solution, and synergistic with other efforts.
Now, please tell me your alternative plan. I find it ironic that you say you “do not agree with the one step at a time mindset” but then you say: “There are over 5 MILLION members sitting over at NRA, and GOA with boards who will not lend a hand to move this step by step in the right direction. ”
What are your ideas on how best to “move this step by step in the right direction”? You can’t just tell me that my ideas on how to move us step by step in the right direction are all wrong, but then not tell me what your plan is.
What’s your plan? Lay it out.
PS- It is now becoming clear that I have apparently not done a good enough job at explaining how our CPT program relates to, and is in furtherance of, the revitalization of the militia. I will do some formal writing on that topic to make it abundantly clear to all.
[End Stewart Rhodes’ Comment In Reply To Nick]
Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr.’s contribution to the thread —
Submitted on 2016/08/20 at 1:08 pm | In reply to Stewart Rhodes.
Perhaps more than anyone else, I understand and appreciate Nick’s frustration, because I have been trying to generate interest in revitalizing the Militia for more than a decade, without much success. And I certainly agree with him that “the Constitution means exactly what it says”, and needs to be enforced—especially with respect to the Militia—strictly and rigorously according to its explicit terms. Nonetheless, as Stewart correctly emphasizes, one must always remain aware of the political and social contexts in which Oath Keepers operate, and the limitations and challenges they impose.
Unfortunately, most Americans today are woefully unfamiliar with both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Basically, this is the result of: (i) naive ignorance born of indifference and sloth with respect to fulfillment of their duties as citizens to study this country’s foundational documents; and (ii) perverse political indoctrination through the miseducation put out in the public schools together with the misinformation broadcast by the big “mainstream media”. Whatever the cause may be, the effect is that hardly any Americans understand anything about the constitutional Militia. For a convincing exercise in futility and frustration, ask even a supposedly educated American to explain the constitutional differentiation between and interplay among Article I, Section 8, Clauses 12 through 16; Article I, Section 10, Clause 3; Article II, Section 2, Clause 1; and the Second Amendment. You may as well ask for an explanation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, because you will receive the same vacant stare of incomprehension in both instances.
To make matters worse, nowhere in this country does a true constitutional Militia exist. to set a practical example before the people. To use the terms adopted by Congress in Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 311 (and, I believe, by all of the States as well in their own codes), there do exist the so-called “organized militia”—in the forms of the National Guard, the Naval Militia, and various State “defense forces” (sometimes called “State Guards”). These, however, are the “Troops, or Ships of War” which the States may “keep * * * in time of Peace” “with[ ] the Consent of Congress” under Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution, or the other “troops” which Congress (pursuant to the latter Clause) permits a State to “maintain” and “to use * * * within its borders in time of peace” under Title 32 of the United States Code, Section 109. Under color of Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 311, the vast majority of other Americans has been consigned to the constitutionally oxymoronic “unorganized militia”—which is no “well regulated Militia” at all, inasmuch as by definition an “unorganized militia” cannot possibly be “well regulated”, “unorganization” and “regulation” being mutually contradictory concepts.
In the absence of constitutional Militia, some Americans have ill-advisedly formed their own “private militia”. These, of course, are not constitutional Militia either, because they enjoy neither governmental provenance nor governmental authority. Constitutional Militia are “the Militia of the several States” as a matter of law, not mere private groups which smatterings of individuals may have set up “in the several States” as a matter of fact. Some of the members of these “private militia” are perhaps well intentioned, but certainly not well informed. For instance, many “private militia” claim to be legitimate parts of the so-called “unorganized militia” under Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 311. But if Congress wields the power to consign Americans to an “unorganized militia”, then (by constitutional hypothesis) those Americans are to remain “unorganized”, not to “organize” themselves contrary to Congress’s command. Besides suffering from the demerit of illegitimacy, “private militia” are (as Stewart points out) generally ineffective, and in all too many cases counterproductive, because they provide grist for the mill of those subversive elements intent upon demonizing “the M word” and anyone who uses it.
The problem confronting Oath Keepers is two-fold. First, Americans must be taught what “well regulated Militia” are, what is the place of “well regulated Militia” in the Constitution’s federal system, why “well regulated Militia” are always “necessary to the security of a free State” in principle, and why America today suffers from an especially desperate need for “well regulated Militia” in practice. Americans must be made aware that the civilian “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” institutions and structures which have been set up at every level of the federal system are insufficient to deal with really serious widespread emergencies, and cannot possibly address other problems (such as the administration of honest elections and the provision of economically sound alternative currencies) for which “well regulated Militia” could provide simple but workable and timely solutions. Americans must also be made aware that revitalization of the Militia is probably the only way to eliminate the para-military police-state apparatus now being assembled throughout the United States, and thereby to ensure this country against the imposition of so-called “martial law” when some really serious widespread emergency does break out. Oath Keepers must take up the task of educators because no one else will—neither public officials, nor the big media, nor even such ostensible “gun rights” organizations as the NRA.
Second, for Oath Keepers to teach is not enough; they must also lead by example—once again, because apparently no one else will. In the absence of constitutional Militia, Oath Keepers must create a new ethos through action. This must occur primarily (some observers would say exclusively) at the Local and State levels of the federal system, because: (i) in principle, the Militia are “the Militia of the several States”; and (ii) in practice, the Militia are composed of Local citizens, operating initially at the Local level, where the need for action inevitably first arises. To use the NRA’s three-part mantra, through education (“knowledge”) and training (“skills”), Oath Keepers can instill in the people with whom they interact the habit of thinking and acting in “a Militia sort of way” (“attitude”), thus encouraging those people to support revitalization of the Militia, and preparing them to serve in the Militia upon revitalization.
As Stewart emphasizes, Oath Keepers’ CPTs are not any sort of “militia” (and do not pretend to be). But they can function as precursors and foundations for revitalization of the Militia. Moreover, the more people Oath Keepers can organize and train, whether in CPTs or otherwise, the better prepared a Local community will be to deal with the real emergencies which are coming, and which the present National, State, and Local “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” bureaucracies will be unable to handle.
Oath Keepers, however, cannot “go it alone”. Instead, they need as much as possible to work within and through existing Local and State “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” agencies, for several reasons. First, in most communities those agencies are the only organized entities of that type in existence. Second, those agencies generally possess the statutory authority to devise and implement “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” plans tailored to the particular communities they serve, which authority usually provides them with the discretion and flexibility to bring volunteers into their operations. Working within these agencies, Oath Keepers can gain experience with what the agencies consider, rightly or wrongly, to be the primary dangers which threaten their communities, as well as the fundamental tasks to be undertaken as part of “emergency responses” to those dangers; they can gain credibility with Local public officials and the general populace; and they can gradually educate officials and the public as to, and enlist them in, the movement for revitalization of the Militia.
As individuals, Oath Keepers need to join Local volunteer fire departments, EMTs, CERTs, Search and Rescue teams, Sheriffs’ posses, and so on. They need to learn whatever members of these units know, discover what those people do not but should know, and suggest how these operations can be improved. In particular, Oath Keepers need to encourage Local “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” officials to expand and improve their operations by recruiting, enlisting, and training as many Local people as practicable, especially Local people who are already organized, trained, and equipped to some useful degree—for example, by adding Oath Keepers’ CPTs to existing Local “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” plans. As they increase in capabilities and expand in terms of citizens’ participation, these Local structures will gradually come to look like real Militia, and will doubtlessly be supportive of revitalizing the Militia, at least at the Local level, so as to provide themselves with more authority and autonomy, which will make for greater effectiveness. (One always has to assume that the Local officials in charge of these programs really do want to be effective. And certainly many of them would not turn down increased authority and autonomy.)
So, I believe that, at the present time, the foregoing is the best general response to Stewart’s query: “What’s your plan. Lay it out.” Oath Keepers need to work with the opportunities and resources already available in Local communities—by contributing in a positive and imaginative manner, as quickly and forcefully as possible, to the communities’ “emergency-response” and “emergency-management” structures, so as to provide new resources and create new opportunities, with the ultimate goal of turning those structures into full-fledged Militia units, first at the Local level and then throughout each State. How this plan will “play out” in particular instances will, of course, depend upon circumstances. And Oath Keepers should take care to apprise one another of how their efforts are succeeding in different Localities, so that one success can be built upon another, and mistakes avoided. But if a better plan exists, it has escaped my notice.
[end Dr. Vieira comment]
Editor’s Note: The books pictured above are active links to Amazon dot com for each book’s respective page, where I encourage all Oath Keepers to purchase and enjoy reading.