Freedom Movement Loses Important Voice with Passing of Mike Vanderboegh
Mike Vanderboegh passed away peacefully early Wednesday following a long and devastating illness. The Sipsey Street Irregulars blogger, self-described “smuggler” and patriot was perhaps best known as the founder of the Three Percent movement, and as a citizen journalist who first reported on a link between the murder of a Border Patrol agent and ATF’s criminal Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation.
As a longtime friend and colleague, and as one who has reported on Mike’s deteriorating health and urged supporters to return value for value received in his time of need, it’s probably expected for me to say something profound about this man who had been such a great influence on my own work over the years. Hell, I expect it of myself.
But the truth is, Mike wasn’t about being praised. He believed in letting the work and the ideas speak for themselves.
True, the man had a strong (some would say “cantankerous” at times) personality. But underlying it was a calling – I don’t know what else you’d call it – and fierce devotion for the truth. It was seeing others ignore that truth – particularly when doing so for gain at the expense and abuse of others – that brought his unyielding sense of justice to the fore.
It’s also true he could at times be impulsive in his response to perceived injustices. There are more affronts to liberty and wrongs to right than any of us could hope to even hear about, let alone do anything about. When one came across Mike’s transom, he was on it like a pit bull, even if already overburdened – and that tendency was something he would not ease up on until the weakness of the flesh stripped him of any choice – and even then he would do what he could to defy.
Where do I begin with a synopsis of all the areas where Mike’s efforts, knowledge, insights, talents and will made a real difference? It’s a bit like coming up with acknowledgments — I’m sure I’ll be forgetting some that others who were touched by the man’s work believe deserve being emphasized.
We’ve already mentioned Fast and Furious: Seeing as how contemporary recognition for his achievements has not been forthcoming (it’s not like establishment media ever wanted to actually dig into that and the guy isn’t even mentioned in the Wikipedia entry), those will need to be the province of historians. Perhaps the best place to start is with our Journalist’s Guides in which we attempted to influence widespread deliberate indifference, now relegated to the Wayback Machine Internet Archive, awaiting rediscovery or obscurity depending on how history works out. Another (surprisingly) fair synopsis was published a few years back on BuzzFeed.
We shouldn’t overlook Mike’s proud affinity for ”patriotic resistance” smuggling, bringing “banned” magazines into states like Connecticut, Colorado and Washington, and his leadership in the new (old, actually, just not something the rice bowl gun groups have vested interests in promoting) paradigm of the “I will not comply” movement.
We could talk about Mike’s leadership in the militia movement (he was a consulting authority for and subject of Prof. Robert H. Churchill’s “To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant’s Face.”) We could reflect on his work getting to the hidden truths behind the Oklahoma City bombing, and his investigation into the cover-up behind the related murder of Kenneth Trentadue.
We could look at some of the individuals and groups that earned Mike’s wrath and contempt over the years, but there’s no point in naming names in a memorial. Suffice it to say he was proud to have earned reciprocal scorn, adhering to a maxim by colleague Kurt Hofmann:
“I believe that being despised by the despicable is as good as being admired by the admirable.”
Ultimately what drove Mike was evident in a fundamental question he posed continuously on his blog:
DOES THE GOVERNMENT SERVE THE PEOPLE OR DO THE PEOPLE SERVE THE GOVERNMENT?
He knew what the answer to that question should be, but was also driven to ensure that those who called themselves “Three Percenters’ were committed to the principles of the movement he founded. Even while he knew his end was near, he was doing everything he could to emphasize the importance of his Three Percent Catechism, and to lay out his vision for those of us carrying on after him in his Valediction.
I could go on – I started this unsure of where it would lead and how to even frame things, and there are plenty of anecdotes about experiences and conversations that could be shared, but the truth is, it’s time for me to go and spend some quiet time reflecting on the loss of my friend, and dealing with a growing sadness that had to be kept at bay while there was this necessary task to be done.
Please join me in sending prayers and love to Mike’s family, his steadfast wife Rosey, his beautiful, strong daughters Hannah and Zoe, his capable and knowledgeable son and blog heir Matthew, and his wonderful mother, now facing a loss no parent should ever have to.
UPDATE: I just spoke with his daughter.
Services will be Saturday at 2 p.m., Kilgroe Funeral Home, 1750 Ashville Rd., Leeds, AL 35094.
The family requests in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Cancer Society.
- A Patriot has passed on today.
- Longtime militia and ‘Patriot’ leader Mike Vanderboegh dies at 64
- Mike’s last interview.
MESSAGE FROM STEWART RHODES, ON MIKE VANDERBOEGH’S PASSING:
I am gravely saddened by this bad news. We knew it was coming soon, but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Like David, me and my family will keep Mike’s family in our prayers. I consider myself lucky and blessed to have had Mike as a friend and ally, from before I founded Oath Keepers, to the day we officially launched this org on April 19, 2009 (Mike was there with us on Lexington Green, along with Pete from Western Rifle Shooters), to his last days. As Mike sometimes noted, we did not always agree on all points – usually on matters of strategy or judgment – but any such disagreements were small potatoes in the long run. We always agreed on what it was we fought for, and on the general principles of ethical resistance to tyranny, and on the wisdom of following the Founders’ example of how to do it smart and right.
Mike has always been a supporter of the Oath Keepers mission, and I am glad that we here at Oath Keepers were able to help him, on occasion, to spread his Three Percenter message. The two efforts are closely related and synergistic. Frankly, I have always considered myself a “three percenter” and I called myself that even before I founded Oath Keepers. And I know many other Oath Keepers who feel the same. And all thanks to Mike, who coined that term and launched that idea.
As such, I am glad we were able to help Mike with travel expenses on several occasions, so he could speak at important events, such as his speech on the steps of the Connecticut capitol (where he committed his first of many acts of defiance to unjust, unconstitutional anti-gun edicts by oath-breaking politicians), and his speech at the Alamo. I felt it was important to do that, so that people who called themselves “Three Percenters” would know who Mike was, and would listen to his advice and counsel as the founder of that movement on how to do that mission right. Something you need to know about Mike – he was pleased when he found out that people who called themselves “Three Percenters” didn’t even know who he was. To him, that was a sign of a successful campaign to spread an idea. He also chose to not have an organization with memberships, and instead to just spread the idea of being a three percenter – someone who would resist and actively fight against disarmament and who was willing to step up and risk or give his or her life in the defense of the Republic. That choice did indeed have some merit, but it also had the downside of making it easier for unscrupulous and unprincipled people who did not share Mike’s principles of ethical resistance to use that name while twisting and perverting what it means to be a Three Percenter. And that is why I invited Mike to tour through the NE with me, and to join us at the Alamo, and also at Bundy Ranch. I wanted Three Percenters across the country to get to know him as the founder of their movement, and to know who to look to for leadership and guidance in their mission.
I believe that Mike Vanderboegh will go down in history as a great patriot who more than made up for the sins of his youth, by becoming a literal to-the-death defender of the Founders Republic.
We have all lost a champion, but we have all gained his timeless wisdom and example, which will still serve as a light to guide us in the darkness ahead. Let us make the most of it.
And let us commit to acting with as much courage, honor, and wisdom as we can, despite being flawed human beings. Let us do Mike proud.
To his family, you have our love and respect. We will keep you in our prayers.
To his son Matthew: We will be here to support and aid your efforts in any way we possibly can, as you carry on your father’s work, just as we were there in support of your father. Just ask.
To his wife, Rosey: Whatever you need, just ask. We would be more than happy to encourage our members to donate to any memorial fund you set up, to help with any funeral costs or anything else you need as you deal with your grief and loss. Just let David know and it shall be done.
We will keep you all in our prayers, and you have our condolences in this time of loss. He was a good man.
For the Republic,
PS – Like David, I will be taking the rest of today to reflect on the loss of a good friend, and on his legacy. Please keep that in mind.
MESSAGE FROM MATTHEW VANDERBOEGH, MIKE’S SON:
Mike Vanderboegh, husband, father of three, and founder of the III% movement passed peacefully in his beloved Alabama home today.
In life, he fought tirelessly to restore the liberties that we had taken for granted. Because of his leadership and the movement that he created, we take them for granted no more. He was able to awaken minds to the possibility that a determined minority of free people could accomplish anything; so long as they did it together. They did not need a leader. They needed a cause and a banner from which to advance the cause of freedom. The III percent is that cause.
Mike continued to give everything after so much had been taken away by the illness. Through his struggle he became a symbol of what can be accomplished if we only have the indomitable will to make it happen. Through his words he was able to breathe life into the sails of a resurging Patriot movement. His work may be done, but for those that remain, it is just beginning,
A Patriot died today. But his work will live on in the everyday push for freedom. His was a voice that was made silent, but his work will continue to echo so long as free men and women have the means to resist The future doesn’t belong to the craven; it belongs to the brave.