Vice on the Oath Keepers

Vice has an interesting piece on the Oath Keepers, a militant group whose stated mission is to defend the Constitution (their focus being primarily domestic enemies).  The author, James Pogue, a self-described environmentalist who supports welfare programs, finds the Oath Keepers more open to rational dialogue than perhaps he expected.  They are hospitable to him as he visits one of their camps in the backwoods of Oregon, and he finds that he can even relate to some of their concerns, especially regarding the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11 and the bureaucratization of modern life.  At the same time, Pogue portrays the BLM officials with whom the Oath Keepers are in a standoff as mild, hapless middlemen stuck in an absurd position, not quite the fascist thugs the Oath Keepers make them out to be.

Towards the end, Pogue makes a couple of unreasonable assertions.  He says the Oath Keepers’ “frustrations have been co-opted by a corporatist ideology that has done as much as any government action to bureaucratize and regulate our lives.”  This comes across as a progressive talking point injected awkwardly into an otherwise thoughtful piece.  As for the Oath Keepers’ being “co-opted,” Pogue does mention elsewhere in the article a historical link between the Sagebrush Rebellion (explained in the article) and legislation backed by people like the Koch brothers.  It’s pretty tenuous, but there’s a kernel of truth in it in that the concerns and ideologies of conservatives and libertarians of all stripes overlap.  I don’t see that as any basis for saying that a group of men and women in an Oregon forest have been “co-opted.”  As for the idea that corporations “bureaucratize and regulate our lives,” I would certainly agree that life within corporations tends to be stifling and bureaucratic, but the difference between corporations and the government is that you don’t have to follow a corporation’s HR policies if you live in the wilderness.