The Oath Keepers — a pro-Trump militia group consisting of former members of law enforcement and the military — appears to be launching a series of paramilitary training camps.
On their website, the Oath Keepers announced that they’re attempting to raise $100,000 in order to launch their “Spartan Training” program. The group is relying on all who are “loyal to the Constitution, do not discriminate, and are not felons” to sign up for the militia group, which is intended to create an armed force of people serving as a vigilante posse at the service of a “patriotic governor” or President Trump himself.
“Those who volunteer for the Spartan Training Group program will be trained to a high standard such that they may be called upon to protect our borders, or provide security for schools during active shooter situations, or serve on a Sheriff’s posse under a constitutional Sheriff,” the Oath Keepers’ website reads.
While that description sounds relatively harmless, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes hinted at something far more sinister in a recent interview with InfoWars (the network run by notorious pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones). As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, the “Spartan Training Group” program will, as Rhodes describes it, serve as a paramilitary force to fight “Antifa and the far left” whom he believes will eventually launch “insurrections.”
“[O]ur concern is that antifa will eventually go kinetic, whether it’s through use of bombs or firearms, and we want to make sure the Patriot population of this country is prepared to handle it,” Rhodes told InfoWars’ Owen Shroyer.
The militia group’s push for the training camps shows that President Trump’s loyal followers are taking Trump’s warning of left-wing violence if Democrats win the 2018 midterms seriously. In a recent meeting with Evangelical leaders, Trump warned that “violent people” in leftist groups were threatening free speech and religious freedom.
“It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently,” Trump said. “There is violence. When you look at Antifa – these are violent people.”
Of course, there haven’t been any actual terrorist attacks from leftists since the 1970s, when the Weather Underground carried out a series of bombings that ultimately never killed anyone. However, white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been responsible for multiple deaths and terrorist attacks in recent memory, the most notable being an attack on several dozen leftist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia last year that killed one and injured nearly two dozen others. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that terrorist attacks by white, right-wing extremists were actually twice as frequent between 2008 and 2016 as Islamic terrorism.
However, what the Oath Keepers say they’ll do and what they’ll actually do sometimes differs. The militia group famously backed out of a planned “indefinite” protest outside the Los Angeles office of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) last month. And even though no Oath Keepers showed up on the day of the planned protest, hundreds of counter-protesters supporting Rep. Waters did.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.