Analysis

Bundy militia group seen as too extreme by other right-wing groups

Ammon BundyBy Diana Evans, CIB Americas Desk*

The Oath Keepers, a right-wing patriot group has denounced the Bundy militia, known as Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, and opposed the occupation of the Malheur Refuge. This development shows that the so-called Sovereign Citizens movement is broad in scope, and that individual groups such as the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom and the Oath Keepers do not share the same level of extremism. The Oath Keepers is a self-described “American patriot” group, whose members depict themselves as citizens living by the oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” There are about 30,000 members of the group, many of whom are current and former serving military, police, and first responders [1]. Critics, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center view the organization as a heavily armed anti-Semitic group with a conspiratorial and anti-government mindset [2].

The Oath Keepers were involved in the occupation and standoff that took place in Oregon from January 2 to February 11 of this year. However, unlike the Bundy group, they did not join the protesters, nor did they take up arms against law enforcement and federal officials. Instead, they evacuated the women and children from the scene following news of the confrontation with police on January 26, which resulted in the death of Citizens for Constitutional Freedom member Robert Finicum and the arrests of the group’s leaders Ammon and Ryan Bundy. The Oath Keepers said they conducted the evacuations in fear of a shootout happening at the refuge with the FBI [3].

The Oath Keepers are against the Bundy group’s standoff in Oregon because, according to one of their communiqués, “it harms the Movement. Ammon’s group has become the aggressors, and, by doing so, loses the moral high ground.”[4] It appears, therefore, that the Bundy group is seen by some in the self-described “American patriot” movement as more aggressive and extreme compared to other right-wing anti-government groups, such as the Oath Keepers themselves. The Bundy group is thus criticized for hindering the anti-federal government movement by resorting to ultra-radical actions.

This development is important to the overall question because it shows that other, more ‘mainstream’ militia groups see the Oregon standoff as too aggressive and even damaging to their cause. Based on the direct quotes and information gathered from unbiased sources, I can say with high confidence that my forecast goes unchanged, which is that the Sovereign Citizens movement will neither gain in popularity, nor decline in popularity due to the Oregon standoff.

* Analytical Question: Will the Sovereign Citizens movement gain in popularity due to the Oregon standoff?

References

[1]About – Oath Keepers” Oath Keepers. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.
[2]ADL Report Exposes Tactics of Anti-Government Oath Keepers” ADL. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.
[3]Finding Keepers” The Economist, 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.
[4]Ammon Bundy – Martyr or Revolutionary? – Oath Keepers” Oath Keepers. 2016. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

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