This week various members of the so-called “Alt Right” have been taking shots at Oath Keepers — an antigovernment organization that primarily recruits current and veteran military, law enforcement and emergency first responders — after video surfaced of a Texas militia member putting a neo-Nazi protester in a headlock in a Houston park last Saturday.
The event underscores a growing rift between the “Patriot” movement and other elements on the far right over the former’s apparent lack of racialist sentiment.
“We’re not white nationalists. We’re not racists of any kind. And if they show up [at our rally], I am going to personally, physically remove them. Because they are trying to co-opt what we’re trying to do.”
Although Stewart Rhodes, founder and president of the Oath Keepers, has yet to uphold this threat, an alleged member of his organization seems to have done just that.
Video footage of a confrontation between a white nationalist protester and a member of “This Is Texas,” a purported affiliate of the Oath Keepers, shows a white nationalist protester being ejected from a group of “Patriots” after one of them snuck up behind the man and put him in a choke hold. The video has elicited strong responses from groups affiliated with the alt right.
The scuffle occurred at Hermann park in Houston, Texas after a fake Antifa (short for Anti-Fascist) Facebook account titled “Texas Antifa” announced their plans to protest the park’s Sam Houston statue, for Houston’s status as a slaveholder. Whatever response the page and post were intended to garner, they elicited a strong response from This Is Texas, which announced on a Facebook page for the event:
“Antifa has come out saying they will be bringing several large (communist) groups together to host a rally around the Museum District in Houston, Texas on June 10, 2017... This is it Texans, This Is Texas & it's time we nip this problem in the butt before our state starts looking more like California or Chicago rather than Texas. Please share this event & our FaceBook page (THIS IS TEXAS) so Texans, III%ers, Oath Keepers, Conservatives, Constitutionalist & others are aware of the rally & can join if they would like to do so. God bless Texas!”
This Is Texas was successful in drawing out a large crowd bearing various flags, including the Confederate Battle Flags, Gadsden flags, and flags of various militia and so-called Patriot organizations. As for the “Black Panther Party, Antifa & more” promised by This Is Texas, they were nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, if This Is Texas et al. was spoiling for a fight that day, it certainly found one.
What the group hadn’t counted on was a small group associated with neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer and Vanguard America (VA) also attending with flags of their own, including VA banners with the slogan “We Have A Right To Exist,” the “Kekistani” flag, and VA’s own recently adopted banner featuring a blue sonnenrad in front of a red and white striped field.
VA — a fledgling neo-Nazi group associated with Identity Evropa and The Right Stuff — is perhaps best known for an incident when a member offered to sell out his organization in exchange for not being doxed.
The video in question begins after police purportedly told a group of white nationalists from VA and The Daily Stormer, which organizes real-world “book clubs,” to leave one area of the park after some back and forth with the “Patriots.” One man wearing the uniform sported at protests by VA members, a polo and khakis, returned to gather posters adorned with Pepe, Wojak, and the slogan “No Blood for Israel” that had been left behind, but instead entered into a bizarre verbal confrontation with several of the Oath Keepers.
“These are good memes...” the lone alt-righter protested as he juggled the signs, a megaphone and the VA flag.
“Dude this is not Comicon!”
As the shouting continued, David Amad, of Open Carry Texas (OCT), stepped forward. “Son you are leaving here one way or another.”
Before Amad could finish the threat a member of his group sprang from behind the lone alt righter and put him into a chokehold. After a few seconds the two were separated and Amad escorted the victim away from the scene while This Is Texas/OCT members radioed to police.
“That’s why we were trying to escort you out, motherf***er!” taunted one of the so-called Patriots.
The incident wasn’t the only example of Amad failing to maintain control or cohesion at the protest.
Later footage shows Amad and members of This Is Texas arguing with a larger group of white nationalists, including the man who writes for The Daily Stormer under the pen name “Azzmador”.
“What you gonna do, you gonna start a fight while packing a rifle?” Azzmador can be heard shouting as the argument became heated.
An affiliate of Amad’s organization, who identified himself as “head of security” and “commander of the Texas State Militia” was also filmed as he approached “black Confederate” Arlene Barnum to ask whether her fellow flaggers, who were white, would put down their Confederate battle flags.
“I think that you [Arlene Barnum] are the best example of why you should carry [that flag]... and I’m not saying that in a bad way, you know what I mean? But if you don’t mind, could you be the only one please?”
The request was rebuffed.
Given all of the consternation surrounding the handling of the event, it is not surprising Oath Keepers has taken to Facebook to insist that the man who choked the VA member was not one of its own. The video has caused numerous denunciations of Oath Keepers and its leadership by several alt right websites, including AltRight.com, Brad Griffin AKA Hunter Wallace on Occidental Dissent and The Daily Stormer.
An article on AltRight.com titled “Oathkeepers Turn Against the Alt Right” was the first shell fired in a building salvo against Oath Keepers, and was quickly picked up by The Daily Stormer.
These incidents comes on the heels of several other public spats between members of the “Alt Right” and various “Patriot” and militia groups.
Brad Griffin, who writes on Occidental Dissent under the alias Hunter Wallace, has posted accounts of feuds between “Patriot” and militia organizations such as “American Warrior Resistance” and Oath Keepers after disagreements in Gainesville and New Orleans over the past month.
“I’m addressing a group called the American Warrior Revolution, we’re addressing our friends the Oathc----, and various III% militia groups. We’ve been watching you people since then and we’ve had a little trouble.”
Griffin goes on to accuse the varied groups that make up “Patriot Nation” of being “deracinated c----” and “failing to support our free speech and defending our monuments,” by standing in the way of the League of the South in New Orleans, Gainesville, and elsewhere.
The allegation that Oath Keepers are “c----” who “talk about how anti-racist they are,” commonly referred to as “virtue signaling,” is a cardinal sin on the far right and a source of much of the ire directed against Oath Keepers, other militia groups, conservatives politicians, religious leaders, and in particular, “boomers”.
For Griffin and the other members of the far right now arrayed against Oath Keepers and the larger “Patriot” movement, the issue is that Oath Keepers tend to rely on public expressions of racial impartiality while hiding its own ethnic biases.
Last year, Stewart Rhodes and his Oath Keepers endorsed the virulently anti-Muslim essay, “Tet Take Two: Islam’s 2016 European Offensive,” which describes Islam as a “ringworm infection [that] is dead and barren within the ring, but flares up when it parasitically feeds off the healthy, non-Islamic societies around it.”
The essay’s author, former Navy SEAL turned “Patriot” novelist, Matt Bracken, believes that refugees in Europe represent a second Tet offensive, a reference to the 1968 infiltration of South Vietnam by Vietcong guerrilla fighters who then launched a surprise offensive.
Bracken blames “Eurocrat elites” for open European Union borders, saying they purposely have created “a wide path for the onrushing Muslim hijra immigration invasion.” Rhodes agrees, and said the same thing is happening in the United States.
The martial skill set bragged about by Oath Keepers, and the inclusion of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories into its worldview, showed its head in the physical space when ACT For America — an anti-Muslim hate group listed by the SPLC — asked the organization to provide security for its “March Against Sharia” rallies last weekend. Oath Keepers was eager to oblige, and its members, including Rhodes, were seen at several rallies carrying long guns and attempting to rub shoulders with law enforcement, who until the election of Donald Trump were frequently on the other end of Oath Keepers’ barrels.
This occurs as various long-standing divisions between far right groups appear to be breaking down in favor of loose coalitions in opposition to the looming specter of Black Lives Matter and “Antifa,” which was effective in mobilizing attendance at the Houston event.
Whether Amad, This Is Texas, and the various other “Patriot” and militia types in question are directly affiliated with Rhodes and the Oath Keepers, these incidents do tend to corroborate warnings from various watchdog groups about the threat posed by militia and “Patriot” groups appearing heavily armed at protests.
While they claim to be present to “support law enforcement” and “defend the Constitution,” the brutish tactics on display in Houston and elsewhere make it clear that entering tense political environments decked out in tactical apparel with a rifle and body armor does little to promote civil discourse.