Tom Gogola's latest piece, "Everything but the Anarchists" (March 15), deserves special mention for its balance, bravery and boldness. It reminded me of a long-ago, romantic era when wartime foreign correspondents were dropped behind enemy lines to report on fascist regimes in order to inform and enlighten the free world. In this case, a light was shone on the Oath Keepers, a bizarre clique of SS-like denizens in Dublin that has emerged from the "Dark Side" of President Darth Trump's shadow.
I found this passage to be a nail-biter of Hitchcockian proportions: "One of the organizers rushed to the back of the room and started grabbing at my papers, grabbing at the [tape recorder] and telling me that it was a private meeting and I had no right to record anything." I envisioned Dublin's brown-shirted mayor David Haubert and a roomful of his Neanderthals bearing down on the writer as the Deliverance theme rang in his ears.
I'm glad Mr. Gogola made it out in one piece from behind "enemy lines" to share his findings with the rest of us. The SS was—and still is—scary shit. You've done a great job, and the Bohemian is to be congratulated. Again.
It's regrettable your experience was negative. I suspect the source of difficulty had more to do with the participants' concerns over having their comments used to vilify the group as part of some propaganda campaign. They tend to be naive on how to effectively communicate their concerns. The Oath Keepers have been regularly attacked by the mainstream media since their beginning, and it's made a lot of them jumpy. An oversimplification, these folks are used to working with their hands more than their minds. What they lack in sophistication, they make up for with intentions and idealistic interpretation of the Constitution.
Far from fascists, Oath Keepers want folks to hold themselves to a personal standard, rather than have the government tell them what they can and cannot do. They would rather come to these conclusions themselves, as they typically do on a daily basis in their work. What they don't appreciate isn't much different than what they did to you: coming up and asking you to stop doing your job.That's what makes their situation so difficult. They've been attacked in the press to the point they have grown defensive, and this has them going against what they stand for.
That said, when things get difficult (Ferguson), they drop the defensiveness and go to work, risking their lives to stand between the "bad guys" and the innocent.
Thank you for trying to reach out and understand the Oath Keepers. Please know they are not racist, sexist or authoritarian, but rather concerned, frustrated and a bit fed-up with being held to a standard that elected members of the federal government seem to have a difficult time meeting.
Dept. of Corrections
The March 8 story "Cops and Dollars" misstated part of a report in the Press Democrat regarding former Sonoma County Sheriff Office deputy Scott Thorne's history on the Richmond police force. Thorne was the subject of two excessive force complaints; a third complaint could not be verified as an excessive force complaint.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.