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On November 29, Oath Keepers national leader Stewart Rhodes and Florida leader Kelly Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy. Three other Oath Keepers were acquitted of this charge but found guilty of related felonies, including conspiring to and obstructing an official government proceeding, conspiring to prevent a government officer from discharging their duties, and document tampering. Rhodes and Meggs were also convicted on these charges. A sentencing date has not yet been set.[1]

As IREHR’s Leonard Zeskind outlined in January, the conviction is a significant moment for federal prosecutors. Far rightists have been tried three times for seditious conspiracy since WW II. This included 30 WW-II era supporters of the German Nazis, a coterie of 1980s neo-Nazis and Klansmen linked to the violent underground, the Order, and the Michigan-based Hutaree Militia in the 2010s.

All walked.

With a similar case pending against leaders of the Proud Boys, the federal government’s central lessons in the Oath Keepers case will likely be that such cases can succeed when prosecutors possess copious encrypted communications between conspirators, weapons are put in place for potential armed conflict, and an actual coordinated charge on their target is captured on film.

But the federal government is not the only lesson learner. The far right is also watching, mostly answering with conspiracy-mongering. Some, however, are learning strategic lessons that, combined with conspiracism, will likely lead to more violence.

CSPOA, Oath Keepers, and Election Denial

On his November 30 Liberty Roundtable podcast Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers (CSPOA) CEO Sam Bushman criticized the conviction and stressed that it could undermine far-right election denial activism. Bushman claimed the verdict was,

“Handing the deep state a huge win. This is a sad tale in my opinion. I don’t believe that Stewart Rhodes was guilty… I believe they had to get this on the books so that they could say, yeah, you know what, this was a conspiracy, this was a (sic) insurrection. This is a serious concern…They say it overturned the election. This really gets in the way of any election fraud claims that we may have, no matter how legitimate they are – when they literally just certify elections. Right. That’s a big problem.”[2]

“They say it’s a major victory in the massive prosecution of the January 6, 2021 insurrection,” Bushman continued. “I don’t believe it was an insurrection at all,” he asserted, spinning a conspiracy theory involving anti-fascists and the federal government.

CSPOA had announced that on November 1, Bushman took over as CEO from founder Richard Mack. The announcement said Mack would become chair of a newly created Advisory Board and “maintain ownership, complete control and veto authority of the CSPOA.”[3] Bushman explained that Mack had taken a position with “Frontline Doctors,” referring to the anti-vaxxer group America’s Frontline Doctors.[4]

Richard Mack (R), Sam Bushman (C) and Klickitat County (WA) Sheriff Bob Songer

CSPOA has been engaged in a national campaign to organize sheriffs to intervene in elections based on spurious claims of voter fraud. The group has a long-standing relationship with Stewart Rhodes and Oath Keepers, of which Richard Mack is a former board member. Sam Bushman made fundraising appeals for Oath Keepers on January 5, 2021, as well as after the insurrection.

Most prominently, far-right groups addressing the verdict followed a similar vein. Refrains from the likes of antisemitic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Infowars and the far-right Gateway Pundit regurgitated the ad nauseam refrain of federal tyranny. Infowars offered a video titled, “Stewart Rhodes ‘Guilty’ Conviction Is A Major Shift Towards Tyranny In America;” commentator Harrison Smith offered little more than reiterations of the title in defense of Rhodes as “someone I’m very proud to call a personal friend.”[5]

The title of a piece in the far right Gateway Pundit bellowed, “Here Is the Official Verdict Announced Today in Kangaroo Court Case Against 5 Oath Keepers.” The article by founder and editor Jim Hoft lamented, “Rhodes will now serve many years in prison for being found guilty of trumped-up charges.”[6] Another Hoft piece railed that the verdict was “garbage” and one in a series of “unconstitutional criminal proceedings against honest Americans who were caught up in the violence on January 6.”[7]

At least one of the two Jim Hoft articles on the topic was circulated by CSPOA North Texas, the Facebook group of a chapter of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association led by Kirk Launius, and the Telegram accounts of the Sacramento Proud Boys, Redoubt Report, anti-vaxx leader Sherri Tenpenny, and Matt Marshall, founder of Three Percent of Washington, among others.[8]

Go Local, “Go for Broke”

Jim Hoft’s writings were also circulated by Red-State Secession (RSS), a far-right group that calls on followers to “Retrench to a position of strength. Split the US to preserve traditional values on this continent, and to preserve the liberty to preach the whole Bible.”[9]

For its part, Red-State Secession drew the lesson from the verdict that, “In the age of streaming, it’s better to protest in areas with conservative juries and prosecutors. You don’t need to be in front of a gov building until you’re ready to go for broke.”[10]

Elsewhere, Red-State Secession elaborates on its vision of secession:

“We believe that conservative states in the US should preserve liberty and traditional values by seceding from the US and forming a loose federation. We believe that this could resolve the culture war. Or, if a civil war starts, ‘national divorce’ could be the solution that ends a civil war…After the first state secedes, other states will have to decide whether to join that state or remain in a Union that can no longer elect conservatives. The red states of America can form a loose federation that would allow the most conservative states to remain conservative. After secession, conservatives and entrepreneurs from other states would move in, and leftists and welfare queens would voluntarily tend to leave. After the migration, the red states could end all immigration from other states.”[11]

Red-State Secession’s vision of re-making the United States

Rather than “conservative,” Red-State Secession offers as justification for secession a white nationalist-style conflation of whiteness and nation:

“Non-Hispanic, non-Middle Eastern whites will be a minority in the US in less than five years at the 2010-2020 rate of change. How will this affect voting patterns? Republicans have won the white vote in every presidential election since the 1960s. The reason Democrats win is people of color. Our children will eventually be persecuted for their whiteness by the majority unless we split the US and create a federation of red states that’s safe for all races… Who wants to be an ethnic minority in their own country, with no homeland in the world? Why did we do this to our kids?           This is one of the most monumental civilizational fails in world history. The rate of inflow of foreigners into the US is orders of magnitude greater than the ‘invasion’ of the German tribes into the Roman Empire, even on a per-capita basis. We failed to pass on our country to the next generation. The US is no longer American.”[12]

In addition to its national project, Red-State Secession also boosts the Texas National Movement, Down Illinois Secession, and Greater Idaho secession.[13]

Potentially more to the point on what it means to “go for broke,” Red-State Secession offered a 2019 article titled, “What if Timothy McVeigh had targeted actual decision makers?” a reference to the white supremacist Oklahoma City bomber. The group wrote,

“Timothy McVeigh’s decision to kill 168 people in a federal building in 1995 probably didn’t intimidate any feds into respecting the sovereignty of the people…The militia movement was decimated by the desire of men to disassociate themselves from McVeigh’s random murder. …What if McVeigh had targeted actual decision makers who had made tyrannical decisions, as he had considered doing? The militia movement would not have weakened. He might have inspired copycats. The next US Attorney General would have thought twice about becoming a tyrant, since 100% of the recent tyrannical US Attorney Generals had been assassinated (one out of one is 100%). The next federal judge might restrain himself, as there are only 3000 federal judges, and only 2000 of them are tyrants. After a few assassinations, a judge would realize that ignoring the constitution would give him a not insignificant chance of being assassinated. Was he [McVeigh] just too lazy to figure out how to find these people? Nowadays the internet is a thing.”[14]

Also drawing a strategic lesson from the Oath Keepers’ convictions is Jarrin Jackson, a failed candidate for the Oklahoma state legislature in 2022.[15] Jackson’s bid was endorsed by, among others, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, Arizona State Representative and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, far-right figure Stew Peters, My Pillow election denier Mike Lindell and Gun Owners of America. [16]

Jackson’s take-home from Rhodes’ conviction is that,

“National level militia groups arent (sic) how things should be done. Militias are local. Know you (sic) neighbor. Big tent organizations looking to defend rights are fed bait. If you actually want to do a militia, work with your local sheriff and live in the same county as the members. Again, the ‘center of gravity’ in America is not something won on a battlefield. J6 was never a threat of ‘toppling our government’ – not the right method. #LiveLocal. Fight your local foxhole. Dont (sic) get scooped up in vainglorious efforts to fight for the country in an organization predicated on bad war theory.”[17]

The point for Jackson appears to be that efforts at “toppling the government” should not be based on “bad war theory,” such as that practiced by Oath Keepers.

In April 2021, Jackson clarified that his idea of working “with your local sheriff” is influenced by the violent, racist, and antisemitic Posse Comitatus. Offering “SPECIFICS (for those saying ‘preaching the gospel is good but not enough’),” Jackson wrote on Telegram, “Control the guns (What is sheriff’s position on deputizing citizens? Does sheriff believe he/she is posse comitatus/power of the county which means sheriff oversees the application of force/law enforcement in the county?).”[18]

And Jackson has endorsed guerilla warfare:

“Guerrilla warfare is tough to defeat bc it is a warfare typified by having support of the people. It’s not fancy. It’s low-tech. Simple. Deliberate. Enduring. America’s revolution was won with guerrilla tactics. Cross apply to Live Local. It’s guerrilla warfare. Not overt. Not fancy. Basic. Deliberate. Dependable. Shift your gears. Witness the torque/horsepower from a lower gear instead of the speed from a higher one. America needs to be turned around. We need the strength of the low gears to undo the damage from the high.”[19]

In March, Jackson wrote that he was “Going to write a manual for the unorganized militia.”[20]

Unsurprisingly, Jackson steeps his Posse leanings in antisemitism. Among other things, Jackson repeats the long-standing canard that Jews “schemed to kill Christ” and wrote, “I dont (sic) care what Jews think… All you have to do is write ‘Jew’ and you’ll get synagogue of Satan (never in context & never pointing to Christ’s response to the synagogue of Satan).”[21]

Befitting his Christian antisemitism, Jackson posted a link commemorating five years of white nationalist, antisemite, and fascist Nick Fuentes’ America First show, writing, “@nickjfuentes is a success story of a dude that’s been targeted & just won’t quit. He’s a disruptor. And much needs disrupting. Congrats, Nick.”[22]

Antisemitism has long had a radicalizing effect on the far right, positing a spurious, racialized, or religious ruling class deemed to have taken over the country and set on harming the “Christian” or “white” nation – thus, potentially justifying murder and/or the overthrow of the government.

More Racist Than Thou

White nationalists such as former Identity Evropa leader Nathan Damigo and American Freedom Party Executive Director John Fassbinder jumped on the verdict to stress that they were more racist than Oath Keepers – a group that has itself promoted bigotry and violence toward immigrants and Muslims.

Nathan Damigo wrote on Telegram,

“F*** Stewart Rhodes. I hope that anti-White piece of sh** has fun in prison. Perhaps he can tell the Blacks about how anti-racist he is and give them a pocket constitution or something. Maybe they won’t stomp his ass out during the next race riot.”[23]

Recirculating Damigo’s post, Fassbinder, a onetime Identity Evropa activist, would add of Rhodes,

“The stomping of his ass is only one of many things his ass should be concerned of going through now that he’s entering into the prison system. Stewart Rhodes will soon realize that the creatures he’s worked so hard to appease don’t care too much about his anti-racist sentiments.”[24]

Showing the blurred lines between white nationalists and other far-right nationalists, American Freedom Party Director James Edwards has been a recurring guest on CSPOA leader Sam Bushman’s Liberty Roundtable show, appearing on the show at least 102 times between January 2015 and November 24, 2022 – including at least five appearances as a co-host. In recent years, the Edwards segment has been Race, Politics & Hypocrisy in 21st Century America.[25]

James Edwards (L) and John Fassbinder (R) of the white nationalist American Freedom Party

Sounding more like a generic far-rightist, national socialist Warren Balogh of the National Justice Party (NJP) recirculated a post from NJP’s Erik Striker (Striker Unlimited) simply stating,

“The heads of the Oathkeepers have just been convicted of seditious conspiracy in a Soviet kangaroo court. This is the first time any American has ever been found guilty of this.”[26]

Drawing From the Past, Preparing for a Violent Future

If much of the far-right response consists of conspiracy-mongering and bogus cries of “tyranny,” the lessons drawn by Red-State Secession and Jarrin Jackson are strategic – aimed more at thinking through how to more effectively deploy violence to further their bigoted and nationalist ends.

Such lessons are likely also circulating offline and away from easy detection.

This is not the first time such lessons have been drawn in the history of the far right and white nationalism. Both Jackson and RSS’s responses recall the reaction of racists to the arrest and break-up of the Order in the mid-1980s – the Order being a coalition of members of the national socialist National Alliance and neo-Nazi/Christian Identity Aryan Nations who robbed armored cars and murdered Jewish talk show Alan Berg in their quest to fuel white revolution.

In the wake of a crackdown on the Order, an organization that pulled members in from across the country, a push emerged in the movement to carry out far-right terror through smaller, tight-knit organizations. Concepts such as Louis Beam’s Leaderless Resistance came to the fore – as well as Beams’ point system emphasizing the murder of political leaders, itself akin to the Red-State Secession critique of Timothy McVeigh.

Like Leaderless Resistance, which called for violence to be carried out in smaller, loose-knit networks and individual acts, National Alliance leader William Pierce would author Hunter (1989), a book in which a lone killer is more successful than a larger group in killing its enemies. And Richard Kelly Hoskins would write Vigilantes of Christendom (1990), a racist tract arguing that acts such as murdering interracial couples are a high calling of God and critiquing the Order for its large cells and inclusion of non-Christian Identity adherents.

In 1995, a small cell murdered 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombing.

These developments are detailed in Leonard Zeskind’s Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

In the wake of election denial activism already bolstering conspiracy-think and legitimizing violence to overturn elections, the lessons percolating from the Oath Keepers trial are volatile. And this is taking place in a larger movement than existed in the 1990s.

Even as the convictions potentially undermine Oath Keepers-style organizing, there is no reason to believe such “lessons” won’t fuel future racist violence and murder.




[1] United States Department of Justice. Press Release: Leader of Oath Keepers and Oath Keepers Member Found Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy and Other Charges Related to U.S. Capitol Breach. November 29, 2022. As the Justice Department’s description of the conviction details, these far right nationalist engaged in range of activities to pursue their conspiracies, including

“organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons, and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection, and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder, and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with each other and others.”

[2] Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 11/30/2022.

[3] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is pleased to announce the following organizational adjustments. November 1, 2022.

[4] Sommer, Will. COVID-Denying Medical Group Implodes Over Founder’s Extravagant Spending. November 14, 2022.; Liberty Roundtable. Radio Show Hour 1 – 11/30/2022.; Burghart, Devin. Twitter. November 22, 2022.

[5] Infowars. Stewart Rhodes “Guilty” Conviction Is A Major Shift Towards Tyranny In America. November 20, 2022.

[6] Hoft, Jim. Here Is the Official Verdict Announced Today in Kangaroo Court Case Against 5 Oath Keepers. Gateway Pundit. November 29, 2022.

[7] Hoft, Jim. Conspiracy” Charges – Government Refused to Expose Their Operatives Who Were the Only Ones Who Called for Violence. Gateway Pundit. November 29, 2022.

[8] CSPOA North Texas. Facebook. November 30, 2022.; Sacramento Proud Boys. Telegram. November 29, 2022.; Redoubt Report. Telegram. November 29, 2022.; Marshall, Matt. Telegram. November 29, 2022.

[9] Red-State Secession. Telegram. November 29, 2022.; Red-State Secession. About Us. Accessed November 30, 2022.

[10] Red-State Secession. Telegram. November 29, 2022.

[11] Red-State Secession. About Us. Accessed November 30, 2022.

[12] Red-State Secession. The 2020 Census included Middle Easterners as “white”; actual Anglos on track to be minority in five years. August 14, 2021.

[13] Red-State Secession. The 2020 Census included Middle Easterners as “white”; actual Anglos on track to be minority in five years. August 14, 2021.; Red-State Secession. About Us. Accessed November 30, 2022.

[14] Red-State Secession. What if Timothy McVeigh had targeted actual decision makers? October 17, 2019.

[15] Ballotpedia. Jarrin Jackson. Accessed December 1, 2022.

[16] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. July 14, 2022; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. June 11, 2022.; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. August 17, 2022.; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. August 17, 2022.; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. June 20, 2022.; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. June 11, 2022.

[17] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. November 29, 2022.

[18] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. April 6, 2021.

[19] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. April 6, 2021.

[20] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. March 20, 2022.

[21] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. November 27, 2022.; Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. April 3, 2022.

[22] Jackson, Jarrin. Telegram. February 6, 2022.

[23] Damigo, Nathan. Telegram. November 29, 2022.

[24] John Fassbinder AFP. Telegram. November 30, 2022.; John Fassbinder AFP. Telegram. November 30, 2022.

[25] American Freedom Party. Leadership. Accessed December 12, 2022; Liberty Roundtable. Search Results for : James Edwards. Search conducted December 2, 2022.

[26] Warren Balogh NFP. Telegram. November 29, 2022.


Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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