HISTORYNEWSNETWORK.COM OCTOBER 2, 2020 – [Stewart] Rhodes was a little-known libertarian blogger when he launched the Oath Keepers in early 2009.
It was a moment of anxiety on the American right: As the Great Recession raged, protesters met the new president with accusations of socialism and tyranny.
“The greatest threats to our liberty do not come from without,” Rhodes wrote online, “but from within.”
Republicans had spent eight years amassing power in an executive branch now occupied by Barack Obama. The time for politics was ending.
“Our would-be slave masters are greatly underestimating the resolve and military capability of the people,” Rhodes wrote.
Rhodes had joined the military just out of high school, hoping to become a Green Beret, but his career was cut short when he fractured his spine during a parachute training jump. After his discharge, he worked as a firearms instructor and parked cars as a valet. In 1993, he dropped a loaded handgun and it shot him in the face, blinding him in his left eye. The brush with death inspired him, at 28, to enroll in community college.
He went on to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where he graduated summa cum laude, and then to Yale Law School, where he won a prize for a paper arguing that the Bush administration’s enemy-combatant doctrine violated the Constitution.
He married a fellow libertarian, started a family, and hung out a shingle as a lawyer in Montana—“Ivy League quality … without Ivy League expense,” read a classified ad in 2008. He volunteered for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign that year. But after the election, he veered from politics toward something darker. [full article]