Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Conviction of Oath Keepers Militia Leader Stewart Rhodes for Seditious Conspiracy: Commentary

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Significant news in the U.S. yesterday as a federal jury yesterday convicted Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes and one of his subordinates of seditious conspiracy for leading the Oath Keepers in their attack on the capitol in D.C. on 6 January 2021. Alan Feuer and Zach Montague write, "Oath Keepers Leader Convicted of Sedition in Landmark Jan. 6 Case":

Seditious conspiracy is the most serious charge brought so far in any of the 900 criminal cases stemming from the vast investigation of the Capitol attack, an inquiry that could still result in scores, if not hundreds, of additional arrests. It carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. 

Prosecutor Jeffrey S. Nestler stated during the trial, 

They claimed to wrap themselves in the Constitution. They trampled it instead. They claimed to be saving the Republic, but they fractured it instead. 

Oath Keeper Graydon Young testified, 

I guess I was acting like a traitor against my own government.

Charlie Sykes, "It Was a Conspiracy. And It Was Sedition," comments: 

[T]he government now has a stiff wind at its back, and the walls of Mar-a-Lago are likely smeared again with ketchup.

Politically, the verdict also resets the frame for the January 6 Committee by underlining the gravity of the attack. It was not, after all, “a normal tourist visit” or a largely peaceful protest of Constitution-loving patriots. It was a seditious assault on the very foundations of the Republic.

And the chief conspiracist is still at large (emphasis in original).

Heather Cox Richardson writes in her Letter from an American today:  

That a jury has now found two people guilty of seditious conspiracy establishes that a conspiracy existed. Former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, who teaches law at George Washington University, told reporters Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: “Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible.” 

Pilar Melendez and Kelly Weill, "Oath Keepers Boss Guilty of Sedition—and His Fam Celebrates," report:

Rhodes’ estranged wife, Tasha Adams, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday she is “beyond happy” about the verdict.

“He has absolutely never had to face a consequence in his entire life. This will be the very first time,” Adams added. “He's spent his life making others pay this was past due for him.”  ...

After the verdict was read, Rhodes’ son took to Twitter to respond to the conviction—by posting a link to a YouTube video titled “Happy New Year to you....IN JAIL!”

“So much weight is off now,” Dakota Adams, who along with his mother and siblings has previously described attempting to escape an abusive life at home with Rhodes, added in another tweet.

In my view, this analysis of Trump's choice to dine with white supremacist anti-Semite Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes is related: In "How Trump is handing white supremacists huge propaganda victories," Greg Sargent interviews historian Kathleen Belew, who has authored important work on white power movements. Sargent writes:

By breaking bread with Fuentes, Trump handed white supremacists and white-power activists a major propaganda coup. It will be read by them as another sign that they are successfully infiltrating the far-right flank of mainstream GOP politics. 

Kathleen Belew states:

I think that is a significant and different step forward for the white power movement. It’s not just one person, it’s not just this cult of personality thing, it’s not just the Trump administration. That says the white power movement has become a permanent force within the GOP in some sense. It’s important enough an ideological current that other candidates won’t or can’t distance themselves.

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