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Gun March Warm-Up: Oath Keepers Founder Goes Off on Maddow, Mother Jones -- And AlterNet

Stewart Rhodes seemed to suggest that progressive and mainstream media are in league with the government to try to discredit his constitutionalist group.

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Okay, now we were getting somewhere. It was becoming an actual interview.

There's a conflation that maybe you can disabuse people of," he said. "You have this thing with the health-care--"

He addressed Normandin, cutting me off. "So, we're doing an interview with her? What do you think?"

"I think you're doing an interview right now," said Normandin.

"Should I continue?" Rhodes asked.

"I'm a little concerned," Normandin said. "I don't see any good coming from it."

As I began to ask my next question, Rhodes abruptly stopped.

Normandin suggested I go home, look up Oath Keepers' bylaws and code of conduct on their Web site, and then come back and ask questions. Unprompted, he asserted that they were not a bunch of rednecks.

Rhodes piped up that if you advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government, or belong to an organization that does, you can't be a member of Oath Keepers. Ditto for advocating discrimination based on race.

He began a search of my AlterNet pieces on his BlackBerry, but Normandin kept engaging me in conversation, and Rhodes felt the need to step away in order to complete his search.

Normandin and I bantered back and forth over the meaning of the civil war (slavery or states' rights), his years 27 on a police force in Lowell, Mass. "I retired as a captain," he said.

After about 15 minutes, Rhodes came striding back. He didn't look happy.

He began reading aloud the opening lines of my article about the 912 march "As disgruntled white taxpayers joined conspiracy theorists, gun enthusiasts, state-sovereignty activists and outright racists on Pennsylvania Avenue...

He seemed to emphasize the words, "outright racists". But I say this from memory. I was no longer rolling tape.

"What?" I asked, not understanding what he was getting at.

"This is you," he said. "This is your article." He held the BlackBerry to my face.

"Well, I did see racists on Pennsylvania Avenue." I mean, really, a sign that depicts the black president as a monkey could be interpreted as racist, no?

He strode away quickly and angrily.

Then he stopped, turning only his head to say, bitterly, "Come back when you're a real journalist" -- or words to that effect.

(I wouldn't want to be sued for misquoting Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers.)


Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.