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Opinion: Pride and prejudice: A veteran’s perspective on the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers

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Life’s a conundrum, a mystifying existence, when it comes to understanding the power of the collective voice in standing up for what’s right. In the last year, there have been countless protests in Seattle and across the world. BLM, Antifa, and other movements have garnered international attention because they resist compromise by any means necessary. Some movements are noble, with grassroots efforts springing up across the country, people of all melanin complexions helping spread the message that Black Lives and Voices must be treated with respect and dignity. 

Places that I never thought would have Black Lives Matter rallies decided it was time for a change in America, that they would stand as allies and correct the sins committed by their forefathers. While a lot of America has answered the call and decided to stand up with African Americans, there are several groups that are staunchly against BLM and anything they’ve deemed deviant and against the “normalcy” of society and what they believe America stands for…. out of the ashes came the Proud Boys (Sarcasm!! I hate them).

Webster’s definition of Chauvinism is excessive or blind patriotism. The Proud Boys were founded on the principle that they are “Western Chauvinists” who have no connection to the Alt-Right, yet these claims are suspect due to the ongoing repercussions on the unjust terrorism-style attack on the Capitol Building. Every time there was a rally for “stealing” the election The Proud Boys were somehow connected with organizing and/or bringing people together. The Proud Boys are one of the most dominant special interest organizations, with them getting the most headlines, but more hate organizations are in the background that are just as influential and dangerous. I will not call them groups because they are TERRORISTS in my opinion.

Proud Boys in Pittsboro
Anthony Crider Proud Boys in Pittsboro (Oct 2019)
Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino (right) wears a shirt with “RWDS” (Right Wing Death Squad) and “Pinochet Did Nothing Wrong!”

These terrorist groups are influential in the most dangerous way in my opinion because they prey on a group of people that have lost a purpose in life, our American Veterans. Veterans are among a group I am a part of because I served in the United States Air Force for 7 years. We leave active duty and strive for an understanding of a life that we are not ready for. We served our country and were willing to put our lives on the line to ensure the protection of the United States from enemies, both foreign and domestic. Misinformation is a major problem with serious consequences for people that fall into its trap. They are saying our country is under siege from the left and veterans have “answered the call” to “protect” America from the tyrants that, in their view, are tearing this country apart. As a veteran, I understand service before self and sacrificing for something more than who you are. I will not condone or accept the extremist views of the Proud Boys or any racist organization that threatens our country’s safety. 

The Oath Keepers, another hate organization, are a group that prides themselves on being “the last line of defense against tyranny.”  This group is vastly different from the other groups that were involved with the terrorist attack at the Capitol Building. They donned military gear that I wore in Afghanistan on my deployments; this was not a peaceful demonstration, nor did they want it to be. This group hopes and prays for a civil war because they believe it is inevitable. They wanted a fight and were willing to die for an unjust cause, which goes against the moral compass of what they served our country for. Republicans and Democrats both acknowledge at a vast majority level that this was a fair election. Many went as far as to make it the most secure in history due to the understanding that there might have been fodder in the last one. Yet the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other hateful terrorist organizations still departed to our capital with murder on their minds to keep a President who loved chaos more than he loved peace. 

I served this country as well as countless other brothers and sisters in arms, some of my friends were injured or died protecting this country. We swore an oath to protect this country with our lives. These hateful groups swore an oath to protect a fair election, yet they were the sole reason for 5 deaths that occurred at the Capitol Building. To be associated with any of these veterans who are in these hateful groups is the worst in my opinion. They are treasonous fools who protect an archaic mindset that hurts this country. I have no love lost for people who sacrificed innocent people’s safety to get their point across, for a President who not only thrived on chaos but created it as well. 

Social media is a platform for people who would not have the intestinal fortitude to say their views to our faces in real life. Facebook is one platform that I’ve seen that might be the biggest culprit of this. Being a vet, I was exposed to a lot of people who were not from the Pacific Northwest. I’ve met people from all over the United States and while fascinating at times, you see people’s true intentions when understanding where they are from. I couldn’t believe how many friends down my timelines had these views and accepted misinformation as facts. They were in acceptance of anything Q-anon and these far-right-wing political platforms posted and said. They were also attacking people who had a difference of opinion and willing to play the victim when singled out for their opinion. It was hard to witness and ultimately I took a break from it. I was no longer willing to see these people’s posts and witness the hypocrisy they were feeding into.

There are Air Force groups on Facebook that I’m a part of and the opinions on there were satisfying, to say the least. A lot of them shared the same outrage as I for the people that stormed the Capitol. These terrorists were directly responsible for lives lost. Had they made contact with members of the House I feel like something would have happened to them. Any of the people who were involved in storming the Capital that reap harsh punishment, or for Ashli Babbit who was killed, I have no sympathy for whatsoever. Some Americans categorize the people that stormed the Capitol as patriots. I call them HATE, I call them TERRORISTS, I call them anything that can generate an absolute reaction of WRONG. 

Had this been Black Lives Matter or any organization that preached peace they would have been dealt with more harshly and faced more controversy and consequence for it. In the end, it’s the country we live in and the people who we surround ourselves with that make the difference for this country’s future. As a Veteran, I have the perspective of protecting. It’s second nature to me, but I will never sacrifice my ideals on the basis of lies and deceit. I’m already looked at differently due to my skin color and appearance. We cannot lose sight of the prize at hand which is liberty, freedom, and justice for all. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers want the old America, but a new one is rising and the old ways will soon wither and fade. Pride and Prejudice die when people stand up and fight for an America to be proud of. 

Staff Writer at Seattle Collegian

Mario is a student at Seattle Central College and a staff writer for the Collegian. He's pursuing a B.A. degree and he wants to become a Broadcast Journalist in the future. He served in the United States Air Force for 7 years and has had 2 deployments to Afghanistan. His hobbies are writing, playing video games, cooking, and community involvement.

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