The Oath Keepers, one of the premier anti-government movements in the United States that boasts a purported membership in the thousands, is facing an existential threat. The group is already under pressure from the arrests of dozens of its foot soldiers related to their efforts to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Department of Justice has now raised the stakes with the seditious conspiracy charges filed on Jan. 12 against the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes. Given that escalation, it’s worth taking a look at the history of Rhodes’s involvement in the Oath Keepers and what his prosecution might mean for the future of the organization and the broader anti-government movement.
Rhodes established himself as a polarizing individual in the far-right ecosystem when he founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. Like a modern-day, extremist Forrest Gump who finds himself in a mix of significant historical events, Rhodes has been explicitly or tacitly involved in nearly every major anti-government event in the past decade.