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Society

Oath Keepers: Clinton Win Would Have Caused 'Combat'

| by Jordan Smith

The leader of the conservative group Oath Keepers asserted in a July 4 message that a Hillary Clinton victory in the 2016 presidential election would have led to "combat."

In his post on the organization's website, Stewart Rhodes told his followers that America had been spared by the election of Donald Trump, according to Right Wing Watch.

The Oath Keepers are an anti-government group that many associate with radical far-right politics.

Rhodes wrote that the country had been granted a "brief respite" with her loss, as a Clinton victory would have led to "combat" breaking out "on American soil."

"We truly dodged a bullet with the defeat of Hillary Clinton (whom I dubbed 'Hitlery' back in 2008 for very good reason)," his post continued.

The Oath Keepers have been the target of protests by liberal groups, some who accuse the organization of promoting fascist ideals, especially following the election of President Donald Trump in November.

Critics of Trump have pointed to the Department of Homeland Security's decision to cut funding for organizations aimed at combating right-wing extremism. Politico reported that the DHS removed Life After Hate, a group dedicated to de-radicalizing neo-Nazis, from its funding plans. Life After Hate was scheduled to receive $400,000 under a decision made by the Obama administration.

The GOP in Multnomah County, Oregon, which includes the city of Portland, voted June 28 to hire the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and other conservative groups to provide security at events.

James Buchal, the GOP chairman in the county, explained his decision to hire the controversial organizations.

"Because we are an all-volunteer organization with no money," he told Wilamette Week. "So if we are going to get security services, we are going to get them from volunteers. And people who volunteer to provide security services to Republicans are generally going to be people who share the view that the government has developed an unconstitutional overreach of power and that it is a reasonable political objective to attempt to reign government in."

 Anti-government groups drew national attention -- and controversy -- when several were involved in the 2016 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Buchal maintained that security at local GOP events is necessary.

"The [volunteers] who were at the street fairs reported incidents that made them feel unsafe," he added. "And then we got people threatening to drag us out of the Avenue of Roses Parade, and then there were people threatening on Facebook that they were going to stab us to death if we dared to participate."

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