My name is Mike Vanderboegh and I'm here representing the estimated 3 million Three Percenters around the country. I don't represent the Bundys nor the Oath Keepers but we are here to stand with them. I first would like to say what an honor it is for me to be here in Nevada on this Patriots' Day. Although I hale these days from the great free state of Alabama, I was born in Michigan and have always considered myself a Wolverine.
You know when I was ten or so, I visited my Grandpa and Grandma Vanderboegh's farm near Lake Michigan one summer for several weeks as we did every summer when I was growing up. That particular
summer, I witnessed a short but acrimonious argument between my grandparents that ended with my grandpa's ignominious retreat out of the house into the safety of the barnyard. I can't remember what the argument was about, but I followed along, convinced in my ten-year-old sense of justice that he was right and grandma was wrong. I tried to persuade him to go back in and restate his case. He turned on me, leaned down into my face and said these words of wisdom that I never forgot: "Son, you don't poke a wolverine with a sharp stick unless you want your balls ripped off."
Now I was just ten but I knew that Grandpa was somewhat of an expert about wolverines and testicles because when he was young, he'd run into a momma wolverine in her den when he was out hunting and she had darn near got his. His shotgun was knocked out of his hands and he had to kill that wolverine with his hunting knife but almost bled to death from the wound on his inner thigh before he could stagger home. My father used to delight in telling the story about how he almost got prevented from existence by the inch or so that that momma wolverine had missed the family jewels. I also knew that Grandpa wasn't talking about vicious animals but that people could act just as bad if you provoked them. People can be wolverines when they need to. I think y'all know a little about that. I'm sure that the BLM rangers were grateful they got out of Clark County with their testicles intact -- even if their manhood was somewhat shamed in the process.
"History is written not by the historians but by the people who lived it."
So says William Hallahan, in his book The Day the American Revolution Began about the 19th of April, 1775. And as I stand here today in the Nevada desert, I see a whole host of historians who lived it --and wrote it.
Now what Hallahan says is true, but I would refine it further. History is written not by the historians BUT BY THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED IT AND WHO MADE IT HAPPEN.
This is nothing new. Throughout our own history, these self-made historians are most often just simple, ordinary people, people who are nothing special - not rich, not powerful in and of themselves, not influential, not even respected by those who claim to be their betters -- but people who know who they are; people who know who God is; people who know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, tyranny and liberty and cannot be persuaded otherwise by all the seductive lies that others tell to hide their evil intentions behind.
In ordinary times it takes very bad behavior on the part of a government to provoke such people into action for they are first and foremost pragmatic realists.Knowing who they are, and how the world works, and of the chronic follies and corruptions of man, they don't expect much from governments, content to live their lives, raise their families, enjoy life and love and friendship, to worship God, to work hard and make a living around and despite those follies and corruptions, because they understand that THAT is what makes life important and worth living.
When a father sees his kids at play, learning with breathless excitement the everyday miracles that make up God's world -- when he sees his wife's love and care for them in a million ways despite all the aggravations and distractions of daily life -- when at the end of a long day he sees her exhausted and distracted -- no longer the young girl he married but with this inner core of steel wrapped in boundless love -- when the light hits her mussed-up hair and her careworn face just right -- well, a man will do anything to protect those moments, to shield those people he loves from the evil that he knows always lurks right outside the door. He will do anything -- ANYTHING -- to protect their future and the time-tested principles that secure that future.
And I tell you now -- and I proclaim to the world -- to all the would-be tyrants in this country who would victimize such honest, simple people with their evil corruptions, their follies, their schemes of power and their insatiable appetites for other people's liberty, property and lives --
YOU MESS WITH SUCH PEOPLE AT YOUR OWN DEADLY PERIL.
Yes, history is written by the people who lived it and made it happen, but it is also true that such people , at any time in our history, never have been more than a determined minority. In the war of independence that we celebrate here today, there were never more than three percent of the American colonists who actively
took the field against the forces of the King. Although this was long before opinion polls, they probably represented no more than a third of the total population. Another third supported the King of England and a further third blew with the wind and took what came. When I founded the modern Three Percent movement it was this determined minority that I had in mind.
Today's Three Percent have drawn a line, just as you here drew a line, that we will not cross. We Three Percenters state very plainly to would-be tyrants that we will not disarm. They cannot convince us. They cannot intimidate us. They can kill us, if they think they can, but they should remember that we'll shoot back. That is the calculation that you presented the federal government the other day. They came to force you with state-sponsored violence. They came to bend you to their will. But they discovered that you would not be bent. On that day, they didn't like the odds. But the odds would have meant nothing without your determination. And you WERE determined.
As I said, in ordinary times it takes very bad behavior on the part of a government to provoke such people into action -- BUT THESE ARE NO ORDINARY TIMES. You know that -- in your head and in your gut -- or you would not be here today. You would not have accomplished what many thought was flatly impossible a few days and weeks ago. You know why you came here and stood in the gap, interposing with your own bodies, at the risk of your lives, that dangerous ground between liberty and tyranny.
You know in your inner hearts why each of you came here, I need not explain it to you. Nor am I going to waste your time running down the particulars of the general indictment of the very bad behavior of the federal government and their lackeys at the state and local level over the past two decades by the corrupt leaders of both political parties. Others have done so, as I have done myself in other places and times. It is not necessary here, today, to bore you with the litany of evil actions and malign intent of the self-appointed Mandarin class of collectivists who have been quietly and slowly overthrowing the rule of law and the Founders' Republic for generations now.
What IS necessary is to state the obvious conclusion of that indictment very plainly -- that our present-day so-called leaders have demonstrated themselves to be the domestic enemies of the same Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold -- they are, in fact, the same domestic enemies that the Founders warned us about, that they knew in their wisdom -- from their study of history and their knowledge of fallible men -- who would one day come to try to wreck the enterprise of liberty that the Founders fought and bled and died to secure. And one further point -- being domestic enemies of the Constitution and the rule of law these evil men and women have declared thereby that they are the enemies of ALL the futures, of ALL the lives, and of ALL the families of those simple, decent people -- of you and me and all who have until now tolerated their increasingly bad behavior.
Indeed, it is because we never effectively pushed them back when we could do so without violence that we find ourselves here, today, with the Founders' original choice on that 19th of April so long ago: are we going to submit and be slaves or shall we fight? And you, you self-made historians, answered that question here, in the desert, in direct confrontation with the paid lackeys of the most powerful government on the planet. You were ready to fight, and to die, in answer to that question. For you are free Americans, all of you. And as you stood, the other side blinked, and hesitated, and then ran.
You know, we ourselves are as responsible for the present sorry state of affairs as the collectivist revolutionaries who now hold the reins of power and who sent the BLM thugs against the Bundys. For decades we never punched them in the nose when we had the chance so they kept pushing us back from the traditional exercise of our God-given, natural and inalienable rights to liberty and property that the Constitution doesn't create but merely codifies. We never punched them in the nose, politically or otherwise, we just backed up, grumbling.
Now our backs are to the wall, and it is going to take more than a punch in the nose to recover our lost rights and to dispel this clear and present danger to ourselves, our children and all of our futures. The collectivists -- who respect and obey NO law that they disagree with --have skillfully used our "law-abidingness" against us. But now they have mistaken our previous inaction for a license to further oppress us. Now, it will take more than a punch in the nose to discourage them.
From Nevada to Colorado to New York and various places in between, they have decided to declare us "law breakers" thinking that once again we will knuckle under. They discovered here in the Nevada desert -- and they will contiue to discover it elsewhere -- that the law protects them from us far more than it protects us from them. The only question is, what will be the cost of their education now compared to what it would have been had we come together and acted earlier?
They blinked and retreated here, for now. They will try again, if not here then in some other place for some other flimsy tyrannical excuse, some other evil wrapped in an allegedly benevolent lie. Rest assured, they will try again. And we must be ready. We must remain vigilant.
But however we arrived at this place, we ARE here, now, and there is no changing it. When you stood beneath the bridges we -- all of us, all across the country -- in those long moments we were staring civil war in the face. All over this country at this moment WE ARE STILL STARING CIVIL WAR IN IT'S BLOODY FACE. To believe otherwise is to whistle past the graveyard of our own history. We have, to use the blunt words of my Michigan farmer Grandpa Vanderboegh, arrived at "nut cuttin' time."
John Locke said it first and best in his Second Treatise on Government:
“Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.”
Now Locke wrote that in the 18th Century, but is there a better description of what the federal government is trying to do here in the west in the 21st Century than that? Is there a more accurate description of what the states of Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland and New York are attempting to do to their own people with firearm registration and confiscation? They have "put themselves into a state of war with the people" and we, the people, are absolved by their tyrannical actions from any further obedience.
This is not about tortoises and cattle. It is not about who controls the vast lands claimed by the federal government. It is not about "the children" or "common-sense gun safety" or any of the many lies that are spun to conceal the iron fist of arbitrary power.
It is about control. It is about who serves whom. We are divided now, as they were in 1775, by the answer to the most fundamental of questions: Does the government serve the people or do the people serve the government? Who serves whom? What do you think?
Right. Now we believe, as did the Founders, that government should serve the people. It is evident that many others believe differently. But this is not a question whose differing answers can be compromised, or negotiated or finessed. It is one or the other -- that of individual liberty codified by the Constitution and the rule of law under the Founders' republic, or the rule of man as represented by the law of the jungle backed up by the iron fist of tyrannical government.
Harry Reid understands this. You all saw what he said the other day: "This isn't over," he threatened. And you know what? He's right. It can never be over until one side or the other wins. And don't think he's just talking about the Bundys. He is promising us all civil war on a vast scale because state-sponsored violence is the only way they can win the argument with free people, especially free people who are armed and willing to use those arms in defense of liberty. Ole Dirty Harry understands that. But he mistakes the character of the people he wishes to victimize and subjugate. He mistakes you. He mistakes the true nature of all free Americans who intend to remain free. And history has shown that mistake to be a terminal one for many tyrants. For there are laws higher and older than any of Harry Reid's unconstitutional "laws," one of which is the Law of Unintended Consequences.
You know back in Alabama we understand a thing or two about civil wars. We not only fought IN the War Between the States, but we fought a war WITHIN our state, between former friends and neighbors, and there is no conflict more ghastly. When the perfumed princes of the Mandarin Class that seeks to rule you propose to make to you knuckle under to their unconstitutional will, they forget these things. They forget that wars once started, especially civil wars, have a way of spinning out of control of the war makers, a way of eating up the guilty and the innocent alike and they engender hatreds that never go away.
Were Harry Reid right here in front of me -- assuming I could keep y'all from tar and feathering him for a moment -- I'd tell him a story from Alabama's civil war, a story of Jenny Brooks' soap dish, a story that has particular relevance for him today. Like all the best stories it has the advantage of being true.
When the United States government determined to remove the Indian tribes from our state in what became the Trail of Tears, the woman who became known as Jenny Brooks, and later after her remarriage as Aunt Jenny Johnson, was a just slip of a girl, a full-blooded Cherokee whose family declined the honor of obeying the "lawful orders" of the the federal government and hid themselves up in the mountains of north Alabama. In this, they were assisted by a family friend, a white man named Henry Brooks. As might be expected, the young girl fell in love with her family's saviour, and later, at the age of 14, she married Henry, a man 20 years her senior. But the marriage "took", as they say in the hills, and by the time this story really begins in 1863, Jenny was herself in her thirties and she had given Henry eight children, four of whom were boys.
Now Henry Brooks was a unionist like most of his neighbors and they had sent an anti-secession delegate to the convention down in Montgomery in 1861, a young school teacher named Chris Sheats. When Sheats refused to vote for the Confederacy, he was beaten and jailed by his fellow delegates, and was released after the so-called "unanimous vote" to go back to the hills with the planters' warning that there was plenty more where that came from. Sheats and the mountain folk of north Alabama tried to be left alone, just as today we want to be left alone, but the government, with its draft laws and tax-in-kind laws that stole food out of the mouths of their children, wouldn't let them alone.
Those of you who have seen the movie Cold Mountain will recognize a fragment of this story which was borrowed from the Brooks' saga, but that was fiction shoe-horned into a love story. This is a love story, all right, but of a different sort.
One day in 1863, a Confederate Home Guard party of eight men, duly sworn and heavily armed "law officers" of the Confederate state and national governments came riding down the Byler Road to the Brooks' home place.They surprised Henry Brooks, disarmed him, and began to torture the old man for the whereabouts of his 17 year old son so they could carry the boy off to the war as an unwilling conscript. Brooks refused to tell them, so they threw a rope around his neck and alternately raised and lowered him from a tree in his front yard, torturing him to tell. The boy, who was hiding in the barn, couldn't stand it and ran out only to be shot to death by the Home Guard. They then turned their weapons on Henry Brooks still hanging in the tree and "shot him all to pieces." Jenny and the other seven children were forced to stand and watch as her husband and son, their father and brother, were murdered. When the Home Guard left, they were laughing.
They were laughing because they mistook the character of the people they victimized. They mistook the character of Jenny Brooks.
After Jenny had lowered her husband's body out of the tree and laid it out beside that of her oldest son, she gathered her three remaining sons (the youngest one was still suckling at her breast), and had them swear a Cherokee blood oath -- or swore it for them -- that they would not rest until all eight of those murderers -- those duly-appointed law enforcement officers carrying out the will of their government -- were dead. This began a forty year feud, the last shots of which were fired in McCurtain County Oklahoma in 1904. In the end, Jenny Brooks had her reckoning -- she kept track of it on a hickory stick.
On that stick were 7 big notches (the eighth man disappeared, abandoned his family and property, changed his name, and was never seen in north Alabama again). Interspersed between the big notches were 24 little notches, men, friends, family and neighbors of the Home Guardsmen, who had the misfortune to get in the way of the Brooks' clan and their prey. So that stick represented 31 dead men. Along the way, Jenny lost all her sons but one and several sons-in-law, to the feud, but she counted herself as satisfied.
Jenny got the first one herself, the leader of the bunch, when she ambushed him a few months later as he rode out from his house, shooting him from his horse. She dragged him off into the woods, took out her kitchen knife, cut the man's head off and put in a tote sack. She carried that grisly trophy home, threw it in the lye boiling pot that she used to make soap, cooked it all away until she had nothing left but the man's brain pan, minus even the jawbone. She then turned it upside down and used it as a soap dish for the rest of her life.
Jenny lived on into her nineties, outliving all her sons, and in later years converted to Christianity and became known by the honorific of Aunt Jenny. She did many good works for the poor in Winston County, and when she was dying hundreds of her church friends and extended family gathered around her cabin to pay homage to the woman who had become the patron saint of the mountain Unionists. When the moment of her passing was near, her pastor asked Jenny if there was anything else they could do for her, anything else she wanted, fishing, probably, for a confession of her sins.
"Yes," she said weakly, "I'd like to wash my hands." And so they brought Jenny a pan of water and her soap dish and she washed her hands one last time in that murderer's brain pan before she crossed over to meet God.
That's Winston County Alabama, where Aunt Jenny's descendants still live in considerable numbers and still tell that story today with awe and with pride. That's what happens in a civil war, I would counsel Harry Reid. And I would caution him that civil wars haven't gotten any more civilized in the centuries since Jenny made her soap dish. So Harry and his federal friends -- the war makers and decision takers who think that the rest of us serve them and their power -- those who in Locke's words would put themselves into a state of war against their own people, should be careful what they wish for. For like the Home Guard who rode away laughing from the Brooks cabin in 1863, they might just unexpectedly get what they deserve.
And like the bully boys of the BLM, whose violent conduct earned themselves an armed response from an aroused people, they will be astonished when it happens. But that is only because they forgot the words of that most under-appreciated American poet and philosopher, Frank Zappa, who said in 1965:
Do you love it?
Do you hate it?
There it is,
The way you made it.
Hell, it is said, is the truth perceived too late to do anything about it.
Harry Reid calls us "domestic terrorists" and promises us "This isn't over." Based on the warning y'all gave him and his bully boys last week, he should fervently pray that it is. As for me, I will send him this soap dish, the "Jenny Brooks Trophy for Incitement to Civil War," as a reminder with this message:
Don't poke the wolverine with a sharp stick, Harry, unless you want your balls ripped off.