It is an honor for me to be here in Western Massachusetts today, in the shadow of the Springfield Armory, on ground trod by the men of Shay's Rebellion, on this anniversary of Flag Day.
You know, as we stand here today in the Northeast, we are at ground zero of the greatest, the grimmest battle for Second Amendment rights in the country's history since 1775. And it is appropriate that this is taking place on the same ground as the Founders struggled and fought and bled and died on. This is, to the rest of us in the country, wholly unexpected. We in the South and West long ago wrote off your states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York -- as hopelessly overrun with collectivist nanny staters. And yet, since Sandy Hook, you have shown the rest of us how to fight, how to face the enemy, how to resist. In a very real sense you are behind enemy lines. And yet . . .
And yet, with your own futures on the line you have refused to knuckle under to the people who have made you criminals in hostage to their tyrannical appetites for your liberty, your property and your lives. In the face of becoming felons, the firearm owners of Connecticut have achieved an 85% non-compliance rate. EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT. In New York, the non-compliance rate may be as much as ninety-five percent. NINETY-FIVE PERCENT!
AND THE POLITICIANS DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO DEFECATE OR GO BLIND. Governor Malloy has blinked -- they are not enforcing the law because they are afraid of what will happen if they do. As Ben Franklin once said, paraphrasing Dr. Johnson, "Nothing concentrates the mind so wonderfully as the prospect of being hung in the morning." And the minds of these tyrant wannabes ARE being concentrated BY YOUR ACTIONS!
Now I admit that I have tried to do my part by publishing the home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the people who voted for this Intolerable Act on my blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars -- and I discovered something odd. These people like to put YOU on lists but they are made distinctly nervous when people put THEM on a list. But I am here to thank you for their fear. For they are not scared of me -- THEY'RE SCARED OF YOU. And the rest of us in the country thank you for that. Give yourself a hand. You earned it.
This June 14th also marks the 239th birthday of the United States Army, when the Continental Congress assumed authority for the militia army that then surrounded the British in Boston in 1775 after Lexington and Concord. But you know other countries also mark the 14th of June with solemnity but more in sorrow than celebration. For the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the 14th of June is known as a day of commemoration and mourning because it was on this day in 1940 that the Soviet Russians arrested and deported hundreds of thousands of their citizens at gunpoint and shipped them to Siberia in cattle cars in a brutal internal exile in which tens of thousands of them lost their lives. These deportees included almost the entire political and military leaderships of their respective countries along with many ordinary people people, including Jews, who were viewed by Stalin's secret police as "politically unreliable." The last of the surviving deportees weren't released until 1963, long after Stalin's death.
It is proper and pertinent for us as Americans to remember these atrocities as well, for they remind us of what ALWAYS happens when governments rule over disarmed people and possess a "government monopoly of force." So as we stand here today in celebration of our own Flag Day, let us remember these victims of government tyranny. Let us remember not only their now-extinguished lives but also let us pray that we have the wisdom to never follow in their footsteps.
Now our own Flag Day marks the date in 1777 when our first national colors, the Betsy Ross flag, was adopted by the Continental Congress. This was not the first flag carried into battle by the revolutionaries in their battles with the King, however. Throughout our colonial history, militia units had sported their own colors -- the oldest of which still surviving today is the flag of the Bedford minutemen carried at Concord, showing a mailed arm emerging from a cloud grasping a sword with the Latin motto meaning "Conquer or Die." The Boston Liberty Flag which flew over the Liberty Elm in Hanover Square in Boston where the Sons of Liberty met consisted of nine alternating white and red stripes. Other flags were flown with images from beavers to pine trees to rattlesnakes and bearing such mottoes as "Hope," "Liberty," "An Appeal to Heaven," and, most recognizable today, "Don't tread on me."
The rattlesnake of the Gadsden flag was considered by many colonists to be particularly appropriate. Wrote one in December 1775:
"I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may, therefore, be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, once engaged, ever surrenders. She is, therefore, an emblem of magnanimity and true courage."
But it was the Stars and Stripes and not the rattlesnake flag that the Continental Congress adopted that day so long ago and that we all recognize as our national colors today -- albeit with a field of 50 stars now rather than a circle of 13. It is the banner of the stars and stripes that has flown over battlefields as far flung as Ft. McHenry, Germany, the A Shau Valley, the Chosin Reservoir, Bataan, Corregidor and Iwo Jima. In our hearts and around the world it is the stars and stripes, whether worn on a uniform, displayed from a vehicle antenna, painted on the side of an aircraft, or printed on a pallet of relief supplies that proclaims to all: "HERE is America."
It is the stars and stripes that have been carried by all sides in every protest movement throughout our history -- for every point of view wants to proclaim that it, and not the other side, is the AMERICAN point of view -- no matter how true or false that proposition might be. It is the stars and stripes with which we bury our war dead and our veterans. It is the stars and stripes that our courts permit to be burned in protest because we recognize that the reality of free speech is that such an act represents is more important than the piece of cloth that represents it, that symbolizes it.
Yet throughout our history we have died defending that symbol, rescuing it with acts of unbelievable bravery, tearing it into pieces when an enemy threatened to capture it. Men and women have died, and will continue to die, for that symbol because it represents something much larger than ourselves -- our liberty, our unity, our history -- and we all believe it represents our future and that of our children's children's children.
But as I have said before in other places and at other times, we are today in fact two nations --- as they were in 1775 -- divided by the answer to this fundamental question: Does the government serve the people or do the people serve the government? Whatever the individual issue that we fight over these days, the answer always boils down to that. Who serves whom? Do we serve the government of does the government serve us as the Founders intended?
Yet however we answer that question it is certainly true that both sides embrace the same flag. Yet how can that be, when we try to fold it around such mutually contradictory beliefs? If one side or the other is right about who serves whom, then one side represents the true nature, the true philosophy, behind that flag and the other does not.
Throughout our history, all sides have claimed her -- have wrapped their causes in her. The same flag carried by civil rights marchers in the 60s was brandished by Klansmen at rallies and even lynchings in both South and North. Did the flag truly represent both? Either? Scoundrels and would-be tyrants throughout our history have wrapped themselves in her, disguising their evil intent as affected patriotism, in "Americanism," however they wanted to define that term and regardless of whether the Founders would have recognized it. Indeed, by claiming as it does to represent ALL of us regardless of our mutually exclusive beliefs, in times like these it comes close to representing NONE of us. In the end, the stars and stripes will represent whichever side wins the argument of the answer to that question -- does the government serve the people or do the people serve the government? The flag, in the end, will either continue to represent liberty and the Founders' Republic or it will represent a masked tyranny hateful to the Founders' intent.
These are sobering thoughts on this Flag Day but they are true nonetheless. We must answer that question at the end of history -- which country does the stars and stripes represent? For in the end it certainly cannot represent both.
The Gadsden flag, with its threatening rattlesnake and bold warning "Don't tread on me" is perhaps more plainly honest, more unambiguous, than the stars and stripes. Freed of the burden of being the national colors which seem to be saddled with the necessity of being all things to all people, the Gadsden flag is plain in its declaration of free men and the rights to our own liberty and property and lives. Don't threaten me, it warns. Or, in the words of some of this generation -- "Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'." It is not as blunt as the Gonzales flag of Texas liberty with its image of a cannon and the challenge "Come and take it," but it is close enough, as they say, "for government work."
This is why the Gadsden flag is so popular at rallies of today's liberty movements -- from the Tea Party to the protesters of the Federal land grab at the Bundy Ranch and elsewhere in the west to Second Amendment activists of today -- the message is clear: There is a line, Mr. Government Bureaucrat, that you cross at your own deadly peril. "Don't tread on me." DON'T TREAD ON US!
It is for this reason that the collectivists -- the domestic enemies of the Founders' Republic -- are made somewhat angered, if not deranged, by the Gadsden flag. Its sentiment is plain -- it cannot be polluted or corrupted or co-opted. They must therefore do their best to demonize it, to discredit it, to profane it, and to lie about those who fly it. We have seen that very clearly in their reaction to the Miller meth-head murderers' misuse of the Gadsden flag in their Nevada rampage. The flag is itself "anti-government" they proclaim and proof that the Millers represent the rest of us "anti-government types."
Now I don't know about you, but I'm not "anti-government," although the Southern Poverty Law Center has been calling me that for two decades now. I am in fact pro-government of the kind the Founders would recognize. I am pro small government, safe government -- a government of limited powers -- a government that supports the rule of law AND OPERATES WITHIN IT. When our enemies -- those domestic enemies of the Constitution that the Founders warned us about -- call us "anti-government" what they really mean is that we are anti-"do-it-our-way-or-we'll-kill-you" government. Of course they're right about that, but they cannot honestly admit it to others that they are trying to convince, so they call us "anti-government" and hope the lie sticks.
But flags are symbols. They are shorthand for who you are and what you represent. And what you love. So if they can discredit one symbol and co-opt another to their purposes they are more than halfway down the road to their victory of the collective over the individual. For there is nothing more effective, more dangerous, than a lie accepted as fact. I hold in my hand proof of that statement.
You know I met the Millers briefly at the Bundy standoff when they came up to volunteer. They struck me as a danger to the mission of protecting the Bundys at first glance. Jerad projected all the ambience of the methamphetamine addict that his neighbors later said he has. He was heavily tattooed and admitted under questioning that he was a convicted felon despite the fact that he was packing a semi-auto pistol on his hip, I counseled Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers and Jerry Delemus who ran the security operation that they be sent on their way and they were. The Millers later complained on their Facebook page that they had been turned away. Of course, we had no inkling that the Millers would later turn violent, nor could we have. These facts have not prevented the collectivist media from tying the Millers to the Bundys, or to us, or, according to this official document of the New York State Police, to, well, me.
Now this is "New York State Counter Terrorism Bulletin # CTB 14-07" entitled "Recent Spike in Violence Targeting Law Enforcement." It was issued two days ago by the New York State so-called "intelligence center." Its use of loaded language, conflation and what I call "guilt by disassociation" makes it a minor classic of the big lie.
It mentions, among others, the Millers and claims "evidence at the scene and further investigation revealed that the Millers embraced a far-right militia ideology." Now I've been in and around the constitutional militia movement for 20 years. I am the founder of the national Three Percent movement. While Three Percenters pledge to resist any further attempts at firearm confiscation we are also based on the bedrock principles of no first use of force -- we call this "No Fort Sumters" -- and an absolute prohibition on the targeting of innocents or acceptance of what is called "collateral damage" -- we call this "No Oklahoma City Bombings." In this of course we are considerably more fussy than past and present federal administrations but we believe that it is vital not to become the monster that you claim to fight. Given that, it is impossible for the Millers to have "embraced a far-right militia ideology." They were not members of any militia, their acts were contrary to every understanding I have -- and the Founders had -- of militia, but this does not keep an official state police agency from claiming it to be so.
The report mentions the Millers draping one of the slain officers with a Gadsden flag, admits that "Jerad Miller had a decade-long criminal history in multiple states, including misdemeanor battery and drug trafficking" and further admits that they were were turned away from the Bundy Ranch. But this "intelligence report" saves the worst for last.
"In both the (Canadian) and Miller cases, the perpetrators were concerned with common far-right conspiracies involving government seizure of private firearms. With the passage of the NY SAFE Act, in January 2013, a growing number of far-right extremists -- particularly militia and sovereign citizens -- may view NYS as a more attractive target to further their agenda."
Now, note what's happening with this extraordinary statement -- First, these official representatives of the state of New York conflate militia folks with the evil boogeymen of "sovereign citizens." Second, they're saying, "Because we're trying to confiscate their firearms with the SAFE Act these dangerous people have concluded that we are trying to confiscate their firearms." Okay, so now the New York state police have determined that you're paranoid even if someone IS trying to kill you. Well, of course. YOU PARANOIDS, YOU!
And the Number One Paranoid in the eyes of the New York State Police? Well, that would be me.
"Michael Brian Vanderboegh, a longtime militia member and founder of the III Percent Patriot Movement which was supported by Jerad and Amanda Miller . . ."
Now let's stop right there for a second. First of all, I don't know where they get the "Three Percent Patriot Movement" business because there is no "patriot" in anything I've ever written because the term was so abused and misused by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the 90s to tar by claimed association different groups that had nothing in common with each other. As far as the Millers being my "supporters," David Codrea of the War on Guns blog who helped me break the Fast and Furious story back in 2010 has been all through the Miller's Facebook postings and tells me that he can find no evidence of this assertion. As I said, the only interaction I ever had with the Millers was to see to it that they were thrown out of the Bundy security operation. The report then notes that I "traveled to NYS at least once in 2013 to speak to the Liberty Oath Keepers meeting in Monticello New York." Now that's perfectly true. What they fail to mention is that the subject of that impromptu talk was how collectivists use the art of the lie to serve their purposes. Kinda ironic, huh? I can see why they wouldn't mention THAT.
The report continues, "The Three Percent Patriots" (there's that "patriot" crap again) "are a militia group comprised primarily of guns rights extremists who believe in the need to use violence against the government to prevent what they believe to be an impending seizure of all private firearms."
Now the Three Percent Movement is just that -- a movement. It is an idea, It is not a militia. It is not an organization that can be infiltrated, provoked or broken up. It is an IDEA -- an ideal, really -- and it cannot be killed. Insofar as the enforcers of the SAFE Act calling us "extremists" for fearing that someone might enforce the SAFE Act -- well, the irony which was plenty thick already is approaching the thickness of the Earth's crust here. The report continues:
"The Oath Keepers is an organization comprised of current and former military and law enforcement personnel who take a pledge 'not to obey any unconstitutional orders such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or detain Americans as enemy combatants.'"
Ooooh. Now that sounds "extreme." All true and taken straight off the Oath Keepers' website. Then the report intones ominously:
"There have been multiple observed instances of overlapping membership in the Oath Keepers and the Three Percent . . . and the Oath Keeper's founder has spoken supportively of the Three Percent . . . Movement."
Hey! I guess they're right. I see some of you folks out there. Now don't raise your hands and make these addled armed bureaucrats' jobs too easy now. YOU know who you are and that's just fine by me.
But here's the thing. This is the last paragraph of this "Unclassified/For Official Use Only" document that is circulated to ALL federal. state and local police agencies.
"The recent attacks serve to highlight a trend of growing violence by far-right extremists that is likely to continue in the near term . . . law enforcement should remain vigilant to any indicators or suspicious activity related to the persistent far right extremist threat. As always, observance of suspicious individuals and activities should immediately be reported to the New York State Intelligence Center -- Counter Terrorism Center, Terrorism Tips Line at 1-866-SAFE NYS (1-866-723-3697)."
Now if any of you want to report me as a suspicious person -- or want to self-report yourself -- see me after the speech and you can write down the number.
Okay, let's recap: The Millers are linked to the Bundys -- except they're not. The Millers were supporters of Vanderboegh, the guy who had them ejected from the Bundy security operation -- except they weren't. They embraced militia values -- except they didn't, The Three Percent movement is a militia -- except it isn't. And the Three Percent are paranoids for believing that the New York state cops are going to seize semi-auto weapons -- except they are.
Other than that, this is a totally accurate report. Does that clear things up for you?
Now that's funny -- except it isn't. You know Governor Coumo's finest were nice enough to footnote their various assertions. You know the source of everything they wrote about me? The ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center (although down in Alabama we call them the Southern Preposterous Lie Center). Did you know that the FBI recently announced that they were no longer accepting SPLC "intelligence reports" because of political bias and factual errors? Unfortunately that word doesn't seem to have penetrated to the New York state political policemen of the so-called "intelligence center."
It kinda reminds me of that old joke from Rocky and Bullwinkle. Moose and squirrel are standing beside some garbage cans looking for Captain Peachfuzz when out of one of the cans pops a guy in a hat and trenchcoat who announces "I'm from military intelligence." Rocky fixes him with a penetrating gaze and replies, "Don't use contradictory terms."
Like I said, it's funny but it's not. This report goes out to police everywhere. Many are going to accept it as gospel. And who do you think they're going to be reporting? You, with the Oath Keepers tee shirt. You, with the Three Percent patch. You, with the Gadsden flag out in front of your house or the "Don't tread on me" sticker on your pickup truck. Because everyone now "knows" because of sloppy propaganda like this piece of trash that the Gadsden flag equals Three Percent equals Oath Keeper equals domestic terrorist equals meth-head cop killer.
And so, on this Flag Day, remember that the real flag of liberty is the one you wear in your heart and in your head. Remember that symbols like the stars and stripes can be co-opted by evil men and symbols like the Gadsden flag can be profaned by murderers like the Millers and distorted for political purposes by liars-for-money like the SPLC -- and uncritically repeated by tax-paid idiots in the New York state police.
Wear your flag in your heart. But don't let the domestic enemies of the Constitution have the outward symbols of our ancestors' sacrifices in blood and tears. Don't let them wrap their lies in the stars and stripes without a fight. We say in the pledge of allegiance that it is to the flag AND to the republic for which it stands. We best honor the flag by preserving that republic and by fighting its enemies on whatever battlefield we find them with determination and the truth.