Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes Will Have 18 Years To Contemplate Kafka
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his part in orchestrating the January 6, 2020, attack on the US capitol, the longest sentence of any insurrectionist so far and the first for a charge of seditious conspiracy. Prior to his sentencing, Rhodes went on a long-ass rant in the courtroom in which he railed against Antifa, claimed that Oath Keepers were "quiet professionals" who, unlike the Proud Boys, never hurt no one, and accused the prosecution of further dividing America by "characterizing all Trump supporters as terrorists, racists and fools." He also called himself a "political prisoner," which is true in the sense that trying to overthrow the United States government is a political act, but not true in the way that it makes him anything like Nelson Mandela.
“I feel," he said, "like I’m the lead character in Kafka’s The Trial."
It has admittedly been a long time since I read The Trial, but from what I recall, it is about a guy who is going through life minding his own business when he is told that he is going to be put on trial, but not what the charges are, where the trial is being held, or at what time he has to be there. Also he's maybe having an affair with his neighbor and other people in the story get whipped for no reason. I think.
That is not what happened to Stewart Rhodes. But if he doesn't understand what he was charged with, we can help him out with that.
Stewart Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy because he plotted to overthrow the United States government and then showed up to the US Capitol building, armed to the teeth, on the day he said he planned to overthrow the United States government. Then he joined 2000 other people who hoped to stop the election of Joe Biden from being certified so that Donald Trump could just continue to be president forever. We can also assume that, in his trial, he knew where and when he was supposed to be, on account of the fact that he was there. Whether or not he's having an affair with his neighbor, we couldn't say.
Rhodes, in case he is unclear, started planning this attack on November 7, 2020, when he popped into an encrypted chat for friends of Roger Stone and immediately said, “What’s the plan? We need to roll ASAP.” This may not be the kind of thing that means anything if you say it and you are but a mild-mannered banker who never bothered no one, but coming from the leader of a militia ... it does carry some weight.
On December 12, Rhodes said that if Trump did not invoke the Insurrection Act that there would be a much more bloody war to come, because of how he and his militia friends would have to murder the rest of us.
He said a similar thing in a text message to the Oath Keepers on December 14, 2020: “If he doesn’t use the Insurrection Act to keep a ChiCom puppet out of the white house, then we will have to fight a bloody revolution,” which is literally what people tried to do that day.
He also told his followers to come to the Capitol armed and spent $20,000 on an arsenal to bring with him on January 6, which is not the kind of thing you would tell people if you were merely planning to host a tea party.
"My only regret is they should have brought rifles," Rhodes said to his followers just a few days after the insurrection. "We should have brought rifles. We could have fixed it right then and there. I'd hang fucking Pelosi from the lamppost."
US District Court Judge Amit Mehta did not buy any of Rhodes's "I don't know why I'm even here!" nonsense in explaining his reasoning for giving such a harsh sentence.
“You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country, to the republic and to the very fabric of our democracy,” said U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, characterizing Rhodes as a uniquely powerful driver of the threat to democracy that day. “You are smart, you are compelling, and you are charismatic. Frankly, that is what makes you dangerous.” [...]
“What we cannot have — we absolutely cannot have — is a group of citizens who because they didn’t like the outcome [of the 2020 election] were then prepared to take up arms in order to foment a revolution,” Mehta said. “That’s what you did."
Rhodes’s attorney Phillip Linder had tried to make the case that people like Rhodes were not at fault, but rather those who told them that the election was stolen from them. “If you want to put a face on J6, you put it on Trump, right-wing media, politicians."
Mehta didn't buy that either. In explaining the sentencing, he suggested that Rhodes was himself a unique threat, that he had the ability to galvanize people into doing things like this, and that he could very well do it again if left on the outside. He wouldn't be wrong. Rhodes has been recruiting and radicalizing people for over a decade at this point and clearly has no interest in stopping. He will likely continue his activities once he's inside, because that's what cult leaders do.
Also sentenced this week, it bears mentioning, were Richard Barnett, who put his feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk and got four years, and Robert Morss, who got five years for trying to take batons and shields from officers while he was invading the Capitol building.
Neither shared which Kafka character they most identified with.
Justice served, and it is your OPEN THREAD.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse