To the editor:

Recently, the Daily Mail carried a story about a far right, anti-government group called the Oath Keepers and the reported membership of former Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley. There were responses on the subject of the Oath Keepers from two respected current legislators.

However, I found these responses to the reporter’s questions troubling. Essentially, both gentlemen felt that law enforcement employees could join any organization of their choosing, and that it was their right as an individual to believe what they wish and associate with any group regardless of their beliefs.

I beg to differ with this viewpoint. Reading from the Oath Keepers website, one learns that Oath Keepers believe that it is the right of a law enforcement employee to decide which laws and orders are unconstitutional and then refuse to execute said orders. I certainly don’t feel that it is a right of those law enforcement personnel to take it upon themselves and decide unilaterally that an order is unconstitutional or wrongfully given. Certainly, we members of the general public are not able to decide which laws we will purposely choose to disobey.

The Oath Keepers is an extremist right wing organization with some very strange ideas. For example, they believe that conspiracies are everywhere and that the leaders in those conspiracies are trying to take over our government and waiting to place thousands of Americans in concentration camps. Of course, several of their members are alleged to have taken part in the horrendous storming of our Capitol and are now being investigated.

Some seem to feel that law enforcement personnel have a right to join organizations of their choice regardless of the beliefs of those groups. That line of reasoning would lead us to ask whether membership in the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazi Party would be acceptable so long as it was carried out off duty. The problem is that those beliefs will surely color their conduct as they perform their duties. As Rev. Turpin states in the same article, it is very doubtful that an individual who was a member of the Black Panthers would be accepted as a law enforcement employee.

No, it is not alright, for those who we want to trust and revere to be members of secretive, anti-government organizations that somehow feel that they have become self-anointed protectors of this country. We, the people, may now need protection from them.

Christian Pfister

Athens

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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