On August 10th, Mike Vanderboegh, the man who single-handedly founded the Three Percent movement, passed away after his second bout with cancer. While we mourn his passing, I’m reminded that our success or failure cannot and should not depend on one man, or on man at all. Herschel Smith over at Captain’s Journal probably said it best about Mike, “I’ve heard it said that such-and-such a man had “redeeming qualities.” Hogwash. Men don’t have redeeming qualities. Men are themselves redeemed, or they are lost.”
So how is a man redeemed? In my and Herschel’s opinion, by the principles set down by our creator and taught by Jesus Christ. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Whether you believe our moral principles come from God or are inherent in nature, we find that “principle” is more important than “man”. Too many people in the world buy into the “cult of personality” of a particular individual then end up sorely disappointed when that person can’t live up to expectations. The lesson we have to learn is that man will always fail you, while principle will see you through. The great thing about Mike was that he understood this, and explicitly laid out the principles of the Three Percent. That way we had a guide in case he failed us or wasn’t around any longer.
I am by nature a contrary type of person. When I see something that is wrong, I am obliged to call the person or group on it, no matter if they are friend or foe. This has gotten me into hot water with plenty of friends. It’s easy to disagree with enemies, but when you stick to principle with your friends, expect to lose some. Since my involvement in the Three Percent, I’ve consistently run into people who claim to be one but have never heard of Mike Vanderboegh, or more seriously, refuse to understand and abide by our principles. I’ve told several people that behaving this way is much like calling yourself a Christian while refusing to believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was risen again. If you fail to follow our principles, you are NOT a Three Percenter, end of story.
I’ve also encountered this type of behavior with people outside our movement, but ones who still claim to “patriots” and respect the Constitution. The most recent disagreement, with both a supposed Three Percent group as well as a friend, was whether a person has the right burn or otherwise deface the American Flag. How do we determine whether a person has the right to perform any particular action? Thomas Jefferson put it most eloquently when he said…
“…rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”
Put more simply, a person has the right to do whatever they want unless it directly interferes with the right of another person to do whatever they want. It’s really a very simple principle and can be applied to any situation. Can a person murder? No, because that interferes with another’s right to life. Can a person kidnap or exert undue control? No, because that interferes with their right to liberty. Can a person steal? No, because that interferes with their right to property. Can a person burn an American Flag as long as it actually belongs to them? Yes, because no matter how much you or I disagree with it, burning a flag does not damage your rights one single bit. The flag itself is the perfect representation of principle. The flag itself is nothing but a piece of cloth, only what it stands for is important. Destroying the object does not destroy the principle. People who get all indignant about flag burning are trying to protect the wrong thing. They worry about the object while destroying the principle.
And before anyone uses the same tired old argument, yes, I served in the military. Just because you did too doesn’t mean you can get on your high horse and proclaim, “you must not have served so your opinion on the flag doesn’t matter.” I signed on the dotted line and took the Oath just like the rest of you, and I will defend a person’s right to free speech and expression to my dying breath.
See how this always comes back to principle? Your feelings about someone burning the flag do not matter, only the principle does. When you ignore that principle because you don’t like what someone is doing, you’re not only damaging their rights, you’re damaging yours as well and setting a very dangerous precedent.
This all brings me back to what it means to be a Three Percenter. There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of groups, large and small, out there who say they are Three Percenters. They claim authority over others, post lots of patriotic memes and slogans, and generally put on a good show of things. Some may even be relatively squared away, but that doesn’t make you a Threeper.
One of Mike V’s primary goals was to counter the ineffectiveness of the early 1990’s militia movement. He was present and participated in many groups during that time, and he came to realize that most of them were authoritarian top-down organizations run by self-appointed “Colonels” and “Generals” who were motivated by their own self-interest. They also had the serious problem of being easily infiltrated by whack-jobs and government agents.
The Three Percent was designed with small groups of people in mind, people who intimately know one another, making them mostly impervious to infiltration. It was also designed in a cellular structure with no one group having authority over another. If a group sticks to the Threeper principles, then another group can easily identify them as people they might be willing to work with. There is no need for top-down control, eliminating the infighting and disenfranchisement that always occurs in larger groups. The larger and more centralized something is, the more easily it is destroyed. Like it or not, terrorist organizations all over the world learned this lesson many years ago. They are so hard to beat because there is no head to cut off. We cannot allow ourselves to stoop to their immorality, but good strategy is good strategy.
I would never claim that our local group is some shining star example of how to run things. We have had false starts, betrayals, reorganizations, and on and on and on. I always try to tell people in our group that I’m only in charge because I was the first one to step up. I have no actual authority other than what they give me. If they want me gone, all they have to do is ask. Our core group is comprised of just a few diehards who all agree on what it is we stand for. If you don’t agree with our principles, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, you’re simply not part of our “tribe”. John Mosby over at Mountain Guerrilla writes a lot on what “tribe” means and why it is so important. In this day and age of diversity, so many people are losing sight of what makes them unique and what makes others part of their family.
Jack Donovan’s blog is also a great source of info regarding tribalism.
All this boils down to being able to identify people and groups who share your own beliefs. If you stand up for the principles of the Three Percent, you are one of us. If you don’t, you’re not. When trying to determine if someone or something is what it say it is, take a look at their actions and the fruits of those actions. Do they do what they say they are going to do? Do they actually follow their professed moral code? Don’t just fall in with a group because they claim to be something, make sure they really are.
Matthew 7:16-20 King James Version (KJV)
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.