Perspectives: Mike Vanderboegh, the man who wouldn’t be silent

OPINION – The best leaders aren’t the ones who generate the most followers, they’re the ones who inspire others to step up and lead.

I thought about this adage when I heard that Mike Vanderboegh had died last week following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was as close to a modern day Patrick Henry as anyone could be.

Vanderboegh was an uncompromising and clarion voice in the pro-freedom conspiracy.

Among his most remarkable achievements was the exposure of the so-called “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal. This was a program begun under George W. Bush in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms deliberately allowed thousands of firearms to be smuggled to Mexican drug cartels.

Ostensibly, the illegal firearms purchases were allowed to be made so authorities could follow them across the border to the upper echelons of the cartels. In reality, the secretive operation resulted in an unknown number of deaths including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

It was the tireless efforts of Vanderboegh, along with fellow blogger David Codrea, that brought this highly illegal and deadly scheme to light in 2010. The men were contacted by ATF insiders and persisted in publicizing the program until the media could no longer ignore them.

Initially, the feds denied that gun-walking was taking place but later came clean when the story would not go away.

Sharyl Attkisson was the courageous investigative journalist who finally broke the story in the mass media and went on to win an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow award for her reporting.

When we hear journalists mewling about the lack of respect they’re getting and railing against bloggers for daring to disseminate information, remember that it was Vanderboegh and Codrea who showed the greater integrity.

Mike Vanderboegh was also a tireless and outspoken advocate against the tyranny of gun control.

In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting, a number of states passed various knee-jerk gun control measures limiting magazine capacity, certain types of firearms or imposing background checks on private purchases. Vanderboegh became an electrifying voice of defiance against such laws.

He encouraged freedom-minded gun owners in the various affected states to nullify draconian gun laws through quiet campaigns of deliberate non-compliance. He very publicly defied politicians by smuggling forbidden items such as standard capacity magazines and ammunition into their states and then dared them to do something about it.

He mailed 30-round magazines to many of the ban-state politicians and invited them to arrest themselves since they were now in possession of a forbidden item. Predictably, not one of them did anything.

For everyone who was paying attention, his actions demonstrated the lack of will on the part of the government and strengthened the resolve of those citizens who still have the will to resist.

Vanderboegh’s opposition to the tyranny of citizen disarmament stemmed from his understanding that some principles cannot be compromised, under any circumstances.

In explaining his outspoken defiance of these laws, Vanderboegh boldly explained:

We have declared that our God-given, natural, and inalienable rights to liberty and property are not subject to negotiation.

One reason that Vanderboegh’s words carry considerable moral authority is that he was once a true blue communist in his younger years. This gave him deep insights into the goals and practices of dedicated leftists of all flavors.

Like many of us, his journey toward clear and independent thinking involved patient mentors and a willingness to expose himself to new ideas. He became a dedicated student of history and a top notch public speaker.

As an effective countervoice to collectivism, Vanderboegh has been a favorite target of the most shrill left-wing advocacy organizations. Contrary to what some might think, it is a serious testament to his effectiveness to be vilified by the professional alarmists at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There’s something to be said for those whose tangible impact on the world causes even those who despise them to continue to write about them. For this reason, Vanderboegh was fond of quoting his friend Kurt Hoffman who said:

I believe that being despised by the despicable is as good as being admired by the admirable.

If more people would adopt a similar attitude, genuine courage would be far more commonplace. After all, should a lion really care what the sheep are saying about it?

Vanderboegh understood that a determined minority of people with indomitable will can advance the cause of freedom; even in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. Rather than setting himself up as a leader for others to follow, he invoked a worthy cause and invited others to lead out.

While Vanderboegh’s critics continue to fear him posthumously, the rest of us would be wise to get to know him in his own words.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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22 Comments

  • KarenS August 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Oh please, Bryan. Decent background checks, limiting the size of magazines, and doing something about weapons of war that aren’t sport is “draconian”? Tell that to the parents of Noah Pozner, who at 6-years of age, was gunned down in school at Newtown. He was the youngest victim and was shot 11 times. His parents had an open casket but they had to put a handkerchief over his jaw because it was gone. His mother wanted to put something in his hand but he had no arm. He has a twin sister who will always miss the companionship that only twins can have. And all of this because people like you tell us to fear our government (which is essentially ourselves through the ballot box and we will need to “stand up” to the government because we are “freedom-minded gun owners”. What a crock!

    • RealMcCoy August 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Decent background checks- There are already extensive background checks done.
      Limiting the size of magazines- does nothing, and why does it matter how many bullets are in a magazine? A criminal attacks me with a standard 30 round magazine, but I as a law abiding citizen can only defend myself with 6 bullets?
      Doing something about weapons of war that aren’t sport is “draconian”- yes. Read your history to see why the Second Amendment was put there right under Free Speech.
      Your victims, by the way, would not have been saved by any of your proposed changes. The criminals that shot them did not abide by any of those laws.

      • KarenS August 15, 2016 at 3:27 pm

        Decent background checks? So why do 90% of the public want more extensive background checks?

        Limiting of the size of magazines? That should be obvious. A person can kill (and have killed) more people in less time with larger magazines. So, you and the criminal are going to go after each other with your 30 round magazines? Good luck to both of you.

        The second amendment says nothing about weapons of war, just a well-regulated militia. They aren’t needed. They are just big toys for people who want to run around and play soldier and talk big. Sickening.

        And, the excuse that none of those kids would be saved is such a sorry one.

        • RealMcCoy August 16, 2016 at 11:07 am

          Okay I see you are a flaming liberal, and therefore facts will not matter to you.
          No point in trying to educate you anymore.
          Enjoy you place in the herd…

    • Bob August 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      the neo-lib anti-freedom crowd certainly milked that one for all it was worth, didn’t they. shame on them! Those dead kids deserved more respect than to be used for some agenda! That was the idea from the beginning with that one–to disarm the entire nation. I wonder if that Lanza kid had been mentally damaged by vaccines…

      • KarenS August 15, 2016 at 3:31 pm

        Personally, I didn’t have an “agenda” before Newtown. I am not anti-freedom (whatever that means). Obama is not going to take all your guns. No one is going to take your guns. But, we could do better for our children with better regulations and gun safety measures. And, making remarks about vaccines just shows your lack of seriousness about the whole issue.

        • Bob August 15, 2016 at 3:41 pm

          Adam Lanza was a documented autistic. and i’d never joke about such a thing

          • KarenS August 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

            Have you ever met a conspiracy theory you didn’t like?

          • Bob August 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

            funny thing about “conspiracy theories” is that even when they turn out to be true nothing much ever changes–the whole Iraq war was a massive conspiracy–no one in power was ever held to account. the answer is yes, and i don’t dwell on it… if u wanna continue to believe in fairy tales it’s fine with me

    • homer498 August 15, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Just hang on for six more months Karen. At that time the progressive liberal-democrats are going to take the house, the senate, the courts, and the presidency; and keep it, not for 4 years, or even 8 years, but probably well into the next century. I can see the effect of Donald Trump spanning decades at least, and the Republicans can will own all of it.

  • RealMcCoy August 15, 2016 at 10:41 am

    America lost one of the few remaining Patriots willing to make a stand.
    R.I.P., Mike Vanderboegh.

  • anybody home August 15, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I’m wondering if people like the Bundys and their “patriot” cohort who will now be spending the next several years in federal prison as a result of their in-your-face “don’t tell me what to do” behavior shared your obvious adoration for this yahoo. And if so, whether they might be rethinking the whole thing today.

    These “patriots” who shout “Tyranny!” and run around in camo pretending to be warriors, when most of them have never served a day as a true warrior in defense of our country, are the worst. True American heroes served their time on the battlefields, paid the price, and think little of defiant blowhards like Mike Vanderboegh.

    • RealMcCoy August 15, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Freedom is chipped away one law at a time.

    • Bob August 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      “true warrior in defense of our country”, ” True American heroes served their time on the battlefields”

      when i served i can tell u about the last thing we were was “true warriors in defense of our country” or ” True American heroes that served their time on the battlefields”. we did crap jobs in a desert craphole, and we got paid (very little) for it, everyone was bored and knew the reason for being there was pointless, so what wars are u even talking about in the last 50 years?

      • Henry August 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm

        Bob – how can you extrapolate your personal small unit experiences to be representative of all our military members over the last 50 years? There are a lot of us who felt we improved the lives of Middle Eastern locals through opening schools, rebuilding infrastructure, and training local police & Soldiers; we had no time be bored. I don’t claim that my personal experiences were the norm; you can’t be sure that yours were typical of every Soldier over the last 50 years either.

        • Bob August 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm

          eh, it wasn’t all bad. we had some good times. we didn’t get shot at or hit any IEDs. just this whole notion of ‘soldiers as heroes’ annoys me every time, and i still think our gov’t ruined that country, but oh well

          • Henry August 16, 2016 at 11:31 am

            Yeah, it certainly changes one’s perspective when people are trying to kill you. :). You’re right, not every Soldier was a hero (Bergdahl,etc.), but every Soldier didn’t become a homeless ticking-time-bomb Rambo either.

            Regardless of the motives of going in, Iraq in 2010 was a stable country with a murder rate lower than several large U.S. cities. Then 0bama made the decision to unilaterally withdraw all military forces, against the recommendations of all his military and civilian advisors.

        • Bob August 15, 2016 at 11:04 pm

          and yea, the greatest enemies to america actually live in america, and israel–can’t forget israel… so we were real heroes alright.. hmm

  • .... August 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Yeah they thinks if they run around wearing camouflage and waving unloaded weapons at America that makes them Patriots and heroes.

    • RealMcCoy August 15, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      I never understood that camouflaged and waving unloaded weapons crowd.
      Better to be silent and prepared than look like the nutjob crowd.

  • Bob August 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Obama and the neo-lib fascists actually would like an ausi-style gun grab. A docile and unarmed population is an easy one to terrorize.

  • homer498 August 15, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Arguing about this is a waste of time until we can test ways to see if we can really stop this from happening. And Americans would have to be willing to suck it up, and step up, to have everyone’s fragile sensibilities about their rights trampled on in certain similar states; let’s just say like North & South Carolina on the east coast, and Oregon & Washington on the West. Some test states would have to have absolutely no guns allowed except for law enforcement and military institutions for a determined period of time; and the other test states would have to volunteer to have almost everyone capable carrying in the open. If we aren’t prepared to temporarily strap on a gun for a few years, or hand our guns in for a few years, we should be ashamed to call ourselves Americans. Those kids at Sandy Hook, Columbine, Aurora, Bend, Orlando, Georgia Tech, and U of Texas in 1966, deserve better from us than this arguing w/o actions BS to stop this.

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