Libertarian Commentary, 05JAN2016, #16-01D
by Nathan Barton
Difficult as it is to sort through what is going on at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, after watching it for several days it appears to be a case of “too little, too early.” To steal a thought from Claire Wolfe, it is NOT yet time to “shoot the b****s” and little significantly good or bad is likely to come from the situation.
The various mainstream and alternative media all seem to agree on the basics: On Saturday the 2nd of January 2016, a group of about 100 people broke off from a protest in Southeastern Oregon and went to the headquarters of a nearby National Wildlife Refuge and occupied it. The occupation was peaceful although the protesters/occupiers were openly armed. The protest was in support of two ranchers who are being returned to prison in a bizarre court case in which they were convicted and sentenced to prison for arson and poaching on Federal lands. (Their defense was that they were doing a prescribed burn on their own land and the fire got away from them, and that they were not attempting to cover up evidence of poaching which they did not do.) Apparently, a federal “appeals” court decided that their sentences were too short and added more prison time, so the men agreed to give up and return to prison. They do NOT gain from, or support the occupation.
So the protesters were really there to protest the court action and NOT to support the two ranchers, who had already decided to submit. Rather, as Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders said, the group is standing up against government “overreach” because “the people have been abused long enough… ” I feel we are in a situation where if we do not do something, if we do not take a hard stand, we’ll be in a position where we’ll be no longer able to do so…” (WaPo)
What differs is the spin put on the story by various groups, including the media. The WaPo and the MSM in general claim (despite the facts that they report) that this was an armed takeover of a government office building; some have described it as an “armed assault” and called it “terrorism.” (In the original version of the WaPo story, the WaPo listed a “related story” as one involving a man arrested for plotting an “Islamic” terrorist attack on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. A very interesting comparison.) The very facts that the media (of all types) report do NOT support their headlines or claims. The building was unoccupied at the time it (or the area around it) was “occupied,” and the occupiers seem to be imitating the “Occupy Wall Street” model far more than any other. Hardly “terrorists,” which should be shot to kill. At the same time, too much of the alternative media seems to be reporting this as a “last stand” for the West and ranchers; as much overreaction as the MSM. Also we can see a vast difference in how the various media are reporting local reactions and response. Either the local people and authorities are in strong support or are totally opposed. (The reality seems to be in between, as discussed in this story at Freedom Outpost. After four days, even the MSM seems to be willing to point out that this is much more a protest than a rebellion, at least so far.
What is important in the spin is what is being reported and claimed as to the motives and background. Once more, the MSM (as represented by the WaPo and NYT) demonstrates that it does not understand and cannot relate to the West, or even a conservative view of limited government. As with so many things, there are many roots to this act of defiance and lawbreaking. Even the WaPo has accurately identified SOME of the issues, but is unable to interpret them in a way that makes sense.
Mama’s Note: Other good non MSM articles on the subject of the Oregon situation.
The Case for Civil Disobedience in Oregon
Here are some various attempts to explain things:
The WaPo tells us about the land complaints and history, as the WaPo sees them, and has some neat maps. (Most of which are not properly explained and do not relate to the situation in Eastern Oregon: indeed, some of the maps of the Dakotas seem to be intentionally misleading and even inaccurate.) The WaPo also is clearly using this incident as an opportunity to blacken ALL Westerners and anyone one “anti-government” in attitude.
Pacific Standard Magazine writes “A father and son’s run-in with the law has thus become a rallying cry for armed libertarian “patriot” groups…” and has therefore already used the “standoff” as an excuse for attacking libertarians, even though (as far as I know) none of the participants have even claimed to be libertarian. The PS goes on to condemn this as vigilantism and blame it on white people who hate a black politican in the White House, while wanting “government handouts” – possession of federal lands. And blames the FedGov itself for “encouraging” and allowing settlement of Western lands starting with the Old Northwest in 1787 nearly 230 years ago.
Reactions to the protest occupation range from talking head Montel Williams (as reported by World Net Daily) calling for the National Guard and “shoot to kill” orders to deal with “hillbilly American Taliban” types, to Karl Denninger, who noted the importance of picking one’s battles: “There’s an old saying that I’ve heard many times before — if you think it’s time to take a stand grab your rifle and head out the front door. If you’re the only one out there it’s not time.” as reported at Freedom Outpost. Meanwhile, apparently SOME people are responding to the occupiers’ appeal to come join them for a long-term protest (lasting years), coming from across the nation, as happened with the original Bundy confrontation in Nevada in 2014. That did not spark a general crisis; I do not believe Mahleur will either.
One of the elements which has been touched on, even by the Mainstream Media, is the religious nature of this occupation. But the response by the MSM to this is, frankly as disturbing as expected. At least part of it seems to be to lump this with the Branch Davidians and Fundamentalist “Mormonism.” It is true that the LDS Church (the Salt Lake corporation) is involved in the situation, as many of the occupation organizers appear to be LDS, and some cite a person from the Book of Mormon (Nephite Captain Moroni) as their example, according to the WaPo.
The WaPo (no surprise) insults and derides the LDS hero as a “military stud-muffin,” even while claiming that government officials are victims of racism. Bob Newland (a libertarian friend) told me, “The Mormon church just issued a statement: “In no way can the armed occupation of the building in Oregon be justified on a scriptural basis.” Y’gotta love that, coming from the same folks who maintained until 1970 that black folks couldn’t hold the priesthood because they were being punished by their skin color for sins committed before they were born. Then god [sic] told them to change scripture so that the rest of the WAC would show up to play football at BYU.” (Bob, despite his biases, does exhibit a healthy skepticism for Salt Lake’s actions and motives.) Neither Bob nor the WaPo thought to research LDS sensibilities on this sort of thing, much less to quote Brigham Young on the subject, however: “I do not lift my voice against the great and glorious Government guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution, but against those corrupt administrators who trample the Constitution and just laws under their feet.” LDS doctrine says that the Constitution is second only to Scripture in being inspired by God, and at least many of those at Malheur believe this. Despite Salt Lake’s disavowal of their actions, the LDS General Authorities seem NOT to have disavowed the principles BEHIND the actions of the occupiers. The media (both kinds) does not understand this; the FedGov probably does not either. This is one of the dangers of the current situation.
Which brings me to my conclusion: this action, by a few dozen or even a couple of hundred men and women, in the wilds of Eastern Oregon, is too little and too early. Therefore, it is an action which will probably not have any great, significant consequences, UNLESS someone on one side or the other goes to extremes. (So far, neither side seems to be likely to do that.)
Mama’s Note: I think that some small happening, whether a gun is fired by accident (negligence) on either side, or by a deliberate act of anyone – including agent provocateurs – could most certainly set this off like an atom bomb. I pray for cool heads, good trigger discipline, and the immediate eviction of agitators and stooges of every kind – from every side.
Seems to me that it is a great tragedy that religion has any part in this, since emotional conflict in that can so easily cloud the judgment of all involved. I hope everyone will be able to look at plain, hard facts and leave their emotional and religious feelings aside. Unfortunately, that’s probably asking too much.
Although it is clear that the Bundys and those with them HAVE planned and prepared for this, I believe that we already can see that their plans and preparation have been inadequate. Coupled with the understanding that the very people that they are purporting to support are rejecting that support (the Hammonds), and other factors (location, timing, participation, to name a few), this makes their effort unlikely to succeed.
What little opportunity which the situation with the Hammonds may have offered seems already to have been squandered by poor communications on the part of the occupiers and this, in turn, leads me to believe that their preparation was inadequate. They have not made a good case for their actions that even the “3%” of Americans can understand and accept. They have sent mixed signals to the media, the government agencies (at all levels), and to the pubic, both locally (in Harney County), regionally (in Eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada), and nationally. They have failed to response adequately (through their actions and lack of communication) to their portrayal (even by those sympathetic to them) as things that they are not: extremists, hicks, and terrorists. Surely they must have expected such claims.
They also, at least at this point, do not seem to have developed the network that would deal with the challenges they should have expected. They have not applied the lessons learned from history, and even their own religion, to the current situation. They have not taken, or prepared to take, the necessary actions to present and defend their cause: too little. They do not yet have enough key support to allow them to be anything more than a single isolated and insulated point of resistance. There is not a sufficient reservoir of anger and demand for action in the Fifty States. Not yet (too early).
Lovers of liberty should glean lessons learned as this situation develops, just as we did from Ruby Ridge, Waco, the original Bundy standoff, and the Tea Party and Occupy movements. Lessons that will need to be applied with when there is enough that can be done and the time is right.