By CHERI ROBERTS for Challenging the Rhetoric
Is it a stand-off or a stand-down? It’s all a bit confusing to the average lay person following daily news of armed militia men strutting around with pocket Constitutions and chips on their shoulders at the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve outside of Burns, Oregon. Truth be told, most of America, including Oregonians themselves, aren’t even aware of the so-called stand-off even though it’s been going on for weeks.
How do I know this? I live in Oregon. Even the local gun dealer in my town is scratching his head and cracking jokes at Bundy’s expense while he enjoys the increase in gun and ammo sales to people who are afraid of the militia men. The irony in that was just too rich not to share.
For those who are paying attention; many are wondering why State and Federal officials are still standing down doing a whole lot of what appears to be nothing. But ‘nothing’ is always subjective to what we can see and what we are told, regardless of who is doing the telling. Normal protocol can be presented by one side as proof of an imminent bloody siege while a publicly presented lackadaisical attitude from the other side does little more than piss off both those militia men who are wanting a confrontation and the citizens who simply want everyone to go home already.
Militia leader, Ammon Bundy and others at the refuge have at times voiced their willingness to use their weapons if necessary however, no one has actually defined what would deem them necessary. They brought guns for a reason and that is why so many cannot look at this situation as a typical anti-government protest. There is a vast difference between carrying a sign and carrying a rifle. This situation is beyond one of mere civil disobedience. If they had no weapons, would they have been removed and or arrested by now?
The longer the situation is allowed to drag on, the more potential there will be for violence and the more psychologically empowered militias across the country become. While not all militia types are nut cases, the harm the extremists that are among them can wrought is unquestionable. If violence were to break out at Malheur, sympathy for the Bundy crew and their cause is as equally apt to grow, as dwindle. Cries of #NoWaco and analogies to the Branch Dividians conjure powerful emotions you don’t need to be in support of a militia to instantly feel.
Rampant distrust and even hatred for the Federal government is nothing new, whether the cause is land rights, NSA spying, manufactured terror plots or a plethora of other things. The list of legitimate offenses by the government against we ‘The People’ is long, but land rights is the grievance at the heart of the current Oregon situation brought to us by a bunch of non-Oregonians.
The USA federal government owns a huge swath of land in western states; 53% of Oregon; 67% of Utah; 81% in Nevada. These lands are held out of the State’s and People’s control and now these modern day flagslingers want the land given back to it’s’rightful owners’, of course neglecting to note the original owners of said land wasn’t a bunch of white Mormon cowboys, but that bit of historical fact aside here are a few questions about this land …
- How do the States themselves feel about gaining the land back?
- Can the States afford — not just the buy-back, but the actual upkeep, maintenance, security and preservation of the land when they are already in financial crisis’s of their own?
- How and who (what arm of the state) would manage the land?
- What do ‘The People’, and I mean ALL of ‘The People’, not just the ranchers, farmers, loggers and miners, get out of this deal?
These are questions we are not hearing answers to from the occupiers as they make their demands, but aren’t they as important as the questions they raise?
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