The great danger with the way that cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has managed to avoid paying grazing fees for his use of federal land by having a militia threaten to shoot at any federal agents that enter his property is that it would encourage others to imitate his example. These people are just itching to force a confrontation with the government while the latter wants to avoid a repeat of the disastrous Ruby Ridge and Waco tragedies.
So it should not come as a surprise that a similar standoff is brewing in Oregon, this time over mining rights on some land when the owners enlisted a militia group known as the Oath Keepers to defend their property. Catherine Thompson provides some background to the story.
Barclay, being suspicious of the federal agency, told KDRV that he’d enlisted the help of a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a loose-knit national organization of current and former military and law enforcement officers who pledge to defend the Constitution against government overreach, to provide security on the property while he goes through the appeal process.
A call for volunteer personnel on the Josephine County Oath Keepers’ website quickly made the rounds this week among self-styled militia members on Facebook and YouTube
Gun-toting members of various militia responded to this call like moths to a flame.
Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the Josephine County Oath Keepers, has been fielding phone calls from interested volunteers from all over the country. At least one activist was turned away from the property because he had outstanding issues with law enforcement, Emerick told TPM in a phone interview.
“I am aware that people are just literally getting in their cars,” she said. “However, we also know that some of those people are on sort of a list and are not going to be welcomed at the camp.”
“We are very careful about who we let in to this staging area,” Emerick added. “This is not some kind of field festival or a standoff with the BLM. We are just helping to protect rights.”
Emerick declined to reveal just how many activists were protecting the land, citing safety concerns. She did offer that there was round-the-clock security at the mine itself and that the activists were armed.
The co-owners of the land, worried that the situation is getting a little too heated, seem to want to cool things down. But once these armed self-proclaimed defenders of freedom like the Oath Keepers get involved, it is hard to get them to back down. It seems like there are enough armed people who don’t have regular jobs and yet have the resources to roam the country and set up the conditions for an armed confrontation with the government. They seem to be actually eager to have one and that is the troubling part.
I wonder what would happen if, on one of these occasions, the land owners and the militia challenging the government happened to be black or Muslim. Would they also be hailed as tyranny defying freedom-lovers or would they be painted as terrorists who needed to be drone-bombed out of existence?