So we now have another standoff with heavily armed men defying the federal government. An earlier one was when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy felt that he should not pay the fees that all ranchers pay for cattle to graze on federal land. When faced with the threat of arrest, armed men from all over the country arrived to warn law enforcement that they were willing to fight them. That happened in 2014 and Bundy continues to defy the authorities with no action having been taken against him.
This seems to have emboldened the Bundys because now two and possibly three of his sons have traveled all the way to Oregon to take over a building in a federal wildlife refuge. The ostensible reason for their action was to protest the prison sentences given to two people for arson on federal property but neither the people they came to support nor the local community want these outsiders or their support. So the Bundy led protestors have expanded their demands and are now challenging the government’s ownership of the property and are demanding that it be returned ‘to the people’. They have called for other people to join them in their action to defy the ‘tyrannical’ government.
Tim Dickinson explains what is going on and what their beef is but it seems clear that these people are itching to start an insurrection against the government and this served as an excuse. So far, the government has acted with restraint and there have been no major calls by politicians or the media for the government to use its overwhelming power to crush the insurrection though, as many have pointed out, if the group had consisted of black or Muslim protestors, the levels of hysteria would have been through the roof and nothing would have satisfied them but to see everyone killed.
I have no hesitation in blaming the Republican party and conservative media like Fox News for this state of affairs. When you have both of them maintaining a steady drumbeat for years against the government, implying that it is tyrannical and illegitimate and its actions unconstitutional, you are creating a climate where people are encouraged to violate the law. Coupled with the easy availability of weaponry, you encourage people to think that they can actually defy the government, when the reality is that they can be easily crushed, provided no one cares about the bloodshed.
There has been much mocking of these people’s delusions but this is a dangerous situation because some seem to be seeking martyrdom. In many ways, they are just like ISIS and other groups, hoping that a major fight will spur a wider insurrection.
I would hate to see a repetition of the Branch Dravidian Waco or Ruby Ridge and have people killed. I hope the authorities are looking at alternative ways such as imposing some kind of blockade to prevent supplies getting through, and essentially forcing them to eventually give in. There is still a danger that some of Bundy’s supporters will try to break such a blockade with guns blazing but in situations such as this, the people who initiate violence lose the propaganda war and, at its base, propaganda is what this is all about.