Sunday, January 10, 2016

Are terrorists terrorists even if white?

The occupation of the Malheur Refuge in Oregon is interesting.

(The Malheur is a place to watch migratory birds. We spent Christmas morning with the sandhill cranes at Bosque del Apache. I'm glad no armed group was occupying the Bosque to force the government to abandon the refuge.) 

First, let's stop calling these guys “militia.” They're nut-cases. They're also making the case for reasonable gun control much more effectively than Obama could do. 

Secondly, let's not tar all ranchers by the same brush, any more than we should with Muslims. These dozen guys are terrorists. The vast majority of ranchers aren't. Same with Muslims. Yes. one could reasonably raise questions about the sentencing of two Oregon ranchers for arson; but those ranchers are quietly turning themselves in, and distancing themselves from Bundy, who's using them to further his agenda. 

“Terrorists?” Yep. It's instructive that so many are not calling these guys terrorists and that they are being treated with kid gloves. 

By law, “the term 'domestic terrorism' means activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or (B) appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, [or]to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” 

Occupying a public bird refuge with assault rifles tends to intimidate civilians. Doing so while stating you will hold the buildings until the U.S. closes the federal refuge sure sounds like trying “to influence the policy of a government.” 

When folks are frightened about terrorism, accommodating these guys suggests that it's the religion and ethnicity of terrorists that matters to us. The jokes that a black kid with a bb gun gets killed but these guys get to do as they please are too facile, but they contain some truth. (And the folks who get upset when Obama says “terrorists” instead of “Islamic terrorists” – are they demanding Bundy be called a “rancher-terrorist?” Or a “Christian terrorist” because he said God told him to do this?)

I'm not advocating an all-out assault; I don't want to see cops or occupiers killed; and these folks haven't shot anybody. But if a dozen Pakistani-Americans with assault weapons occupied a federal facility open to the public, how long would they get to stay in there? Alive. Unmolested. Coming and going at will?

If Ammon Bundy and his pals aren't jailed for a significant time, that will be a frightening governmental failure that will seriously undermine respect for law enforcement.

One report mentioned local ranchers taking them home-cooked meals. I hoped I'd misunderstood. But others confirm that (as of Tuesday) there's no law enforcement anywhere around.

Armed federal or local police should be surrounding the place. The sheriff is staying away, begging these guys to leave peacefully, and letting them slink away into the night leaving only a few recognized leaders to be jailed. No one should be taking meals or supplies to them. If the place is on the grid, electricity to it should already be off. If water can be cut off, it should be.

These guys should be as cold, unwashed, and hungry as possible, as soon as possible. If they're being allowed to stay until they walk out voluntarily, someone should be there to arrest them when they do. They should also – in addition to getting jail-time – be fined heavily to help defray the cost of having to deal with them. 

The occupers babble about “freedom” while using guns to intimidate others from freely using a public museum and bird refuge.
[The above column appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 9 January, and should appear later today on the KRWG-TV website under News-->Local Viewpoints.  Let me note again that it was written on Tuesday, knowing that much might change by Sunday morning.]

[Couple more items surfaced after I sent this in.  One was that this rabid anti-government partisan Ammon Bundy deigned to accept a $530,000 small-business loan from that same government in 2010.  The loan's guaranteed, and could cost taxpayers $22,419.  Whether or not he's paid it back is unknown, at least to me.  (He reportedly declined to answer emails on the subject.)  But clearly his anti-governmental passion has limits.    He thinks the federal government is way too big, but the part of it that lends money to folks like him is all right.
Bundy's family also benefited from the federal government in other ways.  For one, if you grow cattle you have to feed and water 'em.   Private landowners tend to charge a significant fee to let you graze your animals on their land.  The feds charged Bundy's family a small fraction of the private market rate.   (The Government reportedly charges 93% less than private landowners.)  Bundy's father showed his gratitude by refusing to pay even that, as I understand it.]

[People said letting the Bundy's getting away with their conduct in 2914 would lead to more of the same.  Here we have them invading a refuge in a different state.   Will they somehow be discouraged by the courtesy and restraint that law enforcement has shown?  I wouldn't think so.   Besides which, if they have legitimate grievances -- and the mandatory minimum sentencing is a damned serious grievance -- there are democratic processes to seek change.  Many of us want some bird refuges.]  

1 comment:

  1. Peter, there's way more to this story than you let on here. For the sake of balance, a few links your readers might want to follow.

    As for calling these people, "nut-cases", that's beneath you, sir.

    Tracing the Deep Roots of the Oregon Occupation -

    Explaining the Bundys' ideology at National Geographic -

    Here’s Why Ammon Bundy’s Oregon Standoff Might Actually Work -

    Was Harry Reid involved in the Bundy Ranch Debacle? Sorting through the Rumors & Disinformation -