by Stephen Capra
So a week has passed and we have witnessed a standoff continue that should never have started. The motley crew led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of the terrorist Cliven Bundy continue to laugh and mock the very Government that has fed their families for generations.
There remain many shocking aspects about this “armed standoff” with this group of home grown terrorists. Most of it however should be focused on the federal government response. I think it can be viewed along the lines of the “Affluenza defense.” You see in this case the government has done all it can for far too long to allow this group of its spoiled, lazy, bored and angry children to thrive. Examples include: endless subsidies, low to no interest loans, the endless destruction of public lands and waters at the hands of cattle and sheep and the well documented killing and torture of wildlife, all to appease their endless whining and inability of the majority to move cattle and employ measures to limit predator confrontations.
Let’s talk for a minute about how agencies like the BLM or forest service, lower their standards and allow endless violations and seemingly always bend over backwards to keep ranchers happy, while naturally ignoring conservation concerns. Finally, the response and this is crucial.
Some reports have said that employees at Malheur were told a week in advance that this group of radicals was coming and they cleared their offices. If true, why clear the office and leave, rather than block the entrance to the refuge with enough police and federal officials to make this ragtag group turn and leave?
Second. Given what occurred in Nevada last year, why are we waiting them out. Sure, lots of talk has been given to Ruby Ridge and other such sieges. Yet, in no other criminal activity in America with this level of publicity, have we witnessed the police or federal officials give the criminals such opportunity, such incredible leeway. This appears to be a decision by federal officials that plays right into the “affluenza” defense. By not charging Cliven Bundy last year after guns were pointed at federal officials (a felony) and ignoring all the money owed to the government (more than one million dollars). The federal government is allowing the rhetoric of these radicals-that the federal government does not own these lands or has any say in controlling ranching efforts, to begin to have validity.
So why is the government not acting? In part perhaps because republican lawmakers went crazy a few years ago at the mere effort by some experts to speak about domestic, home grown terrorism, the type we are now witnessing. The results, if you’re Muslim, leave the county, if you are a radical rancher- no charges. Furthermore, the vortex of guns, religion, flag waving, anti-environmental, constitution preaching, anti-government fervor is being exacerbated by a lack of a solid government response to such hostile ignorance.
What this occupation has done is created an opportunity, the chance to finally awaken the public to reality of public lands ranching in 2016. The goal: to raise grazing fees, to place a methane tax on cows, to demand a federal buy-out program and to end once any funding for predator control or killing.
But none of this can happen until the government and our President make clear that these acts of violence must be stopped. This Tuesday, the President will deliver his final State of the Union Address. The chair next to the First Lady will be empty, a symbol of all Americans lost to gun violence. The President must make clear in his speech what America plans to do with these home-grown terrorists and should also make clear the importance and constitutional right of our spectacular protected public lands for all Americans.
Finally, our National Parks, Wilderness areas, Refuges remain to many a scared trust. These lands, many stolen from our Native American brethren, are a symbol of life. Much like the Statue of Liberty has appeared to those seeking a new life; our protected lands are a place for the heart and soul to revive, and for wildlife to thrive. This takeover is made more heinous, because it desecrates this place of beauty and peace.
Let them rot in prison.
Bold Visions Conservation