By now every one has heard that a group of well armed anti-government protesters has occupied several deserted buildings on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. They are apparently led by Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher infamous for his own weeks-long standoff with federal agents. Ammon Bundy claims the group is supporting two local ranchers convicted arson on the wildlife refuge, which of course is federal property. he also says the group also wants the land which makes up the refuge returned to local rangers.
Bundy told the media at a press conference that they don’t want an armed confrontation with local, state and/or federal law enforcement. “We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.” He also told reporters, “We will be here as long as it takes”.
It appears that the vast majority if not all of the protesters are from out of state, members of various anti-government groups who joined Bundy after his call to to defend the ranchers near the wildlife refuge from federal government abuse. However, Dwight and Steven Hammond, father-and-son ranchers who were convicted of arson, issued a statement through their lawyer, “Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family,”
Based on what I have seen and read about Bundy and his group of anti-government zealots, they are not really concerned with the plight of the local ranchers. What they really crave is national media attention to publicize their anti-government rhetoric in hopes of igniting a widespread anti-government movement across the country. Always looking for ratings, so far the TV networks and cable news organizations have be more than happy to oblige.
Many on social media have been calling the armed protesters “terrorists” and referring to them as Y’all Qaeda. They are calling for the government law enforcement to physically remove the protesters which could easily lead to violence. I have even received a emailed request to sign a petition to have the protesters arrested. I wrote back saying, this is a dumb idea. Government agencies like the FBI have learned hard lessons from past violent clashes with armed anti-government groups at Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc. Federal authorities are giving every indication that they are not going to give Bundy and his group what they want, the publicity of an armed confrontation with local and federal law enforcement. There is presently no confrontation because law enforcement is no where to be seen around the wildlife refuge. It takes two to tango and Bundy and his group are without a dance partner.
It is getting cold in the Oregon woods with temperatures going down to 15º at night. Camping out in old buildings on the wildlife refuge is going to seem a whole lot less fun to the protesters after a few weeks or months. Federals officials appear to have decided to wait the group out. The buildings on in the wildlife refuge previously were unoccupied anyway, so there is no overriding reason to try to force the protesters out. It makes sense to just wait until they get tired of the situation and leave of their own accord. I have heard calls to cut off their electrical power and water to speed up the process. I’m all for that. However, I think a smartest move would be to cut off their access to the media.
Despite the clams to the contrary, the protesters are occupying public property for one reason and one reason only – publicity. Take away the national publicity they are receiving and it won’t be long before they will decide pack up and go home. However, due to the rights provided to the press by the First Amendment of the Constitution, only the news media can make the decision to no longer attend their news conferences, interview their leaders, or even cover their activities with cameras from afar. Given their obsession with ratings, and the fact that they are normally drawn like flies to molasses to this kind of story, this will not be an easy decision for news organizations to make. However, these organizations make decisions on a daily basis whether it is in the public’s best interests to cover stories like this one.
You can help your favorite news organization make the decision to deprive these zealots of the media attention they crave but don’t deserve. Please contact your favorite news source and make your voice heard.