While Obama’s Got The Executive Orders Handy, How About One For Oregon?

While Obama’s Got The Executive Orders Handy, How About One For Oregon?

OK look. It’s the evening of January 5th. Three full days ago, Ammon Bundy and his hypocritical gang of redneck, domestic terrorists (we can tolerate no “reasonable disagreement” on this matter if democratic law and order are still principles by which we care to live) seized the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The remote haven of natural beauty, federally mandated for the unencumbered use of anyone who cares to travel to rural Oregon, has been violated by causeless thugs and their weapons. They may be pathetic. They may lend themselves to quippy hashtags such as “Y’all Qaeda.” But this is not a joke.

This is, as Charles P. Pierce of Esquire rightly argued, “an act of armed sedition…In a small place in Oregon, the essential compact of the United States of America has come apart.” That’s not hyperbole. If the group is allowed to continue its forced occupation, we are no more civilized, and are in fact just as lawless and fraudulent, as so many of those roiling Middle Eastern nations at which the conservative right loves to sneer and preen. The bandits lack any veneer of legitimacy, having failed to secure the support of the alleged “victims” for which they claim their crusade.

I must admit I’m rather aghast at this point. No signs point to the National Guard readying to swoop in and haul the terrorists to justice.

The news of the day – rightly so – is President Obama’s emotional announcement of a string of executive actions he’s taking to reduce the insane amount of gun deaths in our country. If painfully overdue, the move is a courageous, heartfelt one that cements the President’s position as numero uno on the shit list of NRA and Second Amendment wingnuts. It’s not a place I’d care to occupy. Wayne LaPierre and his disciples are a truly frightening lot. (As with every column where I touch upon control, I declare myself no enemy of the Constitution and the right to bear arms. I just think it requires balance against the Declaration of Independence and the old right to life as well. This is the belief of most sane Americans.)

Ammon Bundy and his soldiers have not murdered anyone in Oregon – yet. But the amount of rope they’re being given to tragically end the drama is confounding and infuriating. The Bundy family has a long record of lawless activities that have gone relatively unchecked by authorities. They began their faux-Libertarian dynastic fable with an ongoing refusal to pay $1 million in federal cattle grazing fees and fines. There have been few, if any, repercussions as their renown in circles of ignorance has grown. Is there any doubt that the lack of punishment has emboldened the family to venture further into dangerous and illegal acts? For the Bundys, crime pays.

Here we go again. Ammon and his seditious troops are armed to the teeth and relaxed enough about their position to issue social media pleas for supplies and snacks. Why? This is apparently real life in America where we let terrorists set the terms of their withdrawal.

On January 3rd, The Oregonian ran the headline, Ammon Bundy says refuge-occupying militants plan no violence unless government intervenes. So they won’t shoot unless the well-documented law is enforced. And we’re ok with that threat and the credibility of the issuer? It’s worth making a mockery of our democratic compact?

Again, at the end of a rather busy third consecutive news day since the invasion occurred, it seems so. And it’s impossible to ignore the growing chorus of private citizens and pundits such as Roland Martin, who find the absurd tolerance of this threat grounded in applied racial and cultural discrimination. As another reliable source observed:

“Because these are white, rural criminals, there’s not so much as a Paul Blart: Mall Cop security detail onsite. Reporters have repeatedly noted the presence of only the occupiers and the media. Zero sign of authority. If these people were brown…if these people were Muslim, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Why does it matter who’s responsible and where an armed occupation of federal property occurs? Shouldn’t every case be responded to uniformly?”

President Obama. It’s time. You demonstrated today that there is no executive order you’re too afraid to issue – gun lobby and pocketed lawmakers be damned. Why not back up that success with a strong message to the Bundys and other empowered white terrorists with guns? Send in the National Guard and put these yokels in a box where they can’t hurt anyone – physically, or as symbolic evidence that the nation’s most sacred laws are separately, unequally applied.



Image via KOIN/AP

Becky Sarwate

Becky Sarwate

Becky is an award-winning journalist, Op-Ed columnist and blogger. On March 29, 2018 her first book, Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team, will be published by Eckhartz Press. She is a proud Chicago resident, where Becky lives with her husband Bob. Check out her collected work at BeckySarwate.com, and follow her on Twitter @BeckySarwate.