Last October, two Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond, Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, were sentenced to five years in prison for arsons they committed on federal lands.
Well, cut to January 2016, and now a few hundred supporters of the Hammonds marched in Burns, Oregon in protest — as is their right — and then these anti-government "patriot" militia members took over a federal installation — which is not their right.
The leaders of the group include three sons of Cliven Bundy, that Nevada rancher who leased federal lands for decades yet refused to pay over $1 million in grazing fees. Cliven Bundy is not believed to be part of the takeover directly, but Ammon Bundy, Cliven's son, has issued a call for fellow militia supporters to join him and the roughly 150 men who have taken over a federal headquarters building at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
The men claim "the federal government had no authority in Harney County" — in Oregon, one of the United States — and say they will stay for years if need be, willing to defend themselves in any way; another Bundy son, Ryan Bundy, has said they are willing to kill and be killed.
And, let’s keep in mind that this little takeover of federal property by some asshats with weapons is neither condoned nor endorsed by either of the Hammonds; in fact, they want nothing to do with this. This is all Cliven Bundy and his offspring and their anti-government “patriotism.”
But, while this is a huge mess, with a lot of conflicting reports, let’s try and play it like this …
What if the armed men who took over this federal building on federal land — and vowed to kill to protect themselves — were Black? Would we be sitting and waiting and talking or would the police have already gone in, guns blazing.
Or, what if the men who took over this piece of property were Muslim? Well, they’d be terrorists, right? And the FBI and every member of law enforcement in and around that area would be marching in to take over.
But these men aren’t Black and they aren’t Muslim; what they are is white, homegrown terrorists using guns and their warped sense of patriotism to get their way when the rest of us should follow the law.
Is that what we want in this country? Is that how we should be settling disputes in the future, be they with one another or the government? Take out guns and just take over a piece of land because, what, we can?
This is terrorism, plain and simple, and anyone who thinks it isn’t is fooling themselves.