I consider myself a reasonable person. I am generally moderate in most discussions, with an ability to see both sides of an issue. I am also a teacher and a parent, with no tolerance for temper tantrums and standoffs. If you have a case to make, make it. I will listen. I will think about it and perhaps research your points to see if they make sense. I will make a decision based on reason, rather than emotion. If you threaten, stomp feet, slam doors, or stage an armed takeover a government facility, you muddy your cause, and I no longer want to hear about it.
This is why the Oregon Standoff, as it has been called, is particularly problematic to me.
There are justifiable concerns here. The Oregon ranchers, the Hammonds, were sentenced under a mandatory sentencing law that required them to serve 5 years each for arson. You can debate the hows and whys of that case, but a decision was made. A judge chose not to impose the mandatory sentence, the decision was appealed, and the mandatory sentence stood. I contend that there is a case for repealing mandatory minimum sentences and allowing context back into the sentencing conversation. This involves calling your representatives. Find some lawyers, set up a GoFundMe account, and fix it the laws the right way. It’s a slower process than taking over a building with a bunch of guns, but it’s our democratic way. Take it to the highest court in the land.
Another concern is the management of land. The communities of Central Oregon and other rural communities like it are frustrated at the restrictions placed on them by the government. They claim that setting aside land has cost them jobs and their livelihood. I see the frustration, but in an ever-shrinking world it’s more important than ever to balance resource management with conservation. Opening land that is being held in the public trust for the enrichment of a few is a bad idea. The people of Burns, Oregon are going to profit from the land at a fraction of what large investors and corporations stand to gain from it, and if you think the government (which is us) doesn’t care about you, wait until you see the attitude of big business.
Then there is the whole militia movement. I’m sorry, but you can quote the Constitution and parade the flag like you own it, but you will never speak for me on the necessity to rise up against a government (which is us) that is still able to manage a peaceful transfer of power. When the guy in charge reaches the end of his term, he vacates the premises. He doesn’t hang on any longer than he (or she) is due. The next qualified, elected candidate steps up to the task for the next four years. Does this aspect of our government have its flaws? Of course it does. But it still works.
As with any argument, you can get mired in rhetoric. Militants claim to be upholding the Constitution and Oathkeepers hold fast to the oath to “protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Which parts of the Constitution are they defending? Article 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the following responsibilities:
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
The militia that we have seen recently in the Oregon occupation was not, to my knowledge, formed under the supervision of the Congress of the United States. Congress has not, to my knowledge, called them forth to repel invasions or suppress insurrections. On the contrary, they seem to be at the brink being the ones to stage the insurrection. Who has organized, armed and disciplined its members? If they are self-styled and not regulated by Congress, doesn’t that put them in opposition to the Constitution they swore to uphold?
There is a lot of back and forth about the staging and response to this situation. This zealous group of self-proclaimed patriots are challenging the authority of the American government (which is us) and have said that they will use deadly force if necessary to promote their agenda, which at this stage sounds like taking back the land from we-the-people. (Is this stealing?) I ask you, who are the insurrectionists? Where is the reasoned debate? Are you willing to set the precedent of negotiating with terrorists?
If you are a conservative reading this, ask yourself if you would be okay with the opposing viewpoint taking this stand based on their agenda.
To my loyal readers, I promise to get off my soapbox. I just feel the need to speak out against this occupation. This is my state and I am offended by outsiders hijacking it. I also love my country and am unwilling to let it be torn apart from the inside without raising my own voice in protest. Thanks for your patience.