Global Independent Analytics
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett

Location: USA

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Oregon Standoff. Part I.

The metal flavor of blood and the hard truth of silence was all the dusty denim-clad rancher had won as the double courtroom doors closed behind the exiting attorneys fondling his family’s case.

He was alone, and felt it deeply, like a far echo sounding in an immensely vast cavern.  He tilted his Stetson to the ground, looked at the burgundy courtroom carpet, and thought…and thought…and thought some more. 

How could it have come to this?  Did he miss something? What just happened?  After all, his family had worn the military uniform for a hundred years and pridefully accented their walls and desks with the old pictures, medals, framed citations, and faded ribbons, along with the music of heroic, quiet, and laughing stories of men acting like boys during war, which always changed rooms and lives. 

He recounted the basic facts, biting his lip and squinting at floor as he strained his thoughts slowly, and re-ordered in his mind every step taken -- every action, every word said, every judgment hammered. 

Let’s see, for the last ten years, he thought to himself, somehow he had been -- although he didn’t know it -- connected to bearded Middle Eastern, Arabic chanting terrorists firing machine guns in shopping malls and bombing marathons; then grimacing at the thought’s odor and shaking his head in bemusement.  Oh please, come on, of course it was insane.  Surely no one in their right mind could think a cowboy boot wearing, beer drinking, rodeo-howling rancher was a danger to children, his people, his town, his country…but yet this was precisely what the Department of Justice lawyer had so many times inferred in his loud, angry syllables and resentful tone as he repeated the terrorism statute definition used to box-in the rancher.   So it had been said, and since words make law, they mean something, regardless.

It would have been surreal and laughable if it wasn’t so repugnantly real and deadly serious.  After all, men with guns and blue windbreakers were soon coming to force him back into a jail cell, then turn around and push his wife and their history of existence off the farm; and perhaps eventually erase him from life as his years faded.  That is, unless he did something.  But what was he to do now?  

How do you get back on the rollercoaster after being told to exit to the right, other than refusing to get out of your seat?  That’s it, he thought, he just wouldn’t move and let them come to him, so he could  explain it all over again.  This time, he would tell them what they missed the first time…yes, that must have been the reason for their screw up and slandering of them.  But then again, he knew human lust and desire for power and laziness -- the opiates of politics -- and when combined with government authority, it became a deadly and paralyzing tonic. 

He shivered again, and felt the anger begin to rise like it never had before.  Suddenly his jaw clenched as he heard a familiar drill sergeant somewhere in his mind calling out numbers in his head and speaking the words:

One!...Lighting strikes land, starts fire.

Two!...Boy follows dad’s orders and ignites a counter-action fire

to contain the burn, and save the feed and animals from starving.

Three!...Bureau of Land Management staff file complaint, alleging a crime.

Four!...No crime found, charges dropped by District Attorney.  Five years go by.

Five!...Somehow, Department of Justice thinks they know better, contact him by letter, then file another court action—this time accusing him of terrorism activity in relation to the fire, and calling it arson instead of a controlled burn.  Strange, and wrong.  But…

Six!...Goes to court, judge keeps out key facts, attorney falls apart—or intentionally throws him under the buss—and somehow the jury get find him and his son guilty.  Cold shock, gaping mouth amazement…but there has to be some kind of fix or appeal… surely.

Seven!...Goes into sentencing, lies told, confusion, hustled off to jail.

Eight!...Now another letter demanding a second bite of the apple and more time added unto father and son’s sentence? 

Something deep in his instincts founded in the primordial passion to defend wife and children began to growl, and the thought cleared…Now the real agenda: theft of property and destruction of life.  Isn’t this war?  And in war, aren’t you either alive and victorious or dead and defeated?

He would not bow down without a fight. 

His blood ran in the creeks and fed the grass and cows and had nourished the land and lives there for over one hundred years….this was beyond life, beyond body, beyond government, this was his time to stand, and show his ancestors what they created in him.  For his God and for everything right and true and good, he had to.  To fail to, was not just un-American, it was inhuman.

He would get a few hits in, that’s for sure, if for nothing else than for his ancestors who first settled the ranch and planted their blood in the communality.  Time would tell.

Most likely these, or something like them, were the thoughts in the minds of the Oregon Rancher father-and-son duo now surrounded by friends and strangers wearing guns and camouflage, and grimly nodding their commitment to him through low country drawls about God and country.

If anything encapsulates the unfolding Oregon drama, this might.

No doubt these may have been some of the thoughts, images, memories, and emotions that rushed and pounded through the minds of the rancher and his son in Oregon as they pondered their fates, and that of their family.

There are three things to consider in order to understand this: the full dramatic history of this event, the laws and interests involved, and the possible future scenarios being prepared.  After all, there are global implications, not just American, should an American civil war percolate.

The Temper of Democracy

Over the past couple of days, a seemingly small mole hill has suddenly transformed into a violently erupting volcano, to the terrifying surprise of almost every shallow journalist, Constitutional lawyer, and plastic smiled politician in Washington DC.  In short, it has instantly and irrevocably changed America’s constitutional perspective, by forcing Americans to see fellow citizens -- branded and prosecuted and imprisoned as terrorists -- in a a kind of “perfect storm” of ignorance, government abuse, and lawlessness—and use the term lawlessness multidimensionally.

It is easy to be blown away on the strong howling winds of terrorist fears and intimidated silent by the thunderous cochophy of tyrannical patriotism.  But we are not kites, we are men.  And as a military man myself, I am by training and temperament inclined to instinctively not back down or retreat from a rising challenge, but instead meet it head on, either to harmonize and diplomatically engage, or to conquer and destroy.  In the gladiatorial arena of willpower, either the citizen is master over the government, or the slave—there is no other role.

If Americans have a right to engage in civil disobedience, then government has an obligation to endure that civil disobedience.  That’s how the process of “making known and seeking the redress of grievances” works in a Democratic Republic, and it is essential for government agencies and actors to be willingly compliant with this.  And if they refuse to be compliant, this means by definition they are tyrants—which warrants civil war or death.  One or the other.

To fully understand and resolve the Oregon stand-off situation, requires that we analyze the history and dynamics of the problem, the competing parties, and the friction between their competing interests. The parameters of the discussion must be justice and law, with human life, liberty, happiness, being the justification for the discussion.

In America, we pride ourselves on the notion of “law and order”, but admittedly our own past examples of engaging them diplomatically have ended badly:  the Whiskey Rebellion, the Civil War, the Branch Dividians at Waco Texas -- are just a few of the motley crew of memories in our Republic’s vaults.

Now we see and hear at most every corner journalists scrambling to brand the Bundy occupiers and protesters as right wing, gun wielding, hillbilly, backwoodsmen, bark eating, whiskey still running terrorists.  The facts show otherwise, but nevertheless the caustic language and propaganda indicates a larger menace:  the agenda of a police state crushing all forms of dissent in the United States.  Make no mistake about it.  This is a political tug of war, with one winner, and the law itself is the rope.  The only thing keeping the protesters alive is the incompetence of the Obama Administration, and the conviction of the patriots standing in the shadows.

EXPERT OPINION

Danny Haiphong

I hope Part II will mention how the Oregon occupation represents the continuation of a centuries long policy of white racism in the US. The occupiers have claimed to hold rightful ownership over land that actually belongs to the Paiute peoples. Much of the narrative surrounding the occupation from both the left and the right has left out this central point. 

Furthermore, those attracted to the occupier’s rhetoric of fighting against "tyranny" should take heed of the response of the very government they protest. Neither the police nor the FBI has taken any action against the occupation. This does not happen by chance. The US government is very friendly to right-wing political movements and actors. Right-wing political actors allow the ruling circle to both legitimize the stability of America’s two-party corporate system and channel the discontent of millions of poor, mostly white Americans into acceptable forms of protest. Some even become useful to the FBI’s “counter-terrorism” agenda. So while I am completely against those who call on the US government to crush the occupation as it certainly would if the participants were Black, the roots of the occupation must be addressed. The question of land, armed white Americans, and racism have always been intertwined. So the occupation is less a call for justice and more a call for the reinstatement of the material benefits of a racist order, much of which has been lost since the advent of neo-liberalism.

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