Yeah, I know. I’ll bet you’re thinking I’m talking about Americans claiming our property rights to America..
The sudden stand-off in Oregon over a ranch-land conviction and jailing, then added incarceration, of an Oregon ranching family head and his son, (by the name of Hammond) has highlighted an issue that has been bubbling under the surface for at least 6o-70 years.
How this standoff will end is anyone’s guess. Having lived out West I’ve had private, professional and official contact with militia members, in both Arizona and Montana. I’ve found them boorish in the way that 20- year old Twitter-bunnies who don’t know enough words to come up with a single, simple thought are boorish. But I refuse to label them, at least as long as those Left-driven Twitter-bunnies are trying to label them as snot-eyed inbreds and religious nut-jobs who deserve to be gunned down like dogs.
It’s hard to give militias a fair public trial, for they are stand-offish with people outside their circle, which, in ranching country like Oregon, are small circles anyway.
But I know a lot more about the forces that stand arrayed against these men in Oregon. And the image of Ruby Ridge and Waco are still fresh for many of us, where, if you will recall, during a mountain stand-off, an FBI sniper (no one even knew they had snipers at that time) shot an unarmed woman standing on her porch, and in Janet Reno’s (or Webb Hubbell’s, take your pick) finest hour, FBI troops assaulted the Branch Davidian church compound near Waco, TX, recklessly (or indifferently) killing 76 people, including 21 children.
Like Little Big Horn, some people insist Waco was a battle, others a massacre. But rather than get into the what-might-be’s of this Oregon standoff…will the militia boys peacefully surrender and face trial where they can air their case publically (let’s all pray) will or another Waco-like assault occurs?…we need to delve into the mindset of potentially trigger-happy feds instead of the militias..
Out West, the face of the federal government is largely represented by the Bureau of Land Management or BLM. I can sum up the BLM’s position vis a vis the citizenry in four words:
“This land is ours.”
An example. In 1975, en route to a new Army posting along the Mexican border, I visited by dad in the high country of northern Arizona. One of his pastimes was to drive the high plateau to look at old mining sites. Like every Arizonan, he carried a pistol on his hip (a 1911 Army Colt) and kept a 30-30 carbine behind the seat of the pickup. While walking around a uniformed federal agent drove up in one of their IH Travelall’s, stopped, and got out and began talking to my dad….just out of my hearing. I saw dad reach in his back pocket and pull out his driver’s license. Within earshot he told Dad he had to have a permit to carry a gun on “our land”. I doubted it (turns out he lied) but seems he and Dad had a history. Jaws clenched, . Dad unstrapped his holster, walked over to the truck and slid the pistol under the front seat, biting his lower lip. He then turned to the agent and said, “I thought this land was ours, and you guys were just the stewards, holding it for the use and benefit of the people.”
Then the agent’s jaw clenched up, so I walked over, called him “Officer” and said I was a JAG officer (lawyer) on leave from Ft Huachuca, and as soon as I got back to the office I’d look that regulation up.
Back story: My dad was a member of a regional council as a representative of the “client sector” (poor people and Indians) and he knew the agent from the council’s monthly meetings. Who would have thought Pop was a civil rights advocate, but speaking for Indians my Dad often spoke up on land issues, grazing, water, etc. He was always for it, the BLM agent always against it.
Now, the Bureau of Land Management is a huge bureaucratic agency, 12 state offices in Western states, several divisions involving several scientific divisions in animal husbandry, land management, plant studies, water studies, each of those loaded with wild-eyed tree-huggers, even grass huggers. As you might guess, there is a lot of cross-pollination and duplication with other federal wildlife, water resources, environmental agencies, national parks, national forest, and as with 9-11, like CIA and the FBI, the one hand is generally clueless what the right hand is doing. All these sub-divisions are fiercely competitive with one another for both money, priority and status, and each has competition inside their group on all sorts of policy ideas. Buried in the bowels of each of these divisions are the seeds of some of the most radical views about animal-rights, mesquite rights, arroyo rights, you can imagine. Rock and sand have Rights.
Like Sunni and Shia Muslims, who agree on nothing except a hatred for Israel, federal land management is a nest of internecine warfare…except one thing…and that one thing is that all that land, 600 million acres, (30% of US land mass) , is their land, not ours.
And we are the enemy.
So, as you assess events in Oregon, keep this mind. If they think they can get away with it, they are more likely to shoot first.
Oh, I looked it up, it’s perfectly legal for a citizen to open-carry a pistol on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.