Across the country, the patriot movement is closely watching the standoff of fellow patriots vs. Federal government in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a quiet rural area in east central Oregon. The protest started as a peaceful rally of various patriot groups and individuals on Saturday, January 2nd marching to denounce the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) abuse of Federal power repeatedly used to intimidate, threaten, coerce, force, and imprison local land owners into surrendering their land and rights to the Federal government.
That Saturday evening, an unspecified number of protestors led by Ammon Bundy dramatically escalated their message and resolve by entering and taking control of an unoccupied National Forestry building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Ammon Bundy traveled from Nevada to support the locals in Oregon. Ammon and protestors are armed declaring they will not be forcibly removed. They demand BLM return land to former landowners taken by coercion. The locals do not support Ammon Bundy’s decision to stage a standoff in the Refuge building.
I am not going to exam the details and particulars that led this dramatic escalation of tensions. What I am going to do is examine reactions to these types of standoffs by folks in the patriot movement.
Let us start with a popular conservative radio talk-show host. I’m a big fan of this talk-show host. For a long time. Still am. He has steered me in the right direction more times than I care to admit. I’ve learned more about our Founding principles from his radio show than I have from four years of political science classes. But he was dead wrong to turn his back on the Bundy vs BLM standoff in Nevada in 2014.
Our radio host was right to be cautious, to first learn the legal particulars in the Nevada Bundy case before offering his support. Certainly. But suddenly our host dropped any notion of supporting Bundy’s cause against the Federal government when Cliven Bundy revealed his own deeply held bigotry of blacks. Immediately our radio host breathed a sigh of relief for having learned of Bundy’s bigotry before officially throwing in his support—like dodging a bullet in the nick of time.
From that point on, our radio host disassociated himself with Bundy’s legitimate cause. Here’s the rub. Our radio host forgot his own commitment to principles over politics and personalities. Patriots travelled to Bundy’s Nevada ranch far and near to defend the principles of the U.S. Constitution—not Bundy himself. No one knew Cliven Bundy! But patriots know the Constitution. The fact is, our radio host dropped Bundy like a hot potato for fear of being associated with a bigot—our host traded his principles to save his own reputation. Forgivable, but disappointing.
Patriots defend our Constitution whenever and wherever the attacks occur. These confrontations are filled with all kinds of people from all walks of life. Some likable, some not. Last time I checked it was perfectly legal to be a stubborn ol’ crotchety narrow-minded bigoted coot. But, if you stand against the enemies of our Constitution I’m standing with you. So, if you do not want to be labeled a “sunshine patriot” you had better care more about our Founding principles than your own reputation, your fortune, sacred honor, or your life. Liberty has not the luxury of vanity. Liberty is its own reward.
Sit down. Class ain’t over.
I am a proud American. I’m a patriot, a Tea Party member, constitutional conservative, and Three Percenter. I am also an Oath Keeper. I have been an Associate (non-veteran) member of the Oath Keepers since 2010. For more information about Oath Keepers see OathKeepers.org.
Stewart Rhodes is the founder and president of Oath Keepers. I have enormous respect for Mr. Rhodes and I am so very grateful and proud to be a member of this fine organization. As with all thinking men, Mr. Rhodes and I do not agree on all issues. And in matters of conscience it’s every man for himself.
Mr. Rhodes decided he will not commit Oath Keepers to the current Malheur standoff in Oregon. He has written several press releases since the takeover of the refuge building. Mr. Rhodes is urging Ammon Bundy to peaceably stand down. The following are excerpts from recent press releases.
Friday 01/01/2016 (Day before the armed standoff)
Since Dwight and Steven Hammond, through their attorney, have made it clear they intend to turn themselves in and serve out the additional time, Oath Keepers cannot, and will not, try to interfere with that decision (peaceable assembly and protest is, of course, fine, but going beyond that against their wishes is not). We cannot force ourselves or our protection on people who do not want it. They have made it clear that they just want to turn themselves in and serve out their sentence. And that clear statement of their intent should be the end of the discussion on this.
01/05/2016 (Day 4 of the armed standoff)
I agree completely with the above quoted statements by Ammon to the Harney County Committee of Safety. The people of Harney County do have the absolute right to govern themselves, and to be in charge of, and in control over, whatever is done to secure their rights in their county and state, and they have the right to be in charge of any volunteers from elsewhere who come in to help. That truly is “the proper way in which this is supposed to happen.” But unfortunately, Ammon did not respect that right.
01/06/2016 (Day 5 of the armed standoff. Open letter to Ammon Bundy.)
However, as you know, we oppose what you have chosen to do by occupying the wildlife preserve there in Oregon, specifically because it is not being done with the consent of the locals or at their request, without the request of the Hammond’ family, without even their knowledge of what you were going to do, until you did it, and because it is not in direct defense of anyone. The right way to go would have been to respect the right of the locals on the Committee of Safety to call the shots, decide what needs to be done, and to actually let them be in charge of all outside volunteers, including you. You can certainly act as an adviser and instructor, giving input on what you think they should do, but they must be in charge.
Mr. Rhodes is perfectly within his rights to pick and choose Oath Keepers’ battles. I respect his decision, and Oregon Oath Keepers are obliged to stand down. But there is a lesson here too.
If Ammon Bundy, his brothers, and those holding out in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge building wish to sacrifice themselves on the altar of liberty, then let them. This is a free country. They are standing against the abuses of a Federal government are they not? And are they not individuals free to follow the dictates of their conscience?
It has been said, Ammon Bundy is not a local Harney County resident, and has no right to stage this protest? I disagree. Is our individual patriotic call to action bound by state borders? No. Indeed it is not. (Though the Federal government wishes it was.) If the landowners in Harney County fear BLM retribution after this radical standoff is resolved, does this fear not reek of the rot of tyranny? People fearful of government retribution?
If we continue to follow this line of thinking—only locals can dispute and settle Federal abuses—I dare say George Washington’s siege of Boston in 1775 would have failed miserably. Washington depended heavily on thousands of volunteer militia from outside Massachusetts’ borders. That was a legitimate cause, you say? Says who? Not the government at the time. Remember, in 1775 we had not yet declared our independence, and the Continental Congress was illegitimate in the eyes of our current government—Britain. So, really, did Washington have any right to call on militia support from outside Massachusetts? Of course he did, because liberty beckons and conscience compels.
It has been said, Ammon Bundy has lost the moral high ground. That this battle cannot be won. That Ammon and his crew are gambling with a weak hand. That this battle plays into the hands of President Obama. The “optics” are wrong. That this is not the smart play. That this is not the time or place to take a stand. To this I say, NUTS!
With all due respect, if our Founders had waited for the perfect moral high ground before acting, we’d still be drinking the King’s tea!
Take the Boston Tea Party for example. The Sons of Liberty boarded three ships in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16th, 1773. The ships themselves were private property (owned by two colonists) were not damaged, save a padlock which was promptly replaced by the Sons of Liberty. But the patriots smashed and dumped 340 crates of tea into the harbor. The tea was owned by British East India Company, which was controlled largely by the British government. How much tea is 340 crates? In today’s dollars $1.7 million! Moral high ground be damned!
In the face of the King’s Tea Act, did we argue nuances of rule of law? No. Because our Founding Fathers were not spoon fed generations of political correctness that gave them pause. They KNEW what was right and wrong. And they took action!
The Forestry Wildlife Refuge building Ammon and others occupy is public property, is it not? It was bought and paid for with the people’s tax money, was it not? Does it not belong to THE PEOPLE? And is not public property the proper place to hold a protest? Furthermore, that Forestry land does NOT belong to the government—they hold it in trust for we the people. It’s our land. Our country!
For God’s sakes, people, pull that politically-correct lollipop out of your candy-asses and put on your big boy pants!
Moral high ground is nice, but just as on the battlefield you don’t get the luxury of choosing your vantage. You have to fight for it. When war is upon you, you do the best you can with the people you got, the weapons at hand, on the ground you hold.
Rule of law is the ideal. But when tyrants are making law by phone and pen; when courts are re-interpreting law; when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, you will find yourself rule-of-lawing yourself like lemmings right into the dustbin of oppressed people. Our Founders understood this.
Fighting for liberty is a messy bloody uphill battle. Those who wish to take it from us make it so—not us! The question is: Are we willing to fight for liberty as badly as they want to take it from us?
Unlike many of my fellow patriots, I am NOT praying for a peaceful resolution to the Malheur Refuge standoff. Instead, I pray God’s will be done!
You are dismissed.by