As I look at multiple claims by Ammon Bundy (1,2,3) that he, his brother Ryan (1.2.3), and their compatriots illegally occupying a federal wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon (1,2,3,4) are not terrorists and then try to reconcile that position with the above definition of terrorism, I really cannot see any reason for them to hold on to that claim. They have by all measures political aims. It does not matter if they are confusing and indefensible aims. It does not matter that their aims are contradictory as they call for supporting "constitutional"principles that are at odds with those in the US Constitution ratified in 1789. No matter how delusional, they are still political aims.
The act of taking over a federal facility and occupying it as your own is certainly not the act of passive people in fact it is an act of violence. That act takes on an aggressively ironic nature when your ilk has a history of waving the flag of “local rights” and "local control," yet in this instance you have traveled across a handful of states to make that "local" case in someone else’s backyard. And this irony becomes crushing when we find that the “local people” you came to “protect” are afraid of you and have asked you to leave.
|Ryan Bundy at his arrest in 2015 after a scuffle with Sheriff Deputies in Utah.|
As stated in the definition above, terrorism involves intimidation and what is more intimidating than dozens of rationally unhinged individuals with guns? If you bridle at my use of the word unhinged what else would you call folks who pack up their weaponry and travel great distances to stop the jailing of father and son ranchers convicted of committing arson in order to hide evidence of their poaching of deer? What exactly are you trying to stand up for? Arson? Poaching? Subsidized ranching? It is hard to see the Constitutional principle here.
|Ryan Payne in the woods.|
And what about the economic and social terror these invaders are inflicting on other citizens? How happy will all of us be to pay for yet another self-indulgent and baseless stand-off putting federal agents at risk and causing worry to their families? What about duck hunters or bird watchers who want to use their refuge that these selfish yahoos have just closed? And what about the local businesses that depend upon the spending of these winter visitors at this lean time of year? Was any thought given to that?
How are you not terrorists?
I am not expecting any self-awareness to come out of this from the Bundy brothers or their crowd, but others need to know these thugs are not fighting for anything even remotely close to a noble cause. Ammon and Ryan are the bent-brain product of Cliven Bundy's twisted and self-lawyering world where wasting court time and defying legal orders has been a cottage industry for them for more than two decades and a far too costly and too long indulgence for us.
And the misguided souls drawn to this dangerous dog-and-pony show are glowing poster children for background checks for firearms. Their figurative "father" needs to take their guns and lock them in the proverbial hall closet as punishment for using them to threaten or intimidate their fellow citizens and not give them back until they grow up--if ever than happy event happens. We have had enough!
How exactly are you not terrorists?
Within the next few days I am going to write a piece in GREEN DREAMS that starts to frame what we—the actual owners of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge—think that the occupiers have done wrong legally and that requires punishment. I would ask folks to speculate on exactly what charges should be leveled and what rational punishment should be applied and to whom. Please let me know what you think and your ideas in the comments section of this post and others. I know that these might range from firing squads to atomic wedges, but this is a serious set of questions that we should address and by doing so and by conducting a public dialog on this issue help those trying to assess the public appetite for doing something. Thank you for your help and interest in this important concern.
And please enter the public dialog on Jail the Bundys, Now and encourage others to do the same.