|Conservative activist and “Liberty Speaker” Gavin Seim with the all too familiar annotated pocket constitution.|
|David Fry the last to surrender.|
|The political bell curve is not static, but the extremes, while growing, remain relatively small.|
It is hard to tell who drifted from whom and when in this Vermont equation or at Malheur, but there is a clear and demonstrable separation almost as if there are two Americas—one where most of us live and another inhabited by extremists. And while those who were at Malheur were patriots to one of these Americas they certainly are not viewed as “patriots” in the one where most of us go about our daily lives.
A couple of good examples of this America duality situation come from Gavin Seim and KrisAnne Hall the “negotiators” who were dramatically streamed to America during the last hours of the occupation. In the extremist milieu they are well-regarded, heroic and even adored. He is a popular Washington State activist and she is a former prosecutor from Florida who crisscrosses the country lecturing on the US Constitution and the Founding Fathers. They have well-visited webpages (1,2), Facebook pages (1,2), YouTube channels (1,2) and sell a little merchandise here and there. All is good in this “land” separated significantly from the middle of the US political spectrum. Mr. Seim seems to be award-winning at much of what he does and Ms. Hall is the legal and Constitutional Attorney for the Coalition of Western States. Cool.
How the Broader World Characterizes Ms. Hall’s Constitutional Qualifications:Ms. Hall too is trapped in this two America dynamic. Her website touts her as a constitutional educator and lawyer but when she trundles into the wider world she seems to be some sort of legal Rodney Dangerfield and gets scant respect from traditional media or academics. Perhaps those looking see that the Coalition of Western States that she mentions (1,2) is essentially a website with a handful of posts set up by Mr. Seim following the first Bundy stand-off (1,2) rather than an organization of overt standing and gravitas. Perhaps it is that her constitutional arguments are too fringe, but when one looks at those written and electronic sources beyond the Tea Party and “patriot movement” sweet-spots most mentions of her constitutional knowledge or skills are qualified or she is simply identified as a conservative activist or radio show host. These characterizations are remarkable to me because in my more than three decades of professional work as a wildlife biologist no one in the mainstream press ever seemed to feel the need to identify me as a so-called biologist or self-proclaimed ecologist.
“…styles herself as a scholar of American history and the Constitution…” Better Idaho January 2016
“…self-proclaimed constitutional lawyer…” Law Professor Michael Blumm Legal Memo January 2016
“…calling herself a constitutional lawyer.” Law Professor Suzanne Smith Legal Memo January 2016
“…self-described constitutional educator…” Southern Poverty Law Center February 2016
“…dubs herself a constitutional scholar…” Oregonian February 2016
“…self-proclaimed constitutional educator…” New York Times February 2016
“The phone call's tone shifted with Hall's arrival on the line. What had until then felt like a crisis negotiation became a monologue on Hall's political views with pauses in which she checked in on the occupiers.
Her speech won Hall social media ridicule, with some saying she was doing more harm than good.” from Who is KrisAnne Hall? Conservative activist joins Oregon standoff negotiations Oregonian February 11, 2016The counter argument here for both Ms. Hall and Mr. Seim would probably be a Palin-style denouncement of the liberal bias of both media and universities. Certainly that is expected, but then you look at how “We the People” reacted to Ms. Hall and Mr. Seim’s insertion of themselves into the occupation’s final hours. The comments section on the Oregonian article is fairly brutal but it echoes what we saw on Mr. Seim’s Twitter feed after he declared victory over the FBI . Absent in both is any semblance that Hall or Seim speak for any significant sector of America other than that tiny tail on the right. Most recognized too that Mr. Seim and Ms. Hall seemed to be looking for praise for helping put out a fire that moments before they were throwing matches and gasoline towards (1,2,3,4,5).
"Gavin Seim, a right-wing activist who had set up the live feed, said after Fry had walked out that "America needs to learn from what just happened here. David's concerns and his fears reflect what all of America feels." in All 4 Oregon Occupiers Have SurrenderedThe above quote by Mr. Seim encapsulates a lot of this idea of the ultra-conservative "tail" thinking it wags the "dog" of America. For it seems unsupportable that a person who garnered only 2% of the vote in an election truly knows the needs of America or should feel licensed to speak for all of us. Moreover, through what logic does this tortured young man—David Fry—so bereft of control and direction reflect anything about anyone, but this small and estranged “tail” of America who planted themselves and their arsenals on land that clearly was not theirs? If America learns anything from this it is what it already knew: The tail should not wag the dog no matter how many guns the tail waves.
|Mr. Seim being arrested for disrupting court proceedings.|