By now we are aware of the Oregon standoff involving some self styled militia men hunkered down in a wildlife refuge while pretending to speak for the local people and some crackpot version of the American ideal.
While their hearts might be in the right place, their minds are not, and the Oregon standoff has become a combination of a somewhat dangerous situation and a bunch of running gags. After all, there is something to be said for people willing to engage in an armed standoff, but lacking the foresight to bring enough food to eat…
Rand Paul, while sympathetic to the idea that the BLM has overreached its authority and that Federal lands are often best managed by the states, made it very plain what he thought of what some have taken to calling “#YallQaeda.” After expressing sympathy to the occupiers, Senator Paul made it plain he did not approve of their methods.
“I don’t support any violence or suggestion of violence toward changing policy.” (WaPo)
And right here is the problem the American right faces. We know there are problems in government. We know the Federal government is overpowering in many places. But the Right has also grown some dangerous radical elements. While some of the occupiers are already wanting to return to their homes and ranches, the fact they thought taking up arms in defense of people convicted of arson was a good idea shows a radical streak that could turn dangerously ugly if the people involved truly had nothing to lose. In the Middle East, those kinds of people strap bombs to themselves and blow up crowds of innocent people. We should be thankful that life in America is usually too good for our radicals to do more than sit in chairs holding rifles and asking the general public to send them snacks.
The Oregon standoff shows flaws in the Federal system, but it also shows flaws in American politics, and in the GOP. We cannot allow homegrown radicalism to take root and shape national politics. Rand Paul rejects violence or the threat of violence as a source of political change, and knows that Americans can solve their own problems without behaving like a bunch of terrorists, or walking gun nut stereotypes. Our culture, our conservative politics, and our right to bear arms should not be defined and threatened by some knuckle dragging brutes who think playing wannabe army man will somehow change land use policy in the American west.
Have things gone too far in Oregon? Tell us what you think on Facebook and Twitter.
Written by Steve Coffman
(Photo courtesy of USFWS – Pacific Region, Flickr CC BY 2.0)
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