I have been reading a lot about the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation by a group of armed protesters. The whole matter stems from years of controversy between local ranchers and national government agencies.
In my reading and listening one thought keeps coming through. The public is marginally opposed to the protester’s occupation of the Refuge’s buildings. From the Congressman that represents the region to various radio talk show entertainers there has been condemnation of the protester’s methodology.
This commentary will not condemn the protesters. It seeks simply to draw a comparison, followed by commentary.
On December 16, 1773 the Sons of Liberty, led by the now famous Samuel Adams, boarded private ships and destroyed 340 chests of tea weighing over 92,000 pounds (roughly 46 ton). The damage caused by destroying 340 chests of tea, in today’s money, was worth more than $1,700,000 dollars. According to some modern estimates, the destroyed tea could have brewed 18,523,000 cups of tea!
The causes for the Boston Tea Party were multi-faceted. “In simplest terms, the Boston Tea Party happened as a result of “taxation without representation”, yet the cause is more complex than that. The American colonists believed Britain was unfairly taxing them to pay for expenses incurred during the French and Indian War. Additionally, colonists believed Parliament did not have the right to tax them because the American colonies were not represented in Parliament.”
The comparison is simple. The acts and even the time frames have similarities between the Boston Tea Party and the “Harney County Holdout.”
In the apparent words of Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence, “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
The Sons of Liberty invaded and actually destroyed private property reasoned by what they deemed an unjust national government, that funded purposes which had no relationship to themselves. Today, similarly armed patriots (please note that the Sons of Liberty were called patriots), without bloodshed or property destruction, have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge buildings following a “long train of abuses and usurpations” by the national government.
What is obscure to me is how we hold the past Boston Tea Party in high esteem as a great event in American history and immediately condemn current resistance to an oppressive government as being an unreasonable violation.
Literally for decades the national government has systematically usurped the livelihood of western ranchers and private property owners to advance the initial causes of special interest groups. That has changed slightly too where now the bureaucracies have become the special interest groups holding dominion over individuals and states.
Some of the extreme examples are Waco and Ruby Ridge. More recently have been incidents where the BLM bureaucracy has harassed family ranchers in Nevada. When the Bundy family was supported by modern sons of liberty the BLM rightfully retreated. However, their egregious behavior was quickly followed attacks on rancher along the Red River in Texas. Now, they have forced the double jeopardy incarceration of two men who actually did the job which the bureaucrats were incapable of doing.
Now, as an act of retribution, nothing less, the national government places two men in double jeopardy solely to demonstrate that as bureaucrats they have the power to (in the word of President Snow, from The Hunger Games) “crush the rebellion.” The national government after numerous rejections by the state courts sought to throw Steve and Dwight Hammond into the lion’s den by use of Homeland Security laws.
No rational human being would consider the acts of the Hammonds to be terrorism. Terrorism is related directly to immediate clear and present fear of life threatening danger to human beings. The location, in and of itself, lacks the ability to fit that reality. The judge in the matter, even though not sympathetic to the Hammond’s cause, saw the fallaciousness of the government’s claim of terrorism, and refused to impose the minimum sentence.
But, the national government would not be content to punish these men only once. They had dared to challenge the special interest of a bureaucracy run wild…and MUST be punished. The bureaucracy and an unjust and unprincipled attorney decided that once the imprisonment of two innocent men was concluded a tightening of the tourniquet around their throats would teach all ranchers a lesson. Hence, under a flawed law two families are being destroyed for no other reason than the expansion of bureaucratic domination.
Now, President Obama has the ability and right to simply pardon or commute the sentences of these men. In doing so he would resolve the entire matter. The standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge would end peacefully. It is time for this president to finally. after seven years of failed leadership, to take a moment away from his intention to subvert the U.S. Constitution and actually adhere to it.
All that stands in the way of a peaceful resolve is presidential pride and bureaucratic arrogance.
Call upon the president to act. Go here to sign a petition asking the president to act. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/commute-sentences-dwight-lincoln-hammond-jr-and-steven-dwight-hammond-both-harney-county-oregon.
That Is The Way I See It.