There are many players in the so-called “Liberty Movement” but the theme is generally the same, a sort of wishy-washy false patriotism for a country that never existed, and moreover, was never meant to exist; a hazy and somewhat feverish 1950s concoction of idealized conservative “values” in defense of a fantasy.
Yale educated Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, demonstrates just how unreliable an indicator of veracity a college degree can be, saying of the Oregon occupiers,
These ranchers, cowboys, and veterans just happen to be armed, as westerners tend to be. Get over it. There are no hostages, there are no close-by neighbors at risk, there is nobody there except those who want to be.
Which is why Harney County Sheriff David Ward reports that, “It was made pretty clear to me that if I went along with their agenda, everything would be all right. There was a lot of ultimatums and saber rattling.”
Yeah. Just folks. With guns. Who don’t live there. Liberty? Not so much when it’s at the point of a gun.
Imagine your neighbors, but all decked out in military gear and carrying assault rifles and patrolling your neighborhood like it’s a banana republic. The problem is, this wasn’t their neighborhood, and they’re not your neighbors.
It’s indicative of Rhodes’ skewed worldview that he told his followers to “let the locals handle it” where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation was concerned, even though the people necessitating the locals doing anything were definitely not locals.
In fact, Oath Keepers novelist Shorty Dawkins in Ammon Bundy – Martyr or Revolutionary? pointed out that the Oath Keepers and other groups condemned Bundy’s occupation:
“Why? Because it serves no purpose that benefits the Liberty Movement. On the contrary, it harms the Movement. Ammon’s group has become the aggressors, and, by doing so, loses the moral high ground.”
Which is a strange line of argument, coming from the Oath Keepers.
Because the Oath Keepers like interfering in other peoples’ neighborhoods – patrolling Ferguson, for example.
One gets the idea that for Dawkins, it is less what Bundy did than when and how he did it:
“It serves no useful purpose. It is the wrong action at the wrong time. There will come a time when the time is right, but it is not now. It may come sooner than we expect, but it is not now.”
In this case, a bunch of people loaded for bear showed up not only in another neighborhood but another state, and tried to take over and bully the locals, even going so far as to set up a “committee of safety” to co-opt control of the area from its actual elected government, a strange species of liberty indeed.
So no, there were many there who didn’t want to be in that situation: the locals. But it was their home, so what choice did they have?
The Spokesman-Review on Friday relates that Sheriff Ward has horror stories to tell about the occupation, which actually started two months before Bundy and his gang took over the wildlife refuge. Ward, who said “It made me a little nervous about why these guys were in my community,” saw his emergency dispatch center flooded with fake calls by Bundy’s gang, shutting it down to legitimate 911 calls, his deputies and their families followed and their homes driven by, and was himself stalked as he and his family went Christmas shopping.
Liberty generally doesn’t include intimidation.
Ammon Bundy’s occupation of an empty building is essentially the same as civil-disobedience sit-ins that the political left has engaged in for decades, from anti-war and civil rights protesters in the 60s and 70s (including a nineteen month occupation of Alcatraz by American Indian activists), to Occupy Wall Street Movement and Black Lives Matter activists today.
No. Not really. They really have nothing in common. Because facts.
In fact, InfoWars’ Alex Jones hosted Infowars reported Joe Biggs and Washington State Rep. Matt Shae back in August of 2015 to portray Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich as somebody who was not protecting his community from heavily armed invaders (which is precisely what the Bundy gang was) but as somebody who “wants to start a war with the liberty movement.”
Knezovich’s sin? He was critical of the Bundy gang and wanted to arrest them for breaking the law. According to Rep. Shae, posting to Facebook in January, Knezovich was part of a conspiracy “to paint Constitutionalists as domestic terrorists.” Well, if the shoe fits.
Shee complained that Knezovich’s rhetoric, like Obama’s, was “divisive,” and that he wanted to take away their guns, but as Sheriff Ward told Knezovich, “I believe in the Constitution in its entirety, not just the parts that make me feel good.”
Listen to Sheriff Knezovich, who said, “I’m sorry, folks — they’re not patriots, they’re thugs. They are, in fact, the true tyranny.” Ward agreed, saying that he was constantly looking over his shoulder.
Of course, conservative speak has it that inclusiveness is divisiveness and liberty is tyranny and tyranny is somehow liberty. So keep that in mind when you hear them talk about the “Liberty Movement.” Shae asked, “Why is our Sheriff defending federal bureaucrats and not the people?”
In fact, as you can see, he was defending the people against what amounted to an outlaw gang from another state that moved in and tried to intimidate the constitutionally elected authorities while presenting themselves as “constitutionalists” even as they established their safety committee as a “shadow government.”
Clearly, the federal government was not the enemy here but the so-called liberty movement.
It’s liberty all right, but only for bearded, beer-bellied white guys with assault rifles, and only at everybody else’s expense.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.