My Opinion on the Militants in Oregon
So there is a lot of controversy going on right now about the armed group of people currently occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in the United States. Some are calling them terrorists, some call them a militia, some call them activists, and some just call them “White dudes with guns”.
I feel like there is a wonderful quote to go along with this article:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Let’s use this as a guideline. We will discuss the specifics of the event as a launching point into discussing the ideas that it brings up.
So to greatly summarize the event, a very large group of armed people are occupying a government owned wildlife refuge. Although there have been no acts of violence, they’ve made it very clear that they did bring weapons along with living supplies such as food so they can live there for as long as they need to. They haven’t shown any signs of being hostile thus far outside of simply having guns in the building. They claim that they are doing this in protest of the government being able to own land.
Instantly, you can see why they’ve been called what they’ve been called. People who hate this will call them terrorists for having guns and taking over a government building, supporters will call them activists for taking a stand against the government, and people who don’t know much about the story yet will call them a militia for being civilians with guns. So what’s really going on?
Well, I think we can safely say they’re not terrorists. There has been no violence at all. They’ve never pointed a gun at someone, no shots have been fired, no one has been turn, they’ve taken no hostages, they’ve made no threats (although plenty of hyperbolic statements and grand standing), and when the media comes to talk to them, they don’t even bring their guns with them. It’s clear that they don’t have violent intentions. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right.
I understand they believe strongly in this and I commend them for taking a stand for what they believe in, but I think this is a really stupid way to go about it. It’s going to drum up a lot of emotion in a lot of people, both for and against this. All it takes is one scared idiot on either side to take a shot thinking that the other is dangerous and suddenly things escalate to a terrifying level where people are dying. I think the event is pretty bad overall and I hope it can be resolved peacefully. Let’s move onto the ideas it brings up.
What they’re protesting is that the government holds land. A lot of it, actually. A lot of the land in the USA is owned by the federal government, especially in the mid-west. Although the roots of a lot of that land ownership is pretty illegitimate, it is currently accepted that they own it and the idea is that they use that land to help the people of the country as a whole. Of course that’s not always how it comes out, but that’s the idea.
I think a better question than “Do they really own the land” is “Should the government own land”. My answer is yes, just not very much. The way I see it, the United States federal government could operate quite well with much less land than it has if it gets more organised. They have more than they need to take care of their duties to the people of the nation, I think they need to start selling off land to the population. Sell it to cities, to companies, to whoever is interested in buying it. Let the people control the land. The government needs some of it, but it has too much.
Lastly, to the people who are just calling them “White guys with guns”, that’s awful. There is a lot more to a person than just their race or skin colour. Calling them a bunch of “White guys with guns” just because they’re mostly white is just as bad as when any other group of people are defined and described by their skin colour. The “white terrorists” articles are just as hyperbolic and ridiculous as the ones that call every black person a “looter” the second they are accused of a crime rather than just being called a “suspect”. This isn’t a cultural thing, it’s about people coming together with a common belief to take action, even if that action is probably a terrible idea. No one is just “their race”. Don’t be racist.