Whatever’s Going On in Oregon, It’s Not Terrorism

“…the Paiutes…have seen their federal trust land shrink from over one and a half million acres to a tiny remnant of 760 acres in Burns, Oregon, where this current armed standoff began….President U.S. Grant established the Malheur Indian Reservation for the Northern Paiute in 1872…. “

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersYep, no sooner had the Yankee bastards perfected their “total warfare” (kill ’em all ‘n let God sort ’em out) technique on us Southerners did they turn it onto the plains Indian. — jtl, 419

by Center for a Stateless Society

 Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual A key to understanding the political world lies in realizing that the words terrorism and terrorist are inherently political terms. This has been clear in international affairs, but we now see this in domestic matters, specifically the case involving ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond and the takeover of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service building in Harney County, Oregon.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewThe Hammonds have been imprisoned under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, an ostentatiously get-tough bill — passed after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building — favored by congressional Republicans and signed by triangulating Democratic President Bill Clinton, who was seeking reelection that year and whose wife, the hawkish Hillary Clinton, is seeking the presidency today. Among other things, the Act limits habeas corpus relief in federal courts for those claiming to have been unlawfully imprisoned.

Combat Shooter's Handbook Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsThe words terrorism and terrorist are also used to describe the people now occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in sympathy with the Hammonds. CNN reports that “progressive” opponents of the occupiers refer to them as “YallQaeda” and “vanilla ISIS.” Some urge government violence against them.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)Is this description fair? One can answer this question regardless of what one thinks of the Hammonds and the occupiers. If terrorism has any reasonable referent, it is the use of violence against noncombatants for a political purpose. The point is to terrorize by killing or injuring noncombatants, or destroying their property, in an effort to effect change.

Nowhere do we see such violence in either the Hammonds’ case or the occupation of the government building. The actions that brought criminal charges against the Hammonds consisted in setting two fires on their own land in 2001 and 2006, the first to destroy invasive vegetation, the second ostensibly to protect against a wildfire on adjacent land controlled by the central government. On both occasions the fires unintentionally spread to the government-controlled land. The Hammonds put out the first fire; the second fire reportedly endangered government firefighters, whom the Hammonds knew were in the vicinity.

Even if we grant the worst allegations — that the Hammonds wrongfully declined to inform the government that it would be setting the fires and that one fire was allegedly set to cover up poaching — the actions look nothing like terrorism. No one was intentionally threatened, and no one was injured or killed. So why were the cases prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years? (The trial judge refused to impose the mandatory minimum, but the government appealed after the Hammonds had served their terms and they were returned to prison, sparking the protest.) Even if we make the dubious concession that the Act was a good-faith attempt to fight bona fide terrorism, what does it have to do with the Hammonds?

As for the occupiers of the government building, who now call themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, again, where’s the terrorism? Yes, some occupiers are armed. But the building was unoccupied when they entered it, and no one was threatened, much less harmed or killed. It’s reported that roads around the building are open. The news media come and go at will.

In neither case was anyone terrorized. To be sure, the occupiers have a political objective, to pressure the central government into giving up control of its massive land holdings. Terrorism, however, requires a particular kind of violence along with a political motive. Critics describe the occupiers as white supremacists. I don’t know if they are, although John Ritzheimer, a spokesman for the occupiers, is an anti-Muslim activist. But regardless, their conduct in Burns, Ore., does not constitute terrorism, and no constructive purpose is served by promiscuously throwing that inflammatory word around.

I’ll leave for another time the controversy surrounding the government’s landholdings except to say that one need not regard all governments as illegitimate (as I do) to see something wrong in the U.S. government’s control of so much land, especially in the West, holdings acquired through forcible preemption. While white ranchers and anti-U.S. government activists claim that their rights and the state of Oregon’s “rights” have been usurped by the central government, largely overlooked is the solid claim of the Northern Paiute.

According to the Indian Country Today Media Network, “Ironically, the ‘legal’ basis for [the occupiers’] starting a fight with the federal government is that sovereignty ‘really’ belongs to Oregon rather than the Paiutes, who have seen their federal trust land shrink from over one and a half million acres to a tiny remnant of 760 acres in Burns, Oregon, where this current armed standoff began.” It adds, “President U.S. Grant established the Malheur Indian Reservation for the Northern Paiute in 1872…. White settlement nibbled at the Malheur Indian Reservation until the Bannock War in 1878, which ended with surrendered Paiutes and Bannocks on the reservation being removed, officially to the Yakama Reservation in Washington Territory.” (See more on the Northern Paiute claim here, here, here, and especially here.)

Citizens for Constitutional Freedom is right that the national government should vacate the land. But it’s wrong about who should have it. It was stolen from the Northern Paiute, and therefore it should be returned.

Cross-posted at Free Association.

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Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualPlanned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual. This is the ideal squeal to A Handbook for Ranch Managers.  Although the ecological principles remain the same, what was originally known as “The Savory Grazing Method” now answers to a multitude of different names: ranching for profit, holistic management, managed grazing, mob grazing, management intensive grazing, etc. Land & Livestock International, Inc. uses “Restoration Grazing” under its “Managing the Ranch as a Business” program.” No mater what you call it, this summary and synopsis will guide you step by step through the process and teach you how to use it as it was originally intended. No more excuses for failing to complete your grazing plans.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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