What will protest lead to?
Have you taken sides in the eastern Oregon anti-government standoff?
As you’ve probably heard, on Jan. 2 a group of armed activists (Citizens for Constitutional Freedom) seized control of a federal building at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They say they’ve settled in for the long haul, protesting the imprisonment of two ranchers in particular and federal land policies in general.
Most people in the eastern half of the U.S. don’t realize it, but the federal government owns nearly half the land in the West. I hope this hoarding doesn’t end tragically, with Uncle Sam buried under a mountain of sagebrush and his dog gnawing off his leg.
No reasonable person wants to see the entire West converted into one big subdivision or one strip-mined wasteland. Most of us have affection for the conservation principles of President Theodore Roosevelt. But perhaps Washington, D.C. has turned TR’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” mantra into “speak lawyerese and carry a big stack of regulations.”
Certainly, we need some unspoiled wilderness. As one federal spokesman says, America’s parks and refuges should be enjoyed by everyone – unless they’re too busy working three jobs to pay for student loans, Obamacare premiums, etc.
I’m sure many in the bureaucracy would love to see grazing ended altogether, thus eliminating the threat of cow flatulence melting the polar ice caps and ending Life As We Know It. This fits in with the agenda of the Office Of Keeping Cows From Waving Confederate Flags and the Office of Preventing Bovine Usage of Redskins Jackets.
The Hollywood Liberal Elite have been unsympathetic to the anti-tyranny movement, but that may be changing, now that the feds have claimed ownership of actor David Spade. (“What do you mean, that’s an overreach of government authority?” blustered one official. “He’s David SPADE. And he plays Joe DIRT. Could the federal jurisdiction be any clearer?”)
Some opponents of Citizens for Constitutional Freedom have tried playing the race card, fuming that the feds are going too easy on this bunch of Angry White Men. Yeah, the ranchers really flaunt those privileges — like encountering rattlesnakes and cougars, rebuilding fences in the hot sun and the ultimate spa experience of delivering a calf during a blizzard.
As with the outspokenness of Donald Trump, a lot of people have a grudging admiration for those who actually take action. You know, “Everybody TALKS about the weather, but nobody ever waits until a holiday weekend and seizes a weather station in the middle of nowhere.”
The feds are in a quandary. Some officials urge patience and negotiation, lest a confrontation turn into a bad-P.R. bloodbath. But others want the protest quashed quickly, reasoning that if the authorities ignore the problem, other groups of malcontents nationwide may be emboldened to strike. Strange, this is the same government that thinks ignoring Muslim extremists will inevitably lead to their women driving topless to pick up bar mitzvah gifts.
If the Oregon protest doesn’t fizzle out, it might inspire a coast-to-coast Occupy Every Street phenomenon of citizens defying zoning regulations, vehicle inspection fees, etc. (“So the mayor’s butt-ugly daughter won the beauty pageant four years in a row? Town gazebo, meet my Barcalounger.”)
I’ll leave you with the rancher movement’s theme song: “Home, home on the range/Where pampered antelope dismay/Where often is heard a discouraging word/And the rulebooks are cloudy all day…”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”