In a deliciously ironic twist, it turns out that neither the family involved or the residents of Harney County, Oregon, are happy with the wave of Bundy-led anti-government extremists that have descended on their state. It is beginning to be very clear that these zealots are provoking a standoff just for the sake of provoking a standoff.
The original incitement for the gang of armed militiamen was the re-sentencing of Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, to jail for setting off dangerous forest fires on federal property to hide the fact that they were illegally hunting. They both served a light sentence, but a judge resentenced them to more years in light of the severity of the blazes, which consumed 139 acres of forest. The militiamen, apparently outraged by the due process of crime and punishment, traveled to the county to protest their sentencing. However, the Hammond patriarch refuses to associate himself with the men who flocked to his state like so many jihadis to Syria.
“Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family,” said Hammonds’ lawyer W. Alan Schroeder. The Hammonds intend to report to jail and comply with law enforcement.
However, the Bundy boys felt like the Hammonds still needed their help, even though they, along with the rest of Harney County, do not want it: “We went to the local communities and presented it many times and to many different people. They were not strong enough to make the stand. So many individuals across the United States and in Oregon are making this stand. We hope they will grab onto this and realize that it’s been happening.” Bundy apparently met with “10 or so residents in Burns on Friday to try to recruit them, but they declined.”
Local schools have been closed for a week in fear of possible violence. The residents are not pleased. “I want them to go home. We take care of ourselves” said resident Bee Bee Sitz said. Kainan Jordan remarked that I don’t think all of these outsiders coming here is necessary. I think they intimidate the local people.”
With luck, this situation will be resolved without the bloodshed that these terrorists so clearly want to see. Their cause never had any legs to stand on in the first place; they are simply delusional fools who, as one militiaman said, “came here to die” – to provoke a confrontation over some enormously petty injustice that will allow them to leave this earth in a blaze of glory, knowing that there is an echo chamber of conservative media that will venerate them as martyrs standing up to the imagined tyranny of President Obama’s rule.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.