In the social media, the talk is turning against the wildlife liberationists of Oregon. "Enough is enough," is the constant post. Cut off the power. Bomb them. Starve them.
Others, with other axes to grind, go for the "if they were black/gay/atheist/plushy fetishists, this would have been long over.” False equivalencies are the daily gruel of conspiracists, best served in a hemlock reduction.
There are a number of reasons the government- in all its iterations- from the feds down to the long-suffering Harney County sheriff, should continue to do nothing.
1. Cost is no object. Though the daily tab for dealing with the Malheur patriots is estimated to be $70,000, the feds and the state of Oregon will quietly cover it down the road. In the meantime, it forestalls conservative western congresscritters, who have been agitating the last few sessions for massive land sales, making too big a fuss. It'll be increasingly hard to defend a gaggle of fat, unemployed loners who increasingly impoverish an already poor county. The bigger the tab grows, the more it will irritate fiscal conservatives, who will join the rest of the public who are irritated by lawbreaking idiots. The Bundyites haven’t enough cash to keep themselves in groceries, much less to take over and run a country government which, if they somehow succeeded, would be hermetically sealed from the rest of the American economy for a few minutes at most.
2. The Bundyites and their outside supporters (remember Stevie Wonder, mocking the cops over the radio in Vanishing Point?) are broadcasting hours of video every day, showing the patriots going about their daily routine of stacking federal and state law violations. So busy they have been, designing signage for the entry drive and flaming logos for their internet broadcasts, it doesn't seem to have occurred to them that the FBI doesn't need to encircle the joint. Agents can watch them make the cases against themselves in a warm hotel room in Burns.
3. The more the suburban cowboys appear on the internet, and give interviews to anyone who shows up, the more of them the government identifies. Already a convicted murderer has been ID'd as one of the new Founding Fathers: he's a probation violation waiting to be picked up the first time he drives into town for some Slim Jims. Every time some gnome in a Bozeman basement posts his support on Facebook, the NSA’s servers neatly ID and file him away. Google Location does the rest. To be an insurrectionist with a smart phone is to be a turkey calling for an early Thanksgiving, and Ammon Bundy’s groupies are one tiny flock of turkeys.
You've got the Linnicums, welfare profiteers running a ranch on the backs of foster children.
You've got the loony toon Ritzheimer, who was stirring up anti-Muslim trouble in Arizona, taunting them to show him what terror looks like, then going underground, claiming they were after him and asking for a big crowdfunded payoff.
They have a boy Nazi downloading the office computers and running their media campaign. More of them are using their notoriety to raise money online for their own crotchets and whimsies (Maureen Peltier, the Facebook spokesbabe, wants a broadcast studio her husband won’t pay for) than I can count.
The Bundys' past pass on range fees is still ticking upward, and will be stacked on top of their new and improved range of crimes. And don't forget the fat one who drove into town in a government vehicle, and was scooped right up. Which brings me to-
4. These are not smart people. They spent ages planning this caper, and still didn't bring anything to live off if it worked. Their ludicrous shopping lists demonstrate they expected to be arrested, promptly, and then set about the task of being martyrs. This is the way of amatur revolutionaries. They sacrifice themselves to the cause, and are confident The People will rise up, release them, and sweep the old regime from power. That the Hammonds- their original martyrs- told them to buzz off and reported to prison, is a lesson lost on these folks. Or study up on John Brown.
They have no idea how what they want will work. If the government gives the Malheur Refuge back to Harney County, it has no way of absorbing the staff into the miniscule local government, much less maintaining a 187,000-acre spread. At the same time, it is going back to the people, Ammon Bundy says, to be pieced out to loggers, cattle ranchers and mining interests, in a large-scale re-enactment of the Tragedy of the Commons. How Harney County ranchers will be able to go from way below market grazing fees to unlimited, free grazing on land that has reverted to private ownership, they have no idea.
The Bundys also say they are going to get the closed Harney County sawmills going again. Jobs for everyone! But the mills are big empty sheds. When they closed, the equipment was sold off and trucked away. You can’t get the green chain up and running on mailed parts donations the way you can get tampons and French Vanilla coffee creamer.
They are poring over records with the gimlet eyes of Rosicrucians in search of fiendishly-hidden symbols of their faith- deeds that have embossed seals, ciphers proving the Rothschilds own the BLM as a private corporation.
They insist they will only negotiate if the government surrenders to them, then executes their program of land reform for them. They have no idea, and no money, and no skills, with which to do it on their own.
5. People are moving from being their original positions: from vaguely sympathetic, if only locally; pr amused (see #Bunfyeroticfanfiction), to pissed off. Part of what irritates the rational of the earth is imagining the daily escalations- the trashing of artifacts, the paving, the importations of loons from, other states to launch a government of the nonresident People to indict and punish locals who are not with the program, then supplant local government- is intended to ratchet things up til the government snaps and bombs them all to hell. In one breath they say they are just acting as a hotel janitorial service, cleaning up after those slovenly housekeepers, the feds, and leaning the mouse droppings out of the boxes of Indian artifacts they rifle through; in the next they explain how the Indians lost their right to the land, and if cattle were grazing as God intended, all these pot shards ouwld have got tromped on long ago. They want peace, but insist their destiny is failure, and death, messiahs crucified on sex-toy crosses.
This is a mistake. The Bundyites do these things because they think the lack of opposition means they are winning. They wake up every day, still there, and have to decide what to do next. The government isn’t sticking with the script Ammon wrote. So they some up with some cackbrained scheme to look busy, lest anyone realize they are just a crowd of clueless mooncalves.
Result? No one is coming to support them. For all their “outreach”, it is all one-way. YOu can listen to them. They will not listen to you. In nearly a month they have gone from a dozen bozos to thirty, at best. The daily pressers get less and less coverage nationally. The locals are probably just a few more provocations short of staging a run on pitchforks and torches at the Western Auto.
6. The Bundys may save the government the trouble of a shootout. They are heavily armed. Their ideologies are everywhere at once, and cannot all be pursued in tandem. They are not the sort of people to honor command structures for long, past military service and faked medal records aside. Paranoia runs wide and deep through their internet posts and videos. Isolated and ignored ignored, they may turn on their own as the disenchanted, bored with dildo-burning duty, come up with their own schemes to hasten the New Jerusalem. Ritzheimer, a short fuse on the best of days, is already fuming at being a subaltern when he knows baring his pasty, flag-tatted chest will rally the men of America to the cause.
So that’s why nothing should ever be done for the first time. The Bundy’s say they’ll leave when the locals tell them to, after they get what they want. So far, the government, which holds all the cards, is saying, “Whatevah.”
Nothing annoys a martyr so much as realizing he is irrelevant.