Wednesday, January 13, 2016

That's Just About Enough...

They're clowns. But they're dangerous clowns
I know, I don't usually do this kind of brief, timely commentary here, but I'm starting to get seriously pissed off. I realize that we, as a people, have a deeply ingrained structural hypocrisy built into the most basic functioning of our system. That's not arguable. But we're supposed to have limits. We need some kind of a fig leaf that allows us to pretend we are a nation not only of laws, but of laws that apply to all people equally. We need to have a narrative that justifies the murder of young black men by white police officers, the racial and social imbalances in criminal justice and incarceration, the endless legal roadblocks placed between poor Americans and the voting booth - we tell the stories, and we argue about them. But the stories are there - the fig leaf covering the obscenity.

Which brings us to Burns, Oregon. What is the narrative that prevents our law enforcement agencies from acting? Sure, I hear the argument - just wait them out, arrest them when they quit, no need to escalate the violence. But if that was really what we were doing, we'd have a perimeter around their 'occupation'. We'd arrest anyone who came out. We'd turn off the power and the water, and interdict any supplies going in. In short, we'd be driving an end to the standoff without escalating the violence.

Now we know they've accessed federal files. They've destroyed federal property. They've trespassed, vandalized, threatened, intimidated and incited. The fact that no charges were ever brought after the Bundy Ranch adventure of 2014 is the single salient event that led us to where we are today. If you have a national policy that you don't negotiate with terrorists because you want to discourage terrorism, how can you not slap down these kinds of acts of domestic terror for the same reason?

Recess is over. It's time for federal law enforcement to start bringing this thing to a close - one that ends hard and ugly for the likes of Aamon Bundy and Jon Ritzheimer. To continue to encourage these kinds of activities with government passivity and inaction  - particularly in the face of the violent police response in Ferguson and Baltimore - is an abomination that merely guarantees more armed takeovers and leads us in a dangerous and violent direction. Unless and until these people understand that there is a very heavy price to be paid for armed insurrection, we'll have more events like this, and they'll get increasingly violent.

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