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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum became a martyr literally overnight.

Even before law enforcement confirmed his death in a shootout with officers on an highway in eastern Oregon, admirers were painting the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff leader as a sacrifice to the anti-government cause. But the conversion of the 55-year-old into a martyr, which happened in real time on social media, stretched the limits of cognitive dissonance. His new acolytes described the law-flouting Finicum, who threatened federal agents and vowed never to submit to the authorities, as an innocent murdered in the act of surrendering to cold-blooded law enforcement officers.

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