The Agony and the Derp

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I wanted to add one other coverage point on this Oregon white militants situation. On the one hand, a major reason why we’ve always been so interested in these stories is just how outrageous they are and the fact that the federal government is increasingly wary or simply unwilling to enforce the law.

As I said earlier, this really amounts to white privilege performance art. We always want to avoid violence and bloodshed whenever possible. But we are also a republic. We have a rule of law. People aren’t allowed to take over government buildings, threaten federal officials with violence or keep demanding free handouts from the government (which is the underlying issue here) on the threat of violence. This is a mix of violent outlawery and domestic insurrection. And I think, if we think about it, we all know that it doesn’t get a very tough response because the country just takes it for granted that white people in the interior West just act weird and do stuff like this.

And yet, the obvious comparisons between these bozos who seem to think the federal Constitution authorizes you to steal federal property and kill federal officials doesn’t quite capture the whole story. As one Facebook commenter on one of our original stories put it with admirable understatement, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitors’ center is “probably one of the least critical spots to occupy in all of the United States.” The whole stunt has all the hallmarks of what the rightwing extremist movie would play like if it were produced by the guys who made Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman.

Here’s the latest, a video from these goofs featuring Blaine Cooper and anti-Muslim activist Jon Ritzheimer calling for people to join them. “This is going to be a historical site for this country,” Ritzheimer said in the video. “We don’t want bloodshed.”

Also, worth noting on the more serious side, they’re also bringing in children as human shields.

Now, let’s note that this is sort of the white/Christian extremist analog to the grainy al Qaeda recruitment video – only they’re speaking English, not Arabic, a language few of us in the US understand. But let’s also get real for a second and remember this is the historical site these dudes are occupying.

This is the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge visitors’ center, a small building probably most used for selling cute Gund brand bird stuffed animals and copies of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It has great ratings on trip advisor as a place to start out and get questions answered before you set out on your day of birding. It wasn’t “occupied” during the “takeover” because it was a holiday weekend and no one was there.

So like I said, it’s one part the mainstreaming of violent right wing extremism but also a major part comical nonsense by a bunch of losers who not only would be funny if weren’t so serious but also manage to be fairly funny even though it is serious.

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