By now you have heard of a group of people taking over government property in Oregon to protest a rancher and his son going back to jail after originally being found guilty of arson. (Last I checked, both men went back to face their sentence without protest.) The protesters were armed and claimed that they were ready to fight and die to protect America from government intrusion…while intruding on government property. The irony.
While all of this was going on, people began asking the most obvious question in the world: Why are we not calling them terrorists?
It is a good question which I addressed in an earlier post, Ignoring Terrorism, but I will attempt to answer the question in more depth.
This group is made of America citizens. No duh. A child could have told us that. Many people, however, may not realize that is the key to why an armed group taking over a government building is not immediately labeled as terrorists. This goes back to the “us vs them” concept. Post-911, Muslims, “them”, are probably terrorists. Americans, “us”, are the good guys protecting our country from “them”. “Us” simply cannot be terrorists simply because we are not “them”.
Now to take this primal reasoning further. When we say American, what do we mean? It could be people who are citizens living life in America. It could be people of any mixture of skin color, ethnicity, beliefs, or origins who were naturally born or immigrated. An America can be monolingual, bi-lingual, or a polyglot.
If all Americans thought of citizenship in these terms, we would not have these asinine protests around the country but alas, the concept of “American” has been distilled into a very simple image: Pale skin, Christian, American speaking only, and preferably male. And “true Americans” fly the American flag, the confederate flag, and the Gadsden flag.
This is where trouble interjects. Since this image has become a quasi-de facto image of Americans, these Americans can indeed go out and “fight tyranny” and anything else they deem a threat to their freedoms. And the major media news networks can’t call them terrorists. If they want audience with Republican candidates or officials for a news piece, it is better to simply call them a protest group or a militia.
There is a reason why I only said the Republican party above. By and large, the Republican party caters to these Americans during elections and votes. Sure, Republicans would like the support of other Americans but radical-right Americans are tried and true Republican voters. So if a news agency alienates the Republican base, guess which agency will never get a Republican Senator in for an interview.
That is all fun and games with news groups but why doesn’t the government or law enforcement treat these people like the terrorists they are, you may be wondering.
I remember back in 2009 after Obama became president, I was watching CNN and they interviewed a lady who joined this up and coming group called the Tea Party. She told the reporter that she, and everyone there, was mad and that the new administration has woken a sleeping beast. I laughed at her statement as I reflected on the two wars, economic collapse, high unemployment, and huge deficit from the Bush administration. Unfortunately, she was right. Not too long after graduating university that year, I hear of Tea Party candidates. The next thing I know, the Tea Party was in Congress and guess what kind of people support Tea Party congressmen.
In effect, by having members in government who could do things like create a budget crisis just because they did not get their way, groups like the one in Oregon can pull off stunts most sane people would never do. If we treated them like terrorists, then some members of Congress may just feel the need to be uncooperative and filibuster for as long as they can. The beast is awake!
As far as law enforcement…in my opinion, there is a swarm of irate people with guns. No one shot. No need to shoot.
In the end, these groups of people are terrorists. But by letting them camp out and “protest” with guns armed and ready, America continues to set a dangerous precedent. People who don’t look “American” don’t have much of a say and will probably be harassed as a potential suspect. Meanwhile, “true Americans” can take over government property, have their say on national news, and face little to no consequence.
(For the above picture, it is the image on the right. It is a protest against the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia who may have been falsely charged of terrorism. Many Shiites in Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia believe this execution is just another example of oppression by the government.)