OPINION – It’s a modern-day version of Aesop’s, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
What was hysterically reported as an “armed terrorist takeover” of a “federal building” in Oregon by “anti-government militants” looks quite different when one bothers to go directly to the source.
Of course, that requires a desire to know the truth that trumps our lust to destroy those with whom we disagree.
Having spoken with those who were actually there, it turns out that the so-called takeover consisted of the group of ranchers traveling to the unoccupied refuge facilities located miles from anywhere.
The sign that greeted them said “Welcome to Your National Wildlife Refuge.”
The buildings there were largely unlocked and those that weren’t had key boxes readily available. Nothing was broken. Nothing was stolen. Nothing was damaged.
Yes, some individuals were armed for their own protection, as is their right guaranteed under the Second Amendment.
Classical liberal theorist Frédéric Bastiat long ago spelled it out: “Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty and his property.” That some people find this icky is irrelevant.
The bottom line is that no one was threatened. No one was injured. Anyone could come or go as they pleased.
The action of occupying the refuge may be annoying or unwanted by some but in no way constitutes a violent crime.
According to locals, the junior high school many miles away was closed down but only so armed federal agents could occupy it as an impromptu command center.
Tell me again, why was this being falsely reported as a “standoff” or “armed confrontation” with militia? There was no confrontation. No “terrorist” event was taking place.
With the exception of NPR, most media outlets chose to perpetuate a false narrative by repeating emotionally-laden buzzwords rather than being objective.
Should we feel contempt or pity for the journalists and pundits who became so entangled with their ideology that they openly lusted for the deaths of fellow citizens?
How about instead, we learn from their malfeasance and become people of character who genuinely seek out truth instead of just passively repeating thrilling lies?
Consider John Pratt who traveled more than 10 hours from Central, Utah, to see for himself what was happening after hearing the sensational reports.
He wanted to go to the source and not simply accept the narrative he and others were being fed by members of the media.
After going to the source, he had a timely and direct message for the reporters present — especially for those who had been trying to bait some of the occupiers into making controversial statements.
Pratt asked them:
What’s in your hearts? Why are you here? Do you care about your fellow men? Do you care about this country? What is your motive?
Putting his hand on the shoulder of Arizona rancher LaVoy Finicum, Pratt reminded them:
This is a good man with a good family and he wants peace. He wants liberty. What more is there to say?
That’s a message that individuals outside of the media ought to consider as well.
During Friday’s press conference, Ammon Bundy explained that their presence at the wildlife refuge was based upon a desire to stand up for others who had suffered under federal agencies. He expressed empathy for the Harney County sheriff who faced great pressure from the federal government as well as a divided community.
Bundy stated that he would gladly take up the sheriff’s offer of safe passage out of Harney County and out of the state of Oregon when the time was right.
But first, there is the matter of getting members of the community to come together and choose to break the chains that federal land managers have been placing on them over a period of decades.
This is where the protesters have had surprising success.
Naturally, it’s not being reported with the same intensity as the “militants with a death wish” narrative has been.
The local community has come together and the ranchers, farmers and land users have come to a consensus that they have been abused by federal policy makers. This is based upon how they’ve been treated by the Burea of Land Management and how the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been expanded at the expense of local land users.
When the protesters first arrived, some local residents had been so afraid of official reprisals by federal authorities that they would only speak to them in hushed tones out of fear that the wrong person would hear.
That timidity has dissipated as awareness of the injustice suffered by the Hammond family has spread.
The safety committee meeting Friday evening was packed with scores of local participants who were discussing how to step up and organize themselves to assume stewardship of their lands.
Attorney Todd McFarlane, who acted as a mediator between the protestors and the safety committee, called the meeting one of the “highlights” of his life.
Looking beyond the feverish and false narrative we find that the Bundys never were the real issue here. It has always been about the harm done by a federal bureaucracy that abuses entire communities under color of law.
Thankfully, that message is finally getting some needed traction.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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