Here are 5 important things to discuss about the Oregon Uprising by Armed White Folks (AWFs). First, let’s be clear, this latest uprising by AWFs should come as no surprise to anyone that’s paying attention. When Sharon Angle, Nevada Senate Candidate in 2008, said that AWFs will resort to their “2nd Amendment Remedies,” this is exactly what she was talking about.
This current occupation is part of a pattern for these far-right political movements most notably the AWFs.
We need to discuss this in order to understand the larger context for this type of action by AWFs. We, as the 6th District Learning Community, need to understand, who the occupiers are, and who actually supports their radical viewpoints. And we need to understand the level of support for AWFs in the 6th District.
1. Is this just another example of Individuals trying to acquire land, but with guns?
This could be easily viewed as simply a land battle that has been going on in the West for 100’s of Years. It is possible that these actions by AWFs is not a political movement but and economic movement.
For 100’s of years Westerners have been trying to dismantle federal land ownership in the West. However, the Malheur takeover seems to up the stakes, by using the tactic of “Armed Federal Land Takeovers.” These armed groups are part of the “Patriot movement”—the successor to the 1990s militia movement—which has seen a rebirth since the election of Barack Obama in 2008. And this rebirth has been fueled by Right Wing Media.
2. Armed White Folks are Fueled by Conservative and Right Wing Media.
Confirmation Bias, Selective Perception, and Motivated Reasoning exist as a human condition. We all do it. Reasonable people understand they do it, and seek out information that prevents this conclusion skewing triad (Confirmation Bias, Selective Perception, and Motivated Reasoning) from leading them to poor conclusions.
However, AWFs live in a conservative and right wing media bubble. AWFs have come to the conclusion that the community, through the force of government, will detain AWFs, seize privately held guns, turn the cities into concentration camps, and allow the UN (or China) to invade. They further believe that “Political Correctness” has prevented AWFs from speaking the truth about black folks, brown immigrants, and Jews and as a result black folks, brown immigrants, and Jews have taken over “THEIR” country.
Rush Limbaugh, the Druge Report, Mark Levin, and of course Robert Murdoch have built a self reinforcing flow of media that feeds AWFs confirmation bias through selective reporting. Conservative and Right Wing Media know the answer that AWFs want to come to, that is called motivated reasoning. All they have to do is package selective information in ways that feed that reasoning.
Given the large quantity of information available it is not difficult at all to feed these conclusions.
3. The ‘AWF’ movement is the 21st Century Version of the 1970’s White Power movement.
Back in the 1970s there was a White Power group called the “Posse Comitatus.” This group, and other White Power groups promoted the “Christian Patriot” movement, advocated the formation of “Citizens Militias,” helped forge an idiosyncratic reading of the Constitution, said the county sheriff was the highest elected official that should be obeyed, and opposed federal environmental restrictions. They still try to recruit county sheriffs; the sheriff in Harney County (where Burns is located) was asked to provide sanctuary for the Hammonds from the federal government. He refused.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, recently furthered this position when he said that the Supreme Court decision invalidates the marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee — that is, the specific laws named in Obergefell — but not necessarily in Alabama.
One could even go back further to the Civil War and the freeing of black folks and easily see the central thread running through the movement. The central thread is that “Freedom” means the “Freedom” of White Christians to force their dominion over non White folks like them.
This is why the concept of “Political Correctness” resonates so strongly with AWFs. AWFs truly believe white folks freedoms are being taken away. And they believe that one of the biggest freedoms being taken away by political correctness is the freedom to call blacks lazy, aggressive, and stupid, which they truly believe they are, and the freedom to point out that Jews run the Media and the Banks.
The AWFs leading the Masher occupation, claim that what is happening to white folks all over the county is unconstitutional. This view of the Constitution is based on a position promoted by Posse Comitatus. AWFs believe the Constitution could be interpreted by individual right-wing activists in a way that allowed them to have more jurisdiction than federal courts do. The Sovereign Citizens are the best-known movement that promotes these crank legal theories today. For example, Pete Santilli, who livestreamed the Burns march and went to the Malheur takeover, promotes these ideas.
4. The Power that AWFs are Demonstrating in the Malheur Takeover is on the Rise.
Everyday more guns are sold. Everyday, AWFs get angrier. This recent Malheur takeover is not the end for AWFs trying to demonstrate power, but just another example.
Recent demonstrations of AWFs in front of Mosques is another example.
Unfortunately the larger community cannot directly stop AWFs from demonstrating their power, because, despite what AWFs believe, white folks still control the community.
The April 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch—when AWFs came to the aid of a radical right-wing rancher who refused to pay his fees for grazing on public land and trained rifles on federal agents—was taken another example. And the fact that the Community has not prosecuted Cliven Bundy or his allies for anything that happened there simply adds wind to AWFs sails. .
5. Does the Larger Community Support AWFs Taking Back the Freedoms By Force?
What does the 6th District think of AWFs acting this way?
A number of Patriot movement activists denounced any support of the Hammonds beforehand. The Oath Keepers, a national group, refused to come to the march, saying the Hammonds had not asked for help. Furthermore, the group said that Oregon members who helped organize the protest would be reprimanded. And, although details are not known, it appears that the vast majority of activists who are taking over Malheur are largely out-of-staters from Nevada and Arizona. While they hope to rally widespread support, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
The question for 6th district is: what can we learn from this.