Three Reasons Oregon Standoff Is Different Than Black Lives Matter

R.J. Caster Campaign Consultant

Over the past weekend, ranchers and members of the militia took over a building at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the treatment of a rancher who was ordered to return to jail January 4th. Social media feeds have been flooded with pontifications and outcries from keyboard warriors who’ve fired shots before knowing the extent of the situation at hand.

Here are the top three observations being made by the left during the recent events in Oregon, and why they’re wrong:

1. There is limited coverage of the #OregonStandoff (aka, #OregonUnderAttack) because the news media is protecting the sins of white men – but portrays the Black Lives Matter movement in a less favorable light.   

These criticisms are being made over a holiday weekend when people are still coming back from their holiday vacations. Cries over unfair coverage began before 24 hours had elapsed.

Secondly, the idea that this situation has received limited coverage is completely unfounded. CNN, NPR, Russia Today, TownHall.com, Vanity Fair, The Guardian and countless other local, regional, national and international outlets have covered the story before the weekend has come to an end.

The Black Lives Matter protests took place in major cities and included violent interactions with police and other authorities. They also impacted the lives of thousands of people across the United States by blocking highways, shutting down shopping centers, and making day to day life more difficult for Americans in an effort to make a political point.

Conversely, the building taken over by the militia is located on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge – some 30 to 40 miles away from the nearest town, Burns, Oregon, with a population of roughly 2,800 people according to the 2010 Census.

To criticize the media for allegedly not covering the Oregon standoff, harkens back to the age old question: “if a building gets taken over in the woods, and no one is there to hear it happen, does it make a sound?”  

2. Roland Martin, the host of TV One’s morning show, Tweeted, “Did I miss the call for the national guard in Oregon? I recall them in Ferguson and Baltimore. #OregonUnderAttack?”

Martin’s implication is that the National Guard was only called in Ferguson and Baltimore because it involved the black community. As of Sunday night, his tweet garnered some 10,650+ retweets and 9,230+ “likes.” However, some people have responded online by pointing out that the militia, ranchers, et al have not killed people, taken hostages, torched businesses, engaged the police, and are not taking over public avenues that endanger or disrupt others’ daily lives.

There is merit to many of those responses, but the most important explanation is that the gunmen have taken over federal lands. Therefore agencies such as the FBI, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Park Service or U.S. Fish & Wildlife are tasked with handling the standoff, and not the governor of Oregon. The National Guard’s lack of presence is not due to racism, but rather the fact that this situation is occurring on federal and not state land.

By the way, it has still been less than 48 hours without a single casualty.

3. This is an act of terrorism, plain and simple; and if this were anyone else, they would have been dealt with more severely.

The standoff in Oregon reminds me of the very first domestic insurrection President George Washington had to face. When the Whiskey Rebellion occurred in 1794 due to angry farmers who had been issued writs for not registering their stills, George Washington, with the endorsement of prominent Federalists such as Alexander Hamilton, gave the rebels a deadline to lay down their arms and pay the tax. When they refused, Washington gave them two weeks before declaring martial law and sending in the militia to put down the rebellion.

I am not necessarily sure anyone can legitimately claim that white militias are treated better than if they were to be comprised of blacks or middle easterners. If you take a look at the federal government’s responses  to Ruby Ridge (half of the family killed) and Waco (76 people killed), then it’s extraordinarily hard to take seriously the argument that the federal government has “kid gloves” when dealing with “white extremist groups.”

While this situation does fit the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s definition of terrorism, the idea that it is being treated “with kid gloves” as some people on the left have stated is completely unfounded.

Perhaps the real bias is against those who won’t become leading Democrats. Half of the people at Ruby Ridge and all of the people at Waco were killed by federal law enforcement. If we are going to treat these men as harshly as we have treated prospective liberal leaders, they may have the misfortune of becoming the next U.S. Attorney General (like when AG Holder participated in what some have called  an “armed takeover” of a ROTC building at Columbia) or, worse, a college professor (such as prominent Obama supporter, Bill Ayers).

One does not have to support or oppose Black Lives Matter, or the armed ranchers, to recognize the faulty logic and hypocrisy in the claims made above.

As the standoff continues, it is critical that Americans not politicize this event, Black Lives Matter, or any interaction between authorities and the citizens. Each situation is unique and deserves to be judged based on its own merits.