So a bunch of domestic terrorists have seized a wildlife refuge in rural Oregon. They say they’re peaceful but armed (and willing to kill and die), have provisions enough to last a couple of years, and they’ve invited like-minded “patriots” from across the country to join them. They are, by any sane definition, engaged in sedition, and attempting to undermine the political and philosophical underpinnings that make the United States of America possible.
So what do we as a political commonwealth do about that?
It’s very tempting, even from where I sit, to say “Well, if a fight’s what they want, we should give them one. They got away with it last time, and now they’re doing it again. If we don’t slap them down now, they’ll just keep doing it.” After all, the notion that a company-sized force of irregulars could hold their own against a determined assault by the Oregon National Guard or pretty much any branch of the US military is laughable on its face. And while I’m sure the soi-disant patriots involved genuinely believe in their hearts that their long guns and the Second Amendment guarantee their liberty, it’s actually the social compact and the tenets of our political commonwealth that do that, as they would no doubt discover to their brief but lifelong chagrin should it come to any sort of violent confrontation.
The problem is that that’s what their leaders probably want. They want to be martyrs, like the Branch Davidians before them, the spark that will ignite the revolution of long oppressed yet heavily armed Christian White Men who’re frightened to death of long-term demographic trends that will undermine their assumed and inherited hegemony of the US of A. Should the National Guard or the BATFE or any federal agency whatsoever engage, they’ll win the battle decisively and quickly, and start a war that’ll last lifetimes.
That’s why the Bundy brothers’ father Cliven got away with it last time. And thank whatever divinity you pray to we have a President whose prudence outweighs his pride for that.
No, it’s not really an option to storm the gates, satisfying though it would be in the short run, and easily as it might be accomplished. In that sense, they’re like Daesh: fighting them on their own terms only strengthens them.
So what’s to be done?
My answer is there in the title of this post. Let them have their occupied visitors’ center. Let anyone who wants to come join them in their white Libertarian Patriot Paradise do so. Let them prove the workability of their social model and survive as they can off the land. Let 100+ men share a single bathroom (ok, two, since I’m guessing they aren’t going to need to set one aside for ladies), and eat canned beans everyday for a year or two. Let them show us how the land can sustain them, all by itself, without a social compact or government to allocate its fruits.
Just don’t let any of them back out. Not until they’ve learned their lesson, and voluntarily surrender.
I’m betting that it won’t take more than a couple of months before a stint in federal prison starts to look right appealing in comparison.