By ann summers
The Fluffy Unicornists (provisional) are now counting on red rural poverty in a blue state with some old anti-Federal standards from the militia playbook. Fortunately, counter-fundraising has now raised over $20,000 to organizations representing those attacked by the current bantustan occupants of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.
PowerPointFAIL seems to have occured with no Monday presentations on the “exit plan” made available to the media as promised last week. Rather, as Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, the presentation in Crane, Oregon resembled a “pitch for a timeshare”.
But rather than white sandy beaches, the projected images depicted dramatic landscapes of the American West.
In the nearly three hours that followed, the Bundys and a few of their core supporters led a room of largely Harney County ranchers through a presentation. At times it took on the tone of a civics lesson — one that included readings from pocket Constitutions distributed beforehand. At other times, speakers seemed to invoke the fiery passions of a preacher delivering a sermon from the pulpit…
“I promise, that if you stand, others will stand with you,” (LaVoy) Finicum said. “If you stand, God will stand with you. But God cannot stand with you if you do not stand.”
As with all circular logic, publicity, and media spectacle, truth is taking a back seat. And recruiting even non-Oregon, scofflaw ranchers for a “signing ceremony” of Federal contract breach resistance may prove only to be far too little too late for a Unicorn prarie fire. That they are trying the same ploy from the Nevada standoff only demonstrates the onset of desperation in the Bundystani ranks, making the claim of a “million acre” Bundy homeland as bleak as any legal bantustan.
The occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge took their crusade to end federal land ownership to a new level Monday, imploring local ranchers to tear up their government grazing contracts.
Standing before a crowd of about 30 in the dining room of a high desert hot springs resort near Crane, the leaders of the armed standoff urged those gathered to “lay claim” to the area’s federal lands.
A “signing ceremony” is planned Friday where ranchers will sign documents renouncing their obligation to pay fees tied to the federal grazing allotments, said spokesman LaVoy Finicum.
Critics of Ammon Bundy and his followers occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have launched a protest designed to line the pocketbooks of Bundy’s opponents. The campaign, founded by a pair of brothers from Oregon, is known as G.O.H.O.M.E., an acronym that stands for Getting the Occupiers of Historic Oregon Malheur Evicted.
What happened was a steep downturn, especially in the timber industry, which has all but disappeared. Oregon lost about three-fourths of its timber mills between 1980 and 2010; Harney County lost all seven, including the one near Burns where Mr. Ward worked, which closed in the mid-1990s.
Changes in the wood industry were clearly also having an effect over those years, with more wood buyers shopping in Canada and more mills becoming automated, but many people here also said they thought the United States Forest Service did not fight back to save the mills and jobs.
“You didn’t stand up for us then; why should we stand up for you now?” asked Ms. Ward, 51, referring to federal officials, as she sipped coffee in her kitchen on a recent morning.
The Pew statistics also suggest a structural change in poverty in rural America. In the 1960s, when images of the poor in rural Appalachia and elsewhere in the South galvanized the nation, children and older people were largely the faces of economic struggle. Comparatively speaking, there are now much higher numbers of people in their prime working-age years whose incomes are below the federal poverty measure for a family.
The armed protesters who took over the headquarters buildings of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near here have tried to tap into the local reservoir of anger and nostalgia. They preach a vision of rural America on the rebound if only “government oppression” — in land use, ownership and management — could somehow be rolled back.