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(40,373 posts)
Mon Oct 31, 2016, 05:10 PM Oct 2016

The protests at Standing Rock are necessary. What happened at Malheur was nonsense. [View all]


The protests at Standing Rock are necessary. What happened at Malheur was nonsense.

Aaron Bady

The rancher-militia occupation last January at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, and the ongoing Native American occupation of the site of a proposed oil pipeline near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas make for interesting comparisons. On Thursday, for example, the same day that seven of the Malheur militia members were found not guilty of nearly all charges related to the Oregon standoff, 141 protesters in North Dakota were arrested by a law enforcement officers from at least seven states, using military-grade, anti-riot technology.

Watching the events unfold one after the other revealed a glaring racial double standard. It also showed a profound difference in what is at stake in the two movements.

In Oregon, white ranchers — dressed as cowboys, armed to the teeth, claiming to be clothed in the Constitution — protested what they consider to be creeping government tyranny, in the form of federal control of western lands. Law enforcement let them come and go at will, and sought not to provokethem, giving them time and space to stage their “insurrection.” By contrast, the attempt to derail the Dakota Access Pipeline was met by a stunning show of force: dogs, helicopters, LRAD sound cannons, military vehicles and hundreds of police officers.

Whatever bedtime stories the Malheur militia members may tell themselves... Western ranchers and settlers aren’t the victims of the government.

It was the federal government that removed native peoples in the first place, opening up eastern Oregon in the 1870s to economic development by white ranchers. When the leaders of the rancher militia, the Bundy family, call on American nationalism to justify their stand, they are in fact calling on a very real history of racial injustice.

Nor is it a coincidence that the contested Dakota Access Pipeline was moved downstream toward the reservation from its initial proposed location upstream of majority-white Bismarck, N.D.

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