Push Comes to Shove in Oregon

Something more than 100 “militia” loons, including two of the leaders of the Bundy Ranch confrontation, have now taken over a federal building in rural Oregon in support of the demand that two ranchers convicted of arson on federal land not go back to prison after a federal appeals court found their original sentence to have been below the minimum provided for by law.  They are asking like-minded people to come join them, bringing weapons, and have announced that they plan to occupy the building for “years.”

The Obama Administration seems to have a much stronger hand to play in Oregon than it did in Nevada, where the Governor, the Sheriff, and a large part of the local populace supported the seditious conspiracy.Oregon has a Democratic governor, and the folks around the town of Burns – even including the two convicted arsonists – seem to want nothing to do with this publicity stunt. Of course it’s crucial to avoid a shoot-out, but it’s equally crucial to assert the rule of law. There’s no need here to repeat the back-down in Nevada, and the ringleaders need to go away for long, long time.

It’s also crucial that Republican politicians – most importantly, the Presidential candidates – be forced to take a stand for or against acts of lawless violence. And that’s not something the President can or should try to manage alone. Everyone needs to speak out, and keep speaking out.

Update The charge is “seditious conspiracy.”

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.