Oregon State Capitol
Credit: M.O. Stevens/ Wikimedia Commons

The Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as follows: “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

It’s hard to see the actions of right-wing “militias” in Oregon as anything else:

 The Oregon Capitol will be closed Saturday due to a “possible militia threat” from right-wing protesters as a walkout by Republican lawmakers over landmark climate change legislation drags on…

“The Oregon State Police has recommended that the Capitol be closed tomorrow due to a possible militia threat,” Carol Currie, spokeswoman for Senate President Peter Courtney, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press late Friday.

The governor’s office also confirmed the threats.

Oregon State Police, in a statement, said it has been “monitoring information throughout the day that indicates the safety of legislators, staff and citizen visitors could be compromised if certain threatened behaviors were realized.”

It’s not the first time armed groups have perpetrated this on the Oregon people, using unsanctioned violence in the pursuit of political aims:

One of the groups, the Oregon Three Percenters, joined an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. Dozens of people occupied the remote Oregon refuge for more than a month to protest federal control of Western lands. The standoff began to unravel when authorities fatally shot the group’s spokesman and arrested key leaders as they headed to a community meeting.

The trigger for this incident is the flight of Republican legislators from the statehouse to prevent majority Democrats from taking up a cap-and-trade bill to limit the damage of the climate crisis. In fairness, Democrats in Texas also used this tactic in 2003, but that was to prevent Tom Delay’s blatantly immoral and undemocratic redistricting scheme. Republicans in Oregon are defending the interests of corporate resource extraction firms bent on enriching themselves at the expense of future generations condemned to live on an inhospitable planet.

More to the point, what Democrats didn’t do in Texas was issue terroristic threats, as at least one Oregon legislator did today against law enforcement”

Also late Friday, Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, both Democrats, condemned comments made by Sen. Brian Boquist, a Republican from Dallas, Oregon, that urged the state police to “send bachelors and come heavily armed” when they come to bring him back to the Capitol.

“His comments have created fear among employees in our workplace,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “We will always defend free speech and welcome frank policy discussions, but threats like these are unacceptable.”

I leave it to the reader to ask themselves what the media coverage of this incident would look like if the white conservative militias making threats in Oregon were Islamist extremist groups, and if the legislator making threats of violence against police were named, say, Ilhan Omar. I think we all know, don’t we?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.