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Kid Gloves For Homegrown Extremists Are Part Of A Strategy

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Kid Gloves For Homegrown Extremists Are Part Of A Strategy

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Soon after a bunch of white guys with guns holed up at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in protest against the federal government, wags took to social media to deride them.

“Y’all Qaeda,” “YeeHawdists” and “Vanilla ISIS” are some of the clever put-downs circulating on Twitter.

Critics also decried what they perceive as a double standard in the seeming lack of response from law enforcement. If the gun-toting men were black or Muslim, went the typical argument, they would have incurred the full, militarized wrath of law enforcement.

So it might appear, but if you think law enforcement agencies are being deferential out of fear, you couldn’t be more wrong. Be very grateful that federal officials know exactly whom they are dealing with: troublemakers just itching for an excuse to claim that the federal government provoked them first.

As of this writing, things are still calm at the wildlife refuge, nearly 30 miles from the nearest town. But this bunch has itchy trigger fingers and enough conspiracy-addled emotion to take their standoff to the next level of danger.

In this desolate location, these guys are more likely a danger to each other than to the local population — although they have irked nearby residents and the Burns Paiute Tribe, who deem the siege a desecration of sacred land.

Ammon Bundy — the son of the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had his own standoff with federal agents in 2014 over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees — and the other men occupying the wildlife refuge splintered off from a protest of several hundred people, a gathering that drew Oregonians concerned about longstanding issues with rules for land overseen by U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bundy is from Arizona. How’d he wind up in Oregon? He smelled an opportunity for the limelight.

Bundy calls his Oregon crew Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, and it includes his brother and an Arizona man, Jon Ritzheimer, who has gained renown of late for staging armed anti-Muslim protests.

The presence of Ritzheimer and other idiosyncratic “patriots” led the Daily Beast to dub the occupation Wingnut Woodstock. These anti-government activists have come out of the woodwork at a time when some Americans have become hyper-focused on Islamic terrorists, Syrian refugees and other perceived threats to the nation.

Indeed, America faces multiple threats, including homegrown extremists. This month, Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization reviled by extremists, issued a report noting that the number of militia groups in the U.S. leapt to 276 from 202 in 2014.

In October, the Justice Department announced a new office to focus entirely on homegrown extremists. In doing so, the department acknowledged that it had taken its eye off the ball domestically, consumed as it has been with threats of overseas terrorists since 9/11.

Law enforcement authorities closer to the street haven’t been as easily distracted. A June survey by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University found that police were highly aware of the homegrown threat. Surveying nearly 400 departments, it found that 74 percent were more concerned about anti-government extremists than the possibility of an attack inspired by or actually the work of al-Qaida or the Islamic State.

A colleague of mine, Kansas City Star reporter Judy L. Thomas, has spent decades chronicling such movements. She has written extensively on Posse Comitatus, Christian identity groups, white nationalists, militias and now the growth of the sovereign citizen movement, loose networks that see the government as dangerously corrupt and out of control.

Part of the problem, Thomas said, is that we don’t have a consistent definition of domestic terrorism. And the term is sometimes abused for political gain. It can be difficult to determine who is a mere conspiracy theorist with an arsenal and who is likely actually to act out his revolutionary fantasies violently.

The homegrown extremist groups often see themselves as soldier-saviors of America, armed and ready to do battle with the evil federal government that is taking away constitutional rights. Thomas’ sources, including past federal agents, say that much was learned after Waco, where more than 75 people died, as well as in other encounters with militia members. Authorities prefer methods to defuse rather than spark confrontation. That will surely save lives, in Oregon and elsewhere. And it will, one hopes, deny extremists another recruiting opportunity.

Ritzheimer said this in a widely viewed video he posted online from Oregon: “I am 100 percent willing to lay my life down to fight against tyranny in this country.” Authorities are taking him at his word — and not giving him his chance for martyrdom.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via e-mail at msanchez@kcstar.com.) (c) 2016, THE KANSAS CITY STAR. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Photo: Ammon Bundy (L), and Wes Kjar depart for a news conference from an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

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Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez has spent years covering immigration, schools, and other volatile beats for The Kansas City Star. She is now an editorial columnist for the Star, where she continues to offer insightful commentary on immigration, culture, and politics.

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51 Comments

  1. Phil Christensen January 8, 2016

    Relax, Nancy. These fellas are going to get their turn in the Gray Bar Hotel.

    Reply
    1. FireBaron January 9, 2016

      From you lips to God’s ears.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker January 9, 2016

        FireBaron..Okay..so prove differently. Don’t just post vacuuous info you know has no basis in fact.

      2. oldtack January 9, 2016

        Of which “god” are you referring? Allah? YHWH? Elohim? the prophet Moroni? , Baal, There is a multiplicity of “gods” among the followers on this planet.

    2. Grannysmovin January 9, 2016

      Well based on the performance in Nevada, the only ones who paid a price, were the 2 officers killed by two of the Bundy’s “thugs with guns” . Yes the two killers were apprehended but Bundy and the rest of his crew have not seen the inside of a court room for that fiasco.

      1. Phil Christensen January 9, 2016

        Due process does not always give us the results we seek. If the prosecutors could not draw a connection to Bundy, then “rule of law” and all that. That’s why if a gang commits a murder, often times the criminal justice system just goes after the one who pulled the trigger. Advocating the suspension of habeas corpus simply subjects us to the whim of the powerful. A lot of that goes on anyway, but I don’t think we want to make that official policy.

        1. Grannysmovin January 9, 2016

          When I say no one was charged I refer to people who were interrupting the use of our roadways and pointing rifles at our police and Federal employees. These people the “thugs with guns” were pointing weapons at and willing to fire upon were our sons, daughters, spouses, fathers, mothers, siblings, neighbors and friends. They disrupted our ability to conduct travel on a particular stretch of road and were intimidating to the residents of nearby communities and did they carry loaded guns across state lines.

          1. Phil Christensen January 9, 2016

            You’ve obviously done some research here. Would you please post a link?

          2. Grannysmovin January 9, 2016

            I live in Nevada one of our main roads into Mesquite was blocked because people were afraid to travel it. You can see why in the above photo why people would not care to travel that road. In June of 2014, two people who were speaking at the Bundy Ranch standoff and were on television, when they left they killed 3 people – 2 policeman and 1 civilian – just because. I believe their name was Miller, man and wife. Today it is being reported that Oregon Public Broadcasting busted the Bundy “thugs with guns”militia using government computer systems and accessing federal employee data within the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2016/01/09/busted-guess-what-the-bundy-militia-was-doing-while-they-were-not-in-gunfights-with-the-fbi/
            Had law enforcement cut off the electricity to the facility than they could not have accessed employees files with names, addresses, social security #’s leaving them very vulnerable to identity theft and worse yet intimidation and possible violent acts against them, their families and properties. Let me say since I was not there it is alleged that this is what they have done.

          3. Phil Christensen January 10, 2016

            Thank you dialoging with me on this. You provided referenced facts without getting personal. That is always appreciated.

    3. Polana January 9, 2016

      Trump will give them jobs in Syria and Iraq when he gets their oil. RubiCon will promise no taxes and Cruzee will run Keystone. A match made in USA.
      By the way Putin w/Trumpee will invade all former Soviet Union states to be the Great Mother Russia again. I don’t even know why media put so much news on these idiots. Let them stay there, block the exist from it (after all it’s OUR land and OUR Property ( i pay w/my taxes to keep parks, sanctuary for wild life) and let them starve. They will be crawling and begging to be let out. Their guns are useless. Lots of guns, stupidity, notoriety and no guts no glory. That’s bullies.
      Cowards, useless human beings.
      They might provoke but will use women and children as a shield, that Taliban made is USA. Putin will not put up w/this. Crimea is the proof. Was Russian and he took it. Only in America.

      1. Phil Christensen January 9, 2016

        That’s quite the horoscope. Not convinced we can draw any connections between these yahoos and anyone running for office or in office. Never the less, at some point, the federal government will entertain them as guests soon enough.

  2. Charles van Rotterdam January 8, 2016

    Only in America

    Reply
  3. browninghipower January 9, 2016

    I am ambivalent about this position. I’ll believe the Feds have the ‘nads to do something when these traitors are in a supermax prison. Until then, handling them gently is little more than appeasement and coddling. No one will convince me that if they were African Americans with guns, Native Americans with guns or Muslims screaming Allahu Akbar they wouldn’t have been blown to bits by now. This situation and the Feds’ handling of it makes me want to puke.

    Reply
    1. Eleanore Whitaker January 9, 2016

      If they were fighting or protesting rights you paid for with your taxes and had been summarily abused by the feds, that would be reasonable. The Koch boys need more land to drill for oil. That’s why they are pulling this BS.

      1. Louis Allen January 10, 2016

        Your disease is called “delirium tremens”, little Lenore….

  4. yabbed January 9, 2016

    I agree that the feds should not fall into their provocation and turn this into a armed standoff gone wild. On the other hand, at some point the government has to call these people to account, arrest and charge them, and put an end to the idea that crazy people can determine the law in this nation.

    Reply
  5. 1Zoe55 January 9, 2016

    They should not be allowed to leave, but if they do arrest them on the spot. Then bring federal charges because these idiots’ great fear will happen. Their big, powerful rifles and guns will be taken away from them. I would say suit them up in military gear and ship them over to Syria where they can face ISIS and really do America a favor. But then they would be dishonoring our military.

    Reply
    1. jtxl January 9, 2016

      The problem is that they are still alive. The reality is that they are white so they live by different laws. The police had no problem leaving a woman and her children homeless because they “thought” a man with a warrant was inside….Correction a BLACK man with a warrant. He was not there. They drove a tank through her house and are not held responsible. All this military equipment and they didn’t have infra red to be able to see how many people were in the home? I certainly don’t believe that for a second. I believe that they knew he was not in there but either way, they went after this man with a TANK. He had dark skin. Where are the tanks when white terrorists arm themselves and barricade themselves in a government building? Where were the tanks when hundreds of white bikers had a shot out? They weren’t even handcuffed. Double standard Double standard Double standard. So if a black man rode his bicycle past this building and stopped to see what was going on….No crime committed…he would end up dead from a severed spine. If there was a black child playing nearby with a toy gun- he would be dead. That is what is angering people all over the country. We are seeing daily how white people are treated compared to black people who have not even committed a crime.

      1. Roger Willcocks January 12, 2016

        Use the tank, keep the tank. The military equipment given to police departments has to be used within a certain timeframe or returned.

    2. plc97477 January 10, 2016

      knowing them they would probably join isis.

  6. Bren Frowick January 9, 2016

    Just build a wall around this pack of lunatics and leave them there until they beg to be allowed out. Don’t let them until they pay for the wall, plus damages.

    Reply
  7. halfwayin January 9, 2016

    These guys are armed to the tooth!

    Reply
    1. oldtack January 9, 2016

      Really? Well guess what . So are we.

  8. Eleanore Whitaker January 9, 2016

    Look…face facts…these “Y’all Qaeda” lunatics are nothing more than anti-government anarchists. Give them more rope and they’ll hang all of us so they can turn the government of the people, for the people, by the people into some bizarre anarchist experiment in terror.

    Since they allowed Bundy to get away with theft and destruction of federal land, the “Y’all Qaeda” now believe they’ll carry this to the limit.

    If you listened to Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Oklahoma’s Inohofe and North Dakota’s Hoeven during the Congressional committee’s federal land use reviews, all three of these were pleading a case to hand back ALL federal land in their states so they can drill for oil or frack. Now you know the REAL reason these jerks are so hot to go from one state to the other to push to take back what they now call “state” land. Funny though how for over 100 years they loved the idea of having our federal tax dollars flushed to their states for the maintenance of these federal lands. More Freeloader states freeloading for Big Oil and Frackola? That $16 billion the HOuse GOP flushed to Big OIl and in reality, the Koch INdustries wasn’t enough?

    Reply
    1. Louis Allen January 10, 2016

      Lenora:
      Still going from crazy post to crazier Post, I see.
      Still going with your crazy pet peeves, I see.
      Still your crazy ideas, I see.
      Still the USEFUL YYIDIOT, I see.
      …. some things never change ….
      …. some people, like you, never understand ….
      Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk …..

      1. Eleanore Whitaker January 10, 2016

        And the freak of nature resurrects from his cave in the earth’s bedrock…Tsk Tsk…the mental hospital take you off your meds?

  9. CrankyToo January 9, 2016

    White man come… rape our buffalo… kill our women…

    Reply
  10. Timmi January 9, 2016

    Bundy hates the government- except when he doesn’t. Dude took out a loan of a cool half mil from the SBA for his fleet maintenance business down in Arizona. You know, you’re either all in or you’re all out. I find him to be an annoying opportunist.

    Reply
  11. jne4klpk January 9, 2016

    if these crooks had a tan they would be dead. so to be fair shoot them for being crooks.

    Reply
  12. Joseph William Crowell January 9, 2016

    You could not be more wrong! Are you an idiot with a pen? Lecture some other group of idiots. Because you have written a few paragraphs of nonsense does not discount the fact that law enforcement uses the “escalated force when the opposition escalates” theory to justify all the force used against blacks across the country. If you have a chip on your shoulder and dare Law Enforcement to knock it off by violating laws, and threatening armed violence, those assigned to uphold the law must react. And they do not hesitate in situations that include Black Americans. Sell your horseshit to someone else and look in the mirror. You are not helping in the least.

    Reply
  13. jtxl January 9, 2016

    Stupid!!!! No one but the author has brought up the ridiculous notion that law enforcement agencies are being deferential out of fear. NO NO NO!!! What we are saying is that they are still alive because they are WHITE!!!! That is the truth.

    Reply
  14. CrankyToo January 9, 2016

    I say keep those rednecks penned up in there until after the elections. President Trump will build a wall around that place and make Cliven Bundy pay for it.

    Reply
  15. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 9, 2016

    The strategy is….ignore those with pale-skin and just shrug it off as a “Boys will be Boys”.

    And it’s a certainty that if they were black, Muslims, or any of “The Others” category, there would have been guns blazing, as members of Republic of New Africa(RNA) found out in Jackson, Miss. back in the 1970’s; or as the students in the dorms along Lynch Street found at Jackson State College, a predominantly black college in the 70’s, that was riddled with bullets by(you guessed it) white state troopers when they over-reacted to an incident on campus there in the early 70’s, and a young boy walking the streets that fateful night was killed in the beastly fusillade of the trigger-happy “defenders of the peace”.

    And now, this travesty of justice being played out in Oregon further underscores the Conservative’s “strategy” to suppress “the unwanted” while in parallel allowing wide latitude and leniency for the thugs artificially claiming immorally to be oppressed.

    What a stark contrast and show of hypocrisy America’s conservative ilk present to the whole world. No moral standard or high-ground for the extreme Right is evident.

    Justice as a concept and practice is willy-nilly ignored in America, and is daily trampled into the dirt by those in power and authority in the land of “E Pluribus Unum”.

    Reply
  16. Name January 9, 2016

    The hell with methods to defuse, go on in there and put some sparks up those clowns lame wefare, land grabbin, money grubbin seeking asses.

    Reply
    1. oldtack January 9, 2016

      I understand your side but crashing in and engaging in a fire fight with possible fatalities on our side as well as the clowns would evolve into a prolonged problem and the result would provide propaganda matter to all their backer organizations.

      What we do is starve and freeze them out then arrest each and everyone of them as they come through the gate. Then go through the judicial system for maximum punishment for commission of a Treasonous act against the
      Nation.

      1. Christopher Hannan January 9, 2016

        Good Point but the Feds ARE NOT, starving them and ARE NOT freezing them. In fact it’s starting to look like Club Bass Pro up there.

  17. oldtack January 9, 2016

    First and Foremost:
    Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan and their father Cliven are not the portrayed “Stewards of the land”. Ammon lives in the suburbs of Phoenix Arizona and owns a successful business.. His Dad, Cliven is a wealthy land owner. He owns about 6,000 acres of land in Northern Nevada and by reports does not live there at all. So let us all get off the BS of poor working ranchers being “bullied” by the “mean ole guvment.”
    Cliven has 14 children and none are in dire straits.

    These “patriots” took over Federal Property and plan to stay indefinitely unless they get their way. Among their “militia” they allege to have big courageous patriots from former military units etc. If they are what they allege then let each of them them produce their DD-214,

    There is one non-violent way to resolve the standoff. The Federal Authorities should cut off all utilities serving this area, (fuel, electricity and water) then bar the gates and allow no entrance or exit and allow no traffic except in case of medical emergency. no one can survive very long without Food, water and warmth.

    Second suggestion:
    Let all of the “patriots” give freely of their money to help these “poor downtrodden citizens” to fight this “injustice”in the Courts from Oregon all the way to the Supreme Court. They are all Zealots for the cause and they should be able to give a minimum of $1,000.00 apiece With all of the millions of “patriots” out there this would result in a massive bankroll to make the fight.

    Or – are all of these “patriots” in reality just Summer Soldiers and Sunshine patriots?

    Reply
    1. Wedge Shot January 11, 2016

      Turning off the electri and heat will cause the pipes to burst.
      I say turn off the lights every 5 minutes for 30 seconds. that will prevent the pipes from bursting but will do a real mental number on the occupiers.

  18. greenlantern1 January 9, 2016

    Ever hear of police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo?
    They were murdered by Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller!
    Their gang leader was Cliven Bundy!
    Perfectly clear?

    Reply
  19. kingartie1 January 9, 2016

    They are right on one count, and perhaps one only. The government is corrupt. One brief analysis of the way the Citizens United fiasco has filthified the electoral, legislative and representative process should confirm that suspicion. The symbiosis of money-mad state and federal politicians with the monstrosities of profit and market share that define the m.o.s of most corporations is now all but complete: government at all levels is now a mutant bastard stepchild of quasi-democracy, pseudo-theocracy and ascendant oligarchy. Offices were put up for sale, and scumbag ulterior agenda plutocrats are buying them. Altruism is not a new pharmaceutical and will not be improving America’s health any time soon,

    That said, I wouldn’t trust these cowboy-booted-and-hatted camo BDU’d weaponized and Constitutionalized pawns or princes with the keys to the men’s room, let alone the idealization of a new or honest form of government. Yeah, we’ll look at them as paragons of virtue. They cry about government corruption and the welfare state–while they donate to and endorse those (often, Tea Party) politicians who can most assure their continued, literally dirt cheap privileges to graze filthy cattle on public land for a fraction of what it should really cost them, press the Feds into paying for and performing predatory wildlife control (wolves) on their behalf, subsidizing grain, granting tax breaks, tossing them cheap loans, and so on. Then they scream epithets and aim rifles at the very people and institutions who help to keep them in business. I personally don’t feel all that hotly that my Bill of Rights is being tossed into the toilet…but these clowns certainly make me think very clearly about who some of my fellow countrymen are. They embarrass us before the world. They’re abusing my rights by howling so ignorantly about theirs, and all the while they waste substantial amounts of public money. The broader question is: who is behind these straw men? Who goads them into this bluster blunder bullshit stupidity?

    Reply
    1. J. Lee Paul January 10, 2016

      Who goads them? Could it be the non-stop right-wing propaganda machine? All the talking heads on Fox News, the AM hate radio hosts, etc. make a very good living fanning these flames.

  20. angryspittle January 9, 2016

    Bundy says Ammon idiot.

    Reply
  21. socal90 January 9, 2016

    When law enforcement wanted to confront MOVE in Philadelphia they fire bombed the building then prevented firefighter from intervening. 6 black men and women plus 5 black children were incinerated along with 65 private homes burnt to the ground. Far from causing law enforcement to rethink the military approach when dealing with Black militias it has become SOP to all out with an aggressive militarized response when dealing with any black protesters, radical environmentalists, anti war demonstrators and the occupy movement. Only radical right wing white militias get the kid glove treatment.

    Reply
  22. Christopher Hannan January 9, 2016

    “Soldier Saviours”??????? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!…wait, hold on, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Reply
  23. jamcrky January 10, 2016

    This is my view…cut of the electric, heat and food

    Reply
  24. opinioned1 January 10, 2016

    These punks are nothing more than anti-American scumbags who want something for nothing and think they have the right to take it with a gun. They want a fight, give the scumbags what they want a certain death the second they point one of their guns on a law officer. As has been said–If these scumbags were black or muslim their sorry asses would have been shot day one…

    Reply
  25. J. Lee Paul January 10, 2016

    Letting cooler heads prevail sounds like a good idea, but the reason this whole thing started was because Cliven was allowed to thumb his nose at the law. If these guys don’t face some kind of eventual prosecution, they’ll be that much more emboldened.

    Reply
  26. I of John January 11, 2016

    It may feel like we aren’t getting satisfaction by not seeing the government stomp down but really what this tactic does is suck the righteous indignation out of these militia chuckleheads. They are shouting at the wind and gave gotten silence in return. In the end, though, they MUST be prosecuted or we will see more chuckleheads pull this.

    Reply
  27. Bullseye January 11, 2016

    One is allowed to express his views, i. e. practice “free speech”. But that right only goes so far in that one cannot limit the “free speech” of another. At that point of conflict compromise steps in–laws, regulations, cultural tradition, good manners and the like. The real issue, however, is the heavy handed methods that government agencies use to usurp territory and control. While we worry about some this grandstanding stunt, the EPA’s butchery of the Clean Water Act is the real land grab in action. This affects any land owner with creeks, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes or springs regardless of use, origin or size.

    Reply
  28. theghostpony January 11, 2016

    To the author: tell me, genius… how long did law enforcement wait for Occupy Wall Street? And they weren’t even armed. Meanwhile, the Bundy Klan pointed high powered weapons at federal authorities… ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO (April 2014). Last time I checked, that’s a FELONY!

    Kid gloves? Strategy? Give me a damn break.

    Reply

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