Wednesday, 27 January 2016 00:00
Spencer Sunshine By Spencer Sunshine, Truthout | News Analysis
The FBI and the Oregon State Police have arrested most of the leaders of the three-and-a-half-week armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. At least two militia members were shot during a highway traffic stop that turned into a shoot-out Tuesday night, and one militia leader – Robert “LaVoy” Finicum – was killed.
From its start, the Malheur occupation highlighted the social and political fault lines within the United States, drawing sharply conflicting reactions ranging from mockery to hero worship to criticisms of the capitalist and colonial underpinnings of the militia’s tactics and aims. Reactions to the shoot-out have also revealed even more fault lines, including divisions within the left, as some celebrate the downfall of the far-right-wing occupiers and others question how any progressive could ever celebrate the shooting of a civilian by the police.
As the Malheur occupation fades into history, there are many insights on the US social and political landscape to be distilled both from this episode and from the national conversations it has sparked. One underreported aspect of the affair is what it revealed about the nature of the partial but significant overlaps between neo-Nazis and anti-federal-government activists like the Bundys.
The occupiers had been demanding the abolition of the federal government as we know it, using a set of rationales that were originally derived from racist movements. Some of the occupiers were known to spout anti-Semitic or Islamophobic conspiracy theories, while another denied that slavery existed. And so it should not have surprised anyone that neo-Nazis and other organized racists have applauded the occupation.
Instead of wearing a swastika and burning a cross, they were wrapped in the American flag and waving the Constitution.
Until their arrest, Ammon and Ryan Bundy (sons of deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy) were leaders of the occupation of the refuge’s headquarters outside of Burns, Oregon, which had gone on since January 2. They had two demands: to remove control of the bird sanctuary (previously Indigenous-held land) from the federal government’s hands so that ranchers could use it for private gain without current environmental and other restrictions; and release two members of the Hammond family, local ranchers serving sentences for arson on public land.
Many of the ideas and political forms that Ammon Bundy and his friends used were derived from the 1970s white supremacist group Posse Comitatus. It promoted the formation of militias, developed a fictitious parallel legal world based on an idiosyncratic reading of the US Constitution, and rejected the authority of federal and state governments – claiming that the county sheriff was the highest legitimate elected official. But while Ammon Bundy and the others directly around him had many of the same ideas, they were careful not to use Posse Comitatus’ bigoted language.
This was not true of many of the Bundys’ followers at the refuge. Jon Ritzheimer, who was also arrested Tuesday night, is a famous Islamophobic organizer, known for his vicious rhetoric. Blaine Cooper once wrapped a Koran in bacon and set it on fire. Brand Thornton and David Fry are reported to hold anti-Semitic ideas. Ryan Payne (also arrested on Tuesday) believes that slavery didn’t exist. Rance Harris is said to have neo-Nazi tattoos like “88” – the alphanumeric code for “Heil Hitler.” And together they collectively offended the Burns Paiute Tribe (whose land used to include the refuge), by – among other things – breaking into an area where the tribe’s artifacts are stored.
So flirtatious overtures from neo-Nazis to the Bundy gang should not have surprised anyone.
by Susie Duncan Sexton
He believed the collective guilt of having already eaten meat for a lifetime and laughing at animals and never stopping to face the reality of all the abuse other species suffer at the hands of humans is the primary reason humans become so stubbornly heinous. Yet, some of us become compassionate and wish to change. We are the true brave hearts. The others are cowards playing with murderous weapons. Nothing but cowards.
And as usual they – those who want to make an ugly point of their God(?)-given “dominion” over, well, everything, it seems – are once again taking their vileness and coarseness and ignorance out on the innocent – even stepping it up. Pretty odd stuff – sociopathic and psychopathic and bizarre. A bully is a bully is a bully.
Those types are as nuts toward humans as they are animals, in spite of any insincere attempts (on their part) at denial of such. Often…usually always…the swaggering grows due to gang-like behavior. Humans trying to impress other humans and to be accepted in some nightmarish club or other. Just unbelievable to observe.
But so goes history….ethnic cleansings, world wars, crusades, feeding ____ to lions, gladiator contests, rodeos, bull-fights, turtle tossing, quail shooting, and ………………… and all manner of kinky, mean, smug, creepy, stupid stuff.
Remember trying to walk home from school? And the little cliques that lay in wait? Well, those kids never change. And they seldom seem to pay for their nasty behavior. They manage to raise their little fists and display their Wal-Mart weapons in photo ops because maybe they really always wanted to be movie stars or quarterbacks or cowboys or roller derby dolls or something?
And they should have been disciplined by parents (who often maneuvered their way on to school boards) or teachers (who often wish to be popular with the meanest kids so that their work day goes smoother!).
C’mon 99% can relate to the horrors of the public school system then and now. Same old same old. And look where we all are today…putting up with the ugly fireworks I just described and whatever else the entitled want to impose on the rest of us.
Read about movies and nostalgia, animal issues and sociopolitical concerns all discussed in my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter and its follow-up Misunderstood Gargoyles and Overrated Angels – print and ebook versions of both are available on Amazon (click the title).
And you can download from iTunes.
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Visit my author website at www.susieduncansexton.com
Join a great group of animal advocates Squawk Back: Helping animals when others can’t … Or Won’t
“…It’s ‘impossible to feed 10 billion people.’ We don’t need more farmers, we need fewer small mouths to feed.”…
[I would add that the root problem responsible for overpopulation is human arrogance and the scourge of speciesism. Once we address that, we can move beyond mass-denial and take a serious, scientific look at this planet’s carrying capacity in relation to human overpopulation.]
Humans are doing nothing to stop their own self-destruction
…Population is out of control. That’s the world’s No. 1 problem. Yet we’re trapped in mass denial. Nobody’s dealing with the world’s biggest problem. Listen:
- Scientific American says global population growth is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” By 2050 world population will explode from today’s 7 billion to 10 billion, with 1.4 billion each in India and China. With China’s economy nearly three times America’s.
- Billionaire philanthropists met secretly in Manhattan five years ago: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey and others. Each took 15 minutes to present their favorite cause. Asked what was the “umbrella cause?” They all agreed: Overpopulation, said the billionaires. But they’re still silent today.
- Our collective conscience is trapped in massive conspiracy. In “The Last Taboo,” Mother Jones columnist Julia Whitty hit the nail on the head: “What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives and scientists in a conspiracy of silence? Population.” But this hot-button issue ignites powerful reactions. Yet politicians won’t touch it. Nor will U.N.’s world leaders. Even when it’s killing us. Cowards talking a good game.
- Jeremy Grantham’s investment firm GMO manages about $110 billion in assets. He also funds an Institute of Climate Change at London’s Imperial College. He warns, population growth is a huge “threat to the long-term viability of our species, when we reach a population level of 10 billion.” Why? It’s “impossible to feed 10 billion people.” We don’t need more farmers, we need fewer small mouths to feed.
But how? Bill Gates says we must cap global population at 8.3 billion, even as his vaccine and contraceptive plans extend life expectancy. But Columbia University’s Earth Institute Director Jeff Sachs says even 5 billion is too many. Stop adding more babies? Virtually impossible. So how do we not add a billion? Or subtract two billion from today’s seven billion total? Voluntary? Remember how China’s one-child plan failed.
World’s biggest problem — out-of-control population — has no solution?
Worst-case scenario: There is no solution. Overpopulation is going to drive the world off a cliff. And seems nobody really cares. Nobody’s working on the real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. A denial that’s killing us.
Any real solutions? Just wait for wars, pandemics, starvation to erase billions? Wait in denial? But will wars, disease, poverty solve Earth’s biggest problem, the problem no one wants to talk about? Meanwhile, Big Oil’s marketing studies keep telling CEOs like Tillerson the truth about the inconsistent behavior of irrational humans living in denial. To Big Oil, population growth is good, more customers, essential for economic growth.
Yes, we just keep telling ourselves we’re recyclers, green, love hybrids, eat organic.
Even as we just keep adding to the billion autos on the planet, keep buying Big Oil stocks for retirement, keep stocking up on carbon polluting products. Why? Our subconscious secretly endorses Big Oil’s strategy. As Tillerson once told Charlie Rose in BusinessWeek: “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do,” making “quality investments for our shareholders.” It’s a subtle conspiracy.
Is it already too late? Will we ever stop our insane suicidal obsession?
Don’t bet on it. Watching how America’s dysfunctional government solves problems lately is not encouraging.
Millennium ago dinosaurs disappeared. Didn’t know what hit them in the last great species extinction. They vanished forever. Forever. The planet never brought them back. Today humans know what’s ahead. We can make the big, tough decisions … if only we wake up in time … if only we have the will to act … before it really is too late.
Paul B. Farrell is a MarketWatch columnist based in San Luis Obispo, Calif
For over half a century the Nazi swastika—that all too familiar symbol of hate—has been relegated to the dark corners of extremism, never to be openly displayed on a flag or uniform again. The Nazi credo was perhaps as confusing as it was complex, but generally, it was the definitive case of one group vilifying and scapegoating another.
Today, a similar type of blind hatred rules in areas where exploitive or extractive animal industries are considered a way of life. One can hardly drive a mile in parts of rural America without seeing emblems of extremism in the form of hateful bumper stickers touting selfish anti-wolf slogans like, “Smoke a Pack a Day” or, in areas where wolves are still extinct, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” Another popular hate-symbol adorning the back of all too many rural pickup trucks is simply a silhouette of a wolf inside a red circle with a slash through it.
In certain towns along the Pacific Northwest coast, where commercial fishing is a dying “way of life” (because dams and overfishing had nearly wiped out the salmon), the trendy stickers of ignorance and intolerance feature a sea lion with a fish inside a red circle and slash. The message is clear, sea lions can starve and die off, the humans have claimed the fish for themselves.
And although sea lions are indeed starving and dying off, it isn’t happening fast enough for some small minded, self-serving fishermen who shoot them, in defiance of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, just as the wolves in the tri-state and Great Lakes regions become victims of those who claim all land animals as “resources” and can’t stand the competition from those natural predators. Blatant Nazism may be a thing of the past, but speciesist extremism is alive and well all across America.
Nine Signs You’re at a Paul Ryan Rally:
9) All the babies are in cammo diapers
8) Senior citizens seen fleeing in mortal fear
7) Secret service guys are the only ones carrying concealed weapons
6) Has-beens, wanna-bes and never-weres (such as Ted Nugent and Kid Rock) are crowding the stage, hoping someone will recognize them
4) The candidate looks like a scary version of Eddie Munster
3) Fang marks left on all the babies he’s kissed
2) Instead of shaking hands with voters, Ryan is trading deer sausage recipes
1) Some Bubba is going around bragging, “I bought my 10 year-old girl a rifle and I’m gonna teach her how to kill a deer this year!”—wait a minute, that’s the candidate!
Those of us who grew up watching “All in the Family” knew that the patriarch, Archie Bunker, wasn’t always right (to say the least). Yet, often the first reaction I hear from people when they learn that Exposing the Big Game is an anti-hunting book is an indignant, “But my father was a hunter!”
Well, so? Look at all the other outdated activities or attitudes we’ve turned our backs on—slavery, racism, sexism all went out of fashion without anyone arguing, “But my father was a racist, sexist, slave owner!”
What’s so sacred about hunting that makes it any harder to kiss goodbye than any of our parent’s other wrong-headed behaviors? Maybe it’s that nearly everyone you meet is as blind to their anthropocentric prejudice of speciesism as Archie Bunker was to his isms. Most people seem unwilling or unable to share their compassion with the non-human animals of this world.
Our parents deserve to be honored for teaching us the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Kids are generally told that this directive applies to everyone, from their parents and teachers to their siblings and friends—not just to members of their in-group. And a lot of parents wouldn’t hesitate to invoke the golden rule to stop a child hurting the family pet.
Yet for many people, the bias of speciesism is so entrenched that they can’t seem to recognize a wild animal as a deserving other. But biases and isms are not written in stone. If humanity keeps evolving along a compassion continuum, we will inevitably apply the same rules of consideration to all creatures who have the ability to think and feel. Perhaps it’s time to update and clarify the golden rule to read: “Do unto other sentient beings as they would have you do unto them.”
The golden rule is an age-old edict rooted in the qualities of empathy and compassion. The former asks that we put ourselves in someone else’s “shoes” while the latter compels us to modify any actions that would harm or aggravate them. Naturally if we live by a golden rule that includes all of the animal kingdom, we would never keep anyone captive, trap, poison or snare them or use them as living targets in a bloody, imbalanced game.
Well, I touched the hot button of overpopulation without getting burned, so perhaps it’s safe to wade into the tar pit of religion without going too far under…
First, a fair warning to lurking hunter trolls: your comments and feeble rationalizations (and we’ve heard them all before) will not be posted on this blog, but will get filed as such and may be used against you anytime they help prove a point. For example, here’s part of a comment I received from a hunter the other day: “I love animals, but fully understand that all living things have their place in God’s plan and on His Earth. He gave us domain over animals. Read Genisis [sic] and wake up!”
How convenient. But do people really still believe that kind of crap?
Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.
A staggering 46% of Americans believe that god created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted this year from May 10th to the 13th. Not only has that number not changed much in the past 30 years since Gallup first asked the question on Creationism vs Evolution, it’s actually gone up 2%, from 44% in 1982 to 46% in 2012!
Gallup’s Frank Newport told CNN, “Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origins of the human species since 1982. All in all, there’s no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.”
So, why do I care what people believe? Why won’t I just let them have their fun?
Because such dogma can directly affect how non-humans are treated.
The literal belief that humans have some kind of god-given authority over every other species of animal bestows undeserved power into unreliable hands. Creationist claptrap that favors one species over another perpetuates speciesist doctrine devised to demean and control our fellow animals in the same way that notions of racial superiority were used against our fellow humans.
The second most common view of those polled—held by 32% of respondents–is that humans evolved with god’s guidance. Again, a very convenient conviction that can be used to put humans on top.
Newport goes on to say, “It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans hold a belief [in creationism] that is at odds with the preponderance of scientific literature.”
To their benefit, and to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet, I might add.