We’re allowed to praise our government, too.
Despite all the coverage at the beginning of this year, the media sort of slighted the end to the Oregon occupation last week. I think we have to give a hand to the federal government for their handling of this latest standoff–it was largely bloodless, and the occupiers came out looking foolish.
I say this with the perspective that the Ruby Ridge and Waco siege incidents of the 1990s bring, and even if I wasn’t old enough to even talk, I still don’t want to have a short memory about it. You can read about those events here and here; suffice it to say the government was incredibly aggressive and crossed many lines, killing a lot of people that didn’t need to be:
A later Senate report criticized the [rules of engagement at Ruby Ridge] as “virtual shoot-on-sight orders.”
And in Waco:
Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. 76 people died.
The way that Oregon was handled was, in contrast, patient and with restraint, and law enforcement is taking note:
“This was beautifully executed,” said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino. “This siege and the way it was handled will go down in law enforcement textbooks.”
It’s so crucial that the government handle these situations with patience, transparency, and restraint, because these incidents from the 1990s only fueled right-wing resistance. A government that works fairly and openly–and you know, doesn’t needlessly kill people–doesn’t need to be resisted at all.
Now of course, the Oregon occupation had its costs; and we have to wonder what the outcome might be had the occupiers been black. Moreover, the occupiers had the attention they wanted. At what cost? They looked dumb–don’t forget they asked for snacks, French vanilla creamer, and well, anything. And Ammon Bundy, the guy who supposedly got away with his 2014 occupation of federal grazing land?
And so, because I think we so infrequently do this, we ought to give the government a hand. It can learn some lessons, apparently.