Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Oregon standoff finally coming to a head

With one of their colleagues dead and much of their leadership captured, and with authorities cutting off escape routes, the boys out in Burns, Oregon are getting a mite panicky. I can't post the video here -- WARNING: it contains language not suitable for a family website -- but here's a portion of a live feed posted by the militia to YouTube.

As you can see, that excerpt doesn't reflect well on the intelligence of those involved, nor does it bode well for a peaceful outcome. In addition to the hysterical rhetoric, it shows the remaining radicals using construction equipment to dig trenches and foxholes in anticipation of an assault by authorities. I doubt the assault will come soon; what we're seeing at the moment is probably just an escalation in a long war of nerves. But it will have one of three outcomes: They will surrender, be arrested or die.

At a press conference today, the FBI special agent in charge noted that authorities had given the militia members more than ample time to leave and defuse the situation, but the opportunity had been repeatedly spurned. The time had finally come to take action.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward put it pointedly and poignantly, referring to the death of LaVoy Finicum:

"It didn't have to happen. We all make choices in life. Sometimes our choices go bad."

They're particularly likely to go bad when you engage in grotesque self-romanticizing delusion about "Second Amendment" remedies and taking up arms against your country. And this won't be the end of it. Militia wannabes around the country are already trying to turn Finicum into a martyr, claiming that he was shot down in cold blood. (An account by Ammon Bundy's bodyguard contradicts that claim, acknowledging that Finicum rushed law enforcement rather than surrender.)

And down on his ranch outside Vegas, Cliven Bundy sits in a simmer over the fact that two of his sons are now in prison and likely to be there for awhile.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.