Jay Bookman

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

These self-styled 'militia' in Oregon are sad-sack losers with guns

A group of sad-sack, self-romanticizing losers claims to have struck a blow against "federal tyranny" by seizing an unguarded bird sanctuary in Burns, Ore., one of the more remote areas in the lower 48. They are led by Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, made famous in a successful armed standoff against federal authorities two years ago.

At least some of the current protesters appear to be itching for a confrontation, but that's not necessary. Though they clearly want to be seen that way, these idiots prattling on about the Constitution and patriotism are hardly the modern-day counterparts of John Brown and his followers, who seized the federal armory at Harper's Ferry in 1859, hoping to set off a slave revolt. Remember, their "grand gesture" is to occupy the headquarters of a wildlife refuge that was closed for the holiday weekend. There's no cause for bloodshed, and there's no reason to give them any martyrs.

So cordon off the area, blocking all access and egress. Allow no food, no water, no supplies or reinforcements. Shut off electricity, gas and water. Then give these "militia" a day to leave peacefully, without threat of arrest.  (Remember that at this point, despite the presence of weapons and some overheated rhetoric, they've done little but conduct a sit-in.)

Announce that once the deadline has passed, anybody leaving the facility will be arrested and their weapons will be confiscated. Then just wait. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the single-digits by the end of the week. Let them put their survivalist inclinations to a test.

The best way to humiliate them is to let boredom and the cold disarm them.

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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.