Tom Nichols: Kurt, most of the time, you and I are on the same side of a lot of issues important to conservatives. We tend to disagree on strategy, but conservatives (no matter what leftists think) are not monolithic. As you often say, we just take different roads to the same bar.
I’m kind of shocked, however, that we seem to have a real disagreement of principle on the Bundy takeover of a public building in Oregon. I despise these guys, not only because I think they’re dangerous, but because I think they’re hypocrites. These are people whose beefs with the government seem pretty much to be a matter of whether they get their way in disputes over money, not freedom.
But here’s my bigger issue: I don’t care if they have a legitimate grievance over Dwight and Steven Hammond going to jail. While there might be a legal issue here (although the Supreme Court didn’t think so), when you pick up a weapon and occupy a building, your grievances go out the window.
My question is: why aren’t you, as a good conservative, as outraged as I am about this kind of lawless thuggery? I agree that the cops should just wait these guys out and then charge them with criminal trespass or disorderly conduct or, for all I care, Aggravated Mopery With Intent To Gawk. But you and I both know that what they’re really doing is nothing less than armed sedition, encouraging others to take up arms against law enforcement and the U.S. government itself.
When did conservatives stop being the law and order party? One of the great virtues of conservatism is consistency—even if we don’t like the results—and if this were a group of Black Lives Matter activists in there with guns and waving around little pocket Constitutions, we’d both be calling for throwing them all in the pokey. I would, anyway. Why aren’t you joining me in that same call now?
I mean, I disagree with Tom Nichols on a great number of things (and certainly with 99% of the things advocated in Sean Davis's Glibertarian Online Horsecrap Extravaganza) but this is exactly the argument conservatives should be making about Ammon Bundy's takeover of a federal building in Oregon here.
It's armed sedition, period. If you believe in rule of law, even if you don't like the people charged with executing that rule of law, you should be against this nonsense.
Kurt Schlichter's response on the other hand is where I think most conservatives are right now.
Kurt Schlichter: I need to be clear that I am not happy about this or supportive of this particular action. But I am disgusted with the way our government has disregarded law, norms, and processes to impose its will on people the elitists at the helm in on the coasts think unworthy of consideration. When did conservatives get less fussy about observing the social contract? When liberals breached it.
But this is a terrible situation. I served in Kosovo and saw up close the chaos and destruction that comes when the rule of law goes. Some on social media accused me of “rationalizing” what’s happening in Oregon; no, I am trying to explain it, because until we understand why it is happening we can’t do what we need to do to stop it.
You are correct that my response to this situation is different from other, superficially analogous movements in recent years. We need to distinguish these Oregon people from the left-wing groups, like Occupy and Black Lives Matter. These guys are marching with American flags, not burning them. Many are apparently vets. The leftist groups are seeking to take more money from people who actually worked for it, and to stop the police from effectively controlling crime.
They are not looting. They are not rioting. They are trespassing, albeit armed. To lump them together with the leftists is a false analogy and not helpful to addressing the problem.
You don’t care about their grievances, so that doesn’t leave you with many options. You either treat their concerns seriously and make it so they don’t feel this is their only outlet, or you use force to suppress them.
We are both coastal, but we know flyover Americans well enough to know they won’t just shrug and submit. The answer, I think we both know, is not force—in fact, insurgents (and make no mistake, this is a pre-insurgency with terrifying potential to expand) need the government to overreact in order to win support.
Right now, most citizens would probably prefer that these guys just go away. But if the feds kill some of them, then many people will see them as the victims, and it will further prove many of what today seem wild claims of oppression.
The wisest thing the Obama administration ever did was walk away from the Bundy ranch. That’s step one here. The next step is to address some of their grievances. We need to show that our political and legal processes can work fairly. If not, this will only continue—and get worse.
Schlichter's ridiculous projection aside, he's right that these seditionists want to martyr themselves and ignite a much larger, most more dangerous, and much bloodier revolution against the federal government.
They want to die so that the country rises up against Obama. Giving them what they want is stupid and accomplishes nothing.
I hate to say it, loathe it in fact. But both Nichols and Schlichter are correct on that front.