This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Good and thoughtful people across the nation and around the world are today asking how a handful of white, self-described Christian guys with guns can illegally seize a federal facility and not face immediate, violent reprisal from law enforcement.
It is easy to suppose that if it were so many blacks, or Muslims or black Muslims pulling such a stunt, the Predator drones would have been called in right away.
But so far the feds have been measured, if not downright mute, in their response to the occupation of a building at the Malheur National Wildlife near Burns, Ore. Apparently the FBI has set up a command post somewhere nearby, in hopes of waiting the yahoos out. It's a group that some clever wags have already dubbed "Y'all Qaida." Or "Vanilla ISIS."
Such mockery is the correct approach, at least so far. The so-called militia has fired no shots, taken no hostages and presented no other clear and present danger that would force government's hand.
Patience, for the time being, is the best way to avoid violence and deprive the occupiers of any more attention or sympathy. (As it would have been in many cases over the past year where people of color were killed by police.)
The not-so-well-regulated "militia" holding the birdwatcher's hut is led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy, whose armed standoff with federal officials came to a peaceful, if unsatisfying, end in 2014.
This clan shares a belief that public land is open for whatever use any odd member of the public wishes to make of it at any time, no matter how destructive or illegal that use might be. Run cattle, dig a mine, start a fire, whatever.
Imagine a claim that someone has the right to build an outhouse and toss beer cans around the Gettysburg National Military Park, just because the land is "public," and you would have some picture of just how wrong the Bundys are.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which the Bundys claim to be members, has officially denounced any attempt to use church doctrine or scripture to justify the seizure or any other resort to armed action.
Political leaders from Utah and the West should follow the church's lead. And they should take care in what they say. Cracks that might make a good fed-bashing sound bite for normal voters could be taken as a literal call to arms by folks who don't have a clue what the word "public" means.
When people engage in such a pathetic stunt, calling them "terrorists" gives them too much credit. But those who take up arms against their own government, their own fellow citizens, are not patriots. They show their nation no respect, and should receive none in return.