Is the Oregon occupation really terrorism?

January 14, 2016

When Ammon Bundy and his self-described “militia” overtook an unoccupied government wildlife refuge Jan. 2 to protest the federal ownership of land and the imprisonment of the Hammond ranchers, they raised a variety of questions.


For many following the development of the group’s occupation of the facility, they have evoked anger, disbelief, amusement (when the group posted a video reacting to the sex toys they received in mail from opponents) and perhaps most of all, confusion.


The public is left wondering how long the occupation will last, why they chose their methods, what the group will do next, and what response the government will have. One big debate circulating newsrooms and pundit shows has been over what to call these self-described “patriots.”


Many news stories have simply referred to them as protestors. However, some think this is too soft a description since the word generally describes peaceful demonstrators. The people occupying the refuge center are armed and have expressed a readiness to die for their cause. Others have called the group terrorists, pointing out that if armed members of a different race or religion overtook federal land, that the description would have been applied immediately.


As of right now, the federal government has seemed to take little notice of the self-proclaimed “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom,” leaving the situation to be handled by Oregon sheriffs, who have asked the group to leave, but little else. It’s hard to argue that if a group of a different race or religion had taken similar action, the response would not have been swifter.


However, many claim that to call the group terrorists would be inaccurate. Thus far, they have not “terrorized” anyone with their actions. They have threatened violence if they are opposed, but have not targeted civilians or officials unprovoked.


Many wonder if, despite any racial imbalances, “terrorism” would be the most accurate term to use. While it is tough to argue that other groups would not have been classified as terrorists having taken similar actions, the question of whether the Bundy group’s armed protests can truly be considered terrorism still stands.


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