By now, most people are aware 7 defendants in the Mahleur refuge standoff were remarkably acquitted of federal charges that they conspired to interfere with federal employees in the performance of their duties. I say remarkable because the standoff was largely live-streamed in real time from January 2 to February 11, 2016. Remarkable because the federal employees in question were unable to go to work for 41 days.
The verdict is remarkable because the United States is, ostensibly, a nation of laws. It appears that claim, more than anything else, is the one on which the jury chose to deliberate. In finding these men not guilty, this jury found themselves bound by neither their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, nor any moral imperative to adhere to this nation’s founding principles. Worse yet, in their failure, they have emboldened a segment of our society whose preferred method of conflict resolution is to claim divine warrant from Jesus himself, and to further their agenda by force. All of this, it is worth noting, under the bastardized banner of ‘patriot’.
Where does this end? Where next might the heavens direct these men and who, now, dares protest?
Robert Bolt’s play, “A Man For All Seasons”, relays the true story of 16th Century Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More. The definitive man of conscience, More was executed by King Henry VIII after refusing to endorse the King’s wish to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. In one passage, More is encouraged by an ally to arrest a clearly devious man who has, as yet, broken no law. More responds:
“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, the laws all being flat?”
Oregon, you have set the stage. You have granted license to those who would take up arms in protest of any statute, measure or mandate with which they disagree. This at a time when, based on his strongly held beliefs, the leader of one of our major political parties has preemptively challenged the results of a presidential election. When his supporters take up arms in defense of their vanquished messiah, where will you hide?
Once we have jettisoned our fundamental standards of justice, by what standard might we call our country just?