Right-wing militia groups are flocking to a mining claim in Oregon to fight off the Bureau of Land Management in a Cliven Bundy Ranch-style standoff. Federal authorities say they notified the miners that they were out of compliance with regulations and that their equipment had to be off the land by April 25. The miners, and other right-wing nutjobs, plan to fight with everything they’ve got.
According to “The Raw Story,” the miners and their supporters contend that the BLM is destroying documents that prove the miners have rights to the land. They also say that the BLM has produced no evidence of their claim to the land’s surface under the 1955 Surface Resources Act. “The Raw Story” reports that the miners have said:
This case is headed in a direction that presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the (Department of the Interior) and (Department of Agriculture) and to restore the ‘as patent’ rights of every mining claim owner in the United States by striking down the actual source of that intrusive authority.
Over the weekend, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones celebrated the anniversary of the tense standoff between militia groups and the BLM at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, according to “Right Wing Watch.” It is, perhaps, fitting that these same types of people would see the growing tension between the Oregon miners and the BLM as the perfect opportunity to both mark that occasion, and to show that pesky federal government who’s really boss here.
The mining district has been around since the mid-1800s and they have longstanding Congressional authority to not only be there, but to create laws and regulations of their own, so long as those laws don’t conflict with U.S. law. According to a website for the Galice Mining District’s situation, the BLM is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, and the documents they’ve received from the BLM were “heavily parsed,” which is where they’re getting the idea that documents proving the miners’ rights to the land are being destroyed.
The problem, though, is in the approach that these people take to fight the BLM and other federal overreach that they see. The reason the miners reached out to the Oath Keepers and other militia groups is because it was the BLM that stood down during the Bundy Ranch standoff, and that’s emboldened these people, making them think they can do whatever they want, up to and including an ill-advised revolution.
“The Raw Story” piece says that the Oath Keepers consider this to be what being an American is all about. They couldn’t be more wrong, but right-wing nutjobs like these people will never see that. It’s not about knowing the law, or who’s really out of order. To them, because the BLM is a federal agency, it will always be wrong. The idea that freedom means doing what you want, when you want, and how you want, is the very core of their beliefs, and they have little understanding of how this country, or society, actually works.
Featured image via American Freedom Fighters