Reprinted from The Nation
The armed militants who have invaded and occupied a national wildlife refuge in Oregon -- with talk of how they are "willing to kill and be killed if necessary" -- feel a need to announce that: "We are not terrorists."
In addition to demanding the release of Oregon ranchers who have been convicted of committing arson, the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are demanding that the federal government abandon one of the most precious spaces in America to ranching and development. The Bundy boys want the refuge "shut down forever" -- proposing that "the federal government relinquish such control" of federal lands as part of a broader assault on the very idea that the people of the United States might protect and preserve pristine areas.
Condemnations of federal land management have long been voiced not just by the extreme right but by conservative politicians and media outlets that object both to land management policies and to serious protection of wetlands and wildlife.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has decried recent federal Bureau of Land Management policies and proposals as an "extreme land grab" and in 2014 ripped the federal response to an armed standoff with Cliven Bundy and his backers in Nevada. As Washington's The Hill newspaper recalled, "Cruz lamented the Bundy standoff as "liberty under assault," but later rebuked the rancher for making remarks about African-Americans that he called 'completely unacceptable.'"