The Takeover of Federal Land in Oregon: Manifest Destiny?

I was impressed yesterday by the President when he made a sincere effort to regulate guns sales in this country.  We are beset by gun deaths and the constant carnage not just in cities but throughout the country.  On Atlantic.com it is reported that we will suffer almost 33,000 deaths by gunfire in 2015.  The mass shootouts that occurred in Oregon, California and New York dull in comparison.  The President became emotional when referring to the Sandy Hook massacre.  Philadelphia has a steady level of shootings that people have become numb too.  A man was shot numerous times on the El steps in West Philly but that will not make a blip in the national headlines.  The present standoff in Oregon is presenting an interesting backdrop early in the New Year.

It seems as though the current Oregon standoff was initiated by a militia that is upset over the fact that the federal government, in the form of the Bureau of Land Management, owns too much land for their liking.  Some of these individuals don't like to pay grazing fees to use government owned land.  They feel that the government should return land to state control.  Even if this were to occur, would they want to use the land for free anyway?  The real challenge for police and federal authorities is that these men are armed to the teeth with assault rifles and other weaponry.  Add to this the fact that some of them are willing to fight to the death and we are presented with a conundrum.

Students of American history will have mixed emotions about the concept of Manifest Destiny.  The term pilgrims came up this past summer with the advent of the visit to Philadelphia from Pope Francis.  We learned about colonial pilgrims who came here from England in search of religious freedom.  In fact, Thanksgiving in this country implies that there was goodwill extended to the pilgrims by Native Americans who were living on this continent before the need for the aforementioned religious freedom needed by the English citizens.  The first settlement on Plymouth Meeting was not all successful.  The flood gate was opened though and our need for individual control is now being exerted again.

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Manifest Destiny was the belief exhibited by settlers that it was the destiny of the United States to expand its territory over the whole of North America and to extend its political, social and economic influence accordingly.  I guess this was the overriding influence as Native Americans were slaughtered and territories were taken on the was to total dominance.  There were so many treaties made and broken with the original inhabitants of these United States that it is breathtaking in its heartlessness.  The current invaders of federally owned land feel the same need to exert their right to takeover land that is now owned by the United States.  We have the power to remove them but unlike other protesters who have been arrested or shot, the government is proceeding cautiously in this instance.
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One of the instigators of this takeover is Ammon Bundy.  He is a Mormon who is currently living in Utah but the whole process of fighting the federal government is ordained by his faith.  Here we go with the belief in a higher power ordaining a takeover again.   Mr. Bundy's father made the news a few years ago by wondering aloud whether African Americans would be better off as slaves.  He also successfully battled the federal government to allow his cattle to gaze for free on federally maintained land.  I do not want to see bloodshed in this instance.  It is going to be interesting to see how this precedent that is currently being set will be dealt with if there was another party involved.  By this I mean people of color or any other cause.   Republican candidates are sending mixed signals as to what they think should happen.  Donald Trump is so busy criticizing Hillary Clinton that he hasn't had time to comment.  I will report back when a resolution occurs.

P.S. On January 27th, one protester was killed as they were on their way to a community meeting.  Only four protesters remain.

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