The armed protesters occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon have indicated that they will leave if the locals so desire. Well, it's time for them to go: Harney County residents, who just held a huge community meeting about this invasion, seemed to heartily agree that they want the vigilantes to pack their bags and skedaddle.
Sieges like the one happening near Burns exploit Western communities as a stage to perform political theater. The people involved bring violence and hostility to places that in day-to-day life are mostly noted for their tranquility.
...The need for deep discussion about public lands is real. Those of us who live in communities surrounded by them know that wildfire, insects and weeds have moved in on lands that once provided a living for us. Our treasured national landscapes and the fish, wildlife and water within those landscapes are taking a big hit, and so are the communities whose fates are intertwined with them.
...All across the West, communities have been working hard to find real and lasting solutions to their problems. This patient work rarely grabs headlines in the way that gun-slinging, interloping blowhards do.
...We who live in these lyrical and remote places have intimate knowledge of their value. We have an important story to tell. We should not let others such as the Bundys tell another story for us.
What's bothering some people is along comes these non-union, off-Broadway actors whose improvisations are dominating the headlines and airwaves. Not necessarily who I'd chose as the lead actors, but without them nobody would be attending this particular theater.