“The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum: photo courtesy RT.com
Those following the occupation/standoff situation between state and federal “authorities” and Ammon Bundy along with his militia team at the Melheur Wildlife Refuge in southern Oregon, may have heard that recently Bundy was taken into custody. As of writing it has been less than 24 hours since the news broke about Bundy having been taken into police custody after being pulled over at a traffic stop en route to a town meeting. This traffic stop somehow ended up leaving Ammon’s brother, Ryan Bundy wounded and left the Spokesman for the group, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a Mormon rancher and father of 11, dead one day before his 56th birthday.
The occupation arose initially due to a situation involving Steven and Dwight Hammond– an elderly rancher and his son, who owned a ranch in southern Oregon next to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge that shared a water source with the ranch. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had been harassing this family over their legally owned property for years over land and water use. Several years ago, there was a situation in which a fire broke out due to a lightning storm on the border of the rancher’s property and federal land. The Hammonds intentionally lit a back-fire, as is common practice, to control and contain the wildfire. This was successful and it ultimately ended up saving the rancher’s land as well as federal land. However, after the ranchers called the BLM to report the situation, the BLM arrested them and cited them on arson charges, but the judge who oversaw the case stated that the standard federal sentences constituted as “cruel and unusual punishment” and significantly reduced the sentences for the elderly rancher and his son.
Bewildered as to why the federal government through the BLM seemed to be targeting and harassing her family, Hammond’s wife, Susan did some investigation on her own about the BLM and their mission to “protect wild lands”. The stated purpose and the common assumption is that the confiscation of these private lands by the federal government was to “protect” the plant and wildlife on them so they were better able to thrive. However, what the wife found was a federal study done in 1975 by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service stating that there was an issue of wildlife (both predatory and grazing) migrating from the confiscated federal land to land managed by farmers and ranchers, and that the managed land was in overall better health. Ultimately what this study appeared to show that the claims of the federal government that the confiscation of private land was done for the benefit of plants and animals was false. The wife went public with these findings, which some might argue, led to the re-indictment of her husband and son.
There is also the potential motivation of mineral resources for the land confiscation, because according to The New Media Journal “the area in which Harney County is located is potentially rich in many natural resources including Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc, Arsenic, Mercury, Molybdenum, Coal, Diatomite, Bentonite Natural Gas and Uranium.”
After serving their sentence, the Hammonds went home. However, certain parties the BLM re-opened the case, and determined that because the ranchers didn’t serve the federal minimum, they needed to be slapped with “terrorism” charges. The feds saw that the judge’s decision needed to be overruled and the ranchers needed to be re-tried and sent back to jail- all of which is flagrantly illegal and un-Constitutional. It was during this time that the Hammonds reached out to the Bundy family. Folks may remember the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada between the family and their militia/patriot supporters and agents of the BLM, in which the BLM stood down. Cliven Bundy’s land had been targeted for federal “appropriation”, although it later came out that it had to do with selling the land to an energy company which long-time state senator, Harry Reid’s son was working with. A recent video of a BLM awards ceremony shows members of the agency openly stating that they “steal” land. What is happening here is use of bureaucratic red tape and mafia-style tactics to force people off their private property.
After the Hammond’s were re-sentenced, Bundy and his team took over the wildlife refuge just outside of Burns, Oregon, demanding the release of the Hammonds. It was at this time, the Hammond’s stated that the Bundys did not speak for them and did their best to distance themselves from Bundy. It is not known what caused this change of heart, but my guess is that it either has to do with reduced/increased jail sentences, prison conditions, and/or the safety and security of their family. Likewise, many from the town expressed displeasure with these “outsiders” coming into their town, regardless of whether or not they agreed with their cause in principle or in practice. Even many in the alternative media/patriot community disproved of the way Bundy and the militias went about things, and even suspected possible federal infiltrators and agent provocateurs in the group.
Now the situation has seemingly climaxed with the arrest of Ammon Bundy and others on federal charges and sketchy details of a situation surrounding a traffic stop that left Ryan Bundy wounded by a gunshot and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum dead. If I was to take a guess, police and federal agents that may have been involved probably needed to get a story together that would be digestible for the general public and portray them in a positive light while simultaneously demonizing these “militants”. Time will tell. However according to what Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore told local media outlets, Ammon Bundy called his wife after being detained by law enforcement authorities, informing her that Finicum was cooperating with law enforcement officials before being shot and killed. Finicum’s daughter Thara Lynn Tenney posted a message on her Facebook page stating:
“I want the world to know how my father was murdered today. His hands were in the air and he was shot in the face by the American authorities. Ammon Bundy reported there are 6 witnesses to this evil,”
I talked with a friend of mine last night, who has not approved of the situation from the get-go. She stated that she thought it was unfortunate that someone died as a result of this, but felt it was something that needed to be stopped. She agreed with Governor Kate Brown that the federal government needed to come in to establish “law and order”, and that it was wrong for them to be there. She cited the estimates of how much money it was supposedly costing the taxpayers. My friend finally stated that nobody wanted them there and their cause wasn’t worth someone losing their life. I thought about this for a bit and wondered if the then-unnamed man who was shot and killed presumably by police and federal agents, believed this cause was not worth his life. It turns out that Finicum told NBC News on January 5th:
What is a cause that is worth dying for? Most people don’t even think like that anymore. It is safe to say that the average man (or woman) nowadays is more concerned with saving his own skin (and cash) than sacrificing it for a noble cause. We have of course the soldiers and veterans of the Armed Services that go to war. They believe they are dying for a noble cause. And while in combat, saving the life of a brother-in-arms is most certainly noble regardless of what “side” you’re on, the actual causes and purposes for American wars hasn’t been “noble” in that it served the long-term best interests of the American people, or the populations we were “helping” for over a century.
Here at home, we have police officers killed in the line of duty seen as heroes, dying for a noble cause. Again, context is key here, as the police have been used to enforce an un-Constitutional and federally enabled “War on Drugs” that have turned the streets of many of America’s major cities into war zones. Likewise they have been used as backup to enforce policies that deliberately violate the liberty of law-abiding citizens, and oftentimes with excessive and deadly force. Regardless of unpleasant realities, by and large the causes of the American soldier and police officer are held in esteem by the general public as noble and worth dying for (although there seems to be less esteem for cops these days). More importantly though, the soldiers and police officers that wear the uniform see their cause as one worth dying for, although there are certainly cowards and individuals who don’t believe they’ll die in every bunch.
So what of the cause of the Bundys and this reignited “Sagebrush Rebellion”? Even after the Hammond’s attempted to distance themselves from the Bundys, the common consensus among the supporters was that this cause was bigger than one family and their individual plight. The seizing of lands by the federal government operating as a private corporate entity, separate from the general population of the U.S., has been going on since the end of the Civil War. The Civil War itself was a major show of force from Washington D.C. over the States. Today there are numerous, seemingly increasing incidents of the federal government operating as a private entity, taking land from families in the western U.S. that had been operating on, and taking care of that land for multiple generations. One of the tenets of communism is the abolition of private property. Nowadays this is done through federal, state and local implementation of U.N. Agenda 21 and through the actions and policies of bureaucracies like the BLM.
Legally, the federal government only has rights of ownership in ports, military bases nad the city of D.C.- THAT’S IT. The continued exclusion of the general public from increasingly large swaths of land is illegal under the government’s own laws. As is the eviction of Americans who have owned and used said land. Many of these farmers and ranchers, as well as their families and numerous supporters see this as a time when they need to “hang together, or assuredly be hanged separately.” They see their freedom and livelihood as under a collective attack by an increasingly aggressive and hostile federal entity that has separated its will from the will of the people. These are the prototypical “Salt of the Earth” Americans- pioneer stock who still believe in honesty, hard work, and self-sufficiency: values and morals that are fading into the sunset. These are the sorts of people that increasingly urbanized generations of Americans are being taught and conditioned to demonize and hate.
Is protecting one’s land and livelihood, and the land and livelihood of his family and fellows something anyone considers a “noble” cause anymore? The protection of one’s territory and the ability of one’s family to freely survive and thrive within that territory is a law of the animal kingdom and the natural world, so is this not something that should be respected and honored? Is defending the freedom of land use that was enshrined in the values of the “freeman” of our ancient European forbears something worth defending? Is defending the freedom of private property, a value enshrined in not only the Constitution that sets the ethics and values of our collective “tribe” of Americans a cause worth dying for? According to Robert Finicum, it was, and in the case of his life and his sacrifice, that’s the only person who’s opinion truly holds any weight.
If nothing else, this is perhaps this is a good time to reflect on what our values are as individuals, as members of this tribe known as Americans, or members of the tribe united by the understanding of the Divine Principle of Free Will. What would you die for? Would you die for your children? Would you die for your family or your friends? Would you die for an animal companion? Would you die for your faith, whatever that may be? Would you die for the principles of liberty and free will? Better question, would you be willing to die if no one else was? Would you be willing to die in a battle if you thought it would make the world a better place not just for your children, but for those future generations you will never meet? And would you honestly and truly be willing to suffer and die even the most terrible of deaths for those things? It can be hard for many of us to truly comprehend any of this, as these values are not really taught or esteemed these days in our culture.
Jesus stated in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In fact, one can absolutely argue the point that the story of Jesus is a fable about sacrificing one’s physical body for a sort of “greater good”, despite being persecuted and reviled by the establishment and eventually one’s own countrymen, and then betrayed by one’s own brother “in arms”.
It is too easy for those who may stand ideologically opposed on an issue such as this, to sit in judgement of someone dying for a cause we personally don’t believe in. It is too easy to belittle and devalue the significance of someone dying for what they see as a righteous cause, if one doesn’t hold the same opinion. It is especially easy if we ourselves can’t honestly say that we value anything beyond ourselves to that extreme degree of self-sacrifice. The principle of a warrior has always been one who was willing to go to war and die to protect and uphold the interests and values of his “tribe”. Like his “tribe” or not, Robert Finicum did just that.
So in closing, let us allow compassionate hearts and prayers to go out to the family and loved ones of Robert “Lavoy” Finicum. Let these prayers go out to the soul of Robert himself, wishing him safe travels as he transitions into the Life beyond this one. He died fighting for a cause he understood to be right and honorable, and that is something to be honored.
Those who have ears to hear should hear. Namaste and God Bless.