By Mike Ferner
As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wanna get arrested…”
So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility.
Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down. How will the system treat the militant bullyboys?
Will they get pepper-sprayed in the face as did the college students peacefully sitting in a driveway at UC Davis during Occupy protests, or shot in the head with a police projectile as did Veterans For Peace member Scott Olson in Oakland?
Will they get two months in jail like Ed Kinane for stepping across a line at the School of the Americas; or six months in jail like grandmother Mary Anne Grady, for taking pictures of demonstrators outside the Reaper drone base in upstate NY; or a $20,000 fine like Kathy Kelly’s peace group, for taking medicine to people in Iraq before we invaded their country in 2003; or 10 years in prison for speaking out against the madness of World War One, like Gene Debs;
Will they be clubbed in the head, set on by German shepherds, slammed up against light poles by fire hoses like the kids demonstrating for civil rights in Alabama, or killed by vigilante executioners and buried in a dike for registering voters?
If they go to jail, will they conduct a peaceful hunger strike and endure force-feeding like Alice Paul and Rose Winslow did for demanding women get the right to vote?
If they are arrested, chances are very good that nothing like the above will happen to any of the massively-armed, good ‘ol boys in Oregon who would be the first to tell you they were only making a statement of conscience against government gone amuck.
But when the students at UC Davis, or Kathy Kelly, or Ed Kinane, or Gene Debs, or the civil rights protesters, or the suffragists, all unarmed and committed to nonviolence, conducted their protests they did so with the understanding they may well suffer serious bodily harm and at the very least be arrested and sentenced.
They treated the police, the prosecutors and the judges with utmost respect. They did not plead to lesser charges but underwent trials in hopes of educating more people about the evils against which they fought.
So let’s see how the Rambo wannabes of Eastern Oregon handle themselves. Seems they could use a few lessons in toughness from nonviolent peace and justice activists.
Mike Ferner served as a hospital corpsman during the Viet Nam war. In 2006 he participated in a five-week, water-only fast with Kathy Kelly and Ed Kinane to protest the war in Iraq and was also convicted of two felonies for painting “Troops Out Now” on a highway overpass, which cost him two months house arrest and $5,000.