First off, I do not agree with Ammon Bundy’s methods or his approach in this Oregon wildlife refuge occupation, but this situation has shown how absolutely shameless the media can distort these situations. I am not going to address whether they should be called terrorists or if they are militia members or protesters. I do not care about any of that, and we have no way of knowing how much of that is accurate, because big media has already reached a conclusion before they begin their reporting.
What I would like to address is the strange attempt to make this about race. So rabid for clicks and views are the for-profit yarn-spinners that they will shoehorn in any hot-button buzzwords and issues they possibly can. Commentators and pundits have been making the claim that if the men holed up in a remote and closed wildlife refuge were black or middle-eastern, then they would have already been gunned down because cops thirst for the blood of minorities.
There are a number of problems with this. The first is that race is less of a factor here than region. This is rural Oregon. I have spent more time than most in rural Oregon. Most people own guns and shoot them. Hearing multiple gunshots frequently is par for the course. I’m sure multiple gunshots in LA, New York or Chicago, and other places where urban crime is high would mean something entirely different to someone hearing them. Also, what guns mean is very different. When you grow up shooting rifles, you simply do not have the same visceral reaction to firearms as someone who associates them primarily with crime or violence. The media freak-out over the fact that the Bundy boy’s crew is armed only makes sense in the city. In most people’s houses in the rural west there is a gun in the other room.
Another ridiculous element is the idea of the scenario itself being racial and realistic. According to 2012 US Census data, less than 2% of farmers and ranchers in the United States are African American. To make it even more accurate: only about 0.0043% of that 2% of black farmers and ranchers live in Oregon and bordering Washington, Idaho, and I’ll add Nevada (the state from which the Bundy’s trekked). Some people may think: “Hey, man, it’s a hypothetical!” Yes, and it’s a moronic hypothetical by the numbers. If the chances of a bunch of black ranchers committing an armed protest in rural Oregon is statistically insignificant, then using it as an example is utterly moronic. These thing don’t happen in a vacuum. If the issue becomes racial, then it becomes unrealistic, and unrealistic scenarios offer us no useable conclusions about the real world.
The last thing is that the media narrative helps fuel the ridiculous race hypothetical. The common descriptions of these guys is that they are threatening and brandishing weapons. This is just simply not the case. They are armed, yes, and if one of them drew a weapon on a police officer, then I’m sure they would be shot, but the “black guy would have been shot” narrative is based on an assumption that these misguided men are having standoffs with the police, which they simply are not. Of course some people may say: “Well, if it was black people, then the police would probably be more aggressive and cause potential confrontations that could lead to a shooting.” In that case, I point you back to my second point in which a scenario playing out with back ranchers in rural Oregon is statistically insignificant.
The thing is that these assumptions are all based off a wildly distorted view offered by urban commentators who have no experience with rural life. If you take cops out of Chicago and put them in the shoes of the rural police, magically make all the ranchers black, and then teleport them back into Chicago along with years of urban crime and corruption, then maybe someone would have been shot, but we are talking about apples and imaginary oranges here. If you force people into ridiculous hypotheticals that would never happen in reality, then yes, things could go differently, but none of the conclusions would mean anything about our world or what is actually happening in it. So, when someone suggests that armed, black ranchers holed up in rural Oregon federal building would be shot by police, then you can answer that we also wouldn’t be on planet earth anymore.