Thursday, January 7, 2016

More on the Religious Roots of What's Happening in Oregon: Mr. Bundy Cites Scripture

More in the yes-it-does-have-religious-roots category, re: what's happening in Oregon right now:

As Brian Tashman reports at Right Wing Watch yesterday, Ammon Bundy appeared on "Liberty Roundtable Radio" Tuesday to inform the nation that his armed rebellion, which is all about his entitlement to appropriate public lands to his own use, has a biblical basis. Tashman writes, 

Yesterday on "The Liberty Roundtable" radio program, Ammon Bundy defended his seizure of a federal building in Oregon, claiming that the Bible supports his militia's actions. 
He explained that the federal government is wrongly prohibiting economic development on the property he seized, insisting that God would rather have the land be developed: "We read in Genesis where God gives the earth to man, he did not give it to government, he gave it to man to care and to cultivate, and that means to take care of it and to use it. That is necessary and that is what the Lord has done."
Bundy went on to say that the government is violating "scriptural" precepts by controlling land, before arguing that his militia needed to use "shock and awe" to "remove the chains of tyranny and the chains of oppression so the people can regain a hope."

As Ben Piven notes for Al Jazeera America yesterday, 

Though the group in Oregon is small, the number of similar groups has grown exponentially since President Barack Obama was first elected to the White House in 2008, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks their growth.

It would be mind-boggingly stolid for us not to recognize that this exponential growth of the "militia" mentality after Obama's election — a mentality in which white and presumably heterosexual men brandish arms as they seek to provoke confrontations with the federal government — has everything in the world to do with America's original sin: racism. The "show of utter white privilege" we're watching unfold in Oregon right now (I'm citing C.J. Pearson) is happening, as is the proliferation of "militias" comprised largely of straight white males, because the nation has now twice elected its first black president. As Josh Marshall notes, the way in which American law officials handle "white right-wing freaks as opposed to other people who break the law or threaten violence" is "ridiculously inconsistent."

White privilege links to heterosexual privilege links to absurdly inflated claims of the "right" to bear arms links to particular readings of the bible that long appealed to white slaveholding men in the American South, and continue to influence a great deal of what happens in the U.S. today, through religious warrants pushed by white heterosexual men like Ammon Bundy and his collaborators. These "militia" movements are rooted in a certain reading of scripture that prioritizes the "right" of straight white men to run the world. 

As straight white men begin to realize that others including women, people of color, and immigrants are challenging their "right" to rule everyone else, we can expect to see more and more violence and more and more claims that a big gun-toting God made in the image of straight white men gave them a mandate to rule the world and to use violence to secure their rule, if necessary. 

And when the current occupant of the White House dares to challenge any of this, gun sales shoot up, as Julie Creswell reports for New York Times this morning.

But for all of their blowsy rhetoric about how they despise and refuse to recognize the federal government, as Lauren Fox reports at TPM yesterday, the Bundys, who are rich ranchers, have, in fact, opened their wallets to federal politicians and conservative causes — including the battle against marriage equality — in the past: she writes, 

The Bundy brothers are taking an extreme stand against the federal government, but they have opened up their wallets to federal politicians and conservative causes in the past, according to a new report by E and E publishing
The outlet reported that the family of Ammon Bundy, the man believed to be leading the standoff in Oregon at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, donated $1,000 to Ron Paul in 2008 and and another $500 in 2012. According to the E and E report, his wife Lisa Bundy also gave $2,500 to Ron Paul in 2012 as well $5,000 to an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in the state of Arizona. 
The money train continues throughout the Bundy family. Ammon's brother Ryan also gave more than $600 to Ron Paul's presidential bid in 2008.

So yes, all of this does quite definitely have religious roots, though those roots are augmented by other roots that run deep into the soil of America's original sin, racism, just as they run into the muck of patriarchy and male entitlement and heterosexual privilege, leading those nourished by these roots and peculiar reading of the scriptures (again: think white slaveholding men) that has produced them to imagine that they are somehow images of a gun-toting, gay-bashing, women-subjugating God who is, in reality, fabricated out of their own fantasies about who they are and what they represent — not the other way around.

I find this graphic used at a number of websites, but without any indicator (that I have yet found) of its original source.

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