By now the news has become saturated with news stories of the right-wing activists that took over a federal building in Oregon. In between the jeering hashtags such as #yallqaeda and the explosion of anger over the lack of response to this armed occupation and the brutal fact that this would not be how we treated a group of activists of color, something valuable has been nearly nonexistent in media coverage: this is probably how the authorities should act in all cases.
To begin with, I think that there is much to the argument that a similarly armed and equipped group of people of color would have been treated with much more force and more deliberate speed than those facing the Oregon activists. And I do think that such an armed takeover does constitute an act of domestic terrorism. But I do also think that the mandatory minimum imposed on the Hammond family is far too harsh. But i think all the necessary and proper outrage over the situation obscures a critical fact that I have heard almost no one mention. That is that the way the authorities has responded to the situation is the way the authorities should respond to all situations.
Most of the media coverage has been along the lines of reporting the occupation as peaceful and saying it is different from Black Lives Matter protests because Black Lives Matter protesters are looting and therefore more dangerous (an idiotic assumption). Only a passing comment by a guest on All In with Chris Hayes suggested that maybe, just maybe, the anger over the response should point out that this, the way the Oregon occupiers are being treated, is the correct way to treat these types of events and other protests.
It is foolish to assume that the Black Lives Matter protesters are more dangerous than ARMED men. Just because the occupation has been peaceful thus far does not mean it will remain so and does not excuse the fact that these men and women showed up armed for a standoff and potential conflict with the federal government. But the much decried reaction or nonreactor by authorities in the first days of the occupation is probably the most sensible way for authorities to react and should appropriately serve as a model going forward whether the crowd is an armed right-wing militia or a peaceful yet energetic Black Lives Matter protest. The arguments put forward by opponents of the occupation criticized the government for acting slower for a bunch of armed white people than unarmed black people. This, while true, seems to imply that the authorities should react to the Oregon occupation in the same way they react to Black Lives Matter protests. Certainly the government should react the same way and in similar fashions regardless of who is protesting, I feel that it would be wiser to react to all the situations using Oregon as an example for how to react as opposed to Ferguson.
Hopefully these right-wingers go home soon and the federal building gets reopened. And hopefully we can move on from this incident. But more than that, I hope we learn as a country that this is probably the best way to treat all protests; in a manner that reflects concerns and care for all those involved but asserts force only when absolutely necessary to maintain safety and security.