Here’s what the rest of the nation doesn’t understand about Oregon and the way Oregonians handle things – they are a very tolerant lot. Not a self-righteous bone in the whole lot of them.
Nothing ruffles their feathers, unless it’s an Endangered Spotted Owl, of course.
People who live in high flutin sky-rises in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas wax on about how come the Harney County police don’t just storm the gates of the wildlife refugee and take that Redneck Militia out.
They just don’t get it.
Anyone remember this moment?
The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to Congressional passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gave President Lyndon Johnson backing to launch military strikes against North Vietnam. Only two senators dissented. One of them was Oregon Senator Wayne Morse.
Going along with popular opinion has never been the focus of Oregonians. They could care less what the rest of the nation thinks they ought to do.
They are like Alaska that way.
Most of the time.
But not in the fuzzy free love way that Ken Kesey mistakenly led people to believe. Oregonians don’t go around hugging people the way folks in Mobile do, unless they are high or drunk (which kind of explains that whole Kesey thing).
Entertainment news folks love stories about militias in rural Oregon. It suits their ill-begotten sterotypes so well. You know, the stories about how rural Oregon is where all the tree huggers and laid-off loggers go to shack up with their sheep and get cozy with the Rainbow Family.
Even our own Oregon Public Broadcasting wasn’t above resorting to the stereotype and interviewing some fellow earlier this week named Pelting Rain or Twirling Bear (who can remember these things at this late hour?). Needless to say, he was about as articulate as Adam Sandler stoned (which begs the question: Is there a difference between Sandler stoned and Sandler sober, or does he slur all his words together either way?).
For the record, stoned people are rarely articulate. They may have the highest of IQs, but they all come across as a genetic mishap when interviewed while stoned. And the thing about it is that since they are stoned, they are completely unaware of how dumb they sound. Such was the case with Pelting Rain on OPB. Not that he minded. He probably called his grandma in Grants Pass and told her to be sure and listen ’cause he was making headline news, for real man.
The thing most people laughing about the Redneck Militia in those gleaming New York City sky-rises never take into consideration is that these militia folks are not Oregonians. They came here from other places: Arizona, Utah, Washington and the like. Yes, in Oregon, even our hokey militia are illegal (of sort) immigrants, albeit mostly white ones.
It wouldn’t be a Redneck milita, otherwise.
Without firearms, it would just be another gathering of disgruntled white men with too much caffiene in their systems and escalating prostate problems.
In other words, just another Congressional gathering at the ranch.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of BURDY (Mercer University Press), a displaced Georgia girl who simply refuses to consider herself an Oregonian, although she is proud of Wayne Morse and his stand on the war in Vietnam. She has friends who live in Harney County. She considers them to be fine people.