Author Anthony McCann on what the Oregon occupation revealed about America’s broken history


In 2016, a right-wing armed militia, led by Ammon Bundy, occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. This event sparked many questions regarding the exercising of state’s power and the overall concepts of public land. In a multifaceted story, poet and creative writing professor Anthony McCann gives a first-hand account of the occupation and its political aftermath in the book “Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff.” McCann joins Salon’s executive editor Andrew O’Hehir and explained the ideological basis for the militia (referred to as the Bundyism.)

“The Bundyism is this total staged for the internet ideology, in this messianic way, it's a neo-Jacksonian, small government, going out into the frontier even though there isn't a frontier anymore, and establishing a maximum liberty frontier society,” McCann said. “But that's not possible for anybody, so it's entirely in a world of political fantasy, which leads to one of the things that was the strangest about spending time with them.” But McCann asked multiple people involved in the community at the standoff why they were participating, “This one guy even told me, ‘I was finally outside the war machine,’ which is not what you're expecting to hear from right-wing militants who've occupied a national wildlife refuge with the goal of returning all public land to the people, and possibly some of them to private ownership.”

Watch the video above to learn more about the Oregon Standoff and its political relevance as it relates to Trump and what the Constitution implies about the promise of American liberty.

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