See if you can follow this logic.
The #NoDAPL protesters over the weekend blockaded U.S. Highway 1806 with hay bales and tree stumps, an incident at which one of the protesters also fired arrows at a law enforcement helicopter.
The protesters have now built a permanent “no-surrender” camp in the Dakota Access Pipeline’s path on private land along 1806. “We have made 1806 our no-surrender line,” Joye Braun, an activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network has said to the media.
Yet Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault, who claims to support peaceful and prayerful protests, blames law enforcement for supposedly escalating this situation.
“Archambault said in a statement the tribe does not condone reports of illegal actions, but tribal leaders believe the militarization of local law enforcement and the enlistment of multiple agencies is ‘needlessly escalating violence and unlawful arrests’,” the Fargo Forum reports.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]…it’s hard to get respect when you aren’t willing to respect anyone else. Or the rule of law, for that matter.[/mks_pullquote]
State and local law enforcement is tasked with enforcing the law against protesters who flagrantly and belligerently ignore trespass laws, who have a track record of behaving themselves violently, and we’re supposed to believe they’re the bad guys for having weapons and armor and reinforcements?
I’ve been vocally critical of law enforcement in the past for heavy handed tactics, but sometimes certain tactics are justified. Like when dealing with a mob of political extremists who seem intent on instigating violent incidents to be broadcast by certain propagandists masquerading as journalists.
Which brings me to my larger point: Is this even about a pipeline any more?
I suppose it is, in a general sort of way. The environmental extremists the Standing Rock Tribe has partnered with want to keep oil in the ground, and protests like the one going on in south central North Dakota are a way to foment chaos and faction to obstruct oil transportation infrastructure.
Yet the #NoDAPL situation has also taken on the trappings of the far-left protest movements we’ve seen over the last few years, from #OcccupyWallStreet to #BlackLivesMatter. It’s front in the war to undermine the rule of law, sow hatred of law enforcement, and ultimately divide Americans for political gain.
It’s sad and disappointing and frustrating.
Based on Standing Rock’s initial objections to the pipeline I thought we – meaning the state, the tribes, the federal government, and the oil and gas industry – might have a meaningful discussion about how to better involve tribal perspectives in that process.
But it’s hard to see anything helpful coming from the disaster the #NoDAPL protests are turning into.
The “water protectors,” as they like to call themselves, say they want respect for their point of view. But it’s hard to get respect when you aren’t willing to respect anyone else. Or the rule of law, for that matter.
Democracy works through compromise. It works when people with diverse points of view are able to find a solution which, while not perfect for anyone, is at least workable for everyone.
Democracy does not work when one faction of intransigents tries to impose their will on everyone else. That’s what the #NoDAPL extremists want, and it’s not going to work out well for them. What’s worse, though, is that I’m afraid they’re putting the Standing Rock community in a position where it’s very, very hard to work with their neighbors.