Letters and Politics

What’s behind the standoff in Oregon; Strikes!

With Jessica Goad of the Center for Western Priorities and principal author of Going to Extremes: The anti-government extremism behind the growing movement to seize America’s public lands.

Then, Jeremy Brecher, author of more than a dozen books on labor and social movements, on his book Strike!.

About Going to Extremes: 

Last week, armed members of the Oath Keepers and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. At the center of the land grab is Ken Ivory, a Utah state representative and president of the American Lands Council. Ivory has been accused of fraud in three states for allegedly scamming local governments into funding the ALC using taxpayer money.

The elected officials supporting state seizure of public lands couch their arguments carefully, using innocuous rhetoric to claim that their only goal is better land management. But in reality, these politicians are following directly in the ideological footsteps of Bundy, the scofflaw rancher who owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to American taxpayers and doesn’t recognize the U.S. government as “even existing.”

In this report, the Center for Western Priorities reveals the extremist origins and foundations of the movement to seize American lands, many of which have not been brought to light before. We describe how public lands issues attract extremists, including members of organizations like the Militia of Montana and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

About Strike!:

Since its original publication in 1972, no book has done as much as Jeremy Brecher’s Strike! to bring American labor history to a wide audience. Strike! narrates the dramatic story of repeated, massive, and sometimes violent revolts by ordinary working people in America. It tells this exciting hidden history from the point of view of the rank-and-file workers who lived it.

In this expanded edition, Jeremy Brecher brings the story up to date. Revised chapters covering the forty years since the original edition place the problems faced by working people today in the context of 140 years of labor history. A new chapter, “Beyond One-Sided Class War,” presents the American mini-revolts of the twenty-first century, from the Battle of Seattle to Occupy Wall Street and beyond. Strike! is essential reading for anyone interested in the historical or present-day situations of American workers and serves as inspiration for organizers, activists, and educators working to revive the labor movement today.

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