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Civil disobedience is breaking a law that isn’t agreed with. Henry Thoreau, a transcendentalist, encouraged peaceful civil disobedience. The law must be something that many people find bad and they all must act against it, whether it be not paying taxes or petitioning. Thoreau, himself, went against the government and didn’t pay his taxes, thinking he had others to back him up. He went to jail while no one else refused to pay. He believed doing that was a good thing and made him a good citizen. Others also partake in civil disobedience though sometimes to a more extreme measure.
The Oregon Militia Standoff, at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve, is an example of civil disobedience gone to an extreme. The group wanted two thing; 2 ranchers released from prison and the Malheur National Forest be given to the locals. The 2 ranchers committed arson and were sentenced 5 years in prison, which the militia wanted to get them out or just lessen the sentences. They were armed with guns and bombs all, if not, most of the time this was happening.
Cliven Bundy, the father of one of the militants, was told to reduce the number of cattle that grazed on the protected land because the cattle were ruining an endangered species habitat. Bundy refused to and also refused to pay grazing fees. The militia searched through Native American artifacts that were at the refuge, made a road in the sanctuary, and left feces around the refuge. They greatly disrespected the land they were “protesting” on, the law, and even the locals.
Henry Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience isn’t the same as the militia’s. He believed that people should “let [their] life be a counter-friction to stop the machine” but the militia did it without peace, which it what Thoreau would have done (Thoreau 8). Rather than using weapons, he would use words or silent protest, such as not paying taxes for something that will go to a cause he does not support. The militia would be more regressive in his eyes because they used force to try and get what they wanted. Thoreau’s concept of civil disobedience does show up with the Oregon militia but they did not do what he would support.
The Oregon Militia Standoff could have been done much differently and more respectfully. Rather than having weapons, avoiding the law, and having disdain for the refuge, they could have protested with signs and listened to the police if they got involved. Their approach was bad, so the result was equally as bad. The 25 people involved were charged all because they took the tough, villain-like route, making more trouble than needed.
Civil disobedience does not mean there must be violence as there can always be a passive route.
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