GOOD

Real Patriots Clean Up After Themselves

Cleaning up the mess left by the occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge will cost an estimated $4 million.

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

When a group of gun-toting yahoos took hold of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon this January, it seemed the ragtag group of camo-loving patriots’ occupation couldn’t last long. But despite community outrage, national disgust with the occupiers and their incomprehensible demands, and the strategic delivery of care packages full of dildos, the group managed to hole up for 41 days, a surprising length of time. Even after their holdout, and some patience on the part of authorities—considering that this was an armed occupation of a federal facility—the situation ended in the death of a prominent member of the occupying group, a good number of arrests, and extensive damage to the wildlife refuge.


Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Images from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Flickr account show some of the mess left behind by the group, now being cleaned up by the federal agency, using taxpayer dollars. The cost of picking up after the militiamen is estimated to total $4 million. While many conservatives and self-styled patriots trumpet values of personal responsibility and rugged self-sufficiency, it looks like these occupiers just made a big mess and left it for others to clean up, pretty much shitting where they ate. The New York Times, where I first encountered these images, describes the scene:

In the photos, a box of instant cocoa with miniature marshmallows can be seen next to some dusty electrical equipment, and a large pile of loose tobacco on a flattened cardboard box is still waiting to be rolled. Garbage, broken electronics, abandoned outdoor gear and rotting food can also be seen. Journalists given a tour were advised to avoid the human feces that dotted the premises.

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

“I don’t think the photos do it justice,” Jason Holm, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, told the New York Times. In reference to an open latrine dug by the occupiers, Holm added: “We’ve had to actually repaint buildings with specialized paint because they smell so bad.”

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Most people in the United States consider keeping the country clean to be a noble national ideal. A 2012 poll conducted by the Nature Conservancy found that 80 percent of Americans considered conservation of natural resources, in and of itself, to be patriotic. And 75 percent of those surveyed agreed that “one of the things our government does best” is preserving its “history and natural beauty through national parks, forests, and other public lands”—places like the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

When these fellas were done playing militia, they should have been expected to pick up the mess they had madejust as we'd ask any child who’s finished playing for the day. It’s a lesson these patriots had better learn soon, since they just might be spending a lot of their post-sentencing time picking up trash on the side of America’s scenic highways and historic promenades.

There’s an important point here, one that all proud Americans age 5 and older can be expected to observe: Real patriots clean up after themselves.

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

Image by USFWS - Pacific Region via Flickr

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