LaVoy Finicum, Michael Brown, and Identity Politics. by ,

Many liberals passed sentence on the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (CCF) weeks ago. The cowboys occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Oregon were criminals. Even worse, they were culturally unsympathetic criminals. “Y’all Qaeda,” was the taunt of choice for the smart set, which rocked with laughter when enterprising wags delivered sex toys to the squares.

Yet when they put joking aside, many progressives called for these “militants” to be dealt with as “the terrorists they were”: lethally and with extreme prejudice. Besides, many said, the right-wing nuts were probably a bunch of Islamophobic racists.

The law-and-order left got what they wanted on Tuesday of last week, when several CCF members were ambushed on the road by the FBI and Oregon State Police. CCF spokesman LeVoy Finicum was shot and killed, and the rest were arrested (some after also being shot). The killing was met mostly with approval or shrugs from progressives on social media.

One notable exception was Anonymous, which released a video declaring that:

“…Finicum was killed in cold blood, as his hands were in the air. Just as Anonymous called for justice in the killing of Michael Brown we call for justice now.”

Indeed, it was the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson that first popularized the protest slogan, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” which has been chanted by many of the same liberals now justifying Finicum being shot with his empty hands in the air.

During the Ferguson unrest however, the law-and-order right would have none of it. To them, Michael Brown was just a “thug,” a known criminal who had recently shaken down a store. If he didn’t want to get shot, he shouldn’t have resisted a cop, thought many of the same conservatives now outraged over the bloody government response to CCF’s armed defiance.

Both sides reduce all questions of justice to identity politics, and effectively treat rights as a sympathy-based concept.

For the left, Michael Brown was a sympathetic figure (an underserved youth of color), so he had Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights which were violated by Officer Darren Wilson. On the other hand, LaVoy Finicum was an unsympathetic figure (a right-wing, gun-owning good ‘ol boy), and a potential threat, so he was fair game to be gunned down in the snow.

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