An early morning snowfall was melting along the roadside around mid-day one Saturday in February when a man with an orange bullhorn started talking through a bullhorn. He said something about a ‘land grab.’ To be honest, I did not pay much attention to his words.
Phil, a neighbor and a gentle soul, said that it was impolite not to listen. Phil was probably on the moral high ground but at the time I was feeling that the man on the other side of the highway was not particularly respectful. Although my wife has suggested that I might consider a hearing aid, I could hear him perfectly well without the bullhorn.
This scene was all about our Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The fellow with the bullhorn was part of a group described in their literature as “Patriots, Ranchers, Hunters, Miners, 4×4 & OHV Enthusiasts and Loggers” who oppose expansion of the Monument and hope to somehow undo the whole thing.
These folks have their reasons, of course. Most of their arguments boil down to jobs, values and a sense that they are losing their grip on a traditional lifestyle. I have reasons for supporting the Monument, which can be summarized as values, jobs and a lifestyle that I hope to perpetuate. But reasons tend to lose relevance when the bullhorns come out.
Actually, prospects for actual conversation had already been reduced by a phrase in a “No Monument” flyer that was published prior the event: “Legal concealed carry is encouraged…” A weapon, concealed or otherwise, brings with it the possibility (however remote) of violence. For me, that’s a conversation killer.
I turned away from the roadside scene, which included a small group of ‘protesters’ on one side of the highway, a handful of curious onlookers in our restaurant parking lot, the bullhorn guy with whatever else he was carrying and three or four Sheriff’s deputies who, no doubt, troll Facebook and read flyers. Back in our Forest Room, I found a warm wood stove and Phoenix Sigalove who was singing sweetly to a hundred or so friends and neighbors. People were chatting and eating pulled pork sliders. Some were drinking beer in moderation.
Our Green Springs community includes ranchers, hunters, many 4WD vehicle owners, loggers, gun owners and, I am certain, a clear majority of patriotic Americans. (We are short on miners.) Many of us support Monument expansion and some don’t. Neighbors who favor Monument protections for our unique mountain ecosystems showed up for our party Saturday. Friends who take the other side on this issue mostly didn’t attend, but they also didn’t shout at us through bullhorns. We will all be in the same room when the next fire department or school board meeting comes around. Bullhorns don’t work there, either.
Maybe the No Monument crowd is missing a sense of community. If so, they will find one on the Green Springs. But, please, no drama.