Tony J Bender: That’s Life — Unlawful Praying

In America, where protest is in our DNA, suddenly it’s a limited option.

Presumably, you can still dress up as a Native American, commandeer a British freighter and throw tea overboard, you just can’t be a real Native American in the process.

Oh my, a whole bunch of Native Americans are camped at Cannonball, N.D., praying for God to smite a pipeline.

To be fair, there have been 38 arrests. In 5½ months. Out of a camp that’s swelled to as many as 5,000, as people come and go. It’s easy to imagine that, when you count those who have come and gone, tens of thousands of people have protested without getting arrested. As protests go, that’s pathetic.

That hasn’t been the narrative. Here are some of the words and phrases used by officials in recent weeks:

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley: “Very serious. Unlawful protest. Complicated and extremely dangerous. Very, very concerning. Hundreds of criminal acts. Life-threatening federal crimes. Talk of weapons. Beyond threatened. That (horse) is an assault with a deadly weapon. Illegal protest action. Endangering themselves, the public and law enforcement. Rumors. Violation. Seriously question. Violence, threats and obstruction. Unlawful, threatening intimidating, dangerous.”

And that’s just one interview with The Grand Forks Herald. Must be some bad-ass praying.

In an interview with Mike McFeely on WDAY-Radio, Wrigley dismissed the idea of state officials meeting on site with the protesters as a show of good faith. With various factions, who would you meet with, he wondered.

Yet, in the Herald interview, he spoke of excellent communication. “We know these folks. Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault and the governor speak regularly and comfortably. … There’s a friendship there, or a kinship. …”

I don’t know how many times I have called out the National Guard on my kin. And for good reason. Once, my mom chained herself to the lawnmower.

Point is, the state has excellent noncommunication with activists.  Here are some more words and phrases …

Morton County Sheriff’s Department: “Launched a march. Illegally blocked traffic. Became violent. Knives were pulled. Jabbed with a wooden fence post. Eight large knives. Assaulted by protester on a horse. Treated for injuries. More like a riot. Aggression and violence. Unlawful and should not be repeated.”

Heck, that’s a quiet night in Chicago.

After the carnage, amidst the blood and gore depicted in this single report of the storming of the Bastille … “No arrests were made …”

Nice work.

Correction: They issued a warrant for Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman, who had the foresight to falsify gigabytes of video just to make it seem like the secondhand reports from paid pipeline security guards might have been, you know, exaggerated.

This dangerous, unlawful, un-American, oil-hating, disrespectful trespassing by reporters has to end. We should get rid of the First Amendment altogether. It doesn’t seem proper gun rights should come second, anyway.

For awhile, I thought the report was about World of Warcraft — or Iwo Jima. Only with women and children jamming their limbs into the mouths of defenseless canines.

I don’t know if anyone planted a flag on a bulldozer, but we know they used flags as lethal weapons of mass destruction against innocent puppies. And we haven’t even touched on the early reports of “pipe bombs” and the sharks with frickin’ laser beams.

The important thing is now the world will be safe from criminal masterminds, like Goodman and graphic artist Jill Stein, who improved her Q rating by spray painting a bulldozer blade pink. Granted, that one will be hard to deny in court.

More arrests may follow. They’re bringing in Mr. Ed for questioning. It’s well-known in equestrian circles he is a devotee of Saul Alinsky.

Sure, some people think the official language might have been inflammatory and counterproductive — maybe even a wee bit hysterical. But who are we to judge?

Heck, not even judges get to judge on this deal.

This kind of unrest is exciting for the troops. After George Armstrong Dalrymple activated the National Guard, gung-ho state officials could be seen walking around with woodies. And some of them have really big hands. There will be no debate about bathroom assignments.

Thus emboldened, the other politicians weighed in. “I’ve been following the situation closely and am awaiting the court’s decision,” Pre-Gov. Doug Burgum said forcefully. “North Dakota needs to be a state of opportunity and welcoming to energy expansion with a safe, smart approach.”

His statement vaulted Burgum into a league of memorable oration with the likes of Churchill, Lincoln, FDR and my cat. It also answered the question climate change scientists have been wrestling with: What happens when a void meets a vacuum?

Burgum seems passionate. Does anyone know how big Doug’s hands are?

I don’t know how long North Dakotans can endure this much unlawful praying. I was there. Trespassing. Vote for me.

The air was so thick with prayers, I swear I heard a voice say, “Lighten up a bit, folks. I got this.” I was in a Spiffy Biff at the time. There was Angel Soft bathroom tissue in there. I think it was a sign. It may have been the voice of God.

It might have been Obama.

1008 © Tony Bender, 2016

7 thoughts on “Tony J Bender: That’s Life — Unlawful Praying”

  • Jan Zahrly September 16, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Thank you. Wonderful writing. I lived in North Dakota in a former life – then I got religion and moved to Florida where all the old folks live. But I love reading your interpretation of the fools running the state. We have a lot of fools down here, too. peace, janz

  • Big Tobacco September 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I hope you write articles defending idiots who run out onto the field during sporting events and get tackled by security, or actual players. Even though all they want to do is run around and get noticed, they most likely don’t intend to hurt anyone. They are the victims of overzealous and threatening authority, abusing power over the oppressed trespasser.

    Now take that same example and give that person running out on the field a pointy stick, or a knife, and/or have them on horseback, or with a bulldog on a leash, and screaming war crys at the players on the field/as well as at the game staff (mercenaries simply doing their job for near minimum wage). Is this innocent tresspasser still getting kind and biased write ups by you? Are they still simply “praying”?

    Is it okay when the athletes get stabbed, because the person threatening them was just practicing their first amendment right to be an idiot?

    1. Jan Zahrly September 16, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Guess what, Big Tobacco – your analogy does not work. Football is a GAME. Life is not a game, protecting what is sacred to you is not a game – OOPS, I think I goofed. Life is a game to you, isn’t it? So you think Native Americans are playing a game when they dress up and try to protect what is their heritage, their land, their rights. I hope I never meet up with you – you would take the clothes off my back, knock me down , take my car, all in the game to you – even though I am a 73 year old woman who walks with a cane and worked for 47 years to earn my way in this world. Grow up. Get an education. peace, janz

      1. Big Tobacco September 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

        Guess what janz, this is not their land, the pipeline is not on the reservation.

        You can take the same analogy and put it anywhere. For example, if someone was to go to a restaurant and decide to go in the back and threaten/shout at the cooks. If someone was to go to your yard on a horse doing war calls directed at you, if someone were to head to the faculty lounge at a school and start shouting at the teachers. They may have their reasons, but it’s certainly not them “peacefully praying”. Everyone of these is the exact same thing.

        They have their rights, but so does everyone else. I don’t claim that Target is mine, just because I may have an ancestor that once stayed where it is located.

        The land is not theirs, if it was, why did they have to stomp a fence to get to it? Is that how you enter your home?

        1. Jan Zahrly September 20, 2016 at 10:11 pm

          OK – Big Tobacco – this is my last response; I have other things to do. I suppose that you missed a lot of school time, playing football or hockey or something where you got a lot of hits to the head – because one of the basic things we learned, even in elementary school, is that Native Americans (we used to call them Indians – incorrectly, of course) were the FIRST PEOPLE who lived in what is now the United States of America. Later on, in middle or high school we learned a lot about the Indian wars and about all the treaties that the U.S. government agreed to with the various tribes and then how the U.S. government broke those treaties. Especially egregious was that the U.S. government allowed non-Native Americans to take over the land. Native Americans had used ALL the land for their resources, for survival – suddenly, people with guns came came to kill their buffalo, people with plows came and dug up their land previously used for homes or growing food for themselves. It is a long story. In no way, shape, or form, did Native Americans give their lands to the Big Oil companies.
          Tonight, I heard a commentator speak about Trump and called him “dumber than a sack of hair.” Don’t be like that Big T. Learn some of the history of our country, learn about the cultures and values of Native Americans here in our country. Don’t be dumber than a sack of hair. I hope you learn – I try to learn every day and one of the things I realized that I learned is that there are some people here who still think that land ownership is restricted to those who have the money to “buy” the land. Life is bigger than this. peace, janz

          1. Andy Rodrigues September 20, 2016 at 11:55 pm


  • AndyRodrigues September 16, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks Tony!


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