Readings — January 6, 2016, 11:17 am

This Land is My Land

A Colorado sheep ranch, by  W. A. Rogers. Published in the October 1950 issue of Harper's Magazine.

A Colorado sheep ranch, by W. A. Rogers. Published in the October 1950 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

From accounts of threats made against employees of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management since 2010, published in 2014 by High Country News.

On patrol near West Hopley, Montana, I noticed a Ford parked near a road closed sign. The truck was occupied by a middle-aged female with a small child and teenager. The adult would not speak to me other than to say that she did not have to put up with Gestapo government officials. I asked for her driver’s license several times. She started to scream out to her family. I handcuffed her, and while I attempted to search her for weapons, I noticed Mr. [redacted] on top of the hillside, yelling, “Hey, get the fuck away from my wife.” He repeated this several times, his rifle held at shoulder height and pointed at me.

On November 1, 2011, the White River National Forest district ranger handed me 117 pages written in cursive and signed by [redacted]. In his letter, [redacted] rambles repeatedly about murder conspiracies and refers to virtually everyone listed as “homosexual freaks” or part of a “faggot bastard secret society.” He refers to a female U.S.F.S. employee hundreds of times as “Little Smokey Bear Girl.” He repeatedly accuses the district supervisor of placing “Little Smokey Bear Girl” to entice him with her “sex” for the purposes of murdering him. I contacted Detective [redacted], who stated that he gets calls from around the country about [redacted] and his letters.

A lands and realty specialist near Elk City, Idaho, had been inspecting an unauthorized road when he was approached by [redacted], who told him, “Fucking BLM. If I see you on my property, I will kick your ass.” I contacted [redacted] at his residence and informed him that a survey crew needed to locate corners for the BLM parcel adjacent to his property. He responded, “They already been on my land, sneaking around like snakes.” I asked if he would be willing to show the crew where the corners were located. He responded that he would: “I thought you guys were here to arrest me. I wasn’t going to go easy.” The survey determined that part of [redacted’s] cabin was on public land.

At approximately 2:00 p.m., I arrived at [redacted’s] residence. He was in his shop working on a valve for his tractor. We talked about his tractor problems for a couple of minutes, then I asked if he had told a Forest Service employee’s wife that he was going to kick his ass. [Redacted] responded, “Goddamn right I did! And I will. The Forest Service needs to get their ass out of this country!” He went back to work on his valve stem. I informed him that I was issuing a notice for threatening a Forest Service employee. He stated, “I am not going to pay it.” I advised him that if he did not, a court date would be set in Rapid City. He asked if I would be there. I replied that I would. He responded, “You better have a goddamn good lawyer.”

On October 13, 2010, [redacted] entered the BLM Moab office and began asking about recent road closures in the area. He became very agitated and told one employee, “I was in Vietnam and know how to kill people. Come outside and settle this.” On October 14, [redacted] entered the Grand County Sheriff’s Department and bragged that he knew how and where to dispose of bodies so that they would not be found. He also stated that he occasionally rides his A.T.V. out on a ridge and waits with his .300 Winchester rifle for a BLM employee to drive by.

Share
Single Page

More from Harper's Magazine:

Memento Mori May 23, 2018, 10:15 am

Philip Roth (1933–2018)

Remembering Philip Roth

Memento Mori May 15, 2018, 11:35 am

Tom Wolfe (1930–2018)

Remembering Tom Wolfe

Memento Mori September 5, 2017, 3:03 pm

John Ashbery (1927–2017)

Remembering John Ashbery

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2018

The Wizard of Q

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Punching the Clock

Family History

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Combat High

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Last Best Place

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Sound of Madness

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Combat High·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Afew months before the United States invaded Iraq, in 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time, was asked on a radio show how long the war would take. “Five days or five weeks or five months,” he replied. “It certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” When George W. Bush departed the White House more than five years later, there were nearly 136,000 US soldiers stationed in the country. 

The number of troops has fallen since then, but Bush’s successors have failed to withdraw the United States from the region. Barack Obama campaigned on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to send hundreds of troops into Syria. For years Donald Trump described America’s efforts in Afghanistan as “a waste” and said that soldiers were being led “to slaughter,” but in 2017 he announced that he would deploy as many as 4,000 more troops to the country. “Decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk of the Oval Office,” he explained. Every president, it seems, eventually learns to embrace our perpetual war.

With the Trump Administration’s attacks on affordable health care, immigration, environmental regulation, and civil rights now in full swing, criticism of America’s military engagements has all but disappeared from the national conversation. Why hasn’t the United States been able—or willing—to end these conflicts? Who has benefited from them? Is victory still possible—and, if so, is it anywhere in sight?

In March, Harper’s Magazine convened a panel of former soldiers at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The participants, almost all of whom saw combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, were asked to reflect on the country’s involvement in the Middle East. This Forum is based on that panel, which was held before an audience of cadets and officers, and on a private discussion that followed.

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Article
Comforting Myths·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before he died, my father reminded me that when I was four and he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be a writer. Of course, what I meant by “writer” then was a writer of Superman comics. In part I was infatuated with the practically invulnerable Man of Steel, his blue eyes and his spit curl. I wanted both to be him and to marry him—to be his Robin, so to speak. But more importantly, I wanted to write his story, the adventures of the man who fought for truth, justice, and the American Way—if only I could figure out what the fuck the American Way was.

Artwork by Mahmood Sabzi
Article
The Sound of Madness·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Sarah was four years old when her spirit guide first appeared. One day, she woke up from a nap and saw him there beside her bed. He was short, with longish curly hair, like a cherub made of light. She couldn’t see his feet. They played a board game—she remembers pushing the pieces around—and then he melted away.

After that, he came and went like any child’s imaginary friend. Sarah often sensed his presence when strange things happened—when forces of light and darkness took shape in the air around her or when photographs rippled as though shimmering in the heat. Sometimes Sarah had thoughts in her head that she knew were not her own. She would say things that upset her parents. “Cut it out,” her mother would warn. “This is what they put people in psychiatric hospitals for.”

Painting (detail) by Carlo Zinelli
Article
Looking for Calley·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the fall of 1969, I was a freelance journalist working out of a small, cheap office I had rented on the eighth floor of the National Press Building in downtown Washington. A few doors down was a young Ralph Nader, also a loner, whose exposé of the safety failures in American automobiles had changed the industry. There was nothing in those days quite like a quick lunch at the downstairs coffee shop with Ralph. Once, he grabbed a spoonful of my tuna-fish salad, flattened it out on a plate, and pointed out small pieces of paper and even tinier pieces of mouse shit in it. He was marvelous, if a bit hard to digest.

The tip came on Wednesday, October 22. The caller was Geoffrey Cowan, a young lawyer new to town who had worked on the ­McCarthy campaign and had been writing critically about the Vietnam War for the Village Voice. There was a story he wanted me to know about. The Army, he told me, was in the process of court-martialing a GI at Fort Benning, in Georgia, for the killing of seventy-five civilians in South Vietnam. Cowan did not have to spell out why such a story, if true, was important, but he refused to discuss the source for his information.

Photograph © Bettmann/Getty Images
Article
The Last Best Place·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The family was informed they would be moving to a place called Montana. Jaber Abdullah had never heard of it, but a Google search revealed that it was mountainous. Up to that point, he and his wife, Heba, had thought they’d be moving from Turkey to Newark, New Jersey. The prospect of crime there concerned Heba, as she and Jaber had two young sons: Jan, a petulant two-year-old, and Ivan, a newborn. 

Montana sounded like the countryside. That, Heba thought, could be good. She’d grown up in Damascus, Syria, where jasmine hung from the walls and people sold dates in the great markets. These days, you checked the sky for mortar rounds like you checked for rain, but she still had little desire to move to the United States. Basel, Jaber’s brother, a twenty-two-year-old with a cool, quiet demeanor, merely shrugged.

Illustration (detail) by Danijel Žeželj

Average amount Microsoft spends each month assisting people who need to change their passwords:

$2,000,000

Chimpanzees who join new groups with inferior nut-cracking techniques will abandon their superior techniques in order to fit in.

Trump leaves the Iran nuclear deal, Ebola breaks out in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and scientists claim that Pluto is still a planet.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today