'It matters how you stand'

— Last night, I had the opportunity to learn about a man who was in the news quite extensively in 2016.

Prior to attending that Lower Valley Assembly meeting in the Patriot Barn, all I knew about Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was how the national media portrayed him, and how he died on a lonely road between the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and John Day, Ore.

The images, video and stories of the man East Coast media portrayed as a rogue rancher and a white nationalist terrorist showed a different side.

His widow, Jeanette, spent more than two hours with folks from Prosser, Sunnyside, Zillah and other communities sharing her husband’s story.

During that time, she shared the documentary, “LaVoy: Dead Man Talking.” She told stories about how they met and what kind of father he was, and answered questions about his “assassination” by Oregon State Police or federal agents Jan. 26, 2016, one day before his 55th birthday.

Organized by the assembly and the Center for Self Governance, more than 60 people attended to learn about LaVoy Finicum and meet the woman who is still taking on the federal government after the killing of her husband.

Jeanette Finicum and the Center for Self Governance’s Mark Herr both also took time to remind those in the audience that government is not the master, and that people need to know how to “play political chess” if they want to preserve our constitutional republic. And they frequently quoted a phrase coined by Finicum: “It matters how you stand.”

Before last night, I didn’t know Mark had married a longtime friend of mine, Pam Leslie of Tonasket. But the fact that I have known his wife — one of the longtime leaders in the Center for Self Governance — for more than a decade immediately gave him credibility with me.

For Jeanette Finicum’s part, her sincerity and strength were all I needed to see to understand how important the meeting was for those in attendance, including myself.

For her, it clearly mattered how she stood. At different points during the program, she paused to wipe away tears and refuse to cry while continuing to tell her husband’s story.

Combined, the two put on a program that was extremely informative. It not only provided the “rest of the story” about LaVoy Finicum, it also provided a refresher in civics that I rather enjoyed.

And while I’ve been a part of the political process for years — as both an active American and a member of the Fourth Estate — I walked away with a renewed belief in the importance of “we the people” and the need to keep all government on a short leash.

The documentary provided a sobering look at what the federal government is capable of, when the messenger isn’t toeing the government line.

It included a chilling video captured on a cellphone inside LaVoy Finicum’s truck minutes before he was shot and killed.

And it provided aerial footage with cross hairs trained on the vehicle.

It also featured pictures and videos of LaVoy as a young man, a family man and rancher who was only interested in pursing his American dream to be a successful rancher, father and husband. Those were images omitted by the national media in the days during and after the Malheur standoff.

The documentary also offered clips from more than eight hours of LaVoy Finicum’s Youtube channel, “One Cowboy’s Stand for Freedom.”

Amid it all, I learned something I never heard before — LaVoy Finicum was a successful CEO of a property management company. And that he had worked his whole life in the city just to be able to afford his own ranch in the country close to where he grew up.

No, he wasn’t the terrorist national media and the federal government made him out to be, at least not if you believe the documentary. But he was a “messenger” for the West.

And that’s what got him killed — federal agencies didn’t want his “it matters how you stand” message spreading.

— Roger Harnack is the editor and publisher of The Daily Sun. Email him at rharnack@dailysunnews.com.


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