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Wineke: Rambo in the North Woods

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Jul 11 2013 08:12:59 PM CDT

Photo courtesy Rob Ganson

I am still not sure why this is, but the people running the state of Wisconsin seem on an unending quest to make Wisconsin the laughingstock of the nation.

The latest entry in this dismal march of idiocy is the security firm hired by Gogebic Taconite to protect its fledgling mining operation in the state’s north woods.

It seems the legislature and governor bullied through a mining law that will enable Gogebic to dig a four-mile trench through some of the state’s most beautiful scenery and extract iron ore. Strangely enough, many of the people who live in the area, most notably the Native American tribes that once owned it, object to this desecration. About a month ago, at one of the rallies, a protester apparently grabbed a Gogebic camera. The protester was arrested.

But the incident left the mining company a little uneasy and it hired a security firm to protect its interests.

So far, so good. Companies often hire guards to protect their property and employees.

Gogebic Taconite hired an Arizona company named Bulletproof Security. It sent guards dressed in camouflage and face masks who were armed with semi-automatic assault weapons to prowl the woods.

Now, I suppose this might be par for the course in some third-world country populated by drug barons and terrorists. Bulletproof, which is off the job temporarily because it didn’t bother getting licensed in Wisconsin, says the masks are necessary to protect the families of the guards from retaliation by the presumed Wisconsin terrorists.

It also notes that its guards are trained in the use of automatic weapons. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bulletproof also has a few bazookas hidden in the woods.

I suppose it may be better to be safe than sorry -- though I would note that the Blackhawk Indian wars ended quite a while ago and there have been no pitched battles in Wisconsin since those days.

But, you know what really bothers me? What really bothers me is that such a situation could even develop here, that anyone could even think that placing Rambo-style guards in the Wisconsin North Woods would be an acceptable idea.
It all seems part of a dismal trend of mediocrity that is upending a century of progress toward making this the best state in the union and replacing it with a governmental system that would make a banana republic laugh in contempt.
Things have gotten truly out of hand.

God knows, I am no fan of Gov. Scott Walker or of the Republicans in the state legislature. But I have to at least consider the idea that, in enacting new mining legislation, they at least hoped the mine would be a good thing for the state.

And I can’t, even at my most paranoid, believe they envisioned our forest lands patrolled by Rambos in face masks brandishing military weapons. Gogebic pulled a fast one.

This will not end well. Guards who believe they need military weapons to protect themselves and need to mask their faces to protect their families are not going to assume the protesters they meet in the woods are typical Wisconsin hippies.

We tend to see what we believe is in front of us. When you hire a company named “Bulletproof,” you have to believe someone may be firing bullets.

This is not Wisconsin. Or, I guess, it never used to be Wisconsin. Won’t someone make it stop?

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