I was incarcerated for about a month in Multnomah County Jail this summer, awaiting trial for trespassing against Fred Meyer. While there I met David Fry, one of those armed occupiers of the Malheur federal bird sanctuary. The last seven defendants were found not guilty a couple of days ago, David Fry among them.
Leaving the federal courthouse in Portland on Thursday to greet a boisterous, tearful crowd of supporters bearing American flags and pocket Constitutions, David Fry, the designated videographer for the makeshift militia, hinted he may head to North Dakota next.
“I might be traveling after this,” Fry said in video captured by Facebook user Dory Dae, when asked if he would join the pipeline protest. “I mean, there’s more federal buildings that need to be occupied” (the clashes between DAPL protesters and police this week that resulted in over 100 arrests took place on private land maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers).
In another video taken by Facebook user John Lamb, Fry again suggested that the U.S. brace for future actions like the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, which began in January and lasted 41 days.
“You helped us win this battle,” Fry said to the group of supporters embracing outside the courthouse. “But there are a lot more to win.”
If talking with someone for hours and hours over the course of more than a month allows you to get to know them pretty damn well, then I have a good idea of what Mr Fry is like and what he’s up to.
On 17 August 2016, at 10:30 p.m., Saul Jackson, David Fry, and I sat beneath the tv in Unit 7A of Multnomah County Jail, which the County calls its Detention Center [and so the initials MCDC used to denote it, officially]. The topic we discussed at this point was the future of mankind; the issue on which we disagreed was whether most, all, or only a few would be saved by the end.
This was one of many discussions we had on this topic: Biblical exegesis is a pretty lively topic of discussion, at least in Unit 7A, at the Multnomah County Jail. I spent three months during 2015 in the same unit, and it was just the same as in 2016. In the midst of our discussion, in fact, a newcomer to the unit came by, Charles Jones, and he hailed me and asked me how I was: he and I had met and talked at length, in 2015, about his plan to write a graphic novel, or to write a screenplay for an animated video, on the Book of Revelation.
At the table with Saul and me, David Fry asserted, entirely seriously, that Messianic Judaism was correct; that is, that only those who accepted the Jewish Messiah would be saved. Okay. But he went considerably further than that, and neither Saul nor I could make out why he did. The Hebrew word Jah (pronounced “Yah”) means “Most High”, according to David, and Ja-shua is His Son, the son of the Most High.
Once this Ja-shua returns, only those who have accepted Ja-shua as the Messiah will be saved, and all the rest, without exception, will be swept away into oblivion. A couple of passages in the Old Testament and the New, saying that the Holy Name is crucial to believers, is all the evidence he cites.
You won’t be saved by believing in Jesus, since that is not his holy name. You won’t be saved by believing in the Christ, and — of course not — in Allah, or any of those other false names. Ja-shua is the only name you can use.
The fact that the New Testament itself is written in Greek in the original, and would have to be translated back into Hebrew from Greek in order to recover this purportedly holy name, made no impact. The fact that Paul says that there are neither Jew nor Gentile, nor Greek nor Jew, in the heavenly kingdom, was of no more interest.
On that occasion, where I took written notes, Saul argued for people to be saved according to their adherence to the precepts of christianity, let’s say with a small letter, and I argued for just good people in ethical terms, in general. Nothing doing. All non-pronoucers of “Ja-shua” are destined for eternal damnation. In fact, when the topic was broader in scope, David Fry was equally rigid.
David and I — I, because I wished to be tried on Fred Meyer’s policy, without saying so, of refusing to allow political discussion by self-identified candidates on their property, David, for obvious reasons — identified ourselves as political prisoners. Like the Green Party member that I am, I urged David to drop his attachment to carrying and displaying firearms during demonstrations. His reply was that force is necessary for successful political change, and when I referenced all the successful recent political revolutions that had taken place non-violently, he was unable either to answer me or to argue with my examples. He simply remained unconvinced, and I think, suspicious that I was making my evidence up, on the spot.
So, for example, when I talked about Cory Aquino in the Philippines, or the Tahrir Square in Cairo, he showed no sign of acknowledgement, and offered no reason to dispute my argument; he simply remained silent. He believed force was required, but was unwilling to investigate or learn anything about those occasions on which nonviolence had been effective.
David was well-versed in the U.S. Constitution, and active in pursuing legal remedies; but, interesting to relate, not about the case before him, that is, on conspiracy to commit a crime on a federal reservation. I went with him to the law library, which in Multnomah County Jail is in a small room with a batch of computers, housing no books. Rather, David pursued the legal precedents regarding the treatment of inmates with respect to their dental care. He was the son of a dentist, he explained, and the dental care — virtually nil — provided in the jail was an infringement of inmates’ rights.
He planned to bring suit, he told me, so that the incarcerated would have standard care, which was their right. I pointed out that such a suit would take months and months, if not years, and he’d not be held that long, so that the case would be moot long before it was ever heard in court.
David Fry is a well-intentioned, idealistic young man who believes his country is in the grip of a tyrannical government; to that extent I agree with him wholly. However, in almost any deeper discussion, after a few minutes, his opinions appear to me to be completely beyond the reach of rational intercourse: logic has no hold. That has been my experience with the gentleman.