Here We Go Again
We’re only three days into the new year and I already got a serious case of déjà vu. That’s right ye patriots, it’s time for another uprising against that big bad federal government courtesy of everyone’s favorite racist Mormon dingleberries, the Bundy clan. Remember them? Just two years back doddering patriarch Cliven Bundy ignited a brouhaha with the Bureau of Land Management when he continually refused to pay the use fees on the public land where he grazed his cattle. The wheezy old cowboy became a cause celebre. Wingnuts and wannabe soldiers flocked to his ranch to lay down their lives in the Great Second American Civil War. Bundy was lionized by the conservative media as a “true American” and a “patriot,” with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity tossing the geezer’s proverbial salad on air each day.
A Mexican standoff with federal agents ensued, with the camo-clad militia mongos pointing their stand-in dicks at the said feds, who, in the interest of avoiding a bloodbath over cattle fees, wisely stood down. On the right Bundy was hailed as a hero, then quietly abandoned by all but a few when he launched into a series of eyebrow-raising monologues that could have doubled for the jello-spattered mumblings of your racist Alzheimer’s grandpa. Even President Obama chimed in, noting that, “As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts with, ‘Let me tell you something about the Negro.'”
Well, if the lack of a body count last time left you wanting, don’t despair, because they’re back, only now Cliven’s son Ammon Bundy has taken the reins; currently he heads up a group of militia-types who have taken over a small government building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. They’re armed to the teeth, and though they claim to be peaceful, they seem to be itching for for a fight, claiming that they “won’t rule out” violence if it comes to that.
What is their beef this time, other than general and open hostility to the existence of the federal government?
Dwight and Steve Hammond are father/son ranchers in the area, and are responsible for at least three uncontrolled burns that spilled over into the neighboring wildlife refuge and scorched well over 100 acres of public land. Both were eventually convicted of arson and spent three months and a year in jail, respectively, only now they’ve been re-sentenced to five more years, since the original sentence didn’t meet the federal minimum for the crime. That’s right, the original prosecutor and judge “goofed” and now the old man (73) and his son (46) have to go back to the hoosegow. This family owns 12,000 acres of land in the area and is a kind of pillar of the community. The locals are outraged at this “re-sentencing,” which, while technically legal, reeks of double jeopardy. It seems to me that these guys are getting railroaded and I don’t blame people for being pissed off.
My sympathy, however, does not extend to Bundy and his cadre of weapon fetishists. These guys have descended into this community uninvited in an attempt to hijack this situation in order to serve their own extreme right-wing agenda. Many local residents resent their intrusion. They remind me of the hardcore Marxists or anarchists that often try to wrest the helm at various protests on the left. I believe that many of these guys want the government to come in guns blazing, because in their deluded minds, they’re on the vanguard of a second revolution. They think that they’re going to be the spark that ignites the great revolt against government “tyranny,” which will bring about some sort of great libertarian utopia. In this fantasy world the white man will be able to exploit the land as he sees fit, with no federal fetters to hinder him in his quest for personal profit. In a video posted to Facebook, one of the militia members states:
“We’re planning on staying here for several years. And while we’re here, what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to be freeing these lands up, getting the ranchers back to ranching, getting the miners back to mining, getting the loggers back to logging, where they can do it all under the protection of the people.”
What is clear here is their objectives are more in line with the interests of capital than those of the people. Surprise surprise. No wonder the Republican party and the American mainstream right-wing establishment either openly encourage these nutbars or just quietly approve. They’ve been cultivating this cesspool of crazy for sometime now. Stoking fear and paranoia keeps getting their guys elected; in turn, corporate interests are served.
It’s interesting how the media has chosen to portray these folks. “Armed protesters,” is the term I saw floated around on more than one site. The semantic choices of the headline writers never fail to betray their racial bias. We whites are always tagged with the least-threatening labels, even when we’re walking arsenals of bullets, bigotry, and delusion.
So how will this go down? Last time federal agents retreated in the face of so many white men with guns. Will they do the same again? One can only imagine the immediate wrath and hell fire that would reign down if this were a group of armed blacks, American Indians, or Muslims. I wouldn’t be writing about a standoff: I’d be reflecting upon a body count. If you want to see how the U.S. government deals with unruly blacks with guns, look no further than the bombing of the black liberation group M.O.V.E. in Philly some 30 years ago, which killed 11 people, left 250 kids homeless, and burned down 61 houses.
I suspect Obama will play a cool hand with this one. He doesn’t want his presidency stained with something like a Waco. He knows better than to make martyrs of these loons. The best move is to let them shiver away the winter in that glorified shack in the high desert of eastern Oregon. Perhaps he–and the rest of us–should just ignore them, since that is exactly what I’m sure they fear the most.