The recent dust-up on the Nevada plains concerning rancher Cliven Bundy got lots of national attention. You may remember him as the rancher that for twenty years, four lost court cases and over a million dollars in unpaid rent decided to resist the Bureau of Land Management agents that came to collect his cattle as payment. He and a host of supporters resisted the federal agents with guns and threatened to shoot it out if the officers tried to enforce the law. One of the sharpest tools in the shed supporting Bundy, former sheriff Richard Mack stated bravely that “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.” Wisely, the federal agents did not think some cattle were worth people being shot and withdrew. However, they have not changed their mind about holding him accountable and the story is not over. In the process of resisting duly appointed law enforcement officers, Bundy became the darling of some of the “name” right-wing conservatives and libertarians who, mostly, gave him unconditional support in his “fight” against “big government.” Famously, Bundy declared that he “doesn’t recognize the United States as even existing.” A “patriot” indeed.
Most recently his racist remarks caused lots of conservative politicians and talk show hosts to retract their support for him. My question would be why they gave him any support in the first place, even discounting his remarks that revealed his true view of minorities in the United States?
These would be the same people who say they support the United States of America, just not “big government.” The role of the federal government, its size and functions are legitimate areas of debate. However, I cannot understand the anointing of this individual as a “patriot” protecting his rights. He is an unabashed mooch. As many of his supporters deride the “welfare state,” he has taken advantage of the American taxpayers to the tune of over a million dollars. In four different cases the courts have ruled against him. Supporters of “law and order” should be helping the federal agents to get rid of the moocher instead of announcing their willingness to stand up for, to stand up for, well I’m not exactly clear who or what it is that they say they are standing up for. Some vague notion of states rights, traditional grazing lands, the right to bear arms and the right to be a bigot, I suppose. So of course their first instinct is to lock and load and to use their “women” as human shields. The only thing that I am sure about is that they are willing to use violence against duly constituted law enforcement officers. Last time I looked, people who were willing to shoot law enforcement officers carrying out duly litigated court orders were considered terrorists or criminals.
So I ask again — forget the talk show hosts who will jump on any issue if it gets their name out there and they make money off of it (I’m talking to you Sean Hannity) — why would elected officials, sworn to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land support a welfare king and scofflaw willing to kill federal agents? To maintain credibility in my eyes, the supporters of a smaller federal government at least need to have some logic to their arguments. And it wouldn’t hurt to vet their “heroes” a little more closely.