Whilst NPR continues to gleefully ignore the story of Cliven Bundy's battle with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), no doubt to free up bandwidth for critical news on cooking eggs, other networks are covering the story to varying degrees.
In case you've been riveted to the Masters or to The Voice over the last few days, here's the story: Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has threatened to "to wage a 'range war' with the federal Bureau of Land Management." While the parties seem to disagree as to the crux of the issue, it's clear the government believes Bundy owes over $1M in grazing fees.
Here are my takeaways of this escalating event:
- Alternative media continues to demonstrate its value. As noted above, if you search "Cliven Bundy" on NPR's website, you get ZERO hits. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of law enforcement on scene with similar numbers of self-proclaimed militia heading there as well. The alternative media has been the leading source of information about this event, further proving that old school media continues to lose relevance.
- We don't get to arm ourselves and take a stand against the government every time we don't like a law or court decision. We cannot have it both ways; we cannot decry the militarization of our police force and their heavy handed tactics and then openly arm ourselves in close proximity to law enforcement with the intent to intimidate them. I blogged about this back in January 2013 as people began clamoring for us to "take action" and "stand up to the government" for considering sweeping gun control legislation.
Don't get me wrong - for years I have filled the pages of this blog complaining bitterly about many of the things we see happening in Nevada right now. Yet none of what I've seen thus far gives anyone the right to arm themselves against federal agents. We still have access to courts and legislatures. We still have the right to assemble and express our views (although this nonsensical "free speech zone" created by local authorities would be laughable if it weren't so offensive.) Just because government agents are carrying out laws and court decisions that are bad public policy or even unconstitutional doesn't give us the right to shoot at them in the process of doing their jobs.
- The best weapons in Nevada? Cameras and the Internet. This battle will not be won with AR-15s. It will be won with people - citizen journalists - recording and reporting what they see and hear to the rest of the world. The Civil Rights movement moved the immovable in large part because America got to see how brutal the government treated those protesting.
- I'm perplexed at the call for financial contributions to feed and water the militia gathering to support Mr. Bundy. I'm all for charity and supporting a good cause, even when the cause is unpopular. But if you're spending money and time to go to Nevada with no plan to be self-sufficient while you're there to the point you have to rely on others to feed you, are you really helping? I would suggest that if you cannot provide for yourself, perhaps you should stay home.
I know many of you will wince at that, but let's be realistic. We don't need to be volunteering to help if we're putting a drain on limited resources. If you're planning to head that way, I wish you safe travels and God's protection. I also hope you have the ability to provide for yourself without having to get in line for handouts like a bunch of Occupy Wall Streeters.
- The government's treatment of the livestock in question makes me nauseous. I grew up on a farm. I'm a state 4-H winner in the beef project. I've participated in more cattle shows than I care to remember. I've been up at 2 AM - as a kid - trying to save a newborn calf's life to no avail. And so when I hear reports that cows are being separated from their nursing calves to the point the cow's udders are becoming distended, it makes my heart break. But don't worry - the government has a "protocol [to]..euthanize animals" affected in this round up. My guess is that it's similar to the one they used to euthanize otherwise healthy but endangered desert tortoises - the very animals BLM claims they are trying to save by moving the offending cattle off of the range. And this is an important point, because...
- The family's arguments against the government's actions are valid. This isn't about tortoises or unpaid fees. This is about the value of the land to special interest groups. The extensive law enforcement build up resulting from this preceded the influx of concerned citizens. And this build up apparently includes snipers and heavy handed actions of law enforcement. Make no mistake - there are very powerful forces here at work, and none of them care about the tortoises.