I’ve spent my life on the edge of popular opinion. Although we are much a product of our environment, a lot of my opinions lie in opposition to that of my parents or employers. Within the Ag Community, I get more than a few startled looks and angry responses when I suggest that agriculture would be a far healthier industry if we stopped accepting subsides from the government (Go ahead. 🙂 I’ve heard it all. You’re not changing my mind.). It’s taken me a solid week to sort out my thoughts in Bundy v BLM.
When Bundy v BLM recently hit the national airwaves, I believed, like many others that Cliven Bundy was getting screwed. I still believe he got screwed – 20 years ago. Many of the details in this case are hazy. Many can be left for personal interpretation. And if you listen to the stories about Mineral Rights and proposed Solar Farms, it’s enough to make the hair on the back of any Rural American’s neck stand on end as it wreaks of Agenda 21.
Here we are, a week into national headlines and the Bundy Supporters have declared victory because the BLM has retreated and Bundy’s cattle have been returned, save for the unconfirmed number of head killed when contract cowboys attempted to gather. But victory for how long?
No doubt this story has been steeped in Constitutional Rights Violations. Government Agencies are seemingly performing the work of Agenda 21. And this is the last cattleman standing in Clark County, Nevada. I want to be on Cliven Bundy’s side.
I want to believe that this is another case of government overreach and I believe it is. I want to believe that Bundy did everything he legally could in order to keep grazing the land his family had been on since the 1870’s, but I don’t believe he did. I want to believe that our judicial system is always on the right side of justice and that the right party always wins, but I know that’s not true.
My discomfort lies on several facets of this story: 1. We have glorified a man who refused to recognize the federal government. He is not acting any more civilized than a tattooed gang member engaged in a turf war. 2. 20+ years of rulings in Federal Court have been against the Bundys and for the most part, there has been not a peep from all these ‘protesters’. 3. If the government was not involved this case and it was classic, Tenant v Landlord, the politics of the protesters would be exactly the opposite. 4. If the Bundys hadn’t made threats, including bodily harm, against the Government in 2012 when they last tried to evict the cattle, I highly doubt that the government would have shown up with the 200 armed forces they came with.
My questions are: What will the Bundys and their protesters do now? File a motion in Federal Court stoping the eviction? Probably not. Will the government now stand down and allow Bundy to continue grazing rent free? Nope. Not gonna happen. Will other cattlemen take to this form of vigilante justice and will the West be Wild again? I have no idea. Only time will tell.
I guess I’m still not taking sides in this case. In my heart, it’s wrong all the way around. Another case of complicated facts, poor response and knee jerk reaction. I wish more people were like the Chiltons and others who have taken the high road to beat the Government at their own game. Hopefully the Bundys will take this opportunity to band together with other ranchers who are having their grazing rights diminished in the name of endangered species. Maybe they can file a class action suit demanding that the BLM be dissolved and the rights be turned over to respective states as Bundy says is his ultimate goal.
For now, I’ll continue to uncomfortably follow this story and hope that no one or no more cattle are hurt in the process. Nothing good is coming from this debacle and I have a feeling it’s going to get worse before it gets better.