The Bundy’s are back in the news – briefly. One might recall that the father of the current bunch was engaged in an armed stand-off in Nevada last year. They promised never to stand down. Eventually the federal government threw up its hands and walked away, figuring a million bucks wasn’t worth killing for. Now the sons are occupying some wildlife reserve in Oregon – unwanted by both the community and by the family they came to support. They promise to stay for years. This case is a little different — not a case of unpaid fees but of actual rebellion against the law. The feds may not do much but I suspect they won’t walk away either. I suspect the ‘militia’ will go home in a few weeks – declaring victory. Or they will cease to be newsworthy and hang in for months, ignored and forgotten.
A lot has been made of the fact that these religiously motivated insurgents are not being called terrorists – except by the thousands of social media activists who call them exactly that. It’s true it is a little hypocritical – and maybe a little cowardly – to take guns to a peaceful protest but at least they didn’t enter shooting. The Bundy occupation is similar – though not identical to – the Occupy movement and deserves to be treated in much the same way. With patience and, to an extent, restraint.
It is true that the Occupy movement didn’t threaten to kill people; it simply suggested that bankers should be arrested and put in prison for life. And they didn’t open carry – though whether no-one had guns is uncertain. It was, after all, America where even grandmas carry pistols in their purses.
Critics are also right to say that they would be treated differently if their skin was darker. I have no doubt that is true but perhaps what is really needed is a less extreme reaction to non-white protesters as opposed to a harsher treatment for this bunch of lame-ass cowboys. Do we really need to have the federal or local police go in shooting?
The real problem is that America is increasingly dominated by groups who no longer believe that America and its government is their country or their government. Most of these groups are right-wing but not all of them. And, more and more, they are supported by prominent Republican politicians who offer their moral and even physical support to people who are clearly in revolt against the legitimate constitutional power of the state – that is, of the people.
Revolt against the law is not necessarily a bad thing. Non-violent resistance has frequently changed societies, even overthrown governments. Armed insurrection has worked from time to time but I doubt if the people hiding out in Oregon really want to emulate the Castro’s and Che Guevara.
In any case, the Bundy clan will eventually pack up their gear and go home – convinced , of course, that the only reason ‘patriots’ didn’t flock to their side is because of some massive liberal conspiracy. And next year, they will find some other place to wave their guns around. Though I doubt it will be any more important than some little known reserve in the middle of nowhere. We won’t see them in Manhattan anytime soon.
And that’s ten minutes.