What are we to make of this crazy shit?
Well … for starters, this “occupation” would never have been attempted had the government arrested Cliven Bundy (the father of the Oregon ringleader Ammon Bundy) and supporters for their armed confrontation of the BLM, in Nevada, in April, 2014.
Why wasn’t Eric Parker, seen here aiming a rifle at BLM personnel, not arrested? It can’t be for lack of evidence. No one, as far as I know, was ever arrested for their part in the standoff. This complete capitulation of the federal authorities to the Bundy clan and fellow travelers gave them good reason to suppose that they could use these same tactics again … and so they did.
Now, in the light of how the Oregon standoff ended* (one dead, one wounded, and probable long jail sentences for the rest of the crew), what motivates this kind of insanity? In so far as the Bundys themselves are concerned, it is greed, pure and simple. The Bundys want our public land for themselves. But, of course, they attempt to dignify their crass self-interest with high-minded rhetoric about “constitutional rights”. By making the federal government the enemy, they are able to attract always-angry people to their cause. Clearly, it was his anger that got the contemptible LaVoy Finicum (the Oregon spokesman) killed (and good riddance to him).
As anyone who contemplates the Trump candidacy can readily appreciate, there is a lot of free-floating anger out there. The escalating plutocratic squeeze on the middle-class is screwing lots of our citizenry, and those who can’t themselves identify the cause of their economic distress are told that it’s the Obama federal government, the Jews, the Liberals, the Blacks, the illegal Latino immigrants and other such groups that are to blame. And, worse yet, the tyrannical federal government wants to take their guns away from them.
The very idea of federal public land (land that belongs to the entire American populace) is under attack. The Koch brothers have set their sights on the immense wealth that these lands represent, should they be wrested from federal government control. I recently attended a rally at the Capitol in Santa Fe, to protest state legislative attempts to transfer federal land in New Mexico to the state. Our own dear Governor, Susanna Martinez (just named as Trump’s running mate!), supports this transfer. The attack on our public lands is not going to go away. Rather, it will intensify**. As to the future of protests in the form of armed insurrection, hopefully the Bundys and others like them will have learned their lesson … but I’m not counting on it. While I’m tickled pink that the FBI finally dealt with the Bundys, it’s also unfortunately the case that the movement now has a martyr to the cause, and who knows where that will lead.
*as of the time of this update (11:30 AM MST, 1/29/16), the standoff has not, in fact, ended. A small number of armed insurgents remain holed-up at the Refuge, stating that they will not give up until they are assured that they will not be arrested when they exit the Refuge.
** A group of Utah ranchers has announced (1/29/16) that they will no longer pay grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management, claiming that the federal grazing lands that they have been using belong to them.