America’s angry White men are claiming a victory in Nevada after punking the federal government in a dispute over land, fees and grazing rights.
Rancher Cliven Bundy, backed by gun-toting supporters, political leaders and the right wing media, forced federal officials to high tail it off federal land and fall back on efforts to collect $1 million the rancher owes the federal government. Mr. Bundy has been grazing his cattle on federal land since the 1990s, but since he doesn’t recognize federal ownership of the land, he hasn’t paid a dime to allow his cattle to feed on the land.
After a stand-off between Mr. Bundy, armed White men, flag waving cowboys and right wing media cheerleaders, the feds stopped trying to confiscate Bundy cattle to pay his bill and decided to seek remedies in the courts, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
In truth, the feds got punked. The Bundyites weren’t backing down, weren’t afraid of armed federal employees and were ready for a range war–kicking police dogs and everything in between.
“U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said the agency backed off to avoid a potentially violent situation … . On Saturday, the bureau released about 400 head of cattle it had seized from Bundy. The operation had been expected to take a month to collect as many as 900 cattle. The animals were freed after armed militia members joined hundreds of states’ rights protesters at corrals outside Mesquite. Bundy said they were united in defense of their constitutional rights,” the Associated Press reported.
“Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said she spent much of the past week with the Bundy family and helped feed some of the calves that were returned over the weekend. ‘It’s going to take a lot to revive the calves that were nearly dead when they were returned to the Bundy Ranch because they had been separated from their mothers during the roundup, and a few most likely won’t make it,’ said Fiore, a Republican from Las Vegas. ‘It’s time for Nevada to stand up to the federal government and demand the return of the BLM lands to the people of Nevada,’ ” she said according to the AP report.
“The BLM ‘is allowing a freeloading rancher and armed thugs to seize hundreds of thousands of acres of the people’s land as their own,’ said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘It’s backing down in the face of threats and posturing of armed sovereignists,’ ” AP reported.
It’s interesting that language usually used to describe young Black males is being applied to White men. But what was not applied to these American citizens was the full force and weight of the federal government.
Avoidance of a bloodbath was wise but this type of restraint, respect and concern is noticeably absent in law enforcement dealings with Black America.
Whenever angry White voices or movements arise in America there is an attempt to explain, understand and political leaders willing to offer shelter and sympathy. That they have guns doesn’t matter, that they stopped an agency from doing its duty doesn’t matter, that they threatened violence against the government doesn’t matter.
“For commentators who claim to despise lawlessness and who have attacked the Obama administration for allegedly feeding disorder and politicizing it, conservatives were quick to embrace a lawless Nevada rancher who for two decades has refused to pay federal grazing fees on public land and is now promoting his cattle crusade as a war against the federal government,” noted a writer for Media Matters, which critiques news, views and bias from the right.
“All of the incendiary rhetoric and the loaded allegations about a tyrannical government has been marketed and promoted by Fox News and the rest of the conservative media, which claims to revere America as a nation of laws; the same Fox News that declared war on Occupy Wall Street protesters in 2011 and condemned them for being lawless. (‘Domestic terrorists’!),” he wrote. “But now, suddenly the rules of engagement have shifted. Bundy is a right-wing hero and a massive Fox News flip-flop has taken place. … And from Rush Limbaugh in February [emphasis added]: What do we do to stop somebody as lawless, some president as lawless this? What do we do? Nobody knows. Nobody knows what to do. Nobody knows how to stop him giving away money. Nobody knows how to beat him giving away money. Nobody knows how to deal with a guy who makes up the law every day as he gets up. We’ve never confronted this before. We’ve never had a president who is so lawless. We’ve never had a president who is so unconcerned with the Constitution.”
So from the young males on city streets to an “accomplished” male elected to the White House, the demonized Black man stokes White anger and the Black male is labeled the problem.
This scapegoating of Black males and, in particular, President Obama may seem in vogue today but remember one day he will leave office and the fruits of anti-government hatred, distrust and disdain will fully bloom. By that time it may be too late for America to accept that the Black man is not her problem. Her problem is the ever growing insecure White male, the discontented White male, the disconnected White male. He is armed, angry, dangerous and growing more so by the day.