So, a story has been floating around the internet for a few days now. I have seen a few posts on my wall from some of my conservative friends. I have pretty much ignored said posts because they didn’t peak my interest. Until today. A friend posted a link from the LA Times and a phrase caught my attention. “Range War.” Now, that’s something you don’t see every day. At least, not in the 21st Century. Naturally, my interest was piqued and I followed the link to discover this little nugget.
Here’s the lowdown. A Nevada cattle rancher named, Cliven Bundy, disagreed with a 1993 provision from the Bureau of Land Management and promptly stopped paying his grazing fees. I guess in ’93 someone, somewhere became concerned about some desert tortoise and thus the number of cattle Mr. Bundy was allowed to let graze on ‘Federal Land’ was reduced. For the past 20 years Mr. Bundy and the BLM have been battling it out in court. Well, last year, a federal court ordered Mr. Bundy to remove the cattle from the land and gave him 45 days to comply. Nearly a year later, Mr. Bundy had not complied with the court order and so the BLM came to confiscate the cattle (nearly 900 head) that were illegally grazing on federal land.
So, those are the facts. The information that is the same regardless of whether or not you get your info from the LA Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and The Blaze. The facts without bias. When looked at it that way it shouldn’t be a big deal…except Mr. Bundy is crazy. His argument is that since his ancestors worked the land before Nevada was a state and before the BLM existed, he has ‘pre-emptive rights’ to said land use. “My ancestors created the rights to that land one hundred and some odd years ago,” Bailey Logue (Bundy’s daughter) said. “And we’re not giving them up.” (LA Times) I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the Paiute may have something to say about that. Not to mention, I have never heard of an individual ‘creating’ rights. Never in my life have I seen such a blatant example of ‘white privilege’ being displayed. My family has worked (key word, worked not owned) the land for 140 years, but screw the people we took the land from in the first place. Not to mention, Mr. Bundy’s blatant confusion over how federal law works.
In his own words, “”I’ve got to protect my property,” he told The Times last year. ”If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws.” (LA Times) I am not sure Mr. Bundy realizes how the law works. In his view, it is a states’ rights issue. He said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he insists belongs to Nevada. (Fox News) Mr. Bundy’s ignorance and delusions are apparent in his own words.
“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he said, explaining that among them is the right to forage.
“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy, who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?” (The Blaze)
And then this one:
“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” he said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”
“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added. (The Blaze)
Except there is no such thing as pre-emptive rights. Except it is federal land, not state land, regardless of how Mr. Bundy views it. “I know without doubt that our Constitution didn’t provide for anything like the federal government owning this land… (Fox59). The federal government does have a constitutional right to land (Article Four: Clause Two) that has been repeatedly held up in court. According to Mr. Bundy because his family has been here since before the BLM existed, he does not have to abide by the BLM’s regulations.
It doesn’t work that way. Having had my family here since the 1600’s does not give me any pre-emptive rights against the federal government. I cannot just decide which rules I will or will not follow simply because my family has been here a long time. If that were the case, my sleepy little Iowa town should belong to the Sioux. I have been here longer. My rights are before the BLM even existed. (Fox59) Mr. Bundy is clearly delusional. And oh, how I wish, it ended there.
For years, Bundy has insisted that his cattle aren’t going anywhere. He acknowledges that he keeps firearms at his ranch, 90 minutes north of Las Vegas, and has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to defend his animals from seizure. (LA Times)
Mr. Bundy threatened to use force against any BLM agents that were removing his property (from federal land). Mr. Bundy’s own words indicate that he would not follow the ’98 court order that prevents him from interfering with the removal of the cattle. So, the BLM came prepared with armed forces. They overreacted a bit and brought way too much manpower to remove a few hundred head of cattle.
Now, there is a huge uproar amongst some conservative and militia groups. Hundreds of people flocked to this area to protest the BLM’s actions. The spin, overreach of federal power. Now, I am not a paranoid conservative, therefore I cannot see how this is federal over reach. If anything, I can’t believe it has taken 20 years for them to take action.
In short, a guy refused to abide by federal regulations and refused to pay for his cattle grazing upon federal land. He fought for his right to not pay and not abide by these regulations for 20 years and lost. Now, he is paying the consequence. It should be a non-issue, barely a blip on the news radar. Except that’s not how it’s being played out.
Somehow, this has been twisted into an individual’s rights issue. A states’ rights over federal rights issue. And for whatever reason I cannot understand, a gun rights issue. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the usual blowhard rhetoric. But it has become much, much larger than that. And much more dangerous. At this moment, militia groups from Nevada, Arizona, Utah and other states across the nation, have decided to congregate near this area just north of Vegas. Armed groups protesting the right of the BLM to enforce its regulations.
Already, there has been an incident between protesters and the BLM, in which Tasers have been used. Now, with hundreds of armed militiamen flooding the area I can only see this going one way. And it is not good.