If you have been watching the news, you should know the name Cliven Bundy by now. This weathered, cowboy hat wearing rancher from Bunkerville, Nevada is the perfect poster child for conservative media pandemonium regarding what Bundy considers an overreaching federal government — or at least he was until he made some incredibly racist comments in regard to people (namely African-Americans) living off of the welfare state. These remarks failed to back him up in his ongoing fight against the Bureau of Land Management concerning more than one million dollars in federal grazing fees.
Bundy asserts that because his family has lived in that part of Nevada for over a century, since the 1870s, his right to use the land precedes that of the federal government. He vehemently fails to acknowledge the federal government, with whom he says he has no contract with over the land, and argues that he therefore owes nothing for grazing his cattle in this area (which, by the way, environmentalists want off the land because it is a protected habitat of the endangered desert tortoise) for decades. Nonetheless, even Senator Harry Reid has labeled Bundy and his cronies as domestic terrorists.
After two Nevada court judges ordered Bundy to pay the fees, which Bundy continually refused to do, the BLM informed Bundy that his cattle would be rounded up off the land and confiscated as an asset against these back taxes. Much to the interest of many conservative media outlets, the BLM was met by a troupe of armed and angry militiamen, some from states as far away as Montana, who rallied alongside Bundy in the standoff against the feds. Tensions heightened when one of Bundy’s adult sons kicked an officer’s dog and was tased, and a video of the event quickly spread across the Internet afterwards.
The BLM has called off its officers, as it has decided that this is not a matter worth risking lives for, but Bundy will have to pay. Though he has used his brief moment in the spotlight to rant about various political issues, after his backward comments last week, even much of the far-right media have moved on to distance their arguments on this issue from Bundy and his individual plight.
It is ironic that Bundy would have the audacity to make such bigoted comments, which consisted of Bundy asserting that “the negro” would have been better off picking cotton than receiving welfare, as he chastised those who rely on government aid.
Hate to break it to you Cliven, but you are the freeloader. Under the guise of patriotism and political liberty, Mr. Bundy is merely skirting his due taxes, and is there for also living off of the state without contributing, is he not? Bundy is not only living off the federal government, but he is stealing by outstepping the law and refusing to contribute just like everybody else.
We would venture to guess that even the armed militia “friends” that came to support Bundy in his standoff against the BLM had paid their due taxes. Might they have considered that what they put into the system was actually going to fund the efforts to make sure that Bundy put in his fair share?
Bundy claims that he follows all Nevada state laws, just not those of the federal government, but the Nevada constitution explicitly acknowledge the overarching authority of the latter. You do not get to pick and choose which laws to follow whenever it suits you, and you will certainly not get away with claiming to do it in honor of the pursuit of liberty. You do not get to be a citizen solely when it is convenient for you, and you certainly do not get to call yourself a patriot in doing so. While Nevadans may be fans of some good old-fashioned gun slinging, we have also had to work hard to be rid our beautiful state of the outlaws, and Cliven Bundy is one of them.
Saddle up and pay your dues, Cliven. No matter how long you have lived here, nothing makes you above the rest of us, or above, quite literally, the law of the land.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.