The police in Philadelphia tried last week to arrest a member of the Black Panthers for defrauding the federal food stamp program of more than $1 million. But when they arrived, they were overwhelmed by hundreds Panthers armed with sniper rifles and automatic weapons and forced to retreat.
Unbelievably, MSNBC and dozens of left-wing bloggers and talk radio hosts praised the Panther militia for “standing up to government oppressors.”
Folks, that story makes me want to puke. Thankfully, it’s completely false.
The last time we met on these Daily Republic pages, we were discussing money in politics and the rise of the American Plutocracy. That seemed like an important topic to me, but most of the online conversation revolved around Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy’s militia of hundreds of armed “patriot” volunteers and their stand-off against the Bureau of Land Management.
The BLM had been rounding up Bundy’s cattle, grazing on federal land, because he hadn’t paid his grazing fees for 21 years and had run up a bill of more than $1 million. Bundy’s defense was that he didn’t recognize the BLM as having any right to collect fees, even though his delusion had been proven false in court, several times.
No matter, Bundy further refused to recognize our federal government as legitimate. Bundy even ordered the sheriff to confiscate the weapons from all federal agents in the county and be back in one hour, presumably for further orders.
Confronted by such a massive combination of firepower and irrationality, the BLM acted logically and withdrew before anyone got hurt.
All the posturing, chest-thumping and gun totin’ in the desert, fueled by continual support for Bundy from Fox News entertainers, right-wing bloggers and conservative radio talk show hosts, led to a lively exchange on the Daily Republic website. It’s difficult to understand why conservatives would cheer for a lawbreaker who defies court orders, mooches off the government and doesn’t pay his bills, but this story does make sense when you rely exclusively on the right-wing media’s imaginative version of it.
In an effort to understand what makes this particular criminal such a right-wing hero, I dove headfirst into the fetid swamps of right-wing Internet sites and Fox News.
Fairfield, I watch Fox News so you won’t have to, as a public service for Daily Republic readers, and, I might add, at great personal risk. (See: Is Fox News hazardous to your health? Jan. 21, 2013, Daily Republic.)
What I found was a morass of tangled lies; twisted, groundless conspiracy theories; and a whole lot of anti-government rhetoric. Brushing aside the formidable facade of Chinese solar energy projects that don’t exist, Harry Reid graft yarns based on those lifeless projects, endangered land tortoises and BLM officers allegedly slaughtering cattle, I arrived at what I believe to be the main story here. At its core, the Bundy/BLM standoff revolves around the perceived illegitimacy of our U.S. government.
Cliven Bundy and his “sovereign citizen” militia simply believe our government should not exist. The “sovereign citizen” movement believes they are “true patriots” only answerable to “common law,” free from any constraints of federal, state, or municipal law. While it may be difficult to understand how anyone would view these people as “patriots,” since they disavow what our Founding Fathers fought so hard to achieve, they fall right into the conservative platform of shrinking the government down to the size where they can “drown it in a bathtub,” and beautifully dovetail with corporate desires to remove regulations that stifle their ability to cheat consumers and pollute the environment.
Thus the myth of Cliven Bundy, right-wing hero, was contrived.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.