Those who dream in conspiracies and see politics behind every change in the weather are claiming it all started with a Chinese solar power project in the barren Nevada desert. Once the dust settled, the Washington Times seemed to confirm this suspicion with an article proclaiming the standoff "could leave dirt on Harry Reid's reputation". So maybe it is true. Maybe the next American civil war very nearly started in Nevada last week as the county, state, and federal government laid siege to a cattle rancher who stopped paying his range fees twenty years ago. I could easily list hundreds of militia and patriot sites who are proclaiming the end of the siege as some kind of revolutionary victory, but it seems to me that, as usual, the Sipsey Street Irregulars has the most concise coverage: Threeper Report on Bunkerville Nevada.
There are also dozens of videos posted at YouTube about the incident creating a complete day by day video log filmed by everyday citizens. I have watched a half dozen or so, and among those I watched this one contains the most concrete coverage and the fewest distractions:
In short, two parallel tracks came to a head last week when forest rangers, state patrol, and county deputies backed by BLM representatives and their private contractors (all in full tactical gear and driving soft-armored SUVs) rounded up "trespassing" cattle owned by the Bundy family that had been allowed to graze on federally owned desert land set aside as a preserve for the Desert Tortoise. In addition to the Desert Tortoise and the Bundy family, it seems a Chinese energy producer (ENN Group) had gained permission from the Clark County Commission to build a solar power plant somewhere nearby:
Personally, this entire episode leaves me feeling somewhat perplexed. For at least ten years and possibly twenty a violent confrontation between those who desire to drive the United States into a centralized political system with ample social justice programs and those who believe the United States has always been a place where hard work earned great rewards while the slovenly fell by the wayside. Or, in simpler terms, the collectivists versus the individualists. The problem I have with the entire Bundy episode is that everyone involved has an ulterior motive along with a less than ethical desire to control this contested landscape of rocks, sand, and tumbleweed. The Bundy family, after a century of acknowledging the rights of the Federal government to assess and collect range fees, has suddenly gone off the rails and decided their three generations of existence on the land should be sufficient grounds to grant them total control of the land. This attitude of entitlement is nothing less than good old-fashioned monarchism wrapped in a shiny libertarian package. The Bundy family claiming noble rights to the land on the basis of multi-generational residence is no different than the divine rights born of blood that are still claimed by some kings and princes. If that is to be the grounds of their claim on the land then we might as well take it from the Bundys and pass it back to the native Shoshone who settled there after being driven into the desert by the Comanche, Sioux, and Pawnee, who in turn had been driven into the Great Plains by the arrival of European settlers pushing out from the East Coast into the Ohio River Valley and Great Lakes region. If "original family" is to be the criteria by which land rights are granted, then surely the most ancient verifiable claim belongs to the Shoshone Tribe of Native Americans. Somehow I suspect both the Bundy family and their ardent militia supporters would not be as quick to defend a Shoshone uprising dedicated to reclaiming their rightful lands.
Except of course for the Desert Tortoise. There are individual Desert Tortoise wandering through this stretch of desert and snacking on sagebrush who were here a century or more before the first Shoshone scouts arrived looking for water and food to set up new base camps. So, in truth, if "original settlers" is the claim that proves rightful ownership, then both the Bundy family and Shoshone tribe are interlopers seeking to displace a tribe that has been here since the great inland sea dried up transforming the swamps and forests into arid grasslands which in turn overgrazing by zealous ranchers transformed into the current sandy, rock-strewn desert. If anyone is entitled to feel offended at how badly they have been betrayed it surely must be the Desert Tortoise. I can guarantee without equivocation that there is not an armed patriot militia anywhere in America that would be willing to stand and fight in defense of the ownership rights of the Desert Tortoise!
As for ENN Group, well, I'm sorry, but political corruption is lowest form of interloper acquisition I can imagine. If there is anyone in this entire fiasco who should be seen as having no claim at all on this stretch of desert it is ENN group and their richly rewarded political lapdogs. Not only are they the last to arrive, they got here by breaking down the back door and attempting to rob everyone from the Desert Tortoise to the Shoshone tribe to the Bundy family without a single penny in compensation. Thieves and thugs are not entitled to own the property they steal, especially when they bribe elected officials in order to pull off their theft without penalty.
Unfortunately, whatever the real reasons behind this standoff, one thing is perfectly clear: the patriot militias have overplayed their hand. By jumping to the aid of a tax-evading cattle rancher they have wasted the one genuine strategic advantage they held in the coming face off with those seeking a more centralized federal government dedicated to social justice. The patriot militia willingness to arm themselves and face down federally appointed tactical forces is now clearly visible and undeniable. No longer will the elitists, the collectivists, and the wannabe monarchists be able to dismiss the patriot militia as a ragtag band of blowhards. The next time the government pushes forward into a situation where they know they must use blunt force to achieve their aims they will arrive in massive numbers ready and prepared to face armed resistance. Instead of a few dozen people in lightly armored SUVs carrying paint ball guns and bean bags they will have combat loads, mortars, grenades, medium armor with light cannon, and close air support. The militia has blown their one chance to gain a genuine, lasting victory over the forces of oppression. Next time there will be blood and most of that blood will be the hard working fathers and sons of blue collar families. And not just the menfolk. In the modern patriot militia movement there are countless women who carry just as much in their packs and arm themselves with the same firearms as their menfolk. Men and women and probably some children will become the sacrificial victims of the patriot resistance. Not only will it be Waco all over again, it will be Waco times ten or maybe even times a hundred. Once this sacrifice has been made there is no telling how far and wide it will spread. Instead of a handful of intensely surprising victories by lightly armed patriots there will be either a massive genocide of anyone who dares to oppose the federal government or a prolonged and bloody civil war that will make the last one seem a small riot in comparison.
This standoff ended without bloodshed, but it is not a victory for either side, not even a small one. At best, this is the beginning of a new Cold War only this time instead of the American government versus the Communists, it will be the American government versus the American people. At worst, this is the opening confrontation in what will soon become a nightmare of unimaginable destruction.
News articles about the Bundy Ranch Standoff:
Reuters (Aug. 31, 2012): Sen. Reid & Son Combine for Chinese Solar Project
NPR (April 12, 2014): US Agency Backs Down in Standoff with Cattle Rancher
ABC News (April 12, 2014): Cattle Rancher Wins "Range War" with Feds
Washington Times (April 13, 2014): Bundy Standoff Could Leave Dirt on Sen. Harry Reid's Reputation
Reuters (April 13, 2014): Nevada Ranch Family Claims Victory as Government Releases Cattle
CBS News (April 13, 2014): Cliven Bundy says, "The citizens of America got my cattle back"
Fox News (April 13, 2014): Federal Agency Vows to Continue Legal Action Following Standoff
April 15, 2014:
Today I found a detailed listing of the Federal government's case against the Bundy Family and their cattle ranch. Assuming the allegations are true and accurate, there are some serious charges being leveled against the Bundys, charges that will have to answered for sooner or later.
There are several allegations here which if they can be proven in a court of law clearly demonstrate that the Bundy family has knowingly and willfully endangered a protected species, innocent members of nearby communities, and innocent travelers on the local highways. As I said in the main body of my post, everyone involved in this incident has a secret agenda that they are trying to achieve. There are no innocents here, except maybe the naive patriot militia members who put their lives on the line in defense of a potential felon. To my way of thinking, this standoff was a complete waste of time for the patriot militias who participated. They have laid down their hand while the rest of the table is still collecting their draw cards. For many of them it probably provided a sense of accomplishment, but that sense of accomplishment is badly misplaced. The government will never again underestimate the potential for armed resistance, which in turn dramatically increases the risk factor in the next standoff.
If you are a member of a patriot militia you had better make damn sure you know who you're putting your life on the line to defend because the next time you don your fatigues and load your firearm it could very well cost you your life.
"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
- Benjamin Franklin