The Bundy Ranch and the Right
I understand and appreciate anarchists’ rejection of a hierarchical society. In fact, by rejecting class society, which puts a small minority of filthy rich at the top, who own and control the government, policies and policy makers and leaves the majority poor and powerless, I, too, reject hierarchy – socioeconomic hierarchy that is, which is the hierarchy that really matters and which gives rise to police brutality, widespread government spying and, at times, leads to a police state, in order to keep the ruling class rich and in power, not to mention all the injustices that accompany such wealth and power inequality. What I can’t understand and find defying logic is the indiscriminate defense by some who call themselves anarchists, of any group of gun waving people who oppose the government, regardless of their politics, ideology and beliefs and the nature of their grievance with the government. I must admit though that there is something easy and simple about anything indiscriminate: you don’t have to do much thinking or analyzing. Keep it simple, right?
If the point is to defend people’s right to bear arms, we can say that, as a matter of principle, without defending the actions of the group, which amount to a political statement, with a specific and concrete political objective, which for the group of white (I’ll explain later why that matters) ranchers and their supporters, who have descended on Mr. Bundy’s farm, is neither progressive, nor is it, in any way, shape or form, a rejection of hierarchy or oppression. Nor is their point the defense of their Second Amendment rights. Mr. Bundy is refusing to pay his fees to the Federal Government, which he owes for having his cattle graze on federal land. It’s like going to a national park owned by the Federal Government and insisting on entering and using it without paying the fee. His objection is about the fee, and if he gets his way, he basically, and for all practical purposes, will end up owning the land, and the other farmers can follow suit, which is a motivation for them to defend Mr. Bundy.
But, that’s not the whole story here. The issue of a farmer refusing to pay his fees has been exploited by some on the right and made into a political and indirectly even a racial one. The right uses every opportunity it can find to portray the government as “the problem”, as President Reagan put it, in order to eliminate or reduce, as much as possible, the role it plays on several fronts: 1) taxation: on this front, the real objection is taxing of the rich. They have no objection against employers automatically taking a portion of workers’ wages from their paychecks and sending it to the Treasury. Their objection is to the IRS going after the employers’ taxes. If they manage to make enough noise, they can bring the Democrats on board to implement flat taxation, which would be a huge boon for the rich and devastating to the already poor. 2) Government expenditures: the objection to the government here is not to the handouts and subsidies it gives to corporations and the rich, but to welfare, social safety nets and programs for the poor and their children. It has long been the holy grail for the right to eliminate such programs, which they deem wasteful since they come out of taxes, as little as theirs already are. 3) Voter Rights: much of the right, especially in the South, still have not got over the Voting Rights Act which was won by African Americans 50 years ago, and would like to reverse it. In fact, right after the Supreme Court decision last year, which took away from the Federal Government its mandate to monitor and control laws that affect voter rights in several Southern states, the latter immediately began passing laws that limit voter rights of African Americans. If 50 years ago, the method for preventing blacks from voting was to give them literacy tests, with the white testers deciding whether the answers given were correct or not, now, in those same states, it’s to demand an ID card which many, especially among the elderly don’t have.
The other issue these armed “protesters” have is having a black president. That’s what really irritates and energizes much of the white population in the South. Mr. Bundy said in an interview that he doesn’t recognize the US government, but, he has no problem riding his horse carrying the US flag! The truth of the matter is these Tea Party sympathizers and Fox News watchers (they’ve been called heroes and patriots by Fox News commentators and have been featured by Sean Hannity everyday), don’t mind the US government. What they mind is a black president, as right wing and as corporate puppet he himself is. What they mind is a government which in their minds, is ruining their country by empowering minorities and killing their traditional, white, bible and gun toting, anti-immigrant, segregationist, homophobic, xenophobic, antisemitic and misogynist American life style. But, make no mistake. These are not the fears or issues of the corporate America and Wall Street. They do just fine, in fact better, with a black puppet in the White House, who happily drones Yemeni and Pakistani brown skinned youth to death and pledges allegiance to the billionaires, giving the finger to black America which helped him win the presidency, twice. No, their issue is their corporate Empire and profits, while the social wedge issues are used to divide and keep people busy fighting one another and chasing wild geese, and scaring liberals into pacifism and supporting Democrats, no matter what, lest those Tea Party crazies take the White House. You draw your own conclusion.