MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Cliven Bundy is such an extreme caricature of egregious hypocrisy - not to mention being a crass racist - that he appears to be the invention of a cynical satirist. Alas, he's not.
Given how quickly the news cycle moves, here's a brief review of the Bundy farce. He's the Nevada rancher that became an icon of defiance of the government when he refused to pay grazing fees for his cattle to the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau impounded Bundy's cows that were feeding themselves on federal land, because he owed more than a million dollars to the Bureau.
Bundy took to the media, and soon, armed militias - whose members believe government is an evil force that encroaches on their "God-given" rights - swarmed to "protect" Bundy from law enforcement officials and Bureau of Land Management officers. After a brief stand-off, the militarized swat teams and police stood down and essentially abandoned the area to Bundy's supporters, who continued to surround his ranch, acting as a de facto rebel military force. This included the setting up of armed check points. If these forces were in another nation defying US authority, they would be considered “militants” and targeted by drones.
Furthermore, the Bureau of Land Management - in full retreat - released Bundy's herd to again roam freely on federal land.
That brings us up to date in order to understand the implications of an article that appeared in the September 17 Las Vegas Review-Journal:
On April 12, a triumphant Cliven Bundy and his supporters chased away federal authorities and set the rancher’s impounded cattle free once more to roam public land in northeast Clark County.
Two days later, a car collided with one of Bundy’s cows on Interstate 15, about 10 miles from his Bunkerville ranch, killing the animal and sending the vehicle careening down an embankment.
Now a Las Vegas woman injured in the crash is suing Bundy for negligence.
The lawsuit filed Sunday in Clark County District Court alleges Bundy “recklessly, carelessly and negligently allowed his cows to enter onto Interstate 15 through an area where he had no grazing or other rights.”
It is imperative to note that the cow was one of those released as the federal government abandoned its stand-off with militia members.
What is Cliven Bundy's response to the lawsuit?
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"The cow’s owner [Bundy] never arrived on scene after being contacted by NHP [Nevada Highway Patrol] dispatch," the report said.
Bundy had not been served with notice of the lawsuit Wednesday, but he was familiar with the accident. He said it was his cow that was hit, but he denied any responsibility.
He said it is the state’s job to maintain the fence that keeps his livestock off the interstate.
"It’s a state problem. It’s not our problem," Bundy said. "We really feel bad when it happens. We sure don’t want it to happen. But we’re not liable."
Bundy's assertion that the government is liable for a serious accident caused by one of his herd reaches the stratosphere of hypocrisy.
Like many people who want to use government property or services without paying for them in the name of "liberty," Bundy does not want to assume any of the responsibility of those falsely claimed "rights." If ever there were anyone who believed in a "nanny state," it's Cliven Bundy.
Furthermore, Bundy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he could, technically, his own claim against the injured party, saying, "The person whose car hit that cow is liable to me."
Bundy's reaction to the accident is not just an occasion for smug derision of a man who managed to defy the federal government; it is a frightening reminder of what happens when right-wing extremists are allowed to break the law. If Bundy was a person of color surrounded by supporters - also people of color - with semi-automatic firearms pointed at the police, would the government have just walked away from the confrontation? The outcome would likely have been far different.
Politicians in Washington, D.C. are spending trillions of dollars on the military and on militarized police to fight "threats to the national security," but they walk away from those "good 'ol (white) boys" who threaten our society from within.
The result is that the Cliven Bundles of the nation feel even more empowered to indulge themselves at the expense of the rest of us.
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