The last of the Americans
Triggered by apparent willful ignorance of the unique situation in many Western states, many people would like to portray Cliven Bundy, in his stand against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as a person seeking to enrich himself by not paying grazing fees. As so ineloquently phrased by some ignorant of the totality of the situation, Bundy is a whackjob.
As in its early days as part of our country, much of the West was a barren, undeveloped area. It was the federal government that decided to establish organizations, like the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation, to entice homesteading and development of these areas. Their missions were to entice and aid those who would come to these desolate areas.
Some clear examples are the water projects, like Hoover Dam, just outside of Las Vegas — water being critical to homesteading and the economic development of many arid areas of the West.
It was apparently in response to these efforts that the Bundy family showed up in the late 1800s, in the inhospitable Great Basin Desert of Nevada, to eke out a living ranching along the Virgin River. The Bundy family represents the rugged individualism of what is Americanism.
A small grazing fee helps pay for the projects and assistance to ranchers. This is the fee the Bundys stopped paying when the rate was steadily increased and the BLM turned from assisting ranchers and, instead, used the money to force ranchers out of these areas. It seems rational not to pay a fee to those trying to force you from your family's historic home and livelihood.
The federal government's approach, apparently driven by its eco-activist benefactors, changed over time. Bundy's presence and ranching activities did not.
Another part of this saga is that the federal government owns about 80 percent of the land in Nevada, as well as huge portions of other Western states.
Regardless of the many facets of this story — states' rights, the survival of desert tortoises and Harry Reid's alleged intention to enrich his family by driving ranchers out so that the area can be used by his Chinese benefactor for solar power development — one issue is that BLM personnel have acted as thugs. One need only watch the online videos of hundreds of heavily armed BLM enforcers, slamming unarmed older women onto the ground and tasering unarmed protesters, to be a bit revolted by their behavior.
Federal snipers with guns trained on their fellow citizens and the idiocy of a “roped off First Amendment free speech area” are signs of a tyrannical government — not a free society.
The Bundy-versus-the-BLM story is complicated and apparently too much for people ignorant of its weighty issues to comprehend. All of this federal effort over a handful of cows in the vastness of the Nevada desert. Why? Is Cliven Bundy a whackjob — or is he the last of the Americans?
Robert T. Smith, an environmental scientist, lives in Manor. Michelle Malkin is off today.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police chase ends with shooting in Bell Township
- FBI, federal marshals join manhunt for survivalist accused of ambushing troopers
- Starkey: Two amazing Pirates fans
- NFL notebook: Cardinals RB Dwyer arrested on assault charges
- Rossi: At start, are Pens already finished?
- Steelers notebook: Former lineman Kemoeatu receives kidney from brother
- Steelers remain confident in ground game
- Donegal Township families fight driller to get clean water
- Panthers defensive end Hardy placed on exempt list
- Butler County man arrested on sex charges
- Pirates notebook: Castillo’s debut underscores challenges in Cuban market