The Corner

Bundy vs. BLM: A Visceral Reaction

One can be a supporter of the rule of law and still recoil in anger and disgust from the militarized display of force by the federal government toward Clive Bundy.

The disproportionate nature of the government’s reaction to Bundy suggests this has less to do with delinquent grazing fees than it does with the selective assertion of raw governmental power — sending a message not just to Bundy or a disfavored group, but to America as a whole. The same federal government that deploys Bureau of Land Management shooters tricked out like SEAL Team 6 directs Border Patrol agents to flee from aggressive illegal immigrants.  The same federal government that would fire and prosecute federal agents who physically restrain border-crossers sends agents to tase and sic German shepherds on ordinary Americans exercising First Amendment rights.

One can acknowledge that the government has the right — in fact, the responsibility — to enforce the law, yet object that this administration habitually enforces the law in a capricious, arbitrary, and discriminatory manner. They imperiously go after a Bundy while excusing scores of miscreants whose get-out-of-jail-free card is membership in a politically-correct class. They regularly waive legal requirements out of sheer political expediency. They fail to defend duly enacted statutes with which they, the enlightened, disagree.

One can concede that the federal government may take reasonable steps to (ostensibly) protect endangered species, but reject that such creatures should be given primacy over human beings humbly trying to earn a living. It’s a bit unsettling, to say the least, that this administration has displayed more resolve (and animosity) toward Clive Bundy than it has toward Vladimir Putin or Bashar al-Assad.

And the absurd visual of  the government’s designated ”First Amendment Zone” in the middle of nowhere simply adds to the fury. After all, these things haven’t happened in isolation: The government tells us we’re free to practice our religion provided we do so only within the confines of our homes and churches; we can form associations to participate in the political process, but only if those organizations meet the approval of a partisan bureaucrat at the IRS. The federal government even commands that we buy health insurance we don’t want as the price for being born in the United States of America.

The appalling contempt this government has shown toward its citizens and the rule of law is the context in which the Bundy-BLM confrontation  is playing out. It’s a context that further diminishes, rather than enhances, Americans’ respect for the rule of law.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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