ON Kilter: Bundy, revolutionary or rebel? The changing nature of the West

OPINION – Despite what anyone’s leanings may be with regards to the situation in Bunkerville, Nev., it is widely agreed upon that it is anything but over. What lies in store for Cliven Bundy is likely a host of state and federal charges ranging from contempt of court to, possibly, domestic terrorism. Don’t shoot the messenger.

In the meantime, while armed militia members stand watch over the area, we have learned that perhaps the most effective measure yet to be employed in helping all to understand just exactly what Bundy’s stance is, is to give him a microphone and just let him be himself.

The only thing more surprising than his repeated racially-charged statements were the people surprised that he said them at all. Perhaps disturbing, are those who insist there was nothing wrong with his views.

For example, in a Facebook thread discussion between me and St. George resident Paul Gooch, he said:

Should I be scared to admit that I didn’t find what Cliven said offensive?

He is literally not speaking the same language that everyone else is using. It is easy to see how spin-doctors can build racism into his comments – whether accidentally or intentionally.

But still … what kind of America do we live in when a guy has to live in terror of saying what he thinks in his own way? The reason anyone needs a PR person to manage their public pronouncements is because we are terrified of today’s PC police!

Apparently not everyone is afraid to speak their mind. Continuing, Gooch said:

Too bad he speaks the homespun language of a Bunkerville rancher.

Now even some of the high profile people who were standing with him for the right reasons (government abuse) are turning tail – ‘skeeeeered to death’ that they might be tainted by charges of racism – like it is some kind of pox that can be transmitted through mere thought-association.

Gooch and I continued our conversation off-Facebook and agreed that we do not see Bundy’s comments in the same light. I suspect that Gooch’s viewpoint adequately encompasses the predominant mindset of the community here in Southern Utah.

Listen to my colleague Bryan Hyde, a local radio show talk show host. He referred to black people as a “victim class” who needed to “get off the plantation.” To his credit, he meant it in the best possible way.

Or maybe we could even look at the local government’s re-designation of Martin Luther King Day to “Human Rights Day.”

Nothing offensive or racist there, right? Wrong. Painfully, plain and simply wrong.

If you do not understand the implications of such statements, if you dismiss them at face value as innocuous, unfortunate and harmless, you are part of the problem, let me assure you.

But to the broader picture at hand, the one I will readily acquiesce to – that the the point of the Bundy matter in Bunkerville has been diverted (seriously, what the heck was Bundy doing going so far off topic?) – isn’t there perhaps a contextual similarity to the attitude he displays in both instances, his stand against the Bureau of Land Management and his racist comments?

Racism is steeped in a mindset of elitism and entitlement. It is a mentality derived from a narcissistic attitude of superiority that sees oneself as exempt from ordinary rules of conduct.

Rules of conduct like, say: Paying federal grazing fees? Obeying federal court orders? Choosing to not rally idiots with rifles in an attempt to stand-down federal officers and agents carrying out federally adjudicated and lawful orders? Not giving a darn really about anyone but themselves and their own personal interests?

It is asserted by many that they do not necessarily stand with Bundy’s methods but they can allow that his principles were marked with those of a patriot and a revolutionary, ones like those of the Founding Fathers.

I contend, however, that the animosity toward government that exceeds the boundaries of common sense is becoming its own distinct and recognizable movement. Its creed is a loose deference to a nuance of principles only a select few claim to understand; as if, somehow, they channel the founders and understand the law better than the rest of us. They fail to understand, that were the founders alive today, they might have answered Bundy and his followers with force for sedition.

You see, had England capitulated to the demands of the founders for representation, that is to say, had England given them land, title, and lordship or perhaps even seats in British Parliament, I would venture the war would have been averted.

The founders were intelligent, educated men. They were not rebels looking for a cause but rather were moral men with a truly moral cause and saw war as a last resort.

The fact is, no matter what you think about government overreach, and you may well be right, we have representation and we must use it.

Were the founders to counsel their countrymen today, they would say so. I am sure of it.

The battle over land use in Bunkerville is not the first in this struggle. The Sagebrush Rebellion is the precursor and judicial outcomes have set precedence that is prudent and relevant to this case.

Utah prepares itself to spend $3 million of school trust funds to wage a similar lawsuit. (See ed. note of clarification.)

But armed rebellion?

Perhaps if you don’t believe me, you should read about the Whiskey Rebellion under Washington’s presidency and ask yourself if the causes are similar. Washington, after much consternation, put that rebellion down with force.

And today, make no mistake about it, Cliven Bundy is looking straight down the barrel of a similar fate, as are many of his supporters.

But this really is, like many who support Bundy say, about more than just cattle.

It is about the West. If there is one thing that has long characterized the West, it is that it changes. Native American lands gave way, the buffalo gave way, fenceless grazing gave way, homesteading gave way, and so forth.

Whether or not any of us like or are ready for change, today it is about the changing landscape of priorities in this country.

The last remnants of the pioneers of westward expansion are beginning to give way to today’s progress and what will be the new West: A West where the leading agendas will be renewable energy, recreational use, water conservancy, and ecological and environmental preservation.

And therein lies the rub: national agendas conflicting with local agendas – whether those of a rancher, county or state. When it comes to the characteristic ever-changing nature of the West, this really is not anything new and no measure of lawlessness or violence will change it.

Again, don’t shoot the messenger.

See you out there.

Ed. note April 28: CLARIFICATION on the columnist’s statement: “Utah prepares itself to spend $3 million of school trust funds to wage a similar lawsuit.” Hyland bases his statement on a published academic work of Maurer School of Law: Indiana University, entitled The Story of Kleppe v. New Mexico: The Sagebrush Rebellion as Un-Cooperative Federalism, dated Jan. 1, 2011. The paper is linked here, and the reader is directed to Page 101 and following. Hyland is extending the discussed power of the state to litigate, as developed in the paper, to Utah’s efforts and allocation of funds for a similar lawsuit or action as has been brought by others in the context of the Sagebrush Rebellion.

For further CLARIFICATION see: ON Kilter: Utah’s proposed public lands lawsuit, SITLA’s purse strings – published May 5, 2014

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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: dhyland@stgnews.com

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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23 Comments

  • Sherry April 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    The following is my personal opinion on this matter. Cliven Bundy is a criminal and a coward. He is NOT a patriot. Were he a patriot, he would have paid his fees and treated the land and its precious resources with more respect. Not to mention obeyed the laws of the land and showed respect to the representatives of those laws. The fact that he ignored the laws, ignored those trying to enforce those laws and rallied others to break the laws, in order to protect himself, rather than face the consequences of his actions, well that just goes to show how low and non-patriotic he really is. A true patriot respects the laws, works within them and fights for the preservation of the lands, species and peoples that depend on us to fight for them. A true patriot supports his country, even when he may disagree with the politics in power at the time and defends it from outsiders’ attacks. He does not encourage criminal behavior, putting lives unnecessarily at risk, just to serve his own selfish needs, that come from an over-blown ego and false sense of entitlement. No, Cliven Bundy is NOT a patriot. He is NOT a hero. He is a low-life criminal and should be treated as such. If you want to see a true patriot, a true hero, look at the men and women of all our armed services, that are risking their lives, on a daily basis, to help others. Look at our firefighters. Look at our Rescue workers, who give of themselves and their time without thought of reward, to save the lives of others. Look at our hardworking teachers, who give of themselves, every day, to teach the next generation. There are your patriots and heroes, ladies and gentlemen. Not Cliven Bundy. Cliven Bundy is just some selfish, self-centered, arrogant, egotistical, thoughtless, inconsiderate, piece of crap, that thinks he is better than everybody else and therefore, is above the laws of the land. He is a thief, a liar and a scum bag. A criminal. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is my personal opinion that he should not only have to pay all the back fees he owes, but be fined a substantial amount as well. He should also have to spend time in jail and lose his herd. He doesn’t deserve any more respect than anyone else in this country and in fact, deserves even less now, for what he has done. I hope they prosecute him and take everything he has. He deserves no less. The people of this country deserve better than the likes of Cliven Bundy.

    • Applejack April 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      No truer words were ever spoken about Cliven Bundy or his followers. 🙂 Thank you for this post.

    • TARRELL April 27, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      State your full name

    • Cathy April 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      so true

  • Obama's gonna take our guns!!! April 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    ” Its creed is a loose deference to a nuance of principles only a select few claim to understand; as if, somehow, they channel the founders and understand the law better than the rest of us”

    I assume he’s talking about that idiot Bryan Hyde here.

  • But Seriously April 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Glad he showed his true colors. What a …. I bet a lot of ranchers that paid their dues agree.
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • JAR April 27, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Dallas,
    You bring up some valet points for discussion. One must look at the whole picture in life’s journey to make a judgement on someones else. Should Bundy be led to jail for standing up to the government for what he deems right? By what the law says at the present, Yes. Is what he said about about the colored folks fate today verses their previous life’s course, grounds for jail time too? Some would say ‘ Did you hear what he said? why he’s a bigot’ Send him to jail’.
    Consider; By what Dallas Hyland wrote at one time in the pass that wasn’t kosher to the general view point or to the government thinking, a act of treason? Some would say, Stone Him ! Next time he’ll think twice saying what he is thinking.
    Freedom of speech and pointing out the BLM’s heavy-handed real agenda in the cow thing down the road is just wrong, Right?

  • TARRELL April 27, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Don’t you just love idiot writers like this guy?
    He uses stupid words that nobody uses but people that think there more intelligent than the rest of us.
    When most of us write something we use words children can read and understand.
    Furthermore this news outlet is shaping up to be a norther government propaganda rag.
    Get rid of this …
    Ed. ellipsis.

    • Obama's gonna take our guns!!! April 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Obama, big gubmunt, socialism …start worrying

    • Applejack April 29, 2014 at 5:59 am

      Tarrell, the next time you decide to ridicule another for his use of our written language, you may want to first apply that same ridicule to your own comments. Otherwise you make your comments read like, well, an idiot wrote them. 🙂

  • Brian April 28, 2014 at 9:10 am

    “seriously, what the heck was Bundy doing going so far off topic?”. If you think Bundy was off-topic, you really have no understanding of who he is, what he was standing for (and against), and the true nature of our federal government (as it is now, and more importantly as it was intended to be). If you only look at Bundy’s statement, as surgically altered by the NY Times, then it looks foolish and racist. If you look at his full statement, in context, in the order it left his mouth, you’ll realize he is saying exactly what Reverend C. L. Bryant (an African American pastor fighting to get people, particularly African Americans, off the modern day version of the plantation). Watch Bryant’s movie, Runaway Slave, read up on history, get some real context, and then write an article of actual substance, based on fact and reality, rather than knee-jerk surgically altered sound-byte political correctness.

  • Jacer April 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Whether his personal feelings were right or wrong, the BLM used intimidation with lethal weapons to suppress his RIGHT to stand up and vocalize his RIGHT to free speech. Then, and only then did the supporters realize that the government was abusing their power and came to help defend someone who was originally using his right to free speech. Do you know how many people who protest on capital Hill haven’t paid their bills, maybe going through bankruptcy because they haven’t paid their bills, or are in dispute with a bill they feel was unjustly charged to them? Yet these people are allowed to protest. Hmm…. I am curious to discover if an environmentalist, for anti logging, chains himself to a tree on Forest Service land claiming that this public land shouldn’t be harvested and gets greeted by an army of Forest Service personal pointing guns and deploying tasers. And I am curious to know that if they did, how would America respond. Are we sympathetic to the tree hugger because he is saving a tree? Or is he a criminal for even thinking he could challenge the government in that way? Bottom line, lethal threat was introduced first from the BLM towards protesters. So regardless the reason that started this fiasco. The government’s lethal weapons used for intimidating is what sparked the uproar and those willing to defend him.

  • Prampa 25 April 28, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Two completely different subjects have been spun together in this opinion piece and they should not have been.

    Is Clive Bundy a patriot or a criminal? Both sides present valid and trumped up reasons for argument, but in the end, if we as a society refuse to obey the law of the land, then chaos and anarchy will reign. It’s simple. Clive Bundy is a criminal and should face the consequences for his actions. Those who physically aid him are guilty of aiding and abetting.

    Is Clive Bundy a racist? He most likely is. I am careful though to award him that title since so much of what IS said is taken out of context and presented in a light most advantageous to the presenter.

    Dallas states “Racism is steeped in a mindset of elitism and entitlement.” He is right to an extent, but he fails to recognize that racism is fostered by both blacks and whites. I live in Milwaukee, WI where blacks are a much larger portion of our population (nearly 50%). Most are on some sort of public assistance and make no attempt to get off it. Men “father” babies and women bare babies without thought of raising a child other than it provides more welfare opportunities. Neither gender makes an attempt to get a job or take advantage of free education. Unemployment is rampant yet there are many jobs available.

    In the end, those of us – all races – who work end up supporting them. We aren’t elitist and rich, we are blue-collar working stiffs who are willing to lend a hand up to anyone in need, but have become reluctant to continue to foster a people who breed generations of moochers. Racism can grow out of frustration too, and it has nothing to do with “land rights.”

    And Tarrell – you shouldn’t criticize someone who has command of the English language. It make YOU look like a stupid idiot.

    • Brian April 28, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      He most likely IS a racist? Based on what? A few surgically altered statements that when viewed in context are quite consistent with statements by many African American leaders (Bill Cosby and C.L Bryant to name two) who have said exactly the same thing, albeit in a different way? My knee-jerk reaction was the same as yours, but read the entire statement, in order, and he’s defending African Americans and Hispanics and concerned for their future. There is plenty for racism in this country, but this isn’t it.

  • JAR April 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Dallas,
    Again let me state, you produced a thought provoking article.
    I however, do not understand why you hide under the banner ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ two or three times in the article. Are you afraid of the PC crowd knocking on your door? or someone else? And of course, the founding fathers not being around any more to say ‘Dallas, wait til your on this side of the here after and we’ll discuss our viewpoints together. Just don’t put words in our mouths to justify your own talking points.
    Do us a service someday Dallas and invite Mr. Bundy to sit down with you, Mr. Hyde and the radio audience to discuss your different takes on the resent history in Nevada, freedom, etc.. Shoot invite Senator Reid too. He’s a up standing American too. ( Now, don’t kill the messenger here)

    • Dallas Hyland April 28, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      The emphases on don’t shoot the messenger were a light hearted response to the actual threats to me and my family made in recent weeks via email.

      The implication that the founders would encourage the use of representation, for which they fought for, was validated by citing The Whiskey Rebellion. Hence, it is not a loose reference but rather an implied assumption. Though it may be of little consequence for as you imply, they are dead after all.

      But let us take your own words to heart. If in fact it is not for us to infer meaning from their actions, then should we not dismiss at face value also that they would encourage what is taking place in Bunkerville?

      You see where I am going with this right? Mine is a rebuttal to those who claim the founders intended such behavior at all.

      As for history of Nevada, sure, I’d love to interview Bundy. He’s been caught in a few lies thus far however with regards to the history there and as for his knowledge of law, I would think the copious amounts of statements he has gesticulated thus far dismiss at the outset his command of that topic.

      Thank you for reading.

      • Obama's gonna take our guns!!! April 29, 2014 at 12:07 am

        Better keep ur guns loaded. Those might not be empty threats

        Hide them guns. OBAMAS A COMIN’!!!

  • ALEC April 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Dallas, you’ve said before you are a staunch supporter of civil disobedience. So, why not now? As I understand it, Cliven Bundy paid state taxes and grazing fees, and refused to pay the federal fees due to double-dipping and the federal government failing to put the funds back into public lands as promised. Is his refusal to pay those fees not a form of civil disobedience? Same with the non-violent, though armed, protest.
    I’ve only seen one image of one of the supporters pointing a weapon (through a barricade), and none of the images included a view of what he was pointing at. In our gore-porn society, I’d expect that if the weapon were in fact being pointed at a government official, we would see images from a standpoint that included that, and also, that individual would have been promptly surrounded and instructed to put down their weapon. That didn’t happen. The lack of picture evidence is, of course, not proof that the weapon was not pointed at someone, but it’s not proof that it was either.
    It’s amazing that the protest and civil disobedience did not turn violent. I don’t say this because protestors showed up legally armed. I say this because the government did. They showed up with many of the same “suppression tactics” they used in other non-violent protests, such as the Occupy movement. Do you remember the violence against citizens? The tear gas, rubber bullets, sound cannons, riot gear, etc. the government brought to those events? The extremism employed against people who were standing in the wrong place? Do you remember Scott Olsen? Do you remember the “Free Speech Zones” then, and the difficulty of achieving accurate reporting? Reporters and photographers being arrested for recording the events?
    The government was preparing tear gas canisters and was preparing to make the first move against the protestors if they didn’t disperse. They decided against it at the last minute (probably because they realized they would be the ones committing assault and starting the battle). Many of the people who attended with weapons went, not with the intent of fighting the government, but to protect their families and friends from being the victims of assault or murder at the hands of our government.
    Has anyone stopped to wonder why the government spent $3 million to collect on a $1 million bill, rather than garnishing wages, taxes, or putting a warrant out for Bundy’s arrest, as they do when any other citizen fails to pay a fine/fee? Or why they insisted on ripping out the infrastructure? Really, ask yourself, what was the government gaining by doing any of this, besides vacant land in the middle of nowhere? And what does it mean for us?

  • ALEC April 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Whether Bundy is racist or not is not the point. The focus on it serves only to distract from the point.

    It’s also not about the tortoises. They’re being euthanized by the hundreds.

  • JAR April 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Thanks again for the topic discussion Dallas.
    The more we read, listen and raise issues on a topic, the better we become in a democracy . Sorry for the fanatical personal e-mails you & your family have received in the past. The thought of ‘lock and load’ just ran through me mind.
    I still think that the suggested radio program subject I mentioned is a great idea. Or even a one on one interview, with you as a middle of the road news host, with a few people. Subject suggestions:
    The BLM’s take on the trooper action they took, Bundy’s take, and even Harry Reid’s take on his involvement in the outcome of the heavy handed actions taken and why he think Mr. Bundy is a racist/ domestic terrorist and why he wants to protect those little turtles.
    Look forward to your next article Dallas.

  • Mark April 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Bundy, those rednecks can’t be camping outside your house forever, they will go back to their jobs, or lives I should say and in the wee hours one morning they will come for you, just like any criminal on a warrant.

    • I BAPTIZE TERRORISTS April 29, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Oh yeah….you need to be vigilant Mr. Bundy. Dog and Beth are coming after you “in the wee hours one morning”. The Bounty (Bundy) Hunter is coming for you…..

    • Festus April 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      No way, they don’t have any jobs they have to get back to…. They all live off the federal government they despise..

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