Perspectives: What would it take to stir our sense of injustice?

Photo by zabelin/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — The nine-year anniversary of the joint FBI/Bureau of Land Management raid dubbed Operation Cerberus Action has come and gone.

For most of us, the events of June 10, 2009, are already a long-forgotten footnote in history.

For Blanding, Utah, the anniversary marks a painful reminder of how certain federal agencies turned overkill and personal destruction into a clear message for rural communities. They wanted to remind everyone that they were in charge.

Official documents put the number of agents that invaded Blanding that day at nearly 300. It was the first time that many of the BLM agents were allowed to get dressed up in their combat gear with assault rifles.

Was all that firepower assembled to confront a gang of violent cartel gunmen? Hardly.

It was used to execute search and arrest warrants in a federal sting operation targeting individuals who were suspected of trafficking in archaeological artifacts. The brutality of the raid was entirely unnecessary given the nature of the alleged offense.

None of the suspects were considered violent. Nor was there evidence that an organized trafficking ring existed. Federal agents had sent their own confidential informant to entice artifact collectors to violate one bureaucratic rule or another.

This is nothing new for the FBI, which has a long history of saving us from monsters of its own creation.

In order to justify the harshest felony charges, BLM investigators lied about the value of a small bead that they claimed was worth over $1,000. In reality, it was worth only $75.

Facing decades in prison and financial ruin at the hands of the feds, Dr. James Redd took his own life the following day. Over the course of the next few months, another defendant would commit suicide, as did the confidential informant whose conscience began functioning a bit too late.

The only person who actually served prison time was an individual who expressed a desire to beat the informant with a baseball bat. Fines and probation were imposed on the remaining defendants.

Does it not strike you as a unreasonable for federal agents to go after these people in such a violent and malicious manner? If not, is there any level of aggression that you’d consider too harsh in enforcing these types of laws?

The danger that few recognized at the time was that the shock and awe mentality of these agents was the product of BLM special agent in charge, Dan Love, who worked in concert with FBI agent Greg Bretzing.

These are names that have since surfaced in connection with two other notable examples of government overkill and abuse. Love led the militarized, ego-cocaine fueled BLM impoundment attempt at Bundy Ranch in 2014, and Bretzing headed up the barbaric response to the Malheur Refuge occupation in 2016.

Each time, the official narrative sought to excuse excessive violence on the part of the feds and to place the blame on those who were on the receiving end of their aggression. Each time, closer examination has shown the bad faith in which these officials were acting.

Of course, not everyone gets it.

One of the advantages of my work is that I’ve been able to go directly to the people involved instead of having to rely entirely on incomplete media or government narratives.

It’s been fascinating to watch how the the government’s case crumbles like chalk as the truth slowly but surely begins to come forth. It happened in the Bundy family’s case. It happened in the raid that destroyed so many lives in Blanding. It happened in the BLM raid on Garryowen, Montana.

We’ll likely see it happen yet again in the lawsuit moving forward against those who colluded to kill LaVoy Finicum.

It’s disconcerting how many people compliantly close their eyes to abuse and continue to grasp for any reason to believe that the abusers are in the right. It leads one to wonder: What exactly is the benefit to pathologically clinging so desperately to the status quo?

If they believe that professing their love and willingness to comply to their would-be rulers will forever shield them from similar abuse, history tells a much different story. What starts out as abusive behavior towards some tends to become abusive for all if left unchecked.

Standing up for those who are being abused doesn’t require marching in ideological lockstep with them. It simply demonstrates the understanding that if official lawlessness can be done to others, it can be done to us as well.

What would it take to stir our sense of injustice in such a way that our ideological proclivities no longer act as blinders?

When even whistleblowers like Larry Wooten within the BLM cannot remain silent any longer, isn’t it worth another look to see if we’ve missed something?

Our bad conscience is warning us. Perhaps we should listen to it instead of trying to silence it.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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17 Comments

  • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I think there is enough evidence to be skeptical of the federal response in these cases. The only problem I have is the lack of skepticism Hyde exhibits in the role his cultural idols have played in these moments. Do the Bundy’s have any responsibility in escalating the situation? Did Finicum have any accountability in constantly taunting officials to kill him the day of his death? Did the named residents of Blanding have any accountability in federal action due to their years of felony grave robbing?

    The thing with Hyde’s writing is it lacks any of the personal insight he expects of others, hence considering him a hack. He has no problem using the very tools to verbally bludgeon his ideological opponents that he condemns their use of. Maybe one day he’ll crawl out of his small extreme libertarian bunker and realize those he constantly maligns (in the most broad of stereotypes) have similar criticisms and experiences. I won’t hold my breathe given his well-recorded psuedo-intellectual proclivities.

    • NotSoFast June 18, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      What a Nazi style response bikeandfish. Hyde’s inside reporting was interesting and his overall opinion based on the facts. Yours? was like straight out of the Nazi stormtrooper’s handbook. Think about it my friend.

      • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 5:27 pm

        I don’t give any credence to folks whose first comment to me passionately proves Godwin’s Law. Best of luck, you are going to need it if you think everything is “Nazi, Nazi, Nazi.”

        • NotSoFast June 18, 2018 at 6:44 pm

          Not familiar with Godwin’s Law. So I will, in the future, just ignore your inputs (and/or) think about applying Murphy’s Law.

          Anyway, I thought Hyde’s investigating reporting was interesting.

          • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 7:59 pm

            Take the time to educate yourself about it. There is nothing rational or civil about yelling “Nazi” with comments you disagree with.

            I wouldn’t remotely call anything Hyde does “investigative journalism”. At best he occasionally does citizen journalism or imbedded reporting but most the time he is a sophmoric columnist and ideological pundit. The problem is he always informs his limited journalism with the latter.

            PS…there is nothing fascist (i assume that’s what you mean with your kneejerk Nazi howl) about openly critiquing public opinions. The only thing remotely fascist is Hyde’s constant fear mongering and scapegoating of stereotyped out groups, but even that I consider to be more ofa symptom of intellectual laziness and inconsistency with his own values and concerns. I mean who is perpetuating the “victim culture” in this essay, despite years of railing against that exact Boogeyman?

            Hyde’s words and essays drip with hypocrisy and inconsistencies.

    • Steve June 18, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Excellent rebuttal to Mr. Hyde’s Dr. Jekyll like diatribe.

      • bikeandfish June 18, 2018 at 6:01 pm

        Be careful, you might be called a Nazi sympathizer. Remember, the Nazi’s were big fans of criticism and challenging people to live up to their own standards.

        • NotSoFast June 18, 2018 at 11:11 pm

          Just wondering, do you accept apologies for my out of line Nazi remark? Or are you comfortable with B.S. yelling and arguing?
          By the way, I’am a middle of the road kinda guy. When Hyde occasionly writes a dumb article, I just move on to the comics or read the ads. Same for Ed. (the other way there left kind of guy).

          • bikeandfish June 19, 2018 at 12:12 am

            I can definitely accept an apology.

            I’m also a middle of the road citizen which is why I think I struggle with so many columnist/pundits now.

            As I said, Hyde is right to expect citizens to question the scale of the FBI and BLM response in these events. I think we should all consider the militarized nature of policing in our country as it has significant implications.

            Were I struggle is how clearly lopsided Hyde’s words and loyalties lie. He isn’t willing to see how his heroes play a role in escalating these situations or how his own words do as well. I don’t condone the scale of the raids on Blanding but both sides seem to foster a cat and mouse game. It doesn’t take much time in this region, including San Juan Co, to realize many families are armed to the teeth. Its the same state in which seasonal (unarmed, non LE) BLM employees have been harassed by masked men with guns. A regional sheriff threatened to open a federal monument by force, including the use of a military vehicle.
            So yeah, I can read his words and research their validity but I clearly think we need more citizens calling out these sorts of ideologues and sycophants. And a point of clarity, I do so on an individual level, not broadly. If/when Hyde starts being intellectually honest and vulnerable to the fact many of his ideas cut against the very grain of the words he types then I’ll applaud him more. I would love to be shocked by such honesty as I think we need more of that and fewer hardline partisans.

  • jaybird June 18, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Trumpers have no values to drW from. Otherwise they would ot stand by this evil man.

    • John June 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      oh shut up.. you are useless

      • jaybird June 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm

        Aside from being a toilet, john, your comments on this site prove you out to be a morally challenged, debase lowlife. You should go away. No one wants to hear the flush of the … in your head. Whooosh.
        Ed. ellipsis

  • commonsense June 18, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Since Nazi came up, the Nazis under Hitler we’re socialists, against civilians have firearms and against a particular religion. Sound familiar Bikedish?

    • bikeandfish June 19, 2018 at 12:22 am

      No, but it clearly does to you.

      I am a gun owning moderate who regularly challenges those who are virulently anti-gun. I’ve converted more people to move right than I have ever encouraged to more restrictive on the 2nd.

      I’ve only seen one side, the extremist, encourage institutionalized discrimination against religion, and its definitely not the left. And to be very clear, there is a fundamental difference between challenging those who seek to imbue government with Christian dogma and those who use the government aparatus to target individual practice of religion.

      And its ridiculous to constantly yell “Nazi” at policy you disagree with when we actually have modern day Nazi’s marching in our streets and running for office. To be clear again, these aren’t the people you are insinuating but the people who openly wear their membership and ideas in public and believe in fascism as it cuts against minorities of every stripe.

      I think you need an important lesson in logic….just because Nazi’s embraced a specific type of rigid, narrow socialism doesn’t mean all socialists are Nazi’s. That is fallacious logic.

  • Craig June 19, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Did I miss the examples of the claimed violence inflicted on people.

    Were these people stealing artifacts?
    Were they collectors or selling them?
    How many were there?
    Was anyone physically harmed?

    It seems the suicides coincided with getting caught, not with being abused.

    There is very little detail attending the many claims.

    • bikeandfish June 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm

      Hyde definitely fails at explaining how their suicides are related to the “show of force” the feds used. I agree the feds could have arrested them in a less militarized fashion. But at the end of the day these were grave robbers who were caught looting antiquities and I think getting caught is more relavent to their suicides than the show of force. Its nit unusual to see suicide when the false image people have created crumbles and the criminal activity is exposed.

      But Hyde loves to ignore the crimes of his cultural idols.

  • voice of reason June 19, 2018 at 10:36 am

    It amazes me how Mr. Hyde can selectively invoke “personal responsibility” when it suits his narrative.

    While these events are tragic, Mr. Hyde would have you believe that the dead played no role and were victims/martyrs for the cause.

    Dr. Redd took his own life rather than own up to his mistakes and face the lawful criminal justice system. Had he not chosen suicide, he could have fought the charges, taken a plea deal or made hundreds of other choices. He did not. Dr. Redd escalated the situation. Dr. Redd left his family. And yes, Dr. Redd absolutely broke the law by illegally collecting protected artifacts.

    LaVoy Finicum, after being lawfully stopped, chose to flee and attempted to run a road block. LaVoy chose to get out of the truck. LaVoy willfully acted in an erratic manner, reached repeatedly for a firearm and asked the law enforcement agents to shoot him.

    So, to summarize, personal responsibility only applies to those who do not fit the narrative Mr. Hyde is pushing. Dr. Redd and LaVoy are not responsible for their own actions. They were simply innocent victims who have elevated themselves to a higher plane of understanding and were above the law that the rest of us mortals live by.

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