Cliven Bundy and Black Lives Matter

Dear Rebecca:

Wondering if you’ve heard news that the case of Cliven Bundy — the Nevada rancher who engaged in a standoff with the federal government a few years back — has been dismissed. 

National Review’s David French explains that evidence emerged that for all of Bundy’s faults — and hoo boy, he has many — the government overreached in making its case against him.

Larry Wooten, a BLM special agent who worked on the Bundy case, wrote an explosive whistleblower memo outlining a truly stunning series of government misdeeds that went well beyond withholding evidence at the trial. To be clear, Wooten is no fan of the Bundys. He rightly accused them of pursuing an “illegal, uncivilized, and dangerous strategy,” but the same words apply to the federal government — the alleged guardians of the rule of law.

First, he outlined vicious hostility toward the Bundys and their allies. Federal agents called them, among other things, “retards,” “rednecks,” “tractor-face,” and “inbred.” Emails insulted Bundy in terms that can’t be reproduced in a decent publication. Wooten also “became aware” that law-enforcement officers “bragged about roughing up Dave Bundy, grinding his face into the ground, and Dave Bundy having little bits of gravel stuck in his face.” Wooten called agents’ behavior “carnival, inappropriate, and childish.”

There’s more. French concludes:

Who is the greater threat to public peace and the rule of law? A rancher and his sons angry that the government is destroying his livelihood in part through political favoritism and vindictiveness? Or a government that acts as if might makes right, abuses its citizens, and uses maximum force when far less intrusion and risk would accomplish its lawful purposes?

Bundy’s case teaches a number of valuable lessons. We cannot presume the government’s virtue. Sometimes even wild tales are true. And every American — from the angriest antifa activist to the leader of “Y’all Qaeda” — is entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution.

Change a few words, and those two paragraphs express, with unerring precision, the case made by the Black Lives Matter movement. When African-Americans complain about police abuses in their community, conservatives invariably respond with complaints about “black on black crime.” They rarely question “a government that acts as if might makes right, abuses its citizens, and uses maximum force when far less intrusion and risk would accomplish its lawful purposes?”

Take French himself. Here he is, writing about BLM a year ago:

“Black Lives Matter is one of the founding churches of the new religion of anti-racism, a secular faith that views every significant event or trend in the United States through the prism of race, and seeks to remake the nation from the ground up to purge it of its historical sins. Oddly enough, when boiled down to its essence, the new religion of anti-racism looks a lot like the older religions of Marxism and socialism, complete with hostility to capitalism and a destructive rejection of Judeo-Christian moral norms. Black Lives Matter just changes the pretext for revolution.

And earlier:

Black Lives Matter longs for conflict and fosters division. It supports murderers. It remains astonishing that the Democratic Party, the academic Left, and the mainstream media continue to respect it and provide it a platform for its vicious hate.

It’s interesting that despite his apparent distaste for Bundy and Antifa groups, French feels stirred to defend them agains the power of the federal government. Yet, he apparently cannot extend that same logic to Black Lives Matter, whose ideological errors he feels are too large to be countenanced.

The truth is: We should all be on guard agains the abuses of big and powerful institutions — be they government or corporate. If BLM is worthy of protecting, so is Cliven Bundy.

And vice versa.


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