Welcome to my world. Won’t you come on in?
It’s gotten to the point where Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has become a household name because of his refusal to pay his fair share to the federal government for grazing fees, his refusal to even recognize the federal government exists (all while literally carrying the American flag while he parades on camera for millions to see), his whining to Fox News and other conservative media about Bundy’s stand to the point that it’s equated to the Boston Tea Party, which turned into an armed standoff in recent days with the end result being that the Bureau of Land Management backed down from legally confiscating Bundy’s cattle in order to be compensated for unpaid fees due to concern for the safety of BLM employees and the public — namely, the armed militia members from around the country aiming loaded weapons at government employees.
It’s become such a big story that it’s gotten lead-in attention every night so far in a memorable war of words this week between Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and Bundy cheerleader Sean Hannity on Fox News.
And now that Bundy is showing his true character (or lack of same) by talking about blacks being subsidized to the point they would have been better off remaining slaves, Hannity and others like him — with concerns over lost advertising dollars or lost votes racing through their minds — can’t back away from the “hero” they’ve been propping up fast enough.
Having lived in “Bundy country” all my life, I can’t say I’m surprised at all. In fact, I could see it all coming a mile away. Make that a “country mile” away — you see, out here that’s a lot longer than a mere 5,280 feet. In “Bundy country,” that’s about as long as it takes for fresh cow manure to wear off your boots after you’ve stepped in a steaming pile of it, or for the smell from that same cow pie to wear off, whichever comes first.
Out here in the West, not all rural people believe the same things that ol’ Cliven Bundy believes. Believe it or not, there are actually a good amount of decent, hard-working rural people out here who live off the land and actually use common sense, logic, fairness, intelligence, concern for the environment — all the things that Clive Bundy lacks.
Oh, but it’s those Bundy-like characters who can sure skew the perception of what the West and its people are like, and there are plenty of them out there.
I remember a time back around my late teens or early 20’s when I was helping a friend of mine whose family ran a cattle ranch do some chores up in the hills, and a song from the Queen album “A Night At The Opera” was playing on a stereo when the friend’s father got back in the vehicle.
“Turn off that jungle music!” my friend’s father insisted.
When I see and hear Cliven Bundy today, I’m reminded of that time.
Welcome to my world and so much of what I’ve seen through my lifetime. Won’t you come on in?
Cliven Bundy is a symbol of many things, and now America is getting more than a glimpse at those Bundy qualities.
He’s a symbol of a breed of individual so damn stubborn to cling to the ugly parts of our past and all the shame that goes with it that he’d die to hold on to it, and he’d put his wife and children at the front of the firing line if it came down to actual shooting.
He’s a symbol of an American right wing that’s been there for at least as long as we could utter the name Cleon Skousen (ah, hell, going back to the founding of our slave-owning nation for that matter) that’s gone from being on the fringes of conservative politics to being at the forefront of conservative politics.
He’s a symbol of nonsensical “feelings” about the direction we’re going with little opinion being based on facts or a nasty thing like deep, analytical thought and reasoning.
He’s a symbol of that “I’ll do whatever it takes to get mine, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna stand by and let you get yours” line of thinking.
He’s a symbol of a pawn being used in some perverted game of chess where people behind the scenes pulling the strings would love nothing more than to have millions of acres of protected land turned over to states who’d love to turn it over to the giants of industry to do what they please.
He’s a symbol of someone too damn stupid to see that he’s being used as a pawn.
He’s a symbol of an American racist who’s too damn stupid and stubborn to admit he’s a racist because it’d be too hard to change his ways.
The likes of him aren’t found just on the desert ranches of Nevada either. They can be found in places like liberal Northern California, where it can still be hard to this day for a black man with a decent job to find an apartment to rent.
Bundy is a symbol of an ugly side of America that still exists, where a person with color might have the cash, but they can’t cash in their face.
That’s ugliness. It sure as hell ain’t heroism. Real American heroes didn’t fight and die for that (to use a “Bundy country” term) bullshit to be celebrated.