By Al Benson Jr.
When is private property not really private property? When the federal government says it isn’t. When is public land not really public land? When the federal government says it isn’t and when they try to run you off for using it. Who does Clark County, Nevada really belong to? Well, that depends on who you ask. With the situation in Clark County right now the federal government seems to think it owns most of the county and that it can tell natives of the area what to do or not do on “their” land.
Back in September, 2006, I did an article for the old Sierra Times website (now defunct) called ‘There Is No Private Property in the American Empire.” I think there are one or two sites out there that might still have it up, but the current situation in Nevada strongly reminded me of that article.
A rancher in Clark County, Nevada (the only rancher left in the county) has had a run-in the the Bureau of Land Management. Ask most folks in the rural West about the BLM and you get answers that run the gamut from flat-out cusswords to worse. Ive talked to folks in Colorado when we’ve been out there on more than one occasion and let’s just say the BLM is not held in especially high esteem. They’ve been accused of land grabbing and other offenses, and in the situation in Clark County they have been accused of being cattle rustlers. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. The BLM thinks they are God out in the sagebrush and they pretty much do what they want.
The one remaining Clark County rancher, Cliven Bundy, has roots on the land he grazes his cattle on that go back to before the turn of the 20th century, back to the days when people actually owned their property and federal thugs like the BLM were only a fond dream in the mind of some corrupt bureaucrat. Much of the land Mr. Bundy grazes his cattle on is public land, which he contends should belong to the state of Nevada rather than the federal government. He is correct. The statistics I saw noted that the feds own over 70% of the land in Nevada. Why? Either it’s part of the state of Nevada and should be state land or when the State of Nevada became a state only around 30% of it really became Nevada.
At any rate, after Mr. Bundy’s family has used this public range for well over 100 years, along comes the BLM and assesses him for grazing fees and whatnot—and now they are telling him his cattle can’t graze there anymore because they are disturbing the habitat of the Desert Tortoise. Really? Cattle grazing in that area for the last century don’t seem to have bothered the tortoises all that much. Mr. Bundy refused to stop using the land and ignored the feds financial levies on his use of the land. Mr. Bundy has a “unique concept” in regard to public land. He actually believes it is for the public to use, not to be cordoned off into some sort of turtle paradise. Needless to say, he ideas are at variance with those of the federal bureaucrats who, in their heart of hearts, really believe it all belongs to the government. The bureaucrats have the mindset of a dictator. Mr. Bundy has the mindset of a free man. Never the twain shall meet!
Since Mr. Bundy ignored the BLM entreaties for plunder (grazing fees) they have decided to round up his cattle, (those they can’t kill) and “sell” them off. Wonder who gets to keep the money. Mr. Bundy stated: “Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights. Who is the trespasser here?…Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? The Bureau of Land Management has ‘overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights, not recognizing the state’s sovereignty, and having over 200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle.”
The situation got worse last Sunday after Bundy’s son, Dave, was arrested for filming federal agents while he was not within the “designated” area for “First Amendment” activity. So now the feds can restrict First Amendment activity to certain areas and only in those areas can you exercise your First Amendment rights. Anywhere else you don’t have them. Is this a first step to removing them altogether? You be the judge.
Even Nevada’s governor has criticized the high-handed way the BLM is doing this, though he hasn’t done much else and the county sheriff, who is the county’s highest elected official, seem to have “gone fishin” rather than to exercise the authority he has to eject the feds from his county. Good luck in your next election, buddy, because most of the folks in Clark County seem to be in support of what Mr. Bundy is doing.
Now we have folks from other states coming in to stand with him in support, including, according to http://patdollard.com some militia groups.
The Pat Dollard article noted that: “On Tuesday, armed Bureau of Land Management agents stormed Mr. Bundy’s property,…Mr. Bundy’s view is that he owns his property—that it’s been in his families hands for centuries…” However the BLM view is that the land belongs to them, I guess not only the “public” land, but all of it. After all, when you are the jack-booted thug in charge you can pretty much do what you want. And the BLM knows it will get the backing of the Marxist regime in Washington—compliments of Comrades Obama and Holder.
Let’s hope there can be a peaceful (and just) resolution to all this and that, somehow, Mr. Bundy doesn’t end up being “shot while resisting arrest.”