Like everyone else, Gavin McInnes has weighed in on Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's observations on "the Negro". Mr McInnes concludes:
This isn't about some old guy's views on slavery. It's about government control. We're not saying Bundy is the messiah and we accept him as our personal savior. We're saying the government is wrong.
Let's stipulate that Cliven Bundy is a racist. Let's also assume, if only to save time, that he's Islamophobic, homophobic and transphobic. So what? Does that make criticizing the Bureau of Land Management "racist" or "homophobic"?
During my battles with Canada's "human rights" commissions, defenders of the racket liked to point out that the people it targeted were generally pretty unsavory. And I'd respond that the reason the standard representation of justice in statuary is a blindfolded lady is because justice is supposed to be blind: If you run a red light and hit a pedestrian, it makes no difference whether the pedestrian you hit is Nelson Mandela or Cliven Bundy. Or at least it shouldn't: one of the basic building blocks of civilized society is equality before the law.
Likewise, if what the Bureau of Land Management is doing is wrong, the fact that Cliven Bundy is a racist sexist homophobe whateverphobe doesn't make it right - any more than at Ruby Ridge FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shooting Vicki Weaver in the back of the head as she was cradling her ten-month-old baby and running away from him is made right by the fact that she allegedly had "white supremacist" sympathies. As I wrote last week, I've little doubt that, in the era before cellphone video, the bureaucratic enforcers would have been happy to off Bundy and then come up with a reason why it doesn't matter. At Waco, there were supposedly children being abused. So Generalissimo Janet Reno killed them all, and now they're not being abused. In that sense, Mr Bundy is a lucky man: He got to live, and to trash his own reputation rather than having the feds do it for him.
Let us also stipulate that, in the words of John Hinderaker, "legally, Bundy doesn't have a leg to stand on". He is, in a narrow legalistic sense, a guilty man and could never be anything but - not just because the federal "justice" system is a disgrace with conviction rates that would embarrass Kim Jong-Un and Saddam Hussein (as my old boss Conrad Black explains halfway through this piece on my own current legal difficulties) but also because the very "law" he is guilty of breaking is a fraud. John Hinderaker again:
Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one.
In other words, the purpose of the federal bureaucracy's "grazing fee" was never to provide a fair-market value for the cost to taxpayers of permitting grazing on public land but simply to drive those cattle off the land, and their owners out of the ranching business. As a form of coercion, it worked. But it is not a "law" that should command any respect.
I think it's absurd and obnoxious that an obscure and unaccountable government agency should rule an area the size of France, Germany and Italy combined. What for? Why should the 26th largest country on earth (which the Bureau of Land Management is) be maintained in perpetuity as the world's biggest nature preserve for the desert tortoise? The seven-eighths of the United States that isn't under the iron rod of the BLM is the Brokest Nation in History: it wouldn't hurt to have a little more productive land.
But you can't win in court against a federal agency: They're always right. As John Hinderaker said, there's no place for the Bundys and their way of life in the new America. So, a year or two down the line, when the cameras have gone away, the BLM enforcers will win, and no one will mind because Cliven Bundy's a racist so a paramilitarized land-management agency is really nothing to worry about, is it?
Sir: Mark Steyn (The slow death of free speech', 19 April) has got it right. The new puritanism that he describes makes one thing clear: totalitarianism is not simply a matter of left or right. It can come from the so-called 'tolerant' centre.
I'm not sure terms like "left" or "right" are very useful here: Communism is assumed to be "left-wing" and Nazism "right-wing", and my former colleague Jonah Goldberg has written an entire book on that, named for a coinage of H G Wells': "liberal fascism". But on the matter of "tolerant" "centrist" fascism: In the Twentieth Century, a nation of great beauty and culture embraced Fascism, and a backward peasant society embraced Communism, and the most evolved civilization in Europe embraced Nazism. And observers still wonder why the great anglophone democracies were almost alone in not going down this path. I think the reason's simpler than it seems: No one - Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Franco - had devised a form of totalitarianism appealing enough to seduce them. Now they have. As the Bundy example illustrates, a free people will cheerfully abandon bedrock principles like equality before the law if state power is being used to torment a racist or a homophobe or someone whose very presence offends against the citizenry's sense of its own virtue. Whether or not this is a middle-of-the-road fascism, it's certainly a very flattering strain: what, after all, is wrong with benign despotism in the cause of preventing "climate change" or transphobia - or ensuring that Nevada's desert tortoise has an area the size of the United Kingdom to gambol and frolic in?
~A quick programming note: On Saturday, you can catch me on the telly on "Fox & Friends", around 8.45am Eastern/5.45am Pacific, and on the radio in the DC area with Daniel Bongino on WMAL at 5pm Eastern.