Cliven Bundy’s stand against the United States government has often been described as the equivalent of the Whiskey Rebellion. We can find this comparison all over the Web.
Bundy has described himself as “just like Rosa Parks.” No, he isn’t. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. She did not pull a gun on the driver. Bundy has let himself be surrounded by armed guards. He is just like Huey P. Newton, not Rosa Parks.
There is a big difference between the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-94 and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The Whiskey Rebellion was crushed by a huge military force, led personally by George Washington. The civil rights movement was politically victorious.
There were very different philosophies behind these two rebellions. The Whiskey Rebellion was run by people who thought they could use the force of arms to resist a federal tax. The civil rights movement was based on nonviolent resistance. It presented an articulate defense of the right of peaceful resistance in terms of fixed moral law.
From a public relations standpoint, the civil rights movement was the most effective resistance movement in the history of the United States. The federal government, led by John F. Kennedy and then by Lyndon Johnson, desperately wanted to avoid public confrontations in the South. But the protesters would not go away, and the civil authorities in the South, who had way too much power, thought they could use billy clubs, fire hoses, and German shepherds to keep protesters at bay. Movies of these beatings got onto the evening news in 1963, and for the next seven years, Southern law enforcement officials were regarded by the public above the Mason-Dixon line and west of Ft. Worth as men who had overstepped their constitutional authority to use violence against nonviolent citizens.
With this as background, let us consider the tactics of Bundy’s defenders in Clark County, Nevada.
COWBOYS VS. THE BLM
When it looked as though the Bureau of Land Management would continue to shoot his cattle, a group of cattlemen assembled at Bundy’s property, and they were armed. The BLM eventually backed down. I doubt seriously that this retreat on the part of BLM bureaucrats is a permanent condition. Bureaucrats do not like to be faced down by private citizens. It makes it look as though the bureaucrats who run the organization are a bunch of cowardly, pitiable girlie men, to quote a former governor of California. They will seek revenge. They possess the initiative.
What backed down the BLM was clear: public relations. The videos were all over YouTube. This was not part of any systematic public relations program on the part of the cowboys who showed up to defend Bundy. These men are not disciples of Saul Alinsky. They just wanted to present show of force.
The following article reveals what is going on in Clark County.
BLM officers have largely retreated and Bundy — who has refused to pay the federal government grazing fees for roughly 20 years — has recovered many of his seized cattle. Nevertheless, supporters of the rancher remain outside his property in large numbers equipped with heavy firearms in the event that another standoff emerges and they have to be the last line of defense for the Bundy family in case of further federal encroachment.
They have positioned themselves as armed separatists. From the looks of it, most of the people in Clark County think they are beyond the fringe. The Congressman from the county is now publicly saying that the governor should intervene and arrest these men. I don’t think he would do this in an election year if he thought that a majority of the voters in his district were strongly in favor of Bundy and the cowboys.
The cowboys who showed up with weapons are playing with fire. They think their guns have scared the U.S. government. They have not understood that their cell phones have scared off the BLM. The success of the videos on YouTube, coupled with non-mainstream media reminders of Waco, persuaded the BLM to retreat for a time. We can be reasonably certain that the bureaucrats are thinking through what their long-term plan should be.
At any time, a federal marshal and a couple of hundred armed deputies can go to Bundy’s house and arrest him. If there is any threat of armed resistance by the cowboys, the marshal can simply say: “Lay down your guns.” At that point, the cowboys will face their moment of truth. They can risk getting shot, or else they can risk being surrounded for the next week or month.
They can be starved out. No one gets in. No one gets out. This is simple for people of normal intelligence to understand, but the cowboys do not understand it.
There will be photographs taken by one of the federal officers. The cowboys will be identified within a matter of minutes through facial recognition technology. At that point, teams of federal marshals and deputized officials, armed to the teeth, can be dispatched to the homes of these cowboys. At any time, there can be a warrant-authorized invasion of these homes, once there is evidence of an armed standoff. The justification for this invasion: a search for additional weapons. All weapons will be confiscated. The federal government will take control of these homes.
Meanwhile, the cowboys surrounding Bundy’s ranch are going to get hungry. For political reasons, the federal marshal may not shoot them. But someone will make videos of the fact that they refuse to lay down their arms.
If any hothead raises his weapon and attempts to fire on federal officers, he will be dead within a matter of seconds. Others close to him may be killed. It depends on how well the officials can shoot and how close the others are to the hothead.
Then the marshal will say, once again, “Lay down your guns.” Most of the cowboys will lay down their guns. Those cowboys who do not lay down their guns will then have their lives dependent on the assessment of the marshal regarding the public relations nature of any further shootings.
This is simple to predict: tear gas. I don’t think these cowboys have ever faced tear gas. They will scatter.
If another hothead takes a shot, he will be cut down. The best that the others can hope for is that they will not be shot by mistake.
Then will come the arrests. Then will come the $200 per hour bills from their defense attorneys. They will be forced to sell their ranches. If the government wants to drain them, one by one, each man will be tried separately. There will be no joint trial, where a non-profit conservative legal defense fund picks up the joint tab.
They will be convicted by juries of their peers, one by one. Americans do not tolerate private citizens firing on law-enforcement officials. The first time some hothead aims his weapon at a marshal, the entire group will move from underdogs to revolutionaries.
The government will take plenty of videos next time. The arrests will be staged accordingly. Call this the YouTube Wars, stage two. The cowboys will lose this war.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)