Last night on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow presented a segment on the violent and recent history of anti-American militia groups. This was a lead up to her coverage of last week’s worrisome event of the standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management.
In essence, in 1993 the BLM purchased an area of land in Nevada to protect it for environmental reasons but allowed limited grazing on the land for a fee.
Anti-American-government fanatic Cliven Bundy refused to accept that the BLM now owned that land and has grazed his cattle on this federal land ever since without paying a penny in grazing fees and fines. The BLM finally took action after allowing Bundy’s lawbreaking to continue for 20 years and this “taker” who has wanted a free ride and handouts…aka a Republican, rallied his family to take up guns and point them at law enforcement to stop them from making him pay what he owes.
Again, to be clear, this law breaker who only wants free grazing for his cattle on land he doesn’t own, this selfish man who merely wants to take what doesn’t belong to him, has portrayed his thieving as a noble act of the citizen standing up against evil government. Because he wants something for nothing. Because he doesn’t want to pay for something he doesn’t own. That’s what passes for “patriotism” on the Right Wing.
When there is an extremist, radical lunatic who threatens to kill law enforcement officers in order to protect his right to steal from the public and their government, you know those bastions of American Exceptionalism and champions of law and order, Fox News is going to be parachuting in with aid and comfort for those wanting a violent attack against the American Government (as long as a black Democrat is President, at least).
Fox News whipped up the Tea Bagger and Right Wing Militia lunatics by claiming that this would be the next Ruby Ridge and Waco Davidian Compound attack, inferring that this was all about the people rising up to begin the necessary armed revolution against the government. This resulted in a shocking armed standoff between these armed extremists (who don’t believe in the federal government) and the BLM officers. Militia snipers were positioned up on a bridge with an army of extremists (and a human shield of women and children) pointing rifles at BLM officers. The BLM officers rightly backed off and diffused this manipulated NRA wet dream of a potential mass shooting and of course, these radicals who stood as enemies of our American government and our laws, declared victory.
It is hard to decide what is more horrible, that a major news network would rally for a mass shooting of law enforcement officers and citizens or that Right Wingers were literally giddy at the opportunity to “begin the revolution” by wanting to kill police in order to steal land and violate laws.
Okay, maybe it’s not so hard to decide. Crazy people are crazy so who would expect them to behave responsibly? Fox News however, saw the financial windfall that encouraging a deadly gun battle between government officers and citizens could yield and used their power in the media to magnify and intensify the confrontation.
One can’t escape the dichotomy of the Right Wingers and Fox News describing themselves as “pro-America”, “patriots” and “tough on crime” while espousing and supporting the breaking of laws and gun battles with police so land can be stolen.
The simplest answer is usually correct so the truth is laid bare on all of these frauds, they prove once again that they don’t really hold any genuine beliefs but their own selfish agendas and they hide like cowards behind the flag. You can’t be a patriot and support America if you hate our President and advocate or encourage the shooting of those who enforce our nation’s laws.
With the success that Fox has had with this manufactured standoff, one can only guess that this won’t be the last. Don’t forget how Fox whipped up the whole Tea Party anger and vitriol in 2009 that led to the hateful rallies and town hall screamfests by Right Wingers. Might it only be a matter of time until Fox News foments an actual violent and deadly attack against law enforcement or government officials?
It’s only due to the wisdom of the BLM and no doubt, memories of Waco that they backed down and Fox News didn’t get the mass shooting they were apparently pushing for. Otherwise, this could have been the first anti-U.S. Government gun battle that was programmed by a news network.
We may have grown accustomed at this point to all of the violent and hateful rhetoric that is spewed by Fox News and it is important to protect our First Amendment rights in this nation but courts have decided that free speech ends when it is used to directly endanger people. You can’t yell “Fire!” falsely in a movie theater because it can cause a stampede and people can be seriously injured, even killed.
How is this different? How is Fox News’ rhetoric which was intended to whip up the danger and conflict of this situation and (possibly hoped for on their part) instigate a firefight between police and citizens, less severe a violation of the First Amendment than yelling “Fire!” in a theater?
Is our government so afraid of being called names by Fox and its supporters that they won’t draw any line between covering an armed confrontation and supporting it? How far will Fox News be allowed to go in terms of encouraging the threatening of the lives and safety of our law enforcement personnel? How is it not treasonous to give aid, comfort and encouragement to those seeking to violently attack representatives of our government?
What if Al Qaeda supported a similar armed confrontation against police by radicals who hated the U.S. government? Would they suddenly be seen as patriots like and by Fox News?
As a society, we have tolerated more than should be tolerated and so our society gets dragged down deeper into the muck of might makes right and justice goes to those who flex the most firepower or wealth. We are not shocked by a major news network glorifying armed conflict by radical citizens against our government.
There are worse things than having a battle of words over First Amendment principles…including having armed groups of extremists declare they’re enforcing their own laws. Our government should not shy away from confronting Fox News, militias or any party that supports violent action against our government. Civility in our politics may have been successfully destroyed by the Right Wing and Fox News but when things start devolving to news networks backing armed attacks on our government, it’s time for government to get a thick skin and put a strong foot down on what is protected speech and what crosses the line.
Lastly, here’s a clip from Rachel Maddow’s first segment on these anti-government militia groups Fox News now supports and their involvement in domestic terrorism and murder over recent years: