The Sovereign Citizen Circus Explodes in the FOX Den

Welfare thief, cattleman Cliven Bundy of Nevada, has thrilled the circus masters at FOX news and elsewhere for the past weeks.  It all blew up last Saturday when his “I don’t recognize the government of the United States” self dragged out its ugly twin of racial animus. “I’ve often wondered are they were better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

The right-wing suits who had brought him into their studios and onto talk radio and into the news pages, skedaddled as fast as their mouths could move.  Of course, those close to home?

…militiamen who showed up with weapons at Bundy’s ranch in Nevada say they continue to support him; indeed, they see the news stories as just another conspiracy. “It’s part of misinformation to maintain the divide,” one militiaman told the Las Vegas Sun [splcenter.org]

Adam Nagourney originally  broke the story

Gail Collins gives a good, quick, amusing summary:

So, what have we learned from the Crazy Rancher Guy saga?

You have undoubtedly heard about Cliven Bundy of Nevada, who refuses to pay federal grazing fees for, um, grazing his cattle on federal land. When government agents, acting on a court order, tried to remove Bundy’s cows, they were met by armed resisters. The agents wisely withdrew rather than risk bloodshed, and the resisters declared victory.

This was Bundy’s happy time. He was a star on Fox News, where his new friend Sean Hannity asked him probing questions like:

“How far are you willing to go?”

“How far are you willing to take this?”

Charles Blow howls his outrage:

How could slaves have been “happier,” when more than 12 million were put in shackles, loaded like logs into the bowels of ships and sailed toward shores unknown, away from their world and into their hell?

How could they have been “happier” to be greased up and sold off, mother from child, with no one registering their anguish?

And, for those who think Mr Bundy is being taken out of context, that his views on race are being misrepresented or are something apart from his anti-government animus, Dana Milbank gives the short version of why we should not be surprised.

The anti-government strain of thought that Bundy advanced has been intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic views over several decades. Not all people who resist the authority of the federal government are motivated by race, of course, and not all racists are anti-government. But there is a long symbiosis between the two.

Among those who rallied to Bundy’s defense in Bunkerville, Nev. — the supporters Heller labeled patriots — was Wiley Drake, an Internet preacher affiliated with the “Oath Keepers” movement. According to reports from the scene, Drake told a crowd of Bundy supporters that they shouldn’t bow to the “half-breed” President Obama.

In general terms, Bundy’s notion of state supremacy — “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing” — is a variant of states’-rights claims that go back to the Civil War and were revived in the segregationists’ opposition to civil rights laws. Because the federal government has been the protector of minority rights, states’ rights have long been used to justify discrimination.

Specifically, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks anti-government and hate groups, says that Bundy’s sentiments align closely with those of the “Posse Comitatus” movement, founded by William Potter Gale in the 1970s.

For a mini-seminar in what this is give a listen to this Rachel Maddow piece about the Posse Comitatus and Sovereign Citizen movements.  As the folks over at the Daily Banter say,

What she does here is extraordinary, and that’s precisely what’s so infuriating because she shouldn’t have been the only one digging beneath the surface of Cliven Bundy’s anti-government rhetoric to uncover the darkness at the center of his ideology.

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