Democrat Congressman Stephen Horsford, who happens to be African-American, has requested that local law enforcement intervene and stop Bundy’s armed hooligans from causing mayhem in and around Bunkerville, Nevada.
I offer the obvious counter-factual: what if a White Republican congressman wrote an open letter to local law enforcement demanding that they do their jobs and stop a group of Black insurrectionists from brandishing weapons, setting up checkpoints on public roads, and harassing White people?
Moreover, if Fox News and the Right-wing media were laid out on their collective fainting couch by two members of a group called “The New Black Panthers”, they whose “crime” was having the temerity to stand outside of a polling area while holding sticks and looking “mean”, what madness would ensue if Bundy and his brigands were Black?
The feeble response by the federal and state government to Cliven Bundy’s welfare king revolt is both fascinating and important because it is one more example of how White skin privilege, Right-wing populist authoritarianism, conservatism, and White supremacy have helped to create a protected class of people in the United States.
Privilege consists of all those day-to-day things that a given person does not have to think about.
In the context of Cliven Bundy and the rise of the White Right in the Age of Obama, White privilege consists of the freedom for White conservative protesters and militia members to point guns at federal law enforcement agents–and to do so with the reasonable expectation that you will not be shot dead.
Moreover, if said White conservative was shot dead for brandishing a weapon and/or threatening the life of a federal law enforcement agent, White privilege almost guarantees that they will become a martyr and hero for movement conservatism.
White men like Cliven Bundy and his ilk can commit acts of domestic terrorism, shoot up schools, or openly defy the legitimacy and authority of the country’s first Black President (and Attorney General–this latter point is central and critical to the White Right’s histrionics in the Age of Obama) and there will be no national discussion about Whiteness and White Masculinity. Why? They are just individual outliers who in the (White) popular imagination tell us nothing about “the ways of White folks”.
Like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi mind trick in Star Wars: A New Hope, in such instances, Whiteness tells its owners and adherents that “there is nothing to see here, move along”.
Local law enforcement in the United States are heavily militarized. This had led to the abuse of citizens, murder, illegal and unlawful invasions of privacy, and excessive force in Black communities. Consequently, the local and state police in Nevada should be able to neutralize Cliven Bundy’s thugs with relative ease.
What if Bundy’s “patriots” were part of a larger movement that succeeded in taking over a town, city, or region?
Drawing on operational doctrines and Pentagon war plans, Small Wars Journal explored how the United States military would navigate the political and legal challenges of putting down a domestic revolt.
Cliven Bundy’s antics, and those of the broader White Right in the Age of Obama, reveals the prescient nature of the scenario explored in “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future”:
In May 2016 an extremist militia motivated by the goals of the “tea party” movement takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina, occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council, and placing the mayor under house arrest. Activists remove the chief of police and either disarm local police and county sheriff departments or discourage them from interfering. In truth, this is hardly necessary. Many law enforcement officials already are sympathetic to the tea party’s agenda, know many of the people involved, and have made clear they will not challenge the takeover. The militia members are organized and have a relatively well thought-out plan of action.With Darlington under their control, militia members quickly move beyond the city limits to establish “check points” – in reality, something more like choke points — on major transportation lines. Traffic on I-95, the East Coast’s main north-south artery; I-20; and commercial and passenger rail lines are stopped and searched, allegedly for “illegal aliens.” Citizens who complain are immediately detained. Activists also collect “tolls” from drivers, ostensibly to maintain public schools and various city and county programs, but evidence suggests the money is actually going toward quickly increasing stores of heavy weapons and ammunition. They also take over the town web site and use social media sites to get their message out unrestricted.
When the leaders of the group hold a press conference to announce their goals, they invoke the Declaration of Independence and argue that the current form of the federal government is not deriving its “just powers from the consent of the governed” but is actually “destructive to these ends.” Therefore, they say, the people can alter or abolish the existing government and replace it with another that, in the words of the Declaration, “shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” While mainstream politicians and citizens react with alarm, the “tea party” insurrectionists in South Carolina enjoy a groundswell of support from other tea party groups, militias, racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, anti-immigrant associations such as the Minutemen, and other terrorist groups.
The insurrectionists will be defeated by the United States military. “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future” details the process and its aftermath:
Federal forces continue to tighten the noose as troops seize and secure power and water stations, radio and TV stations, and hospitals. The final phase of the operation, restoring order and returning properly elected officials to their offices, will be the most sensitive.Movements must be planned and executed more carefully than the operations that established the conditions for handover. At this point military operations will be on the downturn but the need for more politically aware military advice will not. War, and the use of federal military force on U.S. soil, remains an extension of policy by other means.
Given the invocation of the Insurrection Act, the federal government must defeat the insurrection, preferably with minimum force. Insurrectionists and their sympathizers must have no doubt that an uprising against the Constitution will be defeated. Dealing with the leaders of the insurrection can be left to the proper authorities, but drawing from America history, military advice would suggest an amnesty for individual members of the militia and prosecution for leaders of the movement who broke the law. This fictional scenario leads not to conclusions but points to ponder when considering 21st century full spectrum operations in the continental United States.
The Right-wing media helped to birth Cliven Bundy and the rise of the White Right in the post civil rights era. His armed insurrectionists are part of a cabal that includes a murderer’s row and rogues gallery of the most contemptible elements of the Right-wing such as the militia movement, the Koch Brothers, Fox News and its echo chamber, the Tea Party, White identity organizations, as well as Christian Dominionists and Reconstructionists.
These elements constitute a Venn diagram of civic ugliness and a collective threat to the Common Good.
Ultimately, when a White male conservative takes up arms against the federal government it is an act of “patriotism” and “courage”: Cliven Bundy is the myth of the American founding and frontier channeled through a violent, aggressive type of White masculinity which wraps itself in the vestments of the Constitution, the Bible, and the American flag.
Historically, when Black people have taken up arms in self-defense against state tyranny and racism their deeds are reframed by the mainstream media and the (White) popular imagination as treason, rebellion, thuggery, and a threat to “law and order”.
If Cliven Bundy and his compatriots in armed insurrection were Black (allowing for the occasional black conservative token and human prop), he and they would quickly learn that Uncle Sam has little to no patience for those who openly defy his power and authority.
Prison, death, and/or the hospital bed would be their reward.
By: Chauncey DeVega