Last weekend, those who follow cable news were treated to a bit of a showdown between the supporters of Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, and agents from the federal Bureau of Land Management. Bundy owed about a million dollars in fees and fines to the government for illegally grazing his cattle on government-owned land. Bundy believes he has rights to this land, because he says his ancestors used it before the federal government owned it (source: L.A. Times). Fox News repeatedly aired interviews with Bundy, treating him as an anti-government hero. This media attention riled up anti-government militia men in the region to the point that they brought their assault rifles to his property to shoot federal representatives who had come to take Bundy’s cattle as payment for the money he owed. The BLM agents backed down, and the anti-government Republicans, not only in Nevada but on Fox News and across the country, declared victory.
The fact that a band of anti-government extremists had a showdown with authorities is nothing new. It’s happened many times throughout our nation’s history. What is alarming is that the Republican Party’s premier propaganda network, Fox News, praised these domestic terrorists, calling them “patriots.” One of the reasons they called them patriots is that they, Bundy in particular, don’t believe in the authority of the federal government. To me, that sounds like the opposite of patriotism. It’s downright anti-American, and it defies Biblical requirements in Romans 13 that we obey the laws of our government.
The fact that Fox News backs these outlaws reveals a disturbing racial double standard among Republicans. First, if they think Bundy has rights to his land, because his ancestors used it before the American government owned it, then they should also believe that Native Americans have rights to all of the land their ancestors owned before Americans took it from them. Of course, they believe no such thing.
Second, the Republicans have always been the tough-on-crime party. If a black man in the city breaks the law, they’re adamant about the rights of law enforcement to arrest him and the rights of the judge to lock him up for a long time. If law enforcement were to come for an inner-city black man who owed $50,000 in fines, and his buddies protected him by pointing guns at the law enforcement officials, the Republicans would applaud the officers for shooting these men. I cannot imagine that Fox News would ever call such defiant black men “patriots.”
Why does Fox News favor this rancher? Could it be because he’s a white, Tea Party Republican? Of course, that’s the reason. In the eyes of Fox News, only rich white people have the right to rebel against authority. Remember, thanks to the Republicans in the Supreme Court, those who have more money have more freedom of speech; therefore, it only stands to reason that those who have more money also have more rights, even the right to break the law without receiving punishment.