Carefully choose the ground

It seems a confrontation is brewing out West:

From near and wide, armed men are trickling toward Cliven Bundy’s ranch, where the rancher’s fight with the federal government has become a rallying cry for militia groups across the United States.

On Wednesday, that dispute teetered at the edge of deadly conflict, when Cliven Bundy’s family members and supporters scuffled with rangers from the Bureau of Land Management sent to protect the federal roundup of Bundy’s cattle on public land.

One of Bundy’s seven sons was shot with a stun gun, and Bundy’s sister was knocked to the ground; but no one was seriously hurt, and no arrests were made.

By late Wednesday, three militia members — two from Montana and one from Utah — had arrived at the ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Other militia groups have inundated the Bundy household with calls and pledges to muster at the site…

“We need to be the barrier between the oppressed and the tyrants,” Ryan Payne of the West Mountain Rangers told the Review-Journal. “Expect to see a band of soldiers.”

To put this in context, it’s not only armed ‘militia’ who are trickling toward the ranch: the government also has been steadily reinforcing its armed agents in the area, as they round up and impound the Bundy family’s herd of cattle.

The issue at stake is a multi-faceted one, involving the competing priorities of a private livelihood and family legacy, protection of endangered species, and the management of public lands.  Some appear to believe it’s a simple case of the government enforcing a penalty for of non-payment of fees.  Others see a deeper pattern in the exercise of government power.  At a minimum, it’s noteworthy that State and local officials have also expressed concern over Federal actions, which have included closing off access to an area half the size of Delaware, and limiting protestors to designated “First Amendment areas.”  (Note to Uncle Sam: regardless whether your actions are legitimate in this case, ALL OF AMERICA is a “Free Speech Zone!”)  It’s also worth noting for those who focus on the issue of fees that this is another illustration that ‘the power to tax is also the power to destroy.’

I have not yet reached any conclusions as to who is in the right here, though I am admittedly skeptical of our Federal overlords and what appears to be some pretty heavy-handed tactics they are currently employing.  That said, if indeed there are additional individuals and ‘militia groups’ headed to Nevada, I hope they have taken time to thoroughly research this issue, and know what they are getting involved in.  There is an irresponsible eagerness in some quarters to “bring it on” when talking about combating Federal abusiveness.  Taking a stand against government overreach is important, and I think it increasingly likely Americans in this generation will have to draw a physical line in the sand against the ever-encroaching power of the State.

Just make sure if that day comes that you can justify your ground, and leave no question as to who was the aggressor and who was the aggrieved.  Freedom has been under assault for some time now.  Care must be taken not to discredit it as well.

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