Sunday, May 4, 2014
The Good News About Clivin Bundy and Donald Stern
Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling uttered remarks that destroyed their public image. The public response was immediate and significant. No one spoke up in support of them. We are not in a post-racial society, but we are in a post-racist society – a society in which the institutional racism of the past has faded into the sunset. We can never eliminate racism in terms of individual thoughts, but we have substantially reduced organized racism. Let me explain what I mean. Ethnic, religious, racial, gender, and sexual discrimination seems endemic in human nature. We question or resent those who are different than ourselves. We fault others for their success and our lack of success. We cut others down to build ourselves up. Politicians practice “class warfare,” and racial politics, such as crude anti-Hispanic remarks when arguing against undocumented immigrants. You may note this year that while the President’s immigration reform proposal may not make it through Congress, the rhetoric has toned down. The American public is offended by crass racism. Personal views may remain the same, but they remain personal. American society will not accept institutionalized racial discrimination today. Some people will always be racist or sexist, but neither the government nor the general public will support them. Jews have historically been the victims of hatred. Anti-Semitism reached its horrific height with the Holocaust, but Hitler was not alone. Stalin was also anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism is sadly on the rise again internationally. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 changed behavior - five decades of a revolutionary change in the American psyche. Most Americans today accept these statutes as the norm for behavior. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” Cliven Bundy was involved in a near-shootout between a volunteer posse/militia of his supporters and 200 federal law enforcement officers. Bundy represents the Old West, the West of ranchers, farmers, loggers, and miners who exploited the resources of the West. The New West is the West of the urban centers, Seattle/Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco/Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Austin, the urban centers where the people wish to preserve the natural attractions of the West. They are into aesthetics, conservation, and recreation. For example, forests are to enjoy – not cut. The image of the lone cowboy standing up to enemies is part of the lore of the Old West. The farmers and ranchers are aggrieved over the Bureau of Land Management, the Endangered Species Act, the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, The National Environmental Policy Act, water allocation, logging restrictions, grazing rights, and a host of rules and regulations. Land management is often the primary issue since much of the land in the West is owned by the federal government with critical land use decisions thereby being made by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. 85% of Nevada’s land is owned by the federal government. The first manifestation of the discontent was 3½ decades ago with “The Sagebrush Revolt.” They had minor success with the repeal of the double nickel speed limit (55MPH). The Sagebrush Rebellion faded into the western sunset with the election of a boot wearing western “cowboy,” Ronald Reagan, as President. The County Supremacy Movement arose 1½ decades ago when rural counties in the West attempted to assert control over the lands in their counties, claiming the counties could control all the lands in the county. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution quickly settled that issue. The mindset though remains with old timers, such as Cliven Bundy. Clivin Bundy’s defiance of the federal government initially seemed to spark a new revolt in the Old West. It failed. I believe in the Rule of Law. Bundy lost every lawsuit, perhaps 20 in all, against the federal government. He has been grazing on federal lands without permission, and indeed without paying rent. He is $1 million in arrears over 20 years. He’s getting a free ride on feed, and thus a cost advantage over other ranchers. His fellow ranchers may be equally aggrieved, but they fulfill their legal obligations. The government overacted by sending 200 armed officers, federal “swat squads,” to seize 500 head of cattle. The show of force was unnecessary and alarming. Another Ruby Ridge or Waco appeared possible. Fortunately the Feds backed down. And then the statement came out. Cliven Bundy took advantage of his 15 minutes of fame to profound on social issues. The old geezer was not ready for prime time. He basically said African Americans were better off in slavery than in their current status. His words were toxic. His national supporters dropped him in a nanosecond. Donald Sterling’s racist remarks were no surprise to those who knew him: friends, workers, reporters, NBA Commissioner David Stern, and probably co-owners. The media simply didn’t report it and the Clippers were chronic losers to the joy of other teams. No tape existed. The real estate billionaire was not newsworthy. Now he is newsworthy, but not in the way he imagined. His taped remarks doom him. The NBA is dropping him almost as quickly as have Bundy’s supporters. Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling are generational troglodytes. Their time has passed. America knows it. That’s what so good about Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling. They’re not even a teachable moment.