The phrase law of the land is a legal term that refers to all of the laws in force within a country, including both statute law and common law, and being as such requires that all citizens of that country to obey the laws of a land regardless they agree with them. The majority of Americans adhere to the laws of the land whether they agree with them or not, and it is why there is not anarchy in the streets and why society is relatively well-ordered and safe from frequent armed confrontation with law enforcement. Since the American people first elected an African American man as their President, Republicans have shown a predilection for violating federal laws whether it is passing outright nullification legislation over non-existent gun safety measures, or passing unconstitutional legislation to get an audience before the conservative Supreme Court for authority to violate the law with judicial support. Since President Obama’s election, Republicans encouraged their teabagger and conservative supporters to violate federal laws with gun violence and, over the past two weeks, conservatives and Republicans rallied behind an un-American man who refuses to acknowledge federal government or judicial authority to enforce the law of the land.
It is without doubt that if a person of color openly violated a law in front of law enforcement and summoned assistance from gun-wielding supporters, law enforcement would gun them down with extreme prejudice and justify their actions as necessary to maintain order and bring a criminal to justice; no Republican would even consider condemning law enforcement. Republicans maintain a different stance when a white man violates federal law and court orders, and instead of condemning the man’s lawlessness and threat of violence from armed supporters, rushed to rally support for the law-breaker and defend his actions as an important stand for the right to violate federal law.
The recent events, still ongoing, in Nevada where a white rancher claims his Mormon ancestry gives him authority to violate several court judgments against him and the federal government is the result of conservative’s belief that threats of violence against federal authorities are a necessarily important first step in their five-year assertion that federal authorities violate conservative’s belief the federal government has no authority to make, or enforce, laws. In fact, one reason Republicans reject gun safety measures is because they claim citizens need to be well-armed to wage war against “federal government oppression and tyranny;” their interpretation of federal authorities enforcing federal law.
The issue Republicans and armed militias are rallying to defend is Mormon rancher, Clive Bundy, who refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years and ignored multiple court orders to remove his animals from federal land where his grazing rights were revoked. Bundy claims that as a descendant of Mormon pioneers, his ancestral rights to the land his family settled in the 19th century (1800s) and his animals have grazed on for years give him authority over federal laws and court orders. Following his logic, Native Americans claiming real ancestral rights can take possession of the entire continental United States. However, because they are not white Mormons disobeying federal laws and court orders, they would be summarily gunned down and most likely by white conservative armed militias.
On Saturday, anti-government protesters, many of them armed, marched to support Bundy’s standoff against federal agents and shut down I-15 southbound in Nevada. It is no surprise that the armed standoff against federal agents is a cause célèbre for conservatives who have sought a reason to wage war on the federal government and incite other Republican insurrectionists to join them in what they have wanted for five years; a revolutionary war against the federal government. One Nevada Republican state assemblywoman, Michele Fiore, articulated what conservative armed militias have claimed is their raison d’être since Americans first elected an African American as President; standing up for their rights with an armed conflict against the federal government. It is something they never threatened when a white Republican was president.
Fiore said, “I’m seeing a lot of passionate Americans willing to stand up for important rights,” even though the so-called “important rights” include violating the law, ignoring court orders, and bilking the federal government out of $1.1 million. On Friday Fiore said she has been making the 80-mile drive from Las Vegas to support and encourage militia members in a tent city that resembles a Confederate army staging area planning their next assault on federal government forces. Bundy claimed his family and armed militias confronted BLM’s effort to remove his cattle from federal land as a constitutional stand based on his personal Mormon view that the federal government has no authority over its own land; what Republicans claim is “passionate Americans willing to stand up for important rights.”Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, said “The safety of all individuals involved in this matter has been my highest priority. Given the circumstances, today’s outcome is the best we could have hoped for. I appreciate that the Department of the Interior and the BLM were willing to listen to the concerns of the people of Nevada.” Apparently, according to Sandoval the people of Nevada believe the federal government is oppressive and out of line for enforcing federal law they do not agree with. Sandoval is as much a part of the problem as Bundy, other insurgent Republicans, and armed militia members rushing to confront federal authorities doing their jobs according to court orders and federal law; a law conservatives contend does not apply to them. According to the director of the BLM, Neil Kornze, “Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of our employees and members of the public.” Republican-controlled Nevada law enforcement did not even attempt to arrest Bundy or armed militia members for confronting federal agents and interfering with their constitutionally protected duty, and it is likely they support armed militia members obstructing federal agents attempting to enforce the law. Republicans, and their gun-wielding supporters, have lusted for an opportunity to confront federal agents since 2010 when they began passing legislation mandating local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to enforce federal laws; first for enforcing the Affordable Care Act, and then agents enforcing non-existent gun safety measures they claim President Obama is executing. The simple fact that Nevada law enforcement did not assist federal Bureau of Land Management agents attempting to do their jobs, strongly suggests they are in league with Bundy and militia members confronting federal agents under threat of armed violence. That Republican governor Brian Sandoval thanked the Interior Department and BLM officials for not fulfilling their duty and taking orders from “the people of Nevada” supporting Bundy’s violations of federal laws and several court orders makes him an accomplice for not directing Nevada law enforcement to assist federal authorities and arresting Bundy for obstructing federal agents during the commission of their duties.
One cannot comprehend why BLM officials did not summon federal assistance to protect their agents, or why they stopped enforcing federal law and court orders. Their reticence emboldened men like Mormon Bundy, and more importantly, armed militias who will threaten the federal government with armed resistance and summon other anti-government militias to aid their cause to prevail in the wanton violation of federal laws they reject as unconstitutional. Republicans and their conservative militias are disheartened BLM and Interior Department did not fulfill their duty and enforce the law of the land, because now they will have to find another opportunity to do what they have planned for five years and start a war against the federal government to repeat what their ilk started over one-hundred-and-fifty years ago; an armed rebellion against the federal government they hope will start America’s next civil war.