There is an aphorism, likely from an archaic proverb, that was first used in 1846 America by pacifist and abolitionist Adin Ballou that says “might makes right.” The entire quote is, “But now, instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust. Might makes right.”
Throughout world history, civilized society’s remedy for a barbaric concept such as “might makes right” has been establishing laws and statutes to maintain a semblance of order without bullies using brute force to impose their will on a culture or to “crush truth and right into the dust.” Obviously, Republicans embrace the concept of ‘might makes right’ and it informs their bloodlust for war as well as their support for sedition against the United States.
In most Western Republicans states, on orders from the billionaire Koch brothers, governors and state legislatures have been on a crusade to seize federal land to sell to logging, mining, and fossil fuel industries. According to Republicans, the federal government has no right to own any land they say belongs to the states; it was the argument proffered by racist rancher Cliven Bundy a little over a year ago. Since Republican states have been unsuccessful, thus far, in forcing the federal government to cede its authority over, and ownership of, federal land including national parks, there have been two incidents where “might makes right” ruled the day.
As reported here yesterday, another group of armed militiamen have prohibited federal employees from doing their jobs by force of arms in Montana. The issue is centered around two miners thumbing their noses at federal laws, and the government, with armed resistance not unlike Cliven Bundy’s seditious actions in Nevada. Because armed Oath Keepers, 3% of Idaho, and Pacific Patriot Network answered a call to arms against the government, federal prosecutors were ‘forced’ to file suit to allow Forest Service employees to gain access to Forest Service land the armed militias have closed off and prohibited entrance to. The Oath Keepers said they were summoned to action by “the miners and called for reinforcements to protect the miners from ‘any illegal’ Forest Service activity.” Illegal Forest Service activity in Oath Keeper’s minds is federal employees doing their appointed duties on federal Forest Service land.
The federal prosecutors “had to ask” a court to “please tell” the two miners and their little army to “please stop” blocking access to public land and “kindly stop” using armed bullies to threaten federal government officials in the commission of their jobs. Since there is no law or statute that allows the miners to close access to public land, destroy public property, or illegally open a road, the miners summoned armed militias to prove that might make right and laws are irrelevant.
In Republican circles the miners and their small army are courageous patriots standing up to the nasty federal government, but according to the law established in the U.S. Code they are committing sedition; not that Republicans or their precious patriot militias acknowledge federal law any more than they do the legality of the federal government.
It is stunning that federal prosecutors had to beg a judge to make the armed bullies stop preventing federal officials from performing their jobs, or preventing citizens from accessing public land. The federal government has every right to arrest the miners and their armed militia, just like it did Bundy and his army, for seditious conspiracy; calling on a court for assistance was not only unnecessary, it sends the wrong message to the armed conspirators.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 2384, it is considered “seditious conspiracy if two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to oppose by force the federal government authority, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof. They shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.” Also in 18 U.S. Code § 2383, Rebellion or insurrection, “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”
It is beyond refute that when the two Montana miners, or Cliven Bundy for that matter, summoned armed militias to “oppose by force, or by force prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law, or seize, take, or possess any property of the United States” they were guilty of both seditious conspiracy and rebellion; according to the U.S. Code. However, might makes right in America and it is why neither Bundy, his armed conspirators, nor the Montana miners will suffer any consequences.
The federal government is setting – correction, has already set – a very dangerous precedent in allowing seditious conspirators free rein flout federal laws they disagree with. Republicans, for their part, are guilty of “inciting” insurrection against the authority of the United States by heralding the patriotism of armed militias and crowing that the federal government has no legal right to its own land. In fact, in every Republican-led Western state, and to a lesser degree in Congress, GOP representatives are actively promoting the idea that states are well within their purview to take over federal land.
By all accounts, the Montana miners have seized, taken, and possessed property of the United States and instead of arresting them and their army, federal prosecutors ‘asked a judge’ to make them stop it, pay for property they destroyed, and please allow Forest Service officials to do their jobs. It is sending a signal to the Koch brothers that instead of spending tens-of-millions of dollars to pass state or federal laws forcing the government to hand over its public land for logging, mining, and oil drilling, all they have to do is take over the land, start logging, mining, and drilling for oil and hire armed mercenaries to “oppose by force” federal authorities “enforcing the laws of the United States.”
It is true that no-one except anti-government militias want bloodshed to start their precious 2nd revolution, but at some juncture the federal government has to either make a stand and enforce the law like a civilized society, or cede all authority to armed militias and allow America to complete devolve and collapse into a land where might, and white, makes right. There would be a different outcome, and an instantaneous bloodbath, if African Americans dared oppose the government or seize federal land whether they had guns or not.