Yes, Cliven Bundy is a deadbeat, criminal rancher, a racist, and possibly even treasonous. He has refused to pay the grazing fees other ranchers pay, now owes the government around a million dollars, but as he claims to “not recognize the federal government” he apparently thinks he will somehow get away with his criminal behavior. Someone labeled him a “welfare rancher,” which, I guess, sort of sums it up. Why he has been allowed to not pay the normal fees for ten years and is only just now being brought to task I do not know. And what might happen next I do not know but I am pretty certain this is not the last of it and he will not get away without paying (maybe a nice prison term will convince him).
Anyway, you all know the story by now: Agents of the federal government attempted to round up his cattle and sell them to pay off his debt. Before they could accomplish this task a number of militia members arrived with guns, some aimed at the federal agents, so rather than risk another terrible episode like Ruby Ridge the agents backed down. Of course Bundy and his militia followers claimed an epic victory over the wicked federal government “overreach,” and Bundy became an instant folk hero worshipped by not only his immediate militia friends but also by high ranking Republicans and right-wing radio hosts like Hannity who went overboard in his praise of him.
However, the euphoria over having bested the “feds” didn’t last too long as Bundy, given his 15 minutes of fame, went on a racist rant so unbelievably stupid that even Hannity and everyone else changed their tune and tried to distance themselves from him as quickly as possible. I suspect they probably privately agreed with Bundy’s racist nonsense but were put off because he was so dumb as to go public with his (and, by implication, Republican) racism.
Think about this. Even though Bundy was a deadbeat who had refused to pay his legal fees the right wingers immediately jumped on his bandwagon. Joyfully celebrating his criminality and carrying on about “government overreach.” Why it is overreach for the government to want to collect their legal due, the same grazing fees that all Nevada ranchers pay, I do not know, but the right wingers love to carry on about government overreach all the time although it would seem to have no basis in fact (they are not notable about accepting anything factual, preferring instead their fairy tales about how bad government is).
What I find the most interesting about Bundy as folk hero, and this rather absurd incident, is not his criminality or racism, but, rather, his incredible, even awesome ignorance and stupidity. Bundy is, to put it in a very general way, “dumb.” I say dumb because he is both stupid and ignorant. That is, it is possible to be smart and ignorant if you happen to just be uninformed about certain things and therefore ignorant, even though actually intelligent. But it is another thing entirely to be both ignorant and stupid at the same time. What this means to me is that Bundy immediately and without any apparent thought on the part of many, became an important figure for many highly placed Republicans and hate-mongers like Hannity and Limbaugh, even though he is as dumb as a post. He hates the federal government but rides around on a horse proudly carrying an American flag. His various rants about government and racism betray his complete ignorance of either subject, they are illogical, false, almost unintelligible, and stupid. None of this seems to matter to the right, except that he was dumb enough to reveal that which the right knows is best left unsaid. That he was against government (actually against paying his bills) is all those who immediately supported him needed to know. How do you explain this? It’s easy, they are even dumber than he is.
“He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.”
― P.G. Wodehouse
― P.G. Wodehouse