Aspen Times Weekly: Hit & Run with John Colson
What is it about the name Bundy?
I’ve known of two men by that name who gained fame through dubious activities in the middle part of the last century, McGeorge and Ted.
McGeorge Bundy, as some may recall, was national security advisor to Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, advocate of every increasing of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War at a time when the rest of the nation was gradually coming to grips with the feeling that the war was not only unwinnable, it was immoral and just plain wrong.
Ted Bundy, of course, was a vicious necrophiliac and killer and despoiler of young girls. His rampage across this country from at least 1974 to 1978 left us collectively both horrified and fascinated at the ease with which he not only talked his victims into his clutches but evaded capture and prosecution by police everywhere.
And now we’ve got another one, a seriously addled rancher from Nevada named Cliven Bundy, whose fight to avoid paying his legal obligations for grazing allotments on public lands has turned into a national media circus.
I guess it’s only fitting that his ranch is near a town named Bunkerville, a little west of Mesquite on I-15. I can hardly wait until someone comes up with an equally derisive epithet for this town as they have for another ill-fated attempt at “freedom,” the David Koresh/Branch Davidian debacle known to many as “Wacko in Waco.”
Let’s see, what about “Batty in Bunkerville?”
Cliven Bundy, for those who don’t keep up, is a rich rancher, Mormon, racist and religious lunatic who stopped paying his grazing fees in 1993. Those fees now top a million dollars, according to CNN. Bundy has been in court numerous times, arguing that he is above the laws outlining the framework and methodology of grazing fees, and has lost every time.
The federal Bureau of Land Management recently decided it had had enough, and moved to seize his cattle from the grazing allotments.The agency quickly backed off when Bundy’s armed and unhinged supporters blatantly threatened to go to war to protect Bundy’s cows, and the cows are still there munching on publicly owned roughage in the backcountry near Las Vegas.
Interestingly enough, Bundy recently outraged a lot of people when he gave vent to his racist views toward black, suggesting they were better off as slaves than they are now. Even some of his former supporters, including Sen. Ron Paul and FOX News commentator Sean Hannity, had to back away after that.
Right-wing agitators and other nutballs have labeled this tempest in a teapot as another “Sagebrush Rebellion,” an ill-conceived movement from the far-right end of the political spectrum, which managed to derail efforts to set up federal wilderness areas around the west in the 1960s and 1970s.
But this is no rebellion, it’s just another ploy by ill-informed, faux patriots to try to subvert the democratic process by taking up arms instead of ballots. It is sheer lunacy, fueled by a frightening array of anti-government propaganda and conspiracy theories (look it up on the Internet if you don’t believe me), and funded by the likes of the Koch brothers as a way to free up federal land for easier drilling access and other schemes to pillage and loot our national lands.
The real problem with this kind of thing, unfortunately, is that it shows us how far away from rational decision-making and problem-solving we have come.
These misguided zealots are people who believe that the clock can be turned back to a mythical time called “the 1950s,” when everybody (that means white folks) had plenty of everything and people of color knew to keep quiet and keep their place; when the U.S. was home to the undoubted “good guys” and everybody else was either suspect or outright evil; when men were men and women stayed in the kitchen where they belonged.
The people who support Bundy are the same people who support the so-called Tea Party — they view the world through white-tinted spectacles that simplify everything and reveal nothing, they are ignorant of history and of the true financial and political realities of globalization, and they are scary to the hilt.
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Have you ever seen Aspen-made ski film Little Skier’s Big Day, produced by Fred Iselin?