Friday, July 11, 2014

Report: Extremists emboldened after Nevada ranch standoff

Far right wing extremists have been emboldened by the standoff earlier this year between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government, according to a study released Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The report, entitled "War in the West" examines the conflict between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and militiamen who supported Bundy, who owed more than $1 million in grazing fees and fines to the government, despite insisting that he had "preemptive rights" to let his cattle graze on the federally owned land. The incident came as a result of a U.S. District Court ruling that he had to pay the fees just as any other rancher would. Federal agents rounded up around 400 cattle on the public land, leading to an armed standoff that lasted weeks until authorities released the cattle and withdrew. That action was seen as a victory among anti-government circles, particularly the "Patriot" movement, the study says. Since that time, other standoffs have taken place in other parts of the West including Idaho, Texas, New Mexico and Utah, where a gunman pointed a weapon at a BLM agent while holding a sign that said "You need to die," according to the report. Mark Potok, an SPLC senior fellow and co-author of the study warns that this incident and other that have taken place since are a foreshadowing of things to come if the federal government doesn't gain an understanding of what he says is the volatile nature of right wing extremist movements."The Bundy ranch standoff may be a preview of things to come if the federal government doesn't come to terms with the true nature of this volatile extremist movement," wrote Potok on the SPLC's website.  Ryan Lenz, also a co-author of the study said that the Bundy incident was not spontaneous, but rather intentional and was the largest manifestation of anti-government activity since President Obama was elected. "What happened in Nevada was not an organic plot, it was a really well thought out plan," he told CBS News in a phone interview. "It was a coordinated effort to bring the threat of violence to the federal government. "The point we're making is that the government needs to take this seriously, that bloodshed will happen."...more

You would expect anything from the SPLC to have a left-wing bias, and this report certainly puts their politics front and center.  How about accuracy?  Go to page 16 and you will find this about NM:

In New Mexico’s Otero County, a brewing confrontation between state and federal officials ended after BLM officials opened gates cutting off water for grazing cattle to protect the jumping mouse. Again, there were conspiracy theories demonizing BLM efforts to protect the environment.  

They got NM and Otero County right...and that's it.  It was ranchers, their supporters and local officials, not "state" officials, who raised the issue.  It was the Forest Service, not the BLM, who built the fence that cut the cattle off from water.  If the Forest Service gates were opened by "BLM officials", I'm relatively sure we would have heard about it - the two agencies aren't even in the same federal department.  I wonder where they got those "conspiracy theories demonizing BLM" and I really wonder why Congress and the feds keep funding the SPLC to put out "reports" like this one. 

No comments: