Op-Ed by Brandon Smith
Back in 2014, hundreds if not thousands of conservatives and liberty movement activists converged on a farm in rural Clark County, Nevada. The purpose was to protest the incursion of federal government agents onto the property of the Bundy family, who had defied pressure from the Bureau of Land Management to stop allowing their cattle to feed on “federal land” in a form of free ranging. It was a practice that had been going on for decades and one that was required for the Bundy farm to survive, ended abruptly by environmental laws protecting a tortoise.
The Bundy family had been improving on the area with water sources and other measures for generations without interference. The claim by the BLM and other agencies was that the farmers were destroying wildlife habitat with their cattle, yet the Bundy’s land improvements had actually allowed wildlife to THRIVE in areas where animals would find life difficult or impossible otherwise.
The federal government became fixated on the Bundys, and decided to make an example out of them. Their defiance of the crackdown on their use of the land was met with extreme measures, including their cattle impounded, their farm being surrounded and sniper teams placed in the hills nearby. The liberty movement saw this as the last straw, and so reacted at a grassroots level. The concern was that Bundy Ranch could become another Waco. They locked and loaded and went to defend the Bundys.
I completely agreed at the time with the efforts surrounding Bundy Ranch and I still agree with them today. The federal government had overstepped its bounds on multiple occasions when it came to rural farmers in sagebrush country and everyone had finally had enough. The feds were faced with a group of armed liberty movement members and eventually ran away. They even gave the Bundys back the cattle the feds had initially tried to confiscate. This event showcased the power of the people to repel tyranny when necessary.
The claim that the public is impotent against government force was summarily trounced. The action was not perfect, and there were many internal disputes and a plethora of mistakes, but overall it had achieved its goal. It sent a message to the establishment that if you try to assert unconstitutional force against the citizenry there is a chance a Bundy Ranch scenario might happen again, and next time it might not simply be a defensive measure.
I mention Bundy Ranch because I want to remind conservatives of their roots. We are a constitutional movement. We are a small government movement. We believe in individual rights, states rights and the 10th Amendment, as well as strict limitations placed on the federal government and state governments when they try to violate the Bill of Rights. If you don’t believe in these things, you are not a conservative or a constitutionalist.
No government, whether state or federal, supersedes the boundaries placed upon them by the Constitution. Once they violate those boundaries, they must be put in check by the citizenry, for the Constitution is merely an object that represents an ideal. It can’t defend itself. If a government undermines constitutional protections, it is not a failure of the Constitution, it is a failure by the public to act.
Sadly, there are “conservatives” out there who supported the efforts at Bundy Ranch in 2014, but are now calling for federal overreach and martial law today. The very same people who argued vehemently against unconstitutional actions back then are arguing for bending or breaking the rules of the constitution now. This is something I have been warning about for years…
The greatest threat to freedom is not the government, extreme leftists or the globalist cabal; the greatest threat is when freedom fighters forsake their own principles and start rationalizing tyranny because it happens to benefit them in the moment. If freedom fighters stop fighting for freedom, who remains pick up the mantle? No one. And thus, the globalists and collectivists win the long game.
Right now there are two sides calling for martial law-like restrictions on the public, and both sides think they are doing what is best for society at large. They both believe they are morally justified and that totalitarian actions are necessary for “the greater good”. Both sides are wrong.
The Pandemic Puritans
On one side, we have a group made up primarily of political leftists but also some conservatives who say that the coronavius pandemic creates a scenario in which medical tyranny must be established to protect the public from itself. Leftists enjoy control in general and the pandemic simply offers an opportunity for them to act out their totalitarian fantasies in real life.
These are the people who wag their fingers at others on the street or in the park or at the beach for not “social distancing” properly. These are the people that inform on their neighbors, or inform on local businesses for not following strict guidelines. These are the people that get a thrill from forcing other people to conform.
This is not to say that precautions are not warranted, they certainly are. However, these precautions MUST be up to individuals, not enforced by bureaucracy. The moment you hand government ultimate power to dictate people’s health decisions, personal daily activities, freedom of assembly and their ability to participate in the economy, you have given the government ultimate power to destroy our very culture. No government should be allowed to have that kind of influence.
The issue here is one of the greater EVIL, not the greater good. What is the greater evil? To avoid unconstitutional measures, avoid violating individual rights and allow the virus to spread faster than it normally would? Or, to completely throw out the Bill of Rights, individual liberty and economic security in the name of a brand of “safety” that is ambiguous and undefined?
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As I write this, the state of New Jersey among others is implementing a draconian response against businesses that defy lockdown orders. NJ just arrested the owners of a gymnasium in Bellmawr who refused to close down. Even though they used social distancing measures and applied their own guidelines, the state has decided that citizens are children that must be controlled rather than adults that can make their own choices. This sets a dangerous precedent for the whole country.
Understand that small businesses that are not deemed “essential” by arbitrary decree from the state are on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse. Millions of people are having their livelihoods threatened by the lockdowns. Millions of jobs are at risk. Is the coronavirus really worth destroying our own economic system? Because that is EXACTLY what is happening right now. The US economy was already suffering from destabilization, and now the pandemic response is putting the final nail in the coffin.
If the economy tanks, far more people will die from the resulting crisis of poverty, crime and civil unrest than will EVER die from the coronavirus pandemic. When you look at the big picture, how can anyone justify medical tyranny and martial law measures? There is simply no logical explanation for violating the economic and personal freedom of Americans in response to a disease. If some people die from the virus, so be it. It’s a small price to pay to keep our freedoms intact. Furthermore, I would stand by that argument even if I get sick from the virus.
Sock Puppet Conservatives
There are people out there that like constitutional rights and civil liberties “in theory”, but in practice they view these rights as inconvenient to their goals. For these so-called “conservatives”, the Bill of Rights is only for peacetime. When war or domestic conflict rolls around, our rights are suddenly forfeit.
I use this particular metaphor often but I really can’t find a better one:
Government power is like the “one ring” in Lord Of The Rings. Everyone desperately wants control of it. The side of evil thirsts for it. The side of good thinks that if only they had it they could use it for honorable ends; they think they can use it to defeat evil. They are wrong.
The “one ring” (government power) corrupts ALL. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be used for good. Eventually, it warps the minds of those who hold it, twisting them into something grotesque. Good people who exploit the ring end up becoming the very monsters they were trying to defeat, and evil wins.
Right now through the Trump Administration conservatives are being tempted with the “one ring”. We are being tempted with ultimate government power. The leftist hordes and their actions are egregious. They act irrationally and foolishly. Their communist ideology and mindless zealotry is destructive and they openly seek the collapse of Western civilization. But in the end this doesn’t matter. They are nothing more than useful idiots for a greater agenda.
It’s interesting that the only solution I see being presented in conservative circles lately is the use of federal power to crush the protests and riots. Again, this might seem like a reasonable action in the face of so much lawlessness, but if taken too far the implications are horrifying.
Some conservative groups are cheering the deployment of federal agencies to cities like Portland in the name of stopping civil unrest, but there is a fine line between law enforcement and martial law. And by martial law, I mean ANY government force that is designed to suppress or break civil protections. This does not only include a military presence, it can also include federal agencies overstepping their bounds, just as they did at Bundy Ranch.
In Portland and other cities like New York, federal agents and police have been snatching protesters off the street in unmarked vans without identifying themselves. Essentially, they are black-bagging people. This is the kind of behavior which real conservatives traditionally despise.
Yes, some of these protesters did in fact loot or participate in property damage; and some of them did absolutely nothing. This is being done under 40 US Code 1315 which was signed into law by Neo-con president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks as part of the tidal wave of unconstitutional Patriot Act measures that were railroaded through during mass fear and panic.
Conservatives have been warning for years about the potential for misuse of these laws to violate people’s rights. Will we now support them because they are being enforced against people we don’t like? I will say this: If an unmarked van with unidentified armed people tried to grab me off the street, I would do everything in my power to put a bullet in each and every one of them. And, I would not hold it against any person who did the same, even if they were my ideological opponent.
Some conservatives are calling for much more, including the deployment of the National Guard or a standing military presence. The use of such tactics opens the door to serious consequences, and I believe if we allow the federal government to bend the rules now, we set the stage for expansive martial law in the near future. By extension, labeling looters or rioters as “terrorists” also has dangerous implications. Those of us that were activists during the Obama years know how freely that label is thrown around by government and the media.
We might feel righteous in violating the civil liberties of social justice Marxists because of their insane behavior and the threat they pose to the stability of the country, but, what happens when the roles are reversed? During Bundy Ranch, conservatives were also being labeled “terrorists”, and who is to say we won’t find ourselves in that position again? Would defying the pandemic lockdowns also be considered an existential threat to the country?
There are some questions in all of this that are either not being asked or are being deliberately avoided. For example:
1) Why is it that the Trump Administration has not bothered to go after the elites and globalists FUNDING Antifa and BLM groups behind the unrest? Why does George Soros and his Open Society Foundation get to operate in the US with impunity? And what about the Ford Foundation? Members of that institution openly admit that they have been funding and organizing the social justice cult for decades. Shouldn’t the men behind the curtain paying for the entire thing be targeted first, instead of going after the useful idiots? Perhaps the fact that Trump is surrounded by those very same elites in his cabinet has something to do with it…
2) If we support martial law measures, WHO are we giving that power to? Is it Trump, or the deep state ghouls that advise him daily? People like Wilber Ross, a New York Rothschild banking agent, Mike Pompeo, a long time Neo-con warmonger and promoter of mass surveillance, Robert Lightheizer, a member of the globalist Council On Foreign Relations, Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs banker, Larry Kudlow, former Federal Reserve, etc. Even if you think Trump has the best of intentions, can anyone honestly say the same for his cabinet?
3) When the left is “defeated” and the riots stop, will martial law simply fade away, or, is it a Pandora’s Box that can never be closed again? And if it doesn’t end, will supporters justify fighting against not just leftists, but also conservatives who will not tolerate it? I for one will be among the people that will not tolerate it.
There are other much better solutions than martial law when confronting the leftist riots or the pandemic.
For the pandemic, stop trying to dictate public behavior. If individuals feel they are at risk from the virus, then they can take their own precautions. The only other option is to continue on the path of shutdowns and an informant society that will destroy this nation in a matter of months.
For the leftists, communities that stage an armed presence in the face of protests have ALL escaped riots and property damage. Sometimes Antifa and BLM decide to not even show up. We DON’T NEED a federal presence or a military presence to get the job done. We can do it ourselves. We already have proof that this strategy works.
And, if the lefties want to burn down their own neighborhoods and cities and local governments don’t want to stop them, then I say let it happen. It’s sad for the people in these places that had no dog in the fight, but maybe this will teach the locals to speak out against BLM or Antifa instead of remaining silent or virtue signaling their support in the hopes that their businesses won’t be attacked. Maybe they should look for better government officials as well.
Finally, it’s far past time to go after the elites that fund and engineer such groups. Remove their influence and I suspect many people will be shocked at how fast all this unrest and chaos suddenly disappears. Isn’t this what people wanted Trump to do from the very beginning? And yet, nothing happens to the vampires at the top.
Only cowards demand everyone else give up their freedoms just so they can feel safe. The establishment is trying to pit the American people against each other as a means to pave a path to tyranny. I believe what the elites want more than anything else is to trick conservatives into forsaking their own principles. If we do, we become hypocrites that can no longer sustain a movement for freedom. By becoming the monster to fight the monster we hand our enemies victory. This is unacceptable.
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