Get Off Our Land, Ammon Bundy

You have to wonder if Ammon Bundy feels any sensation as he shoots himself in the foot. What he and his pals are doing is so illogical and counterproductive and downright goofy that it would be laughable if there weren’t guns involved. And if they weren’t keeping us off property that belongs to us.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon was established in 1908 as one of 51 bird sanctuaries set aside by president Theodore Roosevelt, along with land for what would become 150 national forests, four national game preserves, five national parks, and 18 national monuments, adding up to 230 million acres of land. This land, administered by the federal government, was set aside both for the preservation of natural space and wildlife, and for the enjoyment of the American public.

It is, to repeat, public land — the kind Woody Guthrie sang about, the kind Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot very specifically kept out of the hands of robber barons and other private interest groups so that everyone could enjoy them.

The Malheur land is Ammon Bundy’s, too, but it’s not his to occupy, just as the public Nevada lands used by his father Clive Bundy for illegal cattle grazing were not his to exploit. Those lands are yours and mine. Clive owed us taxes for the use of the lands, refused to pay the taxes, then set up an armed occupation and blamed everything on “the government.” Did he mean the owners? Well, that would be us. And I for one don’t enjoy having guns brandished in my direction.

Like father, like son. Ammon Bundy has, for the moment, turned Malheur — our public land— into a private concern — one that is armed, mean, and threatening.

You also have to wonder what Theodore Roosevelt would have made of the armed and confused Bundy boys, père et fils. Mincemeat, probably.