By Nic Lindh | Sunday, 11 May 2014 | FacebookTwitter

White privilege in extremism

It’s way easier to be an extremist in America if you’re white.

Public reactions to the standoff between the supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management in the Nevada desert have fallen mostly into two camps: 1) The federal government is overreaching and should leave this hardy individual alone; or 2) Bundy is a welfare rancher who is defrauding the tax payer.

Not surprisingly option 1 is the most common among people who type into comments fields on the Internet and write letters to the editors of newspapers.

Which is very interesting. What we have here is a person who has unilaterally decided which laws apply to him and which do not and is ignoring court orders he doesn’t like. A person who has stated publicly that he does not believe in the federal government. And this individual has now attracted a bunch of like-minded people who apparently believe they are the nucleus of a civil war.

This is the Weltanschauung that led to the Oklahoma City Bombing, a retread of a mindset that’s been around America for a long time, the idea that the federal government outlined in the constitution is somehow the enemy of freedom.

While we put ice packs on our foreheads to soothe the headache trying to parse that particular logic causes, let’s think about the sheer amount of slack these kinds of extremists are given. Remember: You consider the federal government to be the enemy of freedom while you are an American patriot fighting for that freedom. And the people who write letters to the editor of newspapers think you are correct.

Let’s do a quick thought experiment: Let’s say the people of Bunkerville were Black Panthers and that it was a group of black men with military training pointing automatic rifles at federal agents. How would the people writing letters to the editor about freedom and states’ rights feel about that?

Or, heck why not, let’s say it was a group of bearded Arabs in turbans doing the same thing, ranting about not acknowledging the federal government? While pointing sniper rifles at federal agents.

Think about that one for a while. How do you think that would play out?

So why does America cut anti-government extremists a ton of slack as long as they’re white?

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