Thursday, April 17, 2014

If We Can't Have Barabbas, Give Us Cliven Bundy . . .

. . . or a few Occupy Wall Street folk.
6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. (Mark 15:5-11 NIV)
It may be a more a sign of my cynicism than it is an accurate theological observation, but I doubt the chief priests had a difficult time persuading the crowd to demand Barabbas' release. The assembled throng likely found it easier to side with a man who said something like "Let's kill a few of these Roman S.O.Bs before pushing them back into the ocean" instead of a person who enjoined carrying the Roman soldier's pack an extra mile.

My cynicism colors my view of the Cliven Bundy affair. The gist of his non-Fox News supporters seem to be he's a crackpot without a legal leg to stand on. The Fox clips I've seen seem to cast him in the role of martyr standing up to the federal government otherwise known as the evil of evils.

I have little sympathy for Bundy. He's a millionaire rancher who grazes cattle on land he doesn't own or pay rent on. It would take a large number of the apocryphal food stamp recipients buying champagne and lobster to match Bundy's free ride.

On the other hand, if a group of Occupy folks squatted in every Koch brothers' office across the country, I'd take more than a little joy in any discomfort the billionaires were caused. Even though they would not have a legal leg to stand on, I might even complain about how the force the police would use to remove the occupiers.

The disconcerting thing about the Bundy affair is both sides will take the wrong lesson. The fringe right will likely grow in their certainty that one must face the federal government with force never thinking about the fact that federal government has more people under arms and far better weapons. The left will likely push for new regulations and policy solutions forgetting that difficult situations make bad law. Perhaps both sides should see Cliven Budy as a mirror that reveals their indefensible political biases.