Government oppression is government oppression, whether it takes the form of Jim Crow laws of the 1950s South, or the form of Bureau of Land Management rules designed to force a people out of home and business.
To protest against this is a righteous and American thing.
Now comes the “Grass March,” from a group of Nevada ranchers looking to take their plight to the range of Northern Nevada in the form of a 70-mile horseback journey from Elko to Battle Mountain.
The march will be a public protest highlighting the plight of ranchers under the yoke of federal oppression.
It’s a smart move on the part of Westerners, especially in the aftermath of the confrontation between the BLM and Cliven Bundy in Bunkerville. There, both sides bumped chests. The BLM oppressively confiscated Bundy’s livelihood and put citizens who dared to object in a “First Amendment” pen. Thanks to the intervention of Gov. Brian Sandoval, the BLM stood down.
The BLM pledges to “hold accountable” Bundy for his failure to pay fees.
Fine. Hold him accountable.
But let’s also hold the BLM accountable. Bundy refused to pay fees on the grounds of a “sovereign nation” theory. That dog won’t hunt in both the court of public opinion and the federal courts.
Had he, instead, played up the truth that indigenous ranchers manage public land better than Washington, D.C., he might have gotten somewhere. Ranchers are all about sustainability. The BLM is all about politics.
Alas, the opportunity for public scrutiny dissipated when Bundy, not unlike Sen. Harry Reid, graced us with his stupid theories on “the Negro.” Bundy talked about slavery and the welfare state; Reid gave us the politics of the “Negro dialect.”
But the cowboys in Elko, Ely, Eureka and Battle Mountain have a better idea.
To draw attention to how the BLM has run roughshod over sane management of public lands, they will protest by riding horseback over public grasslands between Elko and Battle Mountain over Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully, Nevada’s newspapers and the nation’s large newspapers and television stations will come along to tell the story.
Ranchers in 2014 are to the BLM what the people of India were to the British Empire in the 1930s — a subjugated people forced to live by the whims of a government that neither understands the people nor cares about the land.
In the 1930s, Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt — a key ingredient in the Indian diet.
The people were forced to buy salt from the British, which levied a heavy tax on the product.
In addition, the people were prohibited from collecting or making their own salt.
In an act of civil disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi organized a 240-mile march. Supporters were encouraged to make their own “illegal” salt from seawater along the way.
About 60,000 people, including Gandhi, were arrested.
With a little luck and a lot of media coverage, the “Grass March” can galvanize good people just like the “Salt March” some 85 years ago.
March organizer Grant Gerber, an Elko County commissioner, said the federal bureaucracy, particularly the BLM, has the same stranglehold on Nevada land and grass as the British had on Indian salt supplies.
“The British government had a total monopoly on all salt,” Gerber noted. “A citizen of India was even prevented from distilling a little salt from ocean water for his family. All salt had to be bought from the British government. In Nevada, the federal government has a monopoly on Nevada land and the grass. The government owns 87 percent of the land, but also exercises total control over much of the private land as well. The effective control of the government exceeds 92 percent of the grass in Nevada.”
BLM oppression is real. The bad management of rangeland by the BLM is demonstrable.
If you want to help, contact Commissioner Gerber at email@example.com. It’s time to end BLM oppression.
Godspeed to those standing up for justice in making the “Grass March” trek. May their lawbreaking horses eat plenty of government grass.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.