On dozens and dozens of right-wing websites at the moment, you will see a pattern forming. They are united in fabricating a sinister anti-government background that allows their audiences to justify violence over the seizure of cattle from Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who has for over 20 years refused to pay for grazing rights on Federal lands.
The story is that Sen. Harry Reid's son was hired by Chinese firm ENN to establish a solar power array, and that this project is the real reason why the Bureau of Land Management has suddenly decided to unjustly deprive Mr. Bundy of his ancestral rights to that land. (I will not link to the Infowars seed of this story -- you can Google it if you must.)
Reid, they claim, is using his big government power to steal federal land from the poor family rancher in order to hand it to the Chinese.
This is a complete fabrication, and the calls for violent defense of Bundy's rights are starting to pour in. Militias have sworn unity and are heading to the ranch.
If you haven't yet heard the background, I'll summarize.
Cliven Bundy is a rancher on an old family ranch in Bunkerville, NV. In 1993, Mr. Bundy stopped paying grazing fees in protest of land-use regulations that everyone must follow, yet he continued to allow his large herd of cattle to graze on 500,000 acres of Federal land.
In 1998, Bundy was found by the courts to be out of compliance, and ordered to remove the cattle from Federal lands. In July of 2013, the case returned to US District Court, where Judge Lloyd George ruled that if Bundy did not remove the cattle, they could be seized by the BLM and auctioned for partial payment of those years of arrears.
Following that last court ruling last July, Bundy stated, "“I’ve got to protect my property. If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws.”
In that same interview, his wife is reported to have said, "I've got a shotgun. It's loaded and I know how to use it. We're ready to do what we have to do, but we'd rather win this in the court of public opinion." Violent rhetoric began on the ranch, and has now been popularized by the right-wing whisper campaign in e-mails and right-wing websites.
This story is already a perfect fit for those who spend their days looking for reasons to be angry and violent, but the right-wing media is spreading outright fabrications to make the justification for violence against Federal enforcement officers even stronger. It's a FOREIGN, CHINESE company that wants to use our American lands! It's that damnable HARRY REID getting rich with his SON! They're selfishly taking away a small family business to hand the land over to the CHINESE!
First, there is no solar power project. The project being referenced by all the violent rhetoric was cancelled nearly a year ago, after ENN could not secure a market at a profitable rate.
Second, Reid was not profiting from this. ENN hired Nevada's largest and most prominent law firm, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, at which Reid's son is an attorney. Neither Reid was an investor, and neither stood to gain large profits from the project if successful.
Third, the proposed site for the solar project was in Laughlin, NV, 90 miles south of Las Vegas, and the land to be used was County Land, not Federal. Bundy's ranch is in Bunkerville, 100 miles north of Las Vegas.
There was, and is, absolutely no connection between the solar project proposal on Clark County land, and the seizure of cattle from Federal lands 200 miles away, a year after that solar project died.
The right-wing web is currently loaded with thousands of comments and articles promoting the just slaughter of Federal government officials. The sites that are fabricating and spreading this call to violence based must know these facts -- they're easily found. All I can assume is that they're trying to stoke the flames of violent uprising for the sake of party loyalty. They're invoking imagery from Waco and Ruby Ridge in their calls to action.
Pay attention to this story, and stop the solar project rumor in its tracks where you can. Perhaps some of those angry people will realize just how blatant the lie is this time, and how their media thinks they can be so easily manipulated into violence.