It was a showdown that almost led to bloodshed. Earlier this month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had started rounding up Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle after 21 years of trying to get him to pay overdue fees and fines, now exceeding $1 million.
Heavily-armed militants flocked to Bundy's side. "We're after liberty," Bundy told Sean Hannity. Fearing public safety, the BLM backed down and released Bundy's cattle.
The idea that "liberty" was used as a battle cry of militant law breakers must be troubling to local law enforcement agencies nationwide. More troubling is the fact that someone could have been killed because of an incident of unpaid taxes and unabashed media hype.
Bundy's explanation: "I don't recognize [the] United States government as even existing." He and cause-hungry militants from across the country took up arms. One militant -- a former sheriff from Arizona -- even proudly told the media that they'd strategized to ensure their wives would be put in the line of fire for publicity sake.
I wonder if the wives would consider that an exercise in liberty. When I served overseas, I heard of opposition forces using children to clean minefields and tying women to their artillery. In my opinion, that isn't liberty; that's cowardice.
Regardless, those public lands where Bundy has been illegally grazing his cattle are parks and public lands that belong to every American. Bundy has armed against us -- the law-abiding, park-loving American public -- as much as he has the U.S. Government. And he's profiting while at it -- fattening his cattle for free on our public lands.
Is this the "liberty" that our men and women in uniform fought and died for? One cattle rancher's rhetoric does not supersede the liberty of all Americans.