Bundy’s Bona Fides and the Boston Massacre

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Nevada Rancher And Federal Gov't Face Off Over Land Use Battle

In the National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke writes critically of Cliven Bundy and compares him to the Founding Fathers.

History teaches us that, in all cases of rebellion, the final arbiter is success — a standard that, as a matter of raw fact, has some merit. Still, History is wrong to glue success and virtue together as if they were inextricable. George Washington is a man I admire greatly, and, in his fight against the British at least, he and his contemporaries had the distinct and happy advantage of being right. But had the signatories to the Declaration paid for their treason with their sacred honor — as they were greatly worried that they might — would they have been rendered as fools by their loss? Or would they have been a group of men who got the morals right but the fighting wrong? Likewise, if Bundy had lost in his altercation with the feds, would that have made his cause any less noble? I rather think not.

The comparison here would be less to George Washington than to the Boston Massacre, the history of which was equally ambiguous and debated.

Washington’s virtue may have been straightforward enough, but could the same have been said of the stories of the civilian participants in the Boston Massacre? The punditry could easily have dissected the stories of Henry Knox or Edward Garrick just as unfavorably as those of Cliven Bundy.

Did it in the long run matter? Not really.

The power of the Boston Massacre was in the way that it framed the larger story of British oppression. The story that was told fit into a larger theme even if the individual facts did not quite hold up.

And while that’s not ideal, it is entirely real.

It does not mean that the American Revolution was founded on a lie, but the triggering stories that force people to see a larger truth are not always themselves as true as that truth. Human fallibility and nature make that inevitable.

The people most likely to resist oppression at first are not necessarily ideal role models or devoid of blemish and self-interest. Cliven Bundy fits squarely within that mold of revolutionaries who disrupt the system and provoke it to react and withdraw.

As government expands and civil society retreats, bad laws pile atop bad laws, and the cause for dissent is magnified and deepened. Cliven Bundy has been dealt a raw hand by a system that is deaf to his grievances and ham-fisted in its response. But this is a republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.

The other side however has been picking and choosing. And that’s the larger question here. How serious is the divide and how grave is the crisis?

  • liz

    Jefferson and Madison would have recoiled in shock, horror, and disgust at what has become of the republic they founded. Their reaction would have been the same to the majority of its people, as well, who allow it to perpetuate itself.
    Maybe the major difference is that the colonies did not have half of the entire population on welfare.

  • DogmaelJones1

    Daniel: I’m composing a column called “Bundy’s Justifiable Sedition,” and cite Cooke’s article as well as others. It’s the bigger picture, the larger context of an expanding federal government that should be the focus, and not just one individual’s clash with it. I’ve read so much on the Bundy/BLM issue that I’m cross-eyed.

  • Habbgun

    It is like looking at a mirror of the American Civil war. You can trace the dissimilarity in economic interest, ethnic and cultural makeup, religion right from before the war but in truth these things would have just made up a dull thesis for a student in need of a paper. Slavery was the issue that made what was minor a continuous test of strength.

    We have a particularly bad government, corrupt machine politicians but Americans have in the past cleaned that up. There have been American vigilante actions which restored the rule of law and were forgotten because they avoided violence when they could and avoided violence when they couldn’t. Then they disbanded and left a better government behind. We can correct things but jihad is now what slavery was then. A problem that can only have sides and not agreed solutions.

    In that sense we are in trouble. As long as the corrupt politician or totalitarian wannabe can run to jihadists for foot soldiers he will and that means violent outcomes.

  • http://shugartpoliticalaction.shugartmedia.com/uncommonsense/ Chris Shugart

    If this country were a marriage, there’d by a lot of people asking for a divorce. And we know how messy that can get.

  • Sharps Rifle

    Excellent and very apt comparison. My own opinion is that 0bama is a far larger tyrant than was George III, as his narcissism is approaching the levels of Mussolini or Hitler, and his paranoia is on a par with that of Stalin.

    These are very dangerous times to be living through.

    • JackSpratt

      I agree and for quite awhile now I’ve been saying the same thing in the comparison between Obongo and King George.

      • JackSpratt

        Which is, that Obongo is a far greater tyrant than George III.

    • UCSPanther

      I would say that it would more accurate to compare Obama to Nicolae Ceasescu in many respects: His narcissism, his hypocrisy, his corruption and his overall ineptitude.

  • Christopher T. Farrell

    Interesting that the Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place on Breed’s Hill and that the Battle of ‘Bunker Ville’ actually took place over ‘Reid’s Will.’

  • glpage

    I fear the Bundy ranch situation was a practice run by the feds. I doubt this is the last confrontation of this type we’ll see in the next year or two.

  • JackSpratt

    ~~~Concord Hymn~~~

    By the rude bridge that arched the flood
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled
    Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard ’round the world

    ~~~Ralph Waldo Emerson — (1803-1882)

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Harry Reid claims Cliven Bundy, his family, and friends are domestic terrorists. The truth is Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chucky Schumer, Dicky Durbin, Barack Obama, and their ilk are domestic terrorists because of what they have done to this country.

  • truebearing

    Harry Reid is a two-bit crook. He is as corrupt as the day is long. he ignores the law and holds the constitution in contempt. He has no moral standing to call anyone anything.

    Obama has so many impeachable offenses, i can’t keep track of them all. He is a criminal and a traitor. He is driving the nation into bankruptcy.

    I’d rather have Bundy as the president or senate majority leader any day. He knows how to run a ranch. That’s more than Reid and Obama could do combined.

  • Edward Richardson

    It’s hilarious to me that the Left SCREAMS about $1m owed in grazing fees while Holder – our nation’s top cop – just the other day spoke at a gathering of Sharpton’s National Action Network, an organization that owes millions in back taxes (Sharpton personally owes something like a quarter-million.)

    There are 15-30 million foreign nationals here illegally not paying a dime in FICA or state income taxes. Every one of the individuals that employ them are breaking the law every single day to the tune of tens of millions per day.

    But Cliven Bundy? Please. May this encounter result in an investigation of Harry Reid’s collusion with BLM to further his business interests.

  • PAthena

    The Boston Tea Party at the American Revolution was not a massacre.

    • JackSpratt

      The Boston Tea Party was not mentioned in the article. The Boston Massacre was. John Adams represented the British military in the ensuing trial, and made his case on the basis that the soldiers fired on civilians out of fear for their lives and frustration, as the populus were in the habit of bombarding British soldiers with all sort of hand propelled projectiles. But the Americans, reporting in their newspapers and engravings (Paul Revere) of the event, managed to control the storyline and galvanize the American populous against the British.