Like Cliven Bundy, their patriarch, they believe public land should not be public. They believe it should be fully exploitable by private interests — ranchers, loggers, miners — to whatever extent the private interests wish. But only if the private interests align with their own.
They talk about the Constitution but seem unfamiliar with the idea of government, which, among other things, exists to keep small bands of weaponized loons from imposing their will under threat of violence.
Want to watch birds at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge? Good luck, because you’ll be stopped by armed, overfed “patriots.” That’s what these guys do. They set up checkpoints and strut around in camo and treat every other person as a threat to their personal liberty.
Citizens for Constitutional Freedom? Please. That’s a mighty big name for a mighty small cause. Look what they’re occupying: a wildlife refuge, which was formed more than a hundred years ago to protect a number of decimated bird species from people just like them.
Who should own these lands if the government doesn’t? They never say. Donald Trump? Sheldon Adelson? Ammon Bundy?
Look, people have a right to protest. They have a right to demonstrate. Which is what most people thought they were doing when they assembled in Burns, Ore., to protest the sentencing of two ranchers convicted of arson. Then the Bundys showed up with their fellow travelers and turned it into self-aggrandizing parade of dumb-asses with guns.
These guys are not patriots. They’re the exact opposite. Put them in kaffiyehs instead of cowboy hats, and we’ll see how their message plays.