Fox News, Sandra Bland and Cliven Bundy

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch makes an interesting observation about the totally opposite reaction conservatives are having to the death of Sandra Bland and the big standoff last year involving Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada. He writes:

Last year, a Nevada rancher who boasts that he doesn’t “recognize the United States government as even existing” become a hero of Fox News pundits and other conservative commentators for refusing to pay grazing fees he owes the government.

The rancher, Cliven Bundy, worked with militia groups and other armed demonstrators to resist law enforcement officials who tried to prevent further grazing after several court rulings went against Bundy, resulting in an armed standoff.

Bundy’s stardom among Republican politicians and right-wing pundits, however, didn’t dissipate when his supporters pointed their weapons at law enforcement agents, but only after he made disparaging remarks about how “Negros” were “better off as slaves,” and even then he still had some defenders.

But when a black woman named Sandra Bland was forced out of her car and to the ground by a Texas police officer after she reportedly failed to signal during a lane switch and declined to put out a cigarette, Fox News thinks this is a time to lecture viewers on how to be respectful to law enforcement. Bland later died in police custody in what investigators ruled was a suicide.

A very good point. It just reminds me once again how much the right wing relies on special pleading rather than on principled, coherent positions. Criticize the United States for actually doing something reprehensible and you’re a traitor; criticize the country for finally treating gay people as human beings and you’re just a good God-fearing patriot. Be brutally mistreated by government officials and it’s all your fault, especially if you’re not white; throw a temper tantrum about having to pay for the right to graze on public property and you’re a hero.

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  • eric

    A key difference is, we often hold ATF and federal police officers accountable for their public excesses. So they often behave. Texas local officers? Not so much. In fact ignore my Texas quip; if you go into any court house in the US with some local police officer claiming you resisted arrest, the judge will almost certainly just accept that claim at face value. Courts do not question officer testimony, so the officers regularly exceed their authority.

    I think a ‘next step’ in the evolution of our justice system is getting officer’s camera footage to be shown at such trials. Even for hearings immediately (i.e., within an hour or two) after the event, this should be entirely possible with today’s technology. I bet that if a judge knows they may face social backlash for setting a $5k probation for failure to signal and subsequent rude behavior, they won’t do it. Once plausible deniability about police misconduct is gone, they’ll rein in the police.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Look, I’m not saying that what happened it was right, but none of this would’ve happened if she’d done the smart thing and waved the Gadsden flag.

  • A Masked Avenger

    Cops generally dislike the Gadsden flag. They perceive it as aimed at them (which it is). They also assume that if you have one on your car, you’re probably armed–so there’s a better chance that you’ll have a cop on each side of your car with their guns out.

    On the flip side, seeing a Gadsden flag tells them right away that they’re dealing with white people, so there’s that.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    It just reminds me once again how much the right wing relies on special pleading rather than on principled, coherent positions.

    It’s a perfectly principled position. The principle is that it’s okay to ignore law enforcement and steal public property when they do it, it’s not okay when “those people” do it. Liberals have this namby-pamby belief in equal protection under the law, justice wearing the blindfold, all that bullshit. Just start with the premise that some people are more American than others, and suddenly it all makes sense.

  • starskeptic

    Cop was going to pull Bland over before she even attempted to get out of his way.

  • howardhershey

    It’s never the principle. Its always the specifics.

  • busterggi

    It’s not special pleading, it’s inherent racism.

  • DaveL

    Need I say it? “Uncooperative” or “non-compliant” have become the new euphemism for “uppity.” They’re the new key words that are supposed to justify the use of extreme and disproportionate violence against people of colour for being insufficiently deferential.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1500847071 jamesmaynard

    It’s easy for Fox to blame a faceless bureaucracy over an individual cop. Oh, and a black woman over a white man.

  • Nemo

    Did Cliven Bundy ever pay up? I’ve wondered about that. The last time I heard anything about him, he’d basically gotten away with it.

  • http://sotonohitoblogs.blogspot.com sotonohito

    Depressingly, Cliven Bundy did basically get away with it.

    I was glad when the cops backed off, provoking a shoot out over grazing fees would have been a bad idea. But unfortunately they weren’t just backing off, they were giving up.

    Bundy won, and the message that sends is really disturbing: if you’re a white right winger with enough armed guns then basically laws don’t apply to you and the government won’t do anything about you.

  • Zmidponk

    Actually on one level, this:

    But when a black woman named Sandra Bland was forced out of her car and to the ground by a Texas police officer after she reportedly failed to signal during a lane switch and declined to put out a cigarette, Fox News thinks this is a time to lecture viewers on how to be respectful to law enforcement.

    is actually good advice from Fox News. However, this is not because it’s how to be a good citizen, or anything of that nature – but simply because being in any way disrespectful to the police might very well be an easy way to get killed whilst being black in America.