The Bundys and their religious government

❝ The Bundys are Mormons who believe that the Constitution was inspired, if not more or less dictated wholesale, by God—and that the founding of the United States was the first step toward the restoration of Zion on the continent where most of the Book of Mormon takes place. They’ve taken much of this from W. Cleon Skousen, a fervent Mormon and formative figure of the postwar America extreme-right who believed in a divine America beset by internationalist conspiracies to overthrow the Constitution. The Bundys have identified parts of the Skousenite philosophy and built their own system on top of it—as much a practical guide to living as a political schema, and it’s something they teach as all their own, without citing any influences besides the Constitution and the Bible.

❝ The Constitution, for the Bundys, is an expression of certain natural rights, which are basically our rights to life, liberty, and property, with a heavy emphasis on property. These are supposed to have been implanted by God and so natively obvious that all people sense them intrinsically. Property, for them, is gotten and maintained, in a very frontier way, by your right to “claim, use, and defend” it, as they repeat ad nauseam. It’s a strange irony of the Bundys’ ability to generate media attention that this is maybe the key trio of words in their entire ideology, but that if you Google “claim, use, defend” along with the name “Bundy,” they seem to have not been able to get a single reporter to quote the phrase.

Yeah, they sound like so many of the John Birchers, Minutemen, Klan members I’ve encountered in almost 60 years of activism for civil liberties, civil rights. Including a few family members back East. Religious bigotry comes even easier than distorting the Constitution to most of these folks. Analysts who care about this crap more than I — have written, will write over and again detailed analyses of what drives this variety of populist ideology. I can’t crank up enough curiosity to drag my attention past their nutball crap. Focussing on their outlaw habits pretending to be civil disobedience is dangerous enough. More than that is deadly boring.

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