Friday, October 28, 2016
Dakota Pipeline vs. Bundy Gang Acquittal
Repeatedly on social media, I'm seeing the juxtaposition of the acquittal of the Bundy Brothers and their five fellow terrorists with the protest of the Dakota Pipeline by the collective tribes of the Lakota Sioux and others. It is quite rightly pointed out that the Bundys have been declared not guilty of a flagrant crime while the Sioux, wishing only to protect their water supply (and ours!) are being arrested. The unarmed Sioux and their masses of allies, are being assaulted with guard dogs, with armored vehicles, with tear gas, and with the National Guard. The heavily armed Bundy Gang faced off against a U.S. government which took no violent action against them whatsoever. In other words, the armed rebellion went unpunished, while the unarmed and peaceful protesters get assaulted.
Oh yes, I realize that having guns means that the authorities will pause before going in. But there are more key differences which the geniuses in the social media world seem to have largely missed. Let me highlight some of them before I go on:
One difference is property. The Bundy Gang seized property owned by the U.S. government. The Sioux, by contrast, are protesting a pipeline which does not cross into the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. So that's a clear-cut violation on both sides, right? Well, wrong. Because water does not respect property lines. It flows across borders and doesn't give a damn about the pollution that's been put into it first. So once the water upstream has been contaminated, everyone downstream suffers. So the Sioux are obeying the only property line that matters: the water line. The proposed pipeline goes beneath not only the Missouri River, but Lake Oahe, the tribe's main water source. What could possibly go wrong? (See photo above, and the red box highlighting the key area in the lower-right. Thanks to Vox for the photo.)
Some issue has been raised as to the bulldozing of sacred Indian sites. How, you may be wondering, could sacred sites be bulldozed when the pipeline does not cross Indian reservation land? The answer is simple: These sites have been recently discovered. In a perfect world, these sites would then be designated for protection and carefully excavated by tribal leaders and specialized scientists. Instead, the oil companies moved swiftly to bulldoze them first before any action could be taken. To my mind, they might as well have burned a stack of history books.
The Bundy Gang, by contrast, outright seized property that wasn't theirs instead of merely protesting upon it. And they much more than a federally owned wildlife sanctuary. They were ranging their cattle over federally owned land without paying compensation for it as required by law, depleting the vegetation and leaving less grazing land for legitimate cattle ranchers who had paid the government their legal fee for doing so. They therefore robbed their fellow cattlemen, and not merely Uncle Sam. And even if somehow it had been Uncle Sam exclusively, these champions of the political right were taking by force the Republican-hated government welfare that the poor have been freely and legally given.
I'm not certain why the Bundy Gang was acquitted. I'm sure that breakdowns will appear in the media in due time, possibly tonight on Rachel Maddow or NPR's All Things Considered. But until then, I can only speculate that this was a classic case of jury nullification - something which used to be common when twelve white jurors were seen to acquit KKK members in the South for lynching a black man. I hope I'm wrong, but if I am, I'm puzzled as to what else could have possibly happened.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of the uprising over the Dakota Access Pipeline is becoming an increasing problem for the oil companies involved. The Sioux, and indeed everyone downstream along the Missouri River who depends upon that particular water source, several million citizens, I'm told, are threatened by this pipeline project. The Bundy's fought only for themselves, and were the darlings of the right only because they stood in opposition to the federal government. The Dakota Sioux are fighting for all of us.
And in spite of the fiercest of opposition, they're winning!
More celebrities are getting involved. Jill Stein is protesting as well, and may be charged. (I'll say this for Jill, she may be a stumblebum of a candidate, but she's a pretty damn good activist!) People are flooding to North Dakota in droves, and for the first time, South Dakota is jealous of it's northern neighbor's tourism! Any illusions of this protest going away should be set aside by today's robber barons.
So, to those wealth-mongers in power, I offer the following formula:
A.) Add up the costs of rerouting the pipeline further north of the Black Rock Reservation and keeping the pipeline above the river where any potential leaks, should there be any, can be fitted with multiple safeguards, and be immediately accessible to be repaired swiftly and cheaply if needed.
B.) Subtract from this the total amount in continued delays, budgetary overruns and additional miscellaneous expenses caused by this never-ending standoff with countless peaceful protesters.
C.) If B is greater than A (and I suspect that it already is!) then you idiots are better off backing down and rerouting the pipeline properly!
It's the only course of action that makes sense, environmentally and pragmatically.
Best of all, the Bundys will hate it.