Thursday, April 17, 2014

Taking On The Government


I came of age in the late 1960’s. A time of radicalism, social unrest and mistrust of government. There were battles for racial equality. A struggle to stop a war that made no sense to most.

At that time, the American government was decidedly conservative. Those opposed to it embraced liberalism and even revolution. And it was clear –- to them at least –- that the powers that be would stop at nothing to discredit or destroy them.

Perhaps most telling, is that there were few voices in the media willing to question the government. Most newscasts reflected the “official” position on things. Most people didn’t really want to hear what those crazy, long-haired hippies had to say.

It’s easy to look back now –- post-Watergate –- and believe that there was a crusading press diligently digging to expose the corruption at the top. But that wasn’t the case at all.

In other words, it was exactly like it is today. Only with the political sides reversed.

Now, the American government leans Left, largely peopled by those who shared the now vindicated positions of the parents and teachers who once put their lives and careers on the line to stand up to a government they saw as unjust.

And now (as then) the mass of the media takes the government side, branding those opposed to its laws and regulations as crazy or misguided, not really wanting to hear what those white trash tea party types have to say.

Maybe that’s how the world works. The socio-political pendulum just keeps swinging. First Left, then Right. Then back again. Pivoting only when the power at the top of its arm can be fully identified with the opposite side.

A new documentary entitled “1971” is about to be released which vividly captures the Left-leaning revolutionary nature of that past era.

It tells the story of a group of ordinary people who broke into a Pennsylvania FBI office and stole thousands of files they disseminated to major newspapers, exposing for the first time that the government really was lying, spying on law-abiding people and up to all kinds of illegal activities.

“They saw injustice and decided they were going to act on it”.

Most of us, these days, are aware of Julian Assange and Wikileaks as well as the revelations of Edward Snowdon. Two people who similarly saw injustice and decided to act on it.

Whether they’ve made any difference is debatable. Whether they are heroes or villains depends on where you reside along the pendulum’s swing.

However, last week it was revealed that America’s National Security Agency was aware of the Heartbleed virus two years ago. But rather than moving to protect American citizens from the threat, as it was created to do –- the agency exploited the bug to more easily spy on those same citizens instead.

That pendulum just keeps swinging. And it seems those we thought we could trust aren’t much different from those whom we replaced.

Most of you are probably unaware that an old-fashioned “Range War” was almost fought in Nevada last weekend. One with armed cowboys on horseback and everything.

You can be forgiven for not knowing, since the event went virtually uncovered by most American media outlets and was completely ignored by the CBC in Canada.

The basic plot could have been from some old Randolph Scott or Audie Murphy Western. The Law came to seize an elderly rancher’s cattle, empowered by courts who had ruled him in arrears of fees for grazing his herd on land expropriated to protect the Desert Tortoise.

The rancher insisted that no damn turtle had ever been stepped on by any damn cow and his family had paid the State what he owed. Armed men took his cattle anyway. His neighbors rode to his rescue.

“They saw injustice and decided they were going to act on it”.

Forty years later, it’s the same battle being fought by people with the same belief. A belief that their government is not listening to them. The only difference seems to be who’s in charge and who’s willing to fight them.

1 comment:

JPilot said...

I know that this is primarily about the movie 1971. However, I don't need to go back 40 years ago to remember a time when the media and the people railed against the government. How about 10 years ago, with the Iraq war. I am not necessarily a liberal. nor a conservative, but I believe justice has no pendulum, just which side of it one chooses to be on. And I am not in law enforcement either.