The Militia is Coming to Ravalli County!

If there’s one thing to be said about the grifters and conmen in the Bundy family, it’s that they just keep going. The Missoulian is reporting today that Ammon Bundy, best known for his family’s standoff to defend their “right” to steal resources from the public in Nevada and his pathetic occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, has inserted himself into a long-simmering public-access case in Ravalli County.

Upset that the court has repeatedly ruled against their efforts to gate a public road, Jay Bugli of Stevensville apparently reached out to the Bundy clan, prompting noted legal scholar Ammon Bundy to post a conspiracy-riddled blog post condemning the government for protecting public access.

Though neither Bugli nor Bundy has provided any evidence to support their claims that the County Commissioners and courts have violated their rights, Bundy must sense another opportunity to get his name in the public eye and continue his crusade to convince credulous marks like Theresa Manzella and Jennifer Fielder that he is championing anything other than lawless vigilantism and exploitation of the public good.

And it’s important to remember that, laughable as this head of Vanilla ISIS is, he’s linked to dangerous militia groups. The Missoulian noted that Bundy came to Montana with “Eric Parker of The Real Three Percent of Idaho” to evaluate the situation.

And that’s where I take issue with the Missoulian’s reporting. While it does note that Parker was once photographed aiming an assault rifle at government officials doing their jobs, it soft sells the “Three Percent group as “groups that view the federal government as overreaching, and take their name from their belief that only 3% of colonists fought against the British in the Revolutionary War.”

That’s just not enough information. The III% movement has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-government militia group and its members have been linked to terrorist attacks, xenophobic rallies, and racist marches. At one point, the Army warned “recruiters to treat them as a security threat” after they started appearing, armed, outside recruiting centers. And as The Nation reported in 2013, they see themselves as the armed component of the TEA Party:

A fair assessment of this strategy is that the Threepers intend to be the armed wing of a larger movement of Tea Partiers and patriots, in a manner not unlike the way armed movements of a revolutionary left once swam in a sea of like-minded supporters.

Like the Bundy clan, most of the III% movement is comprised of wannabes and pretend soldiers who imagine they’d heroically defend the Constitution, making it hard to take them very seriously, but the dangerous rhetoric they espouse leads to armed standoffs with law enforcement, increased risk of confrontation, and even death.

This is yet another opportunity for reasonable Republicans to denounce this kind of extremism. It would be a chance for Attorney General Tim Fox, who contends he is for public safety, to tell the Bundy and their playtime militia friends that they are simply not welcome in Montana.

The courts have spoken, and public access has been protected. We don’t need the Bundy clan raising its profile and making money off another militia-connected “stand.”

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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