Editorial: Testerman’s warped definition of patriotism
The cracked candidacy that is conservative activist Karen Testerman’s bid to replace Sen. Jeanne Shaheen became even more cartoon-like this month.
Testerman used her spot in the limelight as a senatorial candidate to announce that she would hold a “welcome home” party for New Hampshire “patriots” who journeyed to Nevada to defend renegade rancher Cliven Bundy’s cows.
Federal courts ordered that the cattle be seized because Bundy had grazed them on environmentally sensitive land without a permit for decades, had defied numerous court orders and refused to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees owed to the nation’s taxpayers.
Some 400 self-styled militia members and armed defenders of individual rights, including a reported dozen from New Hampshire, confronted about 30 federal law enforcement officers and representatives of the Bureau of Land Management. Photographs showed protesters, many in camouflage and military-style gear, with their weapons trained on federal officers. To avoid what looked like certain bloodshed, federal officers backed down and freed the cattle.
The protesters were nothing less than “domestic terrorists” who should be prosecuted, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. Testerman responded by calling on Reid to apologize to the “Freedom Fighters.”
“These efforts (by) the federal government threaten our citizens, attack our property rights and intimidate us through the over-reaching power of ‘Big Government,’ ” Testerman said in an email to supporters.
“Please pray for those Freedom Fighters, especially our Granite Staters, who have gone to the Bundy ranch in Nevada to help the Bundy family defend their cattle and their rights,’’ she wrote.
Similar statements appear on the candidate’s website, on which she can be seen in a video firing an assault-style weapon on a range with other “loyal patriots” sworn to “protect and defend” our Constitution, presumably a constitution defined not by the courts but scholars like Bundy.
Extremism in the defense of an idiotic and self-serving concept of liberty is a vice. Those who participated in the protest, those who brought guns to Nevada to engage in a potential confrontation, and especially those who actually pointed them at authorities, should be prosecuted to the fullest degree possible.
They are likely guilty of criminal threatening, interfering with law officers, and transporting a weapon with the intent to take part in a potential civil disorder.
If convicted, their right to possess a firearm would be revoked and everyone be the safer for it. As for Testerman, she should be ignored.
The BLM wisely decided to continue to pursue Bundy legally, but he has been getting away with thumbing his nose at courts and stiffing his fellow taxpayers for decades. What people like him don’t pay but should, others must make up.
Bundy should be arrested, albeit very quietly, and jailed for contempt of court and possibly on other charges. He must not be allowed to mock the law and damage public land for his personal gain.
Most of all, if we are to be society of laws, those laws must be duly enacted, defined by the judicial system, not cretins with copies of the Constitution in their back pockets, and enforced, not by an armed mob of misguided freedom lovers, but by local state and federal authorities.
The alternative is mob rule, which is what Testerman is celebrating.