Ammon Bundy is best known as a leading light of the American militia movement (a motley coalition of various different flavors of firearms enthusiasts who hate the federal government). He’s famous for getting into armed standoffs with federal agents and violently occupying bird sanctuaries. His friends are the kind of folks who co-chair pro-Trump veterans groups; his father is the kind of man who says, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro” — and proceeds to explain why black people were “better off as slaves.”
So, this being 2018, Bundy naturally just disavowed the militia movement in solidarity with the migrant caravan, suggested that nationalism is actually the opposite of patriotism, and said that Trump’s America resembles nothing so much as 1930s Germany.
Last week, Bundy posted a video to Facebook in which he criticized
President Trump for demonizing the Central American migrants who were traveling in a caravan to seek asylum in the United States.
“To group them all up like, frankly, our president has done — you know, trying to speak respectfully — but he has basically called them all criminals and said they’re not coming in here,” Bundy observed. “What about individuals, those who have come for reasons of need for their families, you know, the fathers and mothers and children that come here and were willing to go through the process to apply for asylum so they can come into this country and benefit from not having to be oppressed continually?”
Bundy went on to observe that “faith is the opposite of fear” and that “we have been asked by God to help, to be welcoming, to assist strangers, to not vex them.” He also provided his viewers with a quick fact-check of the president’s claims that liberal billionaire George Soros had orchestrated the caravan, and that there were terrorists embedded among the migrants.
Bizarrely, the following that Bundy had amassed by threatening insurrectionary violence against Barack Obama’s government did not take kindly to his call for solidarity with the oppressed of Central America.
“It’s like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening,” Bundy told BuzzFeed News this week. “The vast majority seemed to hang on to what seemed like hate, and fear, and almost warmongering, and I don’t want to associate myself with warmongers.”
Thus, Bundy shut down his social-media accounts Tuesday, and announced that he was cutting ties with the “patriot groups” that had once rallied to the cause of helping his dad shirk over $1 million in grazing fees. Here are a few other words of wisdom Bundy dispensed during his interview with BuzzFeed’s Salvador Hernandez:
“I believe President Trump, the best way I could explain it, is that he’s a nationalist, and a nationalist in my view makes the decision that best benefits the nation, not the individual,” Bundy said. “That is not freedom, and that is not what America was built upon.”
… “The time we find ourselves in now that is closest found in history is Germany in the 1930s, and they had a leader that was loved, and it was the same kind of following,” he said. “I don’t want to say there is that extreme similarity, but it very well could go that way, and people just give up their thinking, their rights, and they give up their government because they were so willing to follow him.”
As Hernandez notes, Bundy’s heretical hostility to xenophobic hate isn’t as out of character as it might appear to a lay audience. While the Bundys are heroes to a movement associated with militant nativism, they’ve always belonged to a peculiar strand of the American militia movement — one whose hostility to the federal government is rooted less in white nationalism than a libertarian Mormonism that honors the Church of Latter-day Saints’ traditional support for refugees.