Earlier this year, rightwingers and rightwing media vehemently defended Nevada cattlerancher Cliven Bundy’s display of antigovernment tax evasion. He owed the federal government over one million dollars in unpaid fees that included grazing as well as fines and penalties for allowing his cattle to roam free on land that the government had established as reserved for the endangered desert turtle near Bunkerville, about 80 miles from Las Vegas. Eventually, federal agents and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) came in to fix the situation. They were met with a gun totting militia who proceeded to point guns at them. It was this man who conservatives across the country defended – defend may be too light of a word – they praised him, calling him a “patriot” and saying he was a man sticking up for what he believes in.
Remember, this is the man who later said, “The Negro… may be better off as [a] slave, picking cotton,” and “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”
Since the right was so zealous in their praise of Bundy, why then was the reaction to Eric Garner’s tragic death almost nonexistent, or attempting to portray him in a negative way?
Seriously, compare the two situations, then compare the reactions, and then try to tell me that there is not a double standard that exists.
First, Cliven Bundy and Eric Garner were both, by legal definition, tax evaders. Now let’s compare the difference here: Bundy owed the federal government over $1,000,000 in taxes, while the fine for selling untaxed cigarettes in New York – as reported by The Associate Press – is $2,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for a second. So the amount of money Garner owed the government is astronomically less than the amount Bundy owed.
Second, Eric Garner was unarmed, and therefore it is impossible that he could have pointed a gun at anyone – let alone a federal agent. Not only that, but Garner never even threatened any of the cops verbally. Bundy, on the other hand, had a full blown militia come rushing to his defense, and they threatened the agents who showed up by pointing their guns at them.
Now let’s take a look at some of the reactions from the right.
Fox News romanticized Bundy’s staunch antigovernment stance, and were some of his most prominent advocates as they went so far as to interview him. Sean Hannity described him and his family as “really nice people.” Megyn Kelly said, in regards to the standoff, that his fight had “everything to do with freedom.” Others promoted him as well and held him in high regards for being a “freedom fighter.”
The reaction from the right in regards to Eric Garner’s death is completely different.
Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News contributor, was not as disturbed by Garner’s death as she was with the issues being caused by the protestors. “I certainly hope nothing is going to happen in New York City today,” she said, “we’ve got the treelighting ceremony.” It would be an atrocity if protestors sticking up for a man who had been killed someone interfered with and disturbed something as sacred and precious as a treelighting ceremony. Carlson’s organization, Fox News, praised a man who evaded over a million dollars in taxes and pointed guns at federal agents, but when it comes to an unarmed black man who owed a couple thousand dollars, they cannot even lift a finger in support.
Furthermore, Erika Reidt a Fox News freelance reporter recently commented on an Instagram photo of Kobe Bryant and his teammates wearing “I can’t breathe” shirts, by saying, “I’m gonna start wearing a shirt that says ‘I can breathe because I obey the law.’” While Fox News did try to save face by suspending Reidt for her statements, the fact that the organization and its members have been ignoring the situation or putting down Garner, after vehemently supporting Bundy presents an obvious double standard. Clearly, this is a woman who does not have her priorities straight, working for a news organization who does not have their priorities straight.
Finally, set aside the hypocrites and their statements for a moment, and let’s summarize the basic facts again: Garner owed the government perhaps a few thousand dollars; Bundy owed over a million. Garner was unarmed; Bundy had a militia who threatened federal agents come rushing to his defense.
Now, keeping these facts in mind, let’s look at the most overwhelming difference here:, the person who had a militia who pointed loaded guns at federal agents is alive and well, while an unarmed man who broke nuisance laws, is dead. Killed by a police officer.