Peasants Keep Out
by Vin Suprynowicz
Special to TLE
The nation's press used to be seen as a watchdog against politicians
plotting to seize excess power or meddle in matters which are none of
Let Abe Lincoln try to institute an unconstitutional income tax, or
arrest anti-war newspaper editors for "sedition," and the snarling
and barking of the cartoonists and editorial writers could be heard
across the land and down through the centuries.
Today, much of the press instead settles for parroting back the
carefully focus-tested euphemisms of the government PR machine.
As Bill Clinton journeyed back to the Grand Canyon this week (lovely
photo ops -- "sunrise over the multicolored plateaus") to sign
executive decrees expanding the number and size of the West's
"national monuments," how many reports declared: "Stretching an old
law intended to merely save the occasional historic building --
cynically bypassing an uncooperative Congress while it was out of
session -- Bill Clinton has again demonstrated his Napoleonic zeal to
rule millions of acres off limits to the very citizens in whose name
his government claims to control them"?
One seeks in vain. Instead, one report after another adopted the more
sympathetic interpretation that the president was merely acting to
"safeguard our picturesque open spaces."
Safeguarding. Who could possibly object to "safeguarding"?
Well, OK, down in Arizona Gov. Jane Hull and the state's seven
Republican congressfolk did write last week to urge Clinton not to do
this. So? Who cares if a few local yokels apparently fail to see the
grandeur of the Clinton-Babbitt plan to block hunting and
four-wheel-drive use of another 1,500 square miles of the Canyon's
north rim (right up to the Nevada border.) Other expanses of desolate
rubble were obligingly described by The Associated Press as "71,000
acres encompassing two mesas filled with Indian ruins, petroglyphs
and other prehistoric treasures north of Phoenix; and hundreds of
rocks and small islands along the California coast."
"They'll declare this monument, they'll go home, and we'll be left to
take care of it,'' observes Joy Jordan, mayor of the village of
Fredonia, on the sparsely populated Arizona-Utah border. Local folks
"resent federal mandates and are worried about effects on the
ranching and timber industries," Ms. Jordan warned The Associated
Local storekeeps hoped to continue doing business with the ranchers
and miners and lumbermen, did they? Oh well. It's not as though they
can vote in a New York Senate race. Why don't they just accept a
corporate directorship or an endowed chair at a second-rate law
school or something?
Authority for his sweeping new executive decrees? Mr. Clinton claimed
to find that under the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906 to
protect "objects of historic and scientific interest."
Of course, that's the same act under which the president in 1996
declared thousands of acres in Utah off limits to coal mining --
providing a hardly coincidental benefit to his campaign's illegal
foreign backers, Indonesia's Lippo Group, owners of the world's only
other comparable deposit of low-sulfur coal.
A federal judge gave Mr. Clinton a tongue lashing for exceeding his
authority and thumbing his nose at the Constitution in that case,
which is still pending. But when has that ever discouraged this
administration from "finding a way around the law"?
So -- as though it were the site of Marconi's first radio tower or
George Washington's Virginia homestead -- 1,500 square miles of the
north rim of the Grand Canyon lying outside the already vast
boundaries of the actual Grand Canyon National Park can now
constitute an "object of historic and scientific interest." How
special. And if families that have struggled for generations to eke
their living from these lands are thus thrown out of work, well,
what's that compared to winning the votes of urban
"environmentalists" who will never come closer than the window of a
757 at 30,000 feet?
A wise nation is one which encourages its people to use its resources
to feed themselves and enrich their lives. Since collectivism
condemns the energetic to feed the lazy (try looking up "Prosperity:
Soviet"), only a system of private property ownership can accomplish
this. "Government Preservation" is the opposite of "use," and in this
context stands as a pretty euphemism for the way the Sheriff of
Nottingham allocated the resources of Sherwood Forest -- everything
for the ruling elite; let the peasants eat dirt.
"This whole area of our national life has been very, very important
to me," Mr. Clinton explained in a typical display of philosophical
onanism. "I talked about this when I ran for president and it's been
a big part of our administration. ... If there is one thing that
unites our fractious, argumentative country, it is the love we have
for our land. The only thing we can add to it is our protection."
Whether they like it or not.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. His new book,
Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998,
is available at $24.95 postpaid
from Mountain Media, P.O. Box 271122, Las Vegas, Nev. 89127; by
dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site