Freedom for Me but not for Thee

 
Rushmore with American flag

Image from U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, 30 June 2021

The current administration has both encouraged Independence Day celebrations and banned fireworks over Mount Rushmore. While covered by a supposedly non-political National Park Service (NPS) administrative ruling, the decision smacks of petty vindictiveness. Beyond spite and contempt of all who dared defy their betters in Washington D.C. over the past year, there are racial grievance and environmentalist left aspects to this Democrat NPS decision. A federal district court followed federal legal precedents, correctly ruled against South Dakota and Governor Noem, who requested a court order directing NPS to issue the 2021 special use permit, so there will be no fireworks over Rushmore this year, nor should we expect a show unless a Republican is somehow able to gain the presidency in the future.

Fireworks over Mount Rushmore

For much of Rushmore’s history, there was no annual fireworks show. Chief Judge Roberto Lange, who was born in Spain to U.S. citizen parents and then raised in South Dakota, laid the background for a national audience, acknowledging that everything in America is now openly political and partisan. The court’s website features a publicly available PDF copy of his opinion on the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Case. The court website also features the image linked at the top of this post, showing Mount Rushmore with the American flag filling the sky above the presidential busts. Judge Lange was an early Obama appointee, unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Many people visit Mount Rushmore over the Independence Day weekend as a way to observe and celebrate the Fourth of July by viewing with patriotic pride the sculptures, which include two of this nation’s founding fathers.

Fireworks displays throughout the United States have become a traditional way of celebrating the Fourth of July and Independence Day weekend. Starting in 1998 and, continuing for eleven consecutive years (except for in 2002 when there was an elevated fire risk), the Memorial had annual fireworks displays to celebrate Independence Day. The fireworks display attracted many people to the Memorial and grew in popularity as a way of observing the Fourth of July and feeling patriotic pride.

The NFS stopped the annual fireworks display for several reasons, including that the event had become a chaotic “free-for-all” with far more people attending than the Memorial could handle. [ . . . ] Meanwhile, the Black Hills itself was undergoing environmental changes, with a multi-year drought and the mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae infestation, killing pine trees and providing tinder for wildfires. Thus, the fireworks display to commemorate the Fourth of July ceased after 2009.

After a ten-year hiatus, the State and the Department of Interior (DOI) began discussing in early 2019 the possibility of fireworks for Independence Day returning to the Memorial.

Reading the opinion reveals a judge with a very solid knowledge of his state’s history and political complexities. At the same time, he shows some judicial modesty, refusing to go beyond clear federal court precedent. The governor was making a very big ask, seeking to have a judge declare for her, rather than waiting for the outcome of the eventual trial. She was not asking the court to order the National Park Service to refrain from some action, freezing things as they were before the agency or administration started acting. She wanted to compel the NPS to give her the same sort of special event permit and memorandum of understanding issued last year.

The United States would benefit immensely from greater unity in its efforts to continually form a more perfect union. So a national show of unity and celebration, such as a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore for Independence Day, is appealing. However, this Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea. It would be improper judicial activism for this Court to disregard settled law establishing the arbitrary and capricious standard for review of the fireworks permit denial and to mandate issuance of such a permit. Accordingly, this Court must deny the requested injunctive relief in this case,

[ . . . ]

For the reasons explained herein, this Court concludes that it has subject matter jurisdiction, that the NFS special use permit denial is a final agency action subject to review, and that the doctrine of laches does not bar the State’s claims. However, the State has not met the requirements for the extraordinary remedy of a mandatory injunction or writ of mandamus, so this Court must deny the motion for preliminary injunction.

National Park Service claims

So, annual fireworks shows were conducted from the late Clinton administration through George W. Bush’s two terms, then ended as soon as Obama was elected. Yes, there was a real problem with pine beetles destroying trees, which have been poorly managed across federal lands, resulting in a greatly elevated fire hazard, resolved by massive fires doing the job environmentalists resist humans doing. There were also claims of groundwater contamination by a chemical, perchlorate, that might have come from the residue of a decade of fireworks. Within existing federal law and regulations, the agencies had all the ammunition they needed to just say no, and needed political leadership pushing for “yes.” President Trump said “yes” as he did with all manner of long talked over but never completed federal promises and projects, both domestically and internationally.

President Trump provided the push, and Governor Noem and her state dared defy Lord Fraudci and the Great Scarfini, insisting they would not be cowed in terror and would act as responsible, independent adult American citizens. For those reasons, the current regime struck back. The National Park Service resisted South Dakota and President Trump, starting with South Dakota’s 2021 request submitted last October. NPS sat on the request until March 2021, when it dumped a deny response, having effectively run out the clock for planning and coordination purposes. NPS cited overcrowding, a need to do more studies of the environmental impact, and one tribe’s objections to any fireworks display, any celebration on the site. None of these were just concocted for the occasion. Yes, they had all been resolved favorably in 2020 and for over a decade across Democrat and Republican administrations. Yet, the decisions had been on a year-to-year basis, not a permanent rule.

The NPS Mount Rushmore web page, as of June 30, 2021, reflects a much smaller celebration, while pointing to fireworks displays throughout Black Hill communities.

Independence Day Events
Several special activities and events are planned for July 3 and 4 at the Memorial. Consistent with CDC recommendations, people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.

Presidential reenactors George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt will be roving the park throughout the day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Each president will present talks about their presidency, pose for photographs, and provide autographs. Presidential talks will be in the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center Theater B.

Sequoia Crosswhite, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, will provide music at the Youth Exploration Area. Darrell Red Cloud, member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, will perform storytelling at the Youth Exploration Area as well.

[…]

The park is open during regular hours on July 4. There will not be a fireworks display held at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, however there will be multiple fireworks displays in the surrounding communities on July 4.

Please check this website often for updates to programing and additional COVID precautions at the park. The National Park Service (NPS) expects everyone who works in or visits national parks and who is not fully vaccinated to wear a face mask outside on NPS-managed lands where physical distancing cannot be maintained and in all federal buildings. Individuals who violate this requirement may be subject to citations as appropriate.

fourth of July messageCelebrations for Me not SD

Following the targeted denial of a special use permit for fireworks at Mount Rushmore, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs sent this message to state and tribal leaders. Governor Noem was not amused.

Governor Kristi Noem
@govkristinoem
What a hypocrite. President @JoeBiden
wants “a summer of freedom” where we “mark independence from the virus by celebrating with events across the country.” Translation: fireworks are fine at the White House, but not at Mount Rushmore.
7:08 AM · Jun 15, 2021·Twitter for Android

Yes, but even granting all Governor Noem’s claims, even acknowledging the close tie between the Democratic Party and the permanent government, the administrative state, current law gives great discretion to agencies and both parties in Congress apparently like it that way.

So, there will be fireworks all around but not visible above Mount Rushmore this year. The skies above the Black Hills and Badlands will be lit up multiple nights over Independence Day weekend. You will likely see displays in your area as well. My community has pitched the large parking area, including elevated parking, of a now-defunct shopping mall as the perfect viewing location for multiple displays around the East Valley, accompanied by patriotic music broadcast over a local radio station. The event is organized under the title Arizona Celebration of Freedom.

Even New York City’s socialist mayor, shocked that Eric Adams, a black former NYPD police captain, is leading in the race to replace him, has announced a massive fireworks display this year. Macy’s will put on a spectacular show with fireworks launched from five barges on the East River.

De Blasio said Macy’s is “putting together the biggest fireworks display they ever have.”

The mayor on June 1 said the fireworks display would be close to normal and be on five barges in the East River.

Will Coss, the Macy’s July 4 fireworks producer, said Thursday that the company’s fireworks show beginning at 9:25 p.m. will be “jaw-dropping.”

The federal paid holiday observance is Monday, July 5, 2021. So, we will start the week with federal bureaucrats out of the office, taking a break from attacking our liberty until after their first cup of coffee on Tuesday morning.

Advancing Democratic Party Core Issues

By rejecting a celebration over Mount Rushmore, by refusing to light up the skies over Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, the Democrat-controlled NPS advances the Critical Race Theory narrative and the fraudulent 1619 narrative ginned up by white male media leaders to get the #MeToo target off their chests. Faced with a significant loss of voters who were supposed to “naturally” vote Democrat because of their skin color and their ancestry, Democrats had to mash the “racism” button harder and turn the amplifiers up to 11. At the same time, we see a reassertion of the left’s spin on protecting the environment.

Native Americans, First Peoples, indigenous peoples, have their own well-documented old grievances with the U.S. government, often starting with troops marching in with U.S. stamped on their equipment. Some of these issues echo down into current conflicts with state and local authorities. Some activists have tried updating the old Rainbow PUSH coalition idea as BIPOC or “black, indigenous, persons of color.” While this has not gone over particularly smoothly, as it seems to obscure distinct narratives and histories, we can expect the left to reward those who reinforce the narrative of America as fundamentally flawed, founded, and grown in injustice to all except white men. Hence the alignment of just the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, from all the nine tribes in South Dakota, with the NPS in South Dakota’s lawsuit.

In addition to the racial politics narrative, Mount Rushmore brings up federal and state stewardship and environmentalism. The feds have a very long history of poor forest management, with a strong bias against thinning healthy trees, clearing out underbrush, and removing dead trees. The Forest and Park services have a true legacy of ashes. Instead of a bipartisan consensus to preserve both nature and human communities, we get the hard-core left’s domination of environmentalism and environmental policy. Fires are useful to advance blame of capitalism and demands for more centralized controls supposed to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. Poor decisions by leftist Democratic state governments on our west coast have aggravated the federal problem, so a Democrat-controlled federal government will also want to provide cover while maintaining the party narrative about root causes. See the latest background press call on wildfires:

Decades of shifting development patterns, land and fire management decisions, and climate change have resulted in wildfires that move with a speed, intensity, and reach that was previously unseen.  This has created conditions where wildfires too often overwhelm response capabilities, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses, damage to natural resources, devastation to communities, and, tragically, losses of human life.

Since 2015, the United States has experienced on average roughly 100 more large wildfires every year than the year before, and this wildfire season is already outpacing last season in terms of the number of large fires to date.

So, recognizing all of those developments, President Biden asked me to arrange a wildfire briefing, too.  He is taking this threat seriously because wildfires are obviously getting worse.  They’re threatening more communities across the western part of our country and resulting in more devastation.  And the President strongly believes that it’s time the federal government stopped underinvesting in prevention and mitigation efforts and that we started investing in our response capabilities and in our firefighting personnel so that we can better protect the people of this country.

I did not find solid data on what seasonal wildland firefighters are actually paid, but they are being used to advance the $15 per hour minimum wage narrative. I would not put $15 down on the proposition that “investing in prevention and mitigation efforts” will prominently feature clearing out undergrowth and dead trees, let alone permitting selective logging to thin forests, encouraging fewer but stronger trees. While last years’ Mount Rushmore fireworks did not spark a big blaze, the threat of wildfires is real all summer. The default position is to restrict human activity, rather than proactively reducing the fire load. That would be a fine seasonal job for young workers, learning some basic discipline and work skills. Perhaps, if Democrats sense a real electoral threat, we could see such a program launched for next summer with bipartisan support.

Just because the current regime hates liberty and fireworks celebrating over our founding fathers, here is the official 2020 video in full:

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There are 12 comments.

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  1. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    !@#$%^&*()

    • #1
  2. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Rodin (View Comment):

    !@ #$%^&*()

    Well put…

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights. 

     

    • #3
  4. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    • #4
  5. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Clifford A. Brown: While covered by a supposedly non-political National Park Service (NPS) administrative ruling,

    I seem to recall when veterans were blocked from visiting memorials during the Obama administration. 

    Supposed non-partisanship makes for a good cover.

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this.  This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism.  If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist.  Anybody can use this argument.  Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires.  Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse.  What?  You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group?  Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    • #6
  7. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Except when some of them are actually engaged in starting the fires.

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Yet I am right. Not speaking out against Tyrants is supporting them.

    • #8
  9. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Yet I am right. Not speaking out against Tyrants is supporting them.

    Say rather ‘accepting’.  Support is a bridge too far.

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Yet I am right. Not speaking out against Tyrants is supporting them.

    Say rather ‘accepting’. Support is a bridge too far.

    No. Fight tyrants or you are part of their support. THAT is how they stay in power. 

    • #10
  11. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Yet I am right. Not speaking out against Tyrants is supporting them.

    Say rather ‘accepting’. Support is a bridge too far.

    No. Fight tyrants or you are part of their support. THAT is how they stay in power.

    A tyrant who believes that won’t stay a tyrant very long.

    “Everyone supports me!  I can relax my strict control.  Oh, damn!  A revolution!”

    • #11
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There are only two sides now: America pro and America anti. ANyone who does not choose a side is by default, siding with the Antis because they have all the power of the heights.

     

    Exactly. It’s the same argument as when you don’t vote you are effectively voting in the fashion that the winning side voted. The only way you are not responsible in a democracy for the policies of the powerful is to have voted against them and stated so publicly.

    I cannot agree with this. This is the argument that activists on the left use when they talk about racism. If you are not actively engaged in fighting racism (mostly by donating to “anti-racist” groups) than you are by default a racist. Anybody can use this argument. Sign up to be a volunteer firefighter or you are on the side of fires. Join our anti-child-abuse group or you are a supporter of child abuse. What? You don’t donate to our anti-cancer group? Wow, you must be pro-cancer.

    Yet I am right. Not speaking out against Tyrants is supporting them.

    Say rather ‘accepting’. Support is a bridge too far.

    No. Fight tyrants or you are part of their support. THAT is how they stay in power.

    A tyrant who believes that won’t stay a tyrant very long.

    “Everyone supports me! I can relax my strict control. Oh, damn! A revolution!”

    Tyrants just need the acquiescence, not affirmative, active support, of most of the population.

    • #12
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