Diminishing the newest national monument in spite of common sense, decency …and lawsuits, is merely a warning shot of what’s to come.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

You’ve thought long and hard about this. I know you have. And your conclusion: Our country is great. It was great before and, in spite of having to combat the greatest threat to our democracy in our 240-year history—a threat from within—we’ll be OK.

We’ll be OK because truth eventually wins out. Because fact uncovers fiction. Because checks and balances. Because good wins over evil, and we’re inherently a good people.

Because we’re America. We’ve been knocked down, dragged around, split up, segregated, picked apart to our core, divided and diminished by war, civil unrest and economic disasters and we’ve always picked ourselves up off the mat, wiped the blood off our noses and set course for a new day. Somehow, someway, in spite of our differences, we’ve gotten on that boat together and righted the ship toward the horizon of a better day.


No longer.


It’s time to change how we think about America. It’s time to change how we react to our president. It’s time to examine how we talk to one another. It’s time to put aside the notion that we can rely upon our institutions as we go about our daily business being good Americans working, raising children and booking a cabin in the woods for a week of rest and recharge.

It’s time to cast aside all notions that this will be OK, that a kind of superhero, full of honesty and purity and loyalty to country overall, be it McCain or Comey or Warren or Franken or Sanders, is going to save us.

They won’t. Because they can’t.

The evil we have growing from within—festering in the Oval Office—is a greater challenge to our society and norms than we’ve ever faced. He demands absolute fealty. He knows not of governance but of dictatorship. The man who’s never picked up a shovel, broken a sweat or worked an honest day in his life—who rose to prominence through betting his family fortune over and over and over on unsafe wagers then borrowed, cheated and stole when those bets went bad—is now in charge of this government.

The GOP that supports him is a for-profit death cult. Mouthpieces for the corporate state whose singular goal is to enrich while they strip the citizenry of their pride, humanity and labor. Their singular goal: rape our natural resources for fun and profit along the way. If annihilation is the endgame, they are racing to the finish.

They don’t give a fuck about anything, even their own grandchildren—beyond the money they leave for them. They are determined to see it all go as their time runs out here too. They are, undoubtedly, the worst of what we’ve become. The guarantors of the destruction to come.

The Earth is boiling. Major ice shelves are breaking off at alarming rates. Entire regions, home to 300 million people who live on hot, poor areas of the globe are starving and/or running out of water. The planet’s average temperature is up two degrees Celsius in the last few years. If we go up six, extinction.

The way our government currently contextualizes things is way off. In charge of the Department of Energy is a man who has no scientific background. The Department of Education head is a billionaire whose children never went to public school. The EPA chief denies global climate change, vehemently.

Ryan Zinke, the US interior secretary, recommended to the president Monday that Bears Ears national monument in southeastern Utah—our newest national monument (Dec. 16, 2016)—be reduced in size to the “smallest area compatible” with its conservation.

Zinke said that there is “no doubt that [Bears Ears] is drop-dead gorgeous country and that it merits some degree of protection” but the 1.3-million-acre scope of the designation is too much. “The monument needs to be right-sized and that is absolutely critical that an appropriate part be co-managed by the tribal nations”.

The review calls for the boundary of the national monument to be modified to comply with the intent of the fucking 1906 Antiquities Act, which is a loophole that mentions “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Upon hearing the news Monday, Native American and environmental groups threatened to sue the administration. The Navajo, in conjunction with a coalition of tribes, environmentalists, outdoor recreation businesses and academics got the designation done in the waning moments of the Obama administration in part because 100,000 archaeological sites have been damaged in recent years by vandalism, looting and off-road vehicle use. Not to mention, guns fucking being fired everywhere.

Zinke, for his part, tows the Trump party line when it comes to lying: “Overall, in talking to tribal leadership… they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us,” he said Monday.


A representative from the Navajo Nation shot back: “I haven’t been happy with him since day one,” said spokesman Davis Filfred. “I don’t know what that word happy is. We don’t want it to be rescinded. We wanted it left alone.

“When they do make that move, we’re ready as a Navajo Nation for a lawsuit, and all the other tribal leaders are ready. We have others who are ready for litigation. This is uncalled for.”

Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney for the Rocky Mountains office of Earthjustice, told the Washington Post Monday that firm’s attorneys are ready should Trump try to shrink the monument boundaries. “Make no mistake: Unilaterally shrinking the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument would not only be a slap in the face to the five sovereign tribes who share sacred ties to this land, it would violate both the Antiquities Act and the separation of powers doctrine.”

But here’s the problem: Trump and his small-but-committed band of white supremacists, classic car enthusiasts, for-profit Jesus mongers and aspiring fascists don’t give a fuck. Don’t give a fuck about protected lands, tribes, lawsuits or the people all this affects. They will go to war, against every little guy, against every interest of the individual and the Earth we tread upon. To them, the undoing means winning.

America is only an idea. And when the group minding the store’s only interest is removing all of its contents, selling them at a discount for personal profit, burning the fucking thing down and collecting the insurance—well, it doesn’t look like such a good idea after all.

Watch what happens to Bears Ears and use it as a harbinger of how much this group is going to get away with and how much they’re hellbent on destruction …even if it makes no sense.

…Especially if it makes no sense.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Death of the Press Box and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017