The Hammonds and Bundy tapped into a longstanding reservoir of anger and skepticism over the federal government's seemingly capricious use of power. From this perspective, Uncle Sam does not represent a benign symbol of patriotism, but rather the specter of Big Brother ordering citizens to return their guns, land, and liberty in the name of the law.
Historically, the politics of armed insurrection against the US government has elicited tense standoffs between authorities and local movements who each strive to define their actions as patriotic.
The Hammond pardon showcases the double standard of justice the nation still clings to, one that is dependent upon the skin color of armed insurrectionists. White survivalists, many of whom are proud supporters of the President, the NRA, and the symbols (if not substance) of America found in declarations of faith, family, and football are treated as misguided patriots, overzealous citizens whose love of country and hatred of taxes got the best of them and caused them to misbehave.
The Black Panthers notably protested during the 1960s against the growing and sometimes violent use of authority in black communities, going as far as organizing their own patrols to follow police officers and at times engage in armed conflict with law enforcement officials.
More remarkable is what both of these groups were actually fighting for. The Black Panthers, for all their shortcomings, were vocal proponents of racial and economic justice. They fervently believed in the best and most resilient aspect of the nation's founding dreams of liberty and democracy for all and were willing to use bold, at times reckless, tactics in pursuit of justice.
The Hammonds, on the other hand, represent a strain of anti-American insurrectionary politics whose goal is truly another country -- one where the federal government exerts virtually no control over the lives of Americans, is unable to right political and moral wrongs in local communities, and political entitlement remains the birthright of white men. Both of these perspectives deserve equal treatment under the law, yet one is considered by many to be more American and less dangerous than the other, based on race and fear.
Mr. Trump's pardon of the Hammonds continues his intimate rapprochement with his overwhelmingly white base of supporters. The rest of us await the President's pardon of former Black Panthers and MOVE members who continue to languish in federal and state jails as political prisoners. They deserve nothing less than the empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that Mr. Trump has shown the Hammonds.