Cliven Bundy on Race
Not only does the headline-making rancher have unique views on the nature of both grazing fees and the federal government, he has some positively retro (to use a kind word) views on race.
From the NYT:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Several thoughts spring to mind, in order of significance:
1. It is ironic that he is concerned about government subsidies for the poor since he expects the federal government to subsidize his cattle ranching.
2. Now that many on Fox News have so openly embraced Bundy’s cause, how will they deal with this?
3. This is another example of a prominent figure supported by some on the right who turns out to have racist views. Many politicians and commentators now have to figure out how to extricate themselves from this situation. This reminded me of a recent piece by Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: You’re in Denial if You Think Steve Israel Is Wrong About GOP Racism, the subtitle of which states “Not a month goes by without a GOP racial gaffe, racist vitriol fills conservative websites’ comment sections, and the party refuses to take on the issue.” So I guess this one for this month.
And no, Bundy is not a Republican official, but he is a registered Republican who has become a cause célèbre in some Republican circles. At a minimum, these statements will be associated in the minds of many with the Republican Party and will further solidify what Representative Israel (D-NY) said on TV recently: “to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.” Bundy and his allies are, without a doubt, part of that base. And this a problem that the Republican Party, writ large, refuses to address.
I have considered the man to be a crank unworthy of support from the beginning, and have marveled at the many who have rallied to his cause. It will be interesting to see how much of the rallying continues.
There is more to say on this topic, no doubt, but I will stop here for the moment.
A side note in parting, if Bundy rejects the authority of the federal government, why all the American flags?