Cliven Bundy Tries To Clarify Himself, and Fails

Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy appeared on a radio show this morning to respond to the reports regarding his statements about race and slavery. To say the very least, he didn’t help his case at all

He said, “I’m wondering are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were they were slaves when they were able to have a family structure together… and the people have something to do.”

Bundy then asked, “Are they better off being slaves in that sense or are they better off being slaves of the United States government in the sense of a subsidy?”

The pathetic thing is that he obviously doesn’t understand why equating slavery with the current economic state of African-Americans would be offensive to people. Or, perhaps, he just doesn’t care.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    The hilarious thing is, in his initial comments, he talked about people having their doors open and congregating on porches together. Which sounds like quite a bit of safety, togetherness and presumably family time. It certainly seems better than slavery.

  2. Heisenberg says:

    I want to know where this right-wing meme came from that slavery somehow supported black family structures. Slaves were FORBIDDEN to marry. Families were broken up and sold off apart ALL THE TIME.

  3. Franklin says:

    Are they better off being slaves in that sense … ?

    “In that sense”? You mean being slaves in the sense of actually being slaves?

  4. Matt Bernius says:

    As posted on a different thread, beyond wondering about what Mr. Bundy thinks about people receiving Farm subsidies, I find it amazing how pervasive the entire trope of “slave to the government via subsidies” = “actual historic US slavery.”

    Because, of course, the government is free to beat, rape, and kill you, not to mention sell you and your descendants to other governments.

    The notion of his concern for their happiness is the icing on this particular noxious cake.

    I think that a number of conservative commentators are *thanking their lucky stars* he made this “clarifying comment* because it allows them to jump of the crazy train and save face by saying “I gave him the benefit of the doubt” (rather than I was wrong).

  5. mantis says:

    So when black people were owned by whites, legally barred from marriage, raped at will, forced to breed like livestock, and had their children stolen and sold to other slavers, that was the ideal family structure. For “the negro.” Got it.

    And this lowlife, racist, criminal scumbag conservative hero has 14 children who surely all share his retrograde, ahistorical, racist, lawbreaking views.

    Enjoy your hero, wingnuts, you horrendous blight on this nation and enemies of everything it stands for.

  6. Matt Bernius says:

    BTW, I suspect that Mr Bondy believes that our present understanding of slavery is all revisionist histories created by liberals to make white folks feel bad about their proud history of helping save the lower races. And to the extent that slaves were ever mistreated, it was likely because they deserved it.

  7. stonetools says:

    As far as I’m concerned, I appreciate his initial candor.
    I much prefer the racists who clearly state it upfront, rather than those who pretend to be tolerant , and talk instead about “limited government” etc, and isn’t it just a shame all of my political positions just happen to hurt minorities.
    And yes, his clarification is nonsense. Are seniors on Social Security and Medicare slaves to the federal government? Please proceed, cowboy.

  8. Jim Henley says:

    I’m so old I remember when conservatives used to love the idea of people congregating on their front porches.

  9. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    In the conservative scuttling which is occurring in the aftermath lies a golden opportunity for the party to deal with it’s “Heritage Problem.”

  10. CSK says:

    Now, really–was anybody surprised that a deadbeat yokel with a violent streak would turn out to be a bigot?

    When the story broke that the “militias” were riding to Bundy’s rescue, I thought to myself, “Those guys have been watching too many Mel Gibson movies.” Lo and behold, a later news story reported that, yup, the “cowboys” were reciting dialogue from Braveheart.

  11. stonetools says:

    BTW, do anyone remember that long debate between Jonathon Chait and Ta-Nahesi Coates in which Chait arguied that conservatives should be given the benefit of the doubt as to whether they were actually appealing to racism or were truly racist? I think Coates is entitled to his victory lap…

  12. Moosebreath says:

    No, I think he succeeded quite well in clarifying himself.

    Sort of like the old tag that it’s better to be quiet and be thought of as a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubts.

  13. ernieyeball says:

    @Jim Henley:..I’m so old I remember when conservatives used to love the idea of white people congregating on their front porches.

    To be sure if it was negros congregating on their front porches those porches would have been on the bad side of the tracks…if it was that long ago.
    Like maybe yesterday wherever this doorknob lives.