Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who called armed militias to join a “range war” against the federal government rather than settle his two decades of overdue grazing fees, had attracted support from Republican officeholders in recent days. But they are all backpedaling now after Cliven Bundy was quoted by the New York Times opining that African Americans might have been better off as slaves.
“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.”
These words are only shocking if you have not been keeping up with white supremacists and militia ‘patriots,’ who always talk this way — though usually with even less politesse. Bundy, who descends from Mormons that took up arms against the United States, comes from a long tradition of flagrant racism. And even though Republicans have said more or less the same drivel themselves in slightly less offensive ways, Bundy’s racist slip has proven too much for some of his most important supporters.
The remarks brought about a quick rebuke from Chandler Smith, a spokesperson for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Heller had previously called Bundy and his supporters “patriots” for their actions and challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) description of them as “domestic terrorists.”
Smith told the Times that Heller “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
Bundy’s speech also seemingly derailed Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s (R) apparent attempt to link his gubernatorial campaign to the Bunkerville camp; Abbott had allegedly written a letter to the BLM accusing it of “threatening” to seize land along the Red River in northern Texas.
But after being contacted regarding the rancher’s “Negro” remarks, a spokesperson for Abbott was quoted as saying that Abbott’s letter “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”
The embarrassment is not over. Texas Governor Rick Perry defended Bundy and his militia pals just yesterday on Fox News, complaining that the Obama administration “acted imperialistically” by trying to remove Bundy’s trespass cattle. Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval also gave Bundy a measure of legitimacy by criticizing the BLM. The Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity’s Colorado and Nevada chapters have endorsed Bundy’s range war, which is still attracting so-called ‘Patriot’ militia participation from Western states. Now that Bundy has let us all know what he really thinks about the world outside his ranch, how long will their support continue?