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Cliven Bundy: rancher or racist?

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Cliven Bundy, the Bunkerville rancher who has drawn national attention over his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management for refusing to pay his cattle grazing fees, has made headlines once again. This time around, however, conservatives are tripping over each other in a mad dash to distance themselves from Bundy. What’s with the change of heart?

Apparently Bundy decided to hold a news conference near his driveway, which now sports an armed checkpoint. Aside from the expected rhetoric, he shared his views on slavery, welfare, and abortion. It was not pretty. New York Times’ Adam Nagourney quotes Bundy as saying:

“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.”

Bundy has claimed via his official Facebook page that these comments have been taken out of context. However, beginning any statement with an antiquated, derogatory comment that amounts to a racial slur is, usually, not a very wise idea. Nonetheless, Bundy Ranch stated:

“There are new rumors going around about Cliven. We all know that with the media, words are taken out of context, meanings are twisted, and they can take anything and turn it into what they want it to be. Cliven is a good man, he loves all people, he is not a racist man. He wants what is best for everyone.”

He went on to compare himself to Rosa Parks on his official Facebook page.

The problem here is, of course, much deeper than his use of the term "negro"; rather, his statement as a whole demonstrates his extremely distorted views on the institution of slavery. Bundy’s suggestion that an entire race would be better off as pieces of property is the problem, and he doesn’t seem to even realize it. The real irony, though, is that Bundy, while decrying the horrors of welfare, is illegally grazing his cattle on land he does not own and refuses to pay his dues like all the other ranchers in the state—this is akin to tax evasion.

Furthermore, Bundy cannot seem to make up his mind regarding his own views. Are African Americans having too many abortions or are they having too many children? Bundy complains about people having nothing to do, yet how many of these people did he offer jobs to? Bundy seems to think that African Americans should be doing more, yet he seems to believe that the only thing they are capable of doing is “picking cotton.” Lastly, Bundy asserts that he is not a racist, yet he gives racist speeches.

But that’s not all. Bundy, in an effort to “clear his name” during an interview with CNN, continued his ignorant diatribe. According to him, he is not a racist, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is to blame for people becoming offended. This is what Bundy has to say about it:

“If I say 'Negro' or 'black boy' or 'slave,' if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be [offended], then Martin Luther King hasn't got his job done yet," he added. "We need to get over this prejudice stuff."

Yes, Cliven, “those people” are the problem. “They” are really at fault for taking offence at your use of derogatory racial slurs and pejoratives. Ultimately, this proves one thing—the best way to prove that you are not a racist is not to use more racist terms and blame a black man for your mistakes.

Unfortunately for Bundy, a video of the rant can be viewed on online.

The full New York Times article can be found on nytimes.com

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