In an article published yesterday, April 23, 2014, by Adam Nagourney in the New York Times, Cliven Bundy went off on a tangent during the interview wondering if black people would be better off as slaves. Bundy said, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? 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.”
That statement is likely to push people away from supporting Bundy in his fight with the U.S. Government as they had for the last two weeks. As we wrote on April 10, 2014, Bundy was in standoff with the federal government, which could have been President Obama's 'Waco' moment. Bundy has been tussling with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the last 20 years over the non-payment of grazing fees. Bundy owns Bundy Ranch north of Las Vegas, Nevada and his cattle grazes on his land as well as federal land. Although Bundy had been paying the federal government grazing fees he stopped as he felt the land was being mismanaged by the BLM, accumulating approximately $1 million of past due fees. A little over two weeks ago, the federal government raided his ranch with hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement and set out to herd his heads of cattle to satisfy the debt Bundy owed.
There were two issues that caused the dramatic support for Bundy from tea party patriot types. One was related to aggressive manner the federal government came in for the raid. With helicopters, automatic weapons drawn and a couple hundred vehicles descending onto his ranch - most felt it was overkill by the federal government. The second was the BLM estimated it was going to cost $3 million of taxpayer money to collect the $1 million due.
The tea party crowd was having a large enough publicity problem with consistent false accusations of racism, adding Bundy's comments to the fire will likely cause his support to quickly dry up. Most, if not all tea party supporters I have met have not displayed any racist remarks or actions, however their opponents continue the myth. Then there are others like Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid calling Bundy supporters "domestic terrorists" which many view as discriminatory and inflammatory.
The federal government has since backed off due to the escalating tensions it was creating with supporters willing to fight fire with fire. The government returned most of the cattle to Bundy and are seeking more administrative and judicial means to collect the grazing fees.