Cliven Bundy: The Racist Rancher

Cliven Bundy, a 68-year-old rancher from Nevada, has been on the front lines of news reports for the past few weeks.

Because Bundy has been illegally allowing his cattle to graze on federal land (which is illegal unless you pay a fee), he has accrued over one million dollars in governmental fees and citations.

Conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity led the charge in portraying Bundy as a vigilante hero who was simply rebelling against intrusive “government overreach.”  With four hours and forty minutes devoted to the story, the station romanticized a violation of federal law. Hannity was not alone in his support; many other conservatives, such as Sen. Rand Paul’s (who is a possible presidential candidate) and Sen. Dean Heller who referred to Bundy and his supporters as “patriots,” immediately backed Bundy.

With the conservative support of Fox News and a few senators, Bundy was interviewed by the New York Times where the debate over cattle grazing land escaladed to outrage over Bundy’s racist fantasies.

Here’s what Bundy said about “the negro:”

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro […] — 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? 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.”

The amount of ignorance bundled into that one statement is phenomenal.

Apparently, Cliven Bundy is under the impression that being whipped, beaten, raped, shackled, lashed, imprisoned and murdered made African Americans “better off.”  He completely overlooked the twelve million people slaughtered by this country’s “humane” system of slavery and also seems to have forgotten that enslaved families were torn apart during this period. They did not have the right to “family life.”

Later, Bundy only elevated the outroar by commenting:  

“I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?”

Bundy, let’s get this straight. Slavery was not a happy time. Read a book. This historical re-envisioning of slavery into some sort of fantasy like happy parade of justice reduces the horrific and violent experiences of slaves and dishonors their memory.

Unfortunately, he has continued to voice his opinion and recently blamed Martin Luther King for the public response against his use of the word negro:

“Maybe I sinned, and maybe I need to ask forgiveness, and maybe I don’t know what I actually said, but when you talk about prejudice, we’re talking about not being able to exercise what we think. … 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. We need to get over this prejudice stuff.
“I am doing the same thing Rosa Parks did — I am standing up against bad laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom. Just like the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, we are saying no to an oppressive government which considers us to be slaves rather than free men. I invite all people in America to join in our peaceful revolution to regain our freedom. That is how America was started, and we need to keep that tradition alive.”

Once again, Bundy distorts history into his own fantasy-like delusion. Martin Luther King Jr. is not to blame for the racism that is still alive today.

It is in the continued perpetuation of racist ideas (like Cliven Bundy’s statements), stereotypes and unjust laws that allow these forms of discrimination thrive.

Also, according to Bundy, he is apparently fighting the same battle as Rosa Parks. Because she advocated for racial equality, Bundy is again incoherent. His previous statements about slavery are clearly in contradiction to everything Rosa Parks stood for. His comparison between the refusal to pay governmental fees and the civil rights movement is disrespectful to those who struggled and who are still struggling to achieve racial equality. According to Washington post:

“His cattle have fed off public lands for two decades while he refused to pay grazing fees that are much lower than those he would have to pay for private land (and lower even than the government’s costs).”

So how does that relate to Rosa Parks?

Though Bundy denies being racist, his ignorant white supremacist speeches tell a completely different story.

Cliven is still making headlines as reports have come in documenting complaints that him and his followers have developed armed militia checkpoints for all residents in the area.

In sum, an extremely racist man who thinks African Americans would be better off as slaves has set up an armed militia to protect his violation of federal law. I wonder what other federal laws he would be willing to defy?

I’m sure all of us would like to extend gratitude towards Fox News and many other conservatives for showing us a true American “patriot.”

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