Here we go again. You had to know it was coming. When the Left wants to distract America from the central point of a burning issue, they find (or manufacture) a “gotcha” moment and yell “RACISM!”
So it is no surprise that embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose struggle against the federal government’s overreach has won widespread sympathy, has ended up as the latest victim of “race card” politics.
“But haven't you heard the TERRIBLE RACIST comments he made?” the critics scream. “It’s on video, in his own words; Cliven Bundy SUPPORTS SLAVERY!”
Actually, yes, we’ve watched “the” video comments that have caused such a raging firestorm amongst the “progressive” mainstream-media commentariat, and that also have caused panic and consternation amongst Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians who have supported Cliven Bundy.
Many of these erstwhile supporters have been caught off-guard and frightened into denouncing Bundy as a “racist” and his remarks as “vicious” and “reprehensible.”
But it might be helpful to take a calm look at what he actually said and see if it really should be engendering so much angst and furor amongst the political and chattering classes. In the video below, from which the New York Times selected its excerpts to stir up the racism charge, Cliven Bundy makes some statements that are sympathetic to Blacks and Mexicans. He states:
I was in the Watts riots. I seen the beginning fire and I seen the last fire. What I seen was civil disturbance, people were not happy. People thinking they don’t have freedom, didn’t have these things — and they didn’t have them. We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don’t want to go back. We sure don’t want these colored people to go back to that point. We sure don’t want the Mexican people to go back to that point. And we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies and do it in a peaceful way....
Any fair rendering of the above comment would have to admit that Bundy is saying that he’s glad for the gains that racial minorities have made and he doesn’t want to see them to the pre-1960s status. So, is he then saying in the next breath that he wants to see them go back to their status in the pre-1860s? Is he really saying they we’re better off under slavery, that he would have favored slavery back then, that they should have stayed in slavery, that he would like to see them in chattel slavery once again?
That’s the message his critics are promoting. And if it were true, Cliven Bundy’s statements would indeed be reprehensible, and he would, understandably, be a much less sympathetic character. It would not change the facts in his case or affect the merits (or lack thereof) of his claims that the federal government is acting unfairly toward him and abusing its authority. But it would cause support for him to diminish, if not collapse. And that, of course, is the point of this whole media “gotcha” provocation.
Much of what Mr. Bundy is saying closely parallels what even many black leaders, authors and intellectuals — such as Prof. Walter Williams, Rev. C.L. Bryant, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Bill Cosby, Alveda King, Star Parker, and Alan Keyes — have been saying. But Cliven Bundy’s “sin” is that he is an elderly white man who is unschooled in traversing the minefield of political correctness — and he was careless in failing to make important distinctions and clarifications. He “sinned” by being born when he was born, and failing to keep up with the constantly changing terminology for ethnic designations. He still uses the terms “Negro,” “colored people,” and “Mexican,” instead of “black/ African American” or “Hispanic/Latino” — but then, race activists still argue amongst themselves concerning the “proper” ethnic label to apply to their lineage and group identity.
“In the course of his remarks, Bundy also uses the word ‘Negro’ to refer to African Americans,” the Washington Post noted ominously, as if that is de facto evidence of the rancher's alleged racist mindset. Others have noted that he used the term “colored people.” Horrors! Well, guess what? Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, and virtually every other black leader has used those terms as well. (Check it out; you can find news footage and their speeches online from the 1960s and ’70s.) And the United Negro College Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are still two very prominent black organizations that have not changed their names. So, perhaps, Bundy can be accused of being stuck in a time warp and having a tin ear and being insensitive to how certain words from his era now sound out of place to the “modern ear” — and even connote (wrongly or rightly) to some people evidence of racism. But it's a big stretch to translate those "sins" into a credible indictment.
So, let’s look at the few sentences that have caused all the uproar. Bundy said:
I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. When I go through North Las Vegas, and I would see these little government houses, 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? 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.
Yes, those intent on seeing an endorsement of slavery in Cliven Bundy’s statement, can make a flimsy case based on the above statement. But is that really what he was trying to say? Is he not, perhaps, trying to make a point about the dignity of work and the importance of strong family life and self reliance, and the destructive, debilitating, denigrating effect of dependence on government for sustenance?
Is Cliven Bundy not trying to say much the same thing, for instance, as Prof. Walter Williams, the popular economist/columnist/author/speaker, who happens to be black? Williams, whose columns appear regularly here in The New American, was interviewed in 2011 by the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley, following publication of Williams’ autobiography, Up from the Projects. Here are a couple of Bundy-sounding excerpts:
"We lived in the Richard Allen housing projects" in Philadelphia, says Mr. Williams. "My father deserted us when I was three and my sister was two. But we were the only kids who didn't have a mother and father in the house. These were poor black people and a few whites living in a housing project, and it was unusual not to have a mother and father in the house. Today, in the same projects, it would be rare to have a mother and father in the house."
Even in the antebellum era, when slaves often weren't permitted to wed, most black children lived with a biological mother and father. During Reconstruction and up until the 1940s, 75% to 85% of black children lived in two-parent families. Today, more than 70% of black children are born to single women. "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do," Mr. Williams says. "And that is to destroy the black family."
... "Racial discrimination is not the problem of black people that it used to be" in his youth, says Mr. Williams. "Today I doubt you could find any significant problem that blacks face that is caused by racial discrimination. The 70% illegitimacy rate is a devastating problem, but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with racism. The fact that in some areas black people are huddled in their homes at night, sometimes serving meals on the floor so they don't get hit by a stray bullet — that's not because the Klan is riding through the neighborhood."
Cliven Bundy’s remarks also sound remarkably similar to the comments made by Rev. C.L. Bryant, and other black leaders who appear in Rev. Bryant’s hard-hitting documentary Runaway Slave. The fiery Bryant, a former black radical leftist and NAACP official, says much the same thing as Bundy — only much more emphatically and defiantly. One of the black pastors who appears in the last few seconds of the five-minute short version of Runaway Slave below makes a very relevant comment concerning the devastating effect that socialism and government paternalism have had and are having on black Americans and the necessity of black men to speak up against this. “What we need in this country today,” he says, “is more black men to confront it, because you as a white man can’t confront it. Because right now, if you said anything to the black community you’re going to be accused of racism.” Mr. Bundy can say amen to that.
Alan Keyes, former U.S. ambassador to the UN’s Economic and Social Council, is one black leader who immediately came to Bundy’s defense. “He wasn’t talking so much about black folks, but about the harm and damage that the leftist socialism has done to blacks,” Keyes said in an interview with World Net Daily, where he also is a columnist.
“I find it appalling that we basically have a history of the leftist liberalism that wants to extinguish black people by abortion [and] destroying the family structure,” Keyes told WND. “All of these things if you just look at the effects, you would say this was planned by some racist madman to destroy the black community.”
“I think it’s time somebody started to recognize the racism that exists in its effects — the hard leftist ideology using the black community for their sacrificial lamb, for their sick ideology. It’s time we called them what they are,” he said. “Now it’s racist to point it out.”
World Net Daily’s David Kupelian today provides a very insightful companion piece to the above article, entitled, “HARRY’S WAR: What’s really behind the targeting of Cliven Bundy,” that provides an excellent analysis of the agenda behind the attacks on Cliven Bundy by Harry Reid, the Obama administration, and their media allies.
Finally, since Mr. Bundy has been subjected to non-stop smears and vitriolic attacks for the past several news cycles, in the interests of fairness, we’ll let him have the last word. What follows is a press statement of Cliven Bundy sent to The New American by his wife, Carol Bundy, moments ago:
We are trading one form of slavery for another.
What I am saying is that all we Americans are trading one form of slavery for another. All of us are in some measure slaves of the federal government. Through their oppressive tactics of telling the ranchers how many cows they can have on their land, and making that number too low to support a ranch, the BLM has driven every rancher in Clark County off the land, except me. The IRS keeps the people of America in fear, and makes us all work about a third or a half of the year before we have earned enough to pay their taxes. This is nothing but slavery from January through May. The NSA spies on us and collects our private phone calls and emails. And the government dole which many people in America are on, and have been for much of their lives, is dehumanizing and degrading. It takes away incentive to work and self respect. Eventually a person on the dole becomes a ward of the government, because his only source of income is a dole from the government. Once the government has you in that position, you are its slave.
I am trying to keep Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream alive. He was praying for the day when he and his people would be free, and he could say I'm free, free at last, thank God I'm free at last! But all of us here [in] America, no matter our race, are having our freedom eroded and destroyed by the federal government because of its heavy handed tactics. The BLM, the IRS, the NSA — all of the federal agencies are destroying our freedom. I am standing up against their bad and unconstitutional laws, just like Rosa Parks did when she refused to sit in the back of the bus. She started a revolution in America, the civil rights movement, which freed the black people from much of the oppression they were suffering. I'm saying Martin Luther King's dream was not that Rosa could take her rightful seat in the front of the bus, but his dream was that she could take any seat on the bus and I would be honored to sit beside her. 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.
Cliven D. Bundy