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Works and Days

Cliven Bundy, Racism, Politics, and History

April 27th, 2014 - 3:02 pm

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Cliven Bundy spouted off racist generalizations the other day as reported by a New York Times journalist, stereotyping blacks in negative fashion, with unhinged referencing to slavery — and after that in an ad hoc talk generalizing about Mexican immigrants in positive condescension.

Does that outburst prove Bundy’s resistance to a bullying Bureau of Land Management is racially driven? Or that his cattleman’s existence on the Western range is now tainted?

What are the general rules about assessing issues when the involved parties voice odious creeds?

The difference between a private life and a public career matters. If cowboy Cliven Bundy were organizing a formal resistance to the federal government by emphasizing racist doctrines, then he would be dangerous in the way Rev. Jeremiah Wright was scary in spouting racist diatribes to thousands in his congregation and on his CDs — including to the future president of the United States.

Bundy’s racist pop-theorizing is odious, but not integral to his argument over grazing rights with the federal government. A bit different was the racial hate-mongering of Rev. Wright that seemed to underpin his efforts to build and expand a church and its affiliated community-organizing movements — and drew prominent Chicagoans into his church.

If Bundy’s racism is his own, it is still regrettable and loses him personal sympathy on moral grounds. But his bigotry does not necessarily affect the issues at hand of a cattle rancher being singled out by a federal bureaucracy, in an example of selective, overreaching, and dangerous enforcement.

Last week, a cab driver in Los Angeles did a marvelous job in navigating me through traffic on the congested 405 freeway. That he shared with me (the tip was prepaid), in a well-articulated thesis, his crackpot ideas about evil conspiratorial whites creating the AIDS virus to infect blacks of the inner city was racist to the core, but his bias did not change the fact that he was one of the most skilled and savvy drivers I have encountered. I could see no connection between his Farrakhan-like racism and either his driving skill or treatment of his passenger.

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Dr. Hanson. When Dr. Walter Williams made the statement which expressed the sentiment that the KKK could not have devised a more successful means to destroy the black community than the current welfare state was he making an "odious" statement? Or was Bundy expressing exactly the same sentiments in a less articulate fashion>

Dr. Williams expressed that sentiment as a guest host on Limbaugh's show. Likely had that thought been expressed by a white guest host the NYT would have used it to condemn individual and by implication Limbaugh as examples of racism.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with VDH. The flap over his comment is blurring the fact that he was attacked by an armed BLM group for owing a debt to the government. Total overreaction by the government. He may hold unpopular racial views but he deserves to be treated fairly and proportionately by the Feds. Would the government send armed T-Men to extract back taxes from all the IRS employees who owe back taxes?

I’m disgusted by the conservative pundits who are throwing Bundy under the bus. They’re doing it much as Obama throws people under the bus – for appearances. You can call him a racist, but he has a right to speak his mind. And he has a right to not be attacked by BLM gunslingers for a debt. Any real conservative will still stand up for him in his fight with the government.

The unfortunate truth is that Mr. Bundy's problems with the BLM are only the tip of the iceberg. Before the 1970s the Forest Service and the BLM partnered with individuals and companies to produce the resources of the public lands. The lands are owned by the people and the Federal government is supposed to manage them for the good of the people. This arrangement and mission all changed after the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA -1966) and the formation of the EPA (1970).

Since the 1970s logging in the Pacific Northwest has been curtailed, mining nationwide has been curtailed, ranchers have been forced off the land, farmers have lost irrigation rights, and oil/gas drilling has been curtailed. The public lands are now being managed primarily to satisfy the desires of a group of well-organized environmental activists.

This misuse of the law will continue unless the Congress understands that the ESA needs to be modified so that it sensibly protects the environment, but can’t be used as a weapon against the people and companies that have been, and will be, productive users of public lands.


33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doc, I think the New York Times has led you astray, as it did me. If you read (or hear) Bundy's full remarks, they don't show any racism (if one uses the classical definition: belief in racial superiority/inferiority). Sure, the guy isn't skilled in the mine field dancing which is the only acceptable modern locution where race is even possibly a subject. But he has said *nothing* to indicate racist beliefs.

Shame on you for going along with this! Palo Alto must be rubbing off on you.

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (106)
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Did I read this right? Or was I imagining things? Did I read Dr. Hanson to say that Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management should both put ideology aside for the nonce and negotiate terms of grazing rights? Does he go further to suggest that each party, Mr Bundy and the BLM, may both have legitimate claims and/or grievances?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think Bundy us expressing ideas typical of his age. He should have the right to freedom of speech the same as those revolting in a public park in New York City. The public may "own" the grazing land in Nevada but it also "owns" the park in the City. The whole mess reminds me of a 40s or 50s film with John Wayne or Gary Cooper. The Feds v. the cattlemen....fortunately or unfortunately, it's a bygone era and things are handled by courts rather than posses. I don't know that land is worth blood spilled...either the cattle's or the cowboys. How many Americans are going to take advantage of that public land out in the wilds of nowhere? Arizona uses the money derived from sales of such land for education and the Arizona schools are pretty close to the bottom of the deck. How many "developers are going to buy that scruffy land to put up yet another nearly vacant shopping center? Let's face it....those who swapped statehood for that land were had...it's worth something to the cattlemen but not much to many othes.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bundy is guilty of giving the MSM a soundbite they could very easily take out of context. They then proceeded to do what the MSM does best: they held a trial in the court of public opinion and found him guilty.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wonder how much longer it will be before we all have to swear an oath to love all races under penalty of imprisonment.
Do you know how much vile hatred I saw emanating from Blacks against everyone else, in Oakland in the 60s and 70s?
Is this still America? What is the endgame here? Do the Progs want a race war?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is pointless to point out that many people openly harbor insane racist views and spout them as often as they can and often as not certain insane racist views are condemned while others are cheered as full throatedly as any Beer Hall Putsch. That's simply the planet we live on today. And if they can't call you a racist, they'll keep looking until they can. Again, that's just the way things are.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some of Bundy's defenders have made the case that his words in full were not racist. They may well be right, but who cares? Bundy had earned the right to speak up and speak nationally on government overreach and excessive force. Nothing in the situation made him an expert on or the least bit interesting on the question of race. He blundered stupidly and made himself the target of the eager media, as anyone of minimal sophistication could have predicted.

Don't wander off into the topic of race unless you are fully prepared and have vetted all the ways in which your ideas can be twisted. And even then you will be attacked. Remember that Rush, who is probably smarter than 99% of Americans, has repeatedly snagged himself on this issue. Of course he, like few others, has a fallback. He actually knows how to thrive amid controversy. Most people do not.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cliven Bundy is Craven Bundy and Donald is less than Sterling...so what! Should we ignore Holder's overt Afro - racism at the DOJ and only focus on those two Bozos?

33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm disappointed, yet unsurprised. Bundy's words weren't racist. Our conservative opinion makers immediately capitulated to the left's framing.

Unfortunately, our conservative leaders repeatedly show themselves as cowards who dive for PC safety as soon as someone yells "racist."

"Oh no, I have to trot out all the proper 'distancing' words: odious, regrettable, unhinged! Whew! Is my tolerance cred safe now?"
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
No one under any circumstances who asserts that slavery is better for someone in any context should expect people to not be offended by that. Again, the concept of slavery is evil, pure & simple. God only knows what the hell Bundy was thinking (if you can call it that) when he uttered what he did. JMO.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not all slave holders mistreated slaves. George Washington educated some of and deeded a lot of property to them. Too many anti-SLAVERY people derived their facts from Harriet Beecher Stowe.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dr. Hanson can plead all he wants. This is now a stupid society, an endlessly stupid society that has lost all ability to discern.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have a question for VDH. As I understand it, women, in the later days of the Roman Empire, had become legally emancipated and very powerful. They could inherit, become an empress, own property, etc. So what happened to them during the fall. Were they all carted away as slaves, or what, or don't we know. If the femininization of our culture were to follow the same track, what would be the fate of our ladies? The population of Rome, the City, imploded from over 1,000,000 citizens to less than 10,000 in a very short time. What happened and why? (You don't need to write another book, please).
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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