With Fox News’ Sean Hannity saying he was “pissed off” over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s “repugnant” comments on race, Bundy took to CNN last night to defend himself.
Bundy told host Bill Weir that he didn’t understand why Hannity and others are upset with his musings about whether slavery might be better for “the Negro.”
“I feel like that I — what I said, I said to my heart. I didn’t say that as a racial thing. I felt like there’s a group of people, we’re talking about the black community,” he said. “You know, my question was I’m wondering whether they’re that much better off in this situation we’re in now with government overreach and these, you know, I can see these people suffering and my heart is going out to them, it’s not against them and then I compare it with slavery that I didn’t really mean because what I meant with slavery, I meant to compare it with maybe a life on the farm or life back in the South where they had, you know, some chickens and gardens and they have something to do and that’s what, you know, it seemed like the people in the city and their life and they wondered what to do.”
Weir offered to send Bundy a copy of 12 Years a Slave “because it doesn’t seem like you understand the pain that this entire group of people went through for so long.”
“I don’t think I’m wrong. I think I was right,” Bundy said.
“Here is where the irony really gets thick is that you are writing off a whole class of people, African-Americans, as sort of dangerously dependent because they get government assistance, at the same time you’re grazing your cows on public land for free. So how are you not sort of a welfare queen in a cowboy hat?” Weir asked.
“Well, you know, I might be a welfare queen but I tell you I’m producing something for America and using a resource that nobody else can use, would use or could use and I’m putting a red meat on your table and I know maybe I’m not doing enough but I’m trying,” Bundy replied, adding that even though thousands of other ranchers in Nevada pay their grazing fees they’re not happy about it.
“But this land has been federal since we got it from Mexico in 1848. The grazing laws had been on the book since 1934. I know your family has been there for a long time but you own a little bit and we own the rest and it doesn’t seem reasonable,” Weir continued.
“You better start respecting my rights a little bit and start respecting the state sovereignty a little bit and then you show me in the Constitution where United States could possibly own this land that I graze my cattle on. Just take five minutes and show me,” Bundy shot back.
The rancher said he doesn’t think his Fox supporters have “abandoned” him. “His comments are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,” Hannity said on his radio show Thursday.
“I think maybe they misunderstood me a little bit, but I think Fox and I think Hannity and I are just right on and I have no doubt that he would resupport me if he understood my — really what’s in my heart. And I think he does understand me. I don’t think there’s a question there,” Bundy told CNN.
Weir asked the rancher about the militiamen who came out to Nevada to protect his property. “Are you and your supporters really willing to spill the blood of another American over where your cows eat?” the host asked.
“Well, is America really willing to spill our blood and we the people stand up for a little bit of liberty and freedom,” Bundy replied. “I think that’s the question.”
“I’m not keeping them. Those people come volunteer and they can leave volunteer. I don’t give them any orders. I never have. I’ve never asked them to come. I’m not going to tell them to go away either.”