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“Racist” Cliven Bundy asks a legitimate question: What he really said

Written By | Apr 25, 2014
Cliven Bundy / Screen Shot - Channel 8 news

Cliven Bundy / Screen Shot – Channel 8 news

LOS ANGELES, April 24, 2014—The Cliven Bundy Ranch brouhaha is now warranting 24/7 news coverage from a media outlet other than Fox News—but not in the way that you might think.

Patriarch Bundy has obviously been lapping up the media attention given to his stand against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM and Bundy have been in a long legal battle over unpaid taxes from his cattle grazing on federal public lands, lands that Bundy claims do not belong to the federal government. This battle almost came to a scary standoff when the BLM brought armed vehicles and SWAT teams to confront unarmed protestors who came to support the Bundy family in their grievance.

Fortunately, the BLM pulled back, but the legal and verbal battles continue, with Nevada Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid inserting himself into the mess by referring to Bundy as a “domestic terrorist.”

READ ALSO: Harry Reid calls Bundy Nevadans ‘terrorists’: Reported by Megyn Kelly, Fox News

Like Sen. Reid, Bundy is neither articulate nor organized in his thoughts; so it was only a matter of time before he would say something that did not sit well. Lucky Adam Nagourney of the New York Times just happened to catch Bundy’s remarks on April 19, 2014, and seeing an opportunity to change the narrative, happily ran with them:

“‘I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,’ he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, ‘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?’ he asked. ‘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.’”

Cue the outrage. Media Matters, Politico, CNN, Firedog Lake, and pretty much everyone else in legacy and Leftist media gleefully reported the remarks, trumpeted the edited video, and in as dignified a fashion as they could muster (though not by much) pretty much said, “Neener, Neener, Neener” to the conservative commentators and politicians who rallied behind Cliven Bundy and his cause.

Bundy had the nerve, the nerve, to use the term “Negroes” instead of “African-American”. Since the man is well into his 80s, that was probably the last acceptable term he learned concerning how to address Black people. So, that little dust up doesn’t hold much dirt.

Fox commentator and radio host Sean Hannity, a staunch supporter of Bundy up to this point, called his remarks, “beyond repugnant” on his radio and television program. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, another staunch supporter quickly tweeted his disapproval.

Try not to fall over each other distancing yourselves, fellas. Having seen the full video of Cliven Bundy’s comments, I fail to see what is so reprehensible about them. With obvious ignorance, but no apparent animus, he asked a legitimate question.

READ ALSO: The Desert Tortoise, Harry Reid: Why the BLM wants Cliven Bundy’s Ranch

If Bundy’s sole perspective on Blacks is based upon what he saw in the Watts area of Los Angeles, and what he sees in North Las Vegas, Nevada, then his knowledge is grossly limited. However, it still does not discount the question: are Blacks any better off under government subsidy than they were under slavery? The Left, the legacy news media, and now certain conservatives are so obsessed with the fact that an old, white Rancher dared to utter it, that they are failing to look at the legitimacy of his assessment. I posited this on Twitter:

The full video of Cliven Bundy’s remarks are included, because the cut up sound bites floated by CNN and Media Matters don’t reflect Bundy’s full monologue, or the reasoning behind his bizarre and controversial ramblings.

What Bundy is trying, and sadly failing to do is make the connection between government control and the fomenting of grievance and unrest among minorities. From Watts in South Los Angeles, to Detroit, to Chicago, to other areas in South Central Los Angeles, these minority-heavy towns have imploded in the past, and continue to be rife with violence and unrest. What do these inner cities have in common?

All of them are run by Democrats, and are government subsidized with housing and handouts. (Please listen to end to hear Bundy’s remarks about Mexicans.)

In 1991, Nicholas Lemann (also white) wrote a profound book: The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America. It was a treatise on race, poverty, and how government policy shaped them both. Lemann often used as case studies Black families that had migrated from the South in the 1940s-1950s and came to the big city with hopes and dreams of making a better life. After an initial fresh start and some success, these families ultimately ended up in government housing and on government handouts.

Lemann documented the lives of two and three generations of welfare families; mostly female-headed, single-parent homes.

Some of these families had a fourth generation in the making, as the teenage granddaughters were now pregnant and unmarried. It has been more than 20 years since the book was first published, and one wonders if the same cycle continues for these families even today.

With Lemann’s research and wealth of education and knowledge, he took an entire book to point at how government intrusiveness and oversight only serves to destroy motivation, build dependency, and limit freedom. Lemann was lauded by no less then Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for his efforts. Bundy was making attempts toward this same conclusion, but it is all but lost in the crafted sound bites and cries of racism.

READ ALSO: Tortoises first: Bundy Ranch just a part of the Western lands in BLM crosshairs

Is dependency on government handouts—whether in subsidized housing, food, or land—a new form of slavery that kills purpose, motivation, and independence?

While despising the messenger and the way the message is being delivered, we fixate on all the wrong things.

Jennifer Oliver OConnell

Jennifer Oliver OConnell offers witty, insightful, and direct opinion, analysis and musings on local and national politics and popular culture, with occasional detours into reinvention, food, and Yoga. Jennifer also teaches Yoga, and coaches clients on careers and reinvention. You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website.