Fresh from his “victory” over the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has assumed the mantle of the right wing's and conservatives' leading political thinker. Indeed, Bundy holds a daily press conference now, much as President Barack Obama's own press secretary holds forth each morning on the state of nation and the world.
In that regard, reports are flooding in on Bundy's latest pontifications. Like so many of his fellow conservatives, he holds himself out to be an expert about this nation-state's social, political, economic and cultural ills. This latest offering explains that all of these are rooted in the continuing failure and depraved condition of "the Negro." The lowly Negro.
It was at his Saturday presser when, according to a New York Times story published Wednesday, that Bundy let loose with this little gem:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he began. Notice that African Americans are not even “blacks” to this guy, but still “Negroes.”(To his credit, at least he didn't say "ni**ers").
The “one more thing” involved his description of something he labeled as a "government house" in Las Vegas. There he said that he saw with his own eyes all of the people just sitting outside the building, people who obviously seemed to "have nothing to do."
Why was that, Messr. Bundy?
“[B]ecause they were basically on government subsidy. So now what do they do?” he asked himself.
He answered himself thusly: “They abort their young children. They put their young men in jail because they never learned how to pick cotton.”
So far, so good – if borderline. But then he stepped boldly over the line with this: “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.”
(Author's warning: We are entering a deep yogurt zone.)
As reported by the Washington Post, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), both of whom have offered full-throated support for Bundy, together with the Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, have broken speed records attempting to distance themselves from Bundy and these interesting comments.
A spokesman for Heller, who once referred to Bundy and his armed supporters as "patriots," told Politico that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
A spokeswoman for Abbott, who previously had accused BLM of planning to acquire land near Nevada's Red River since it had failed to wrest control of the Bundy “property,” said this about the gubernatorial candidate's stance and letter to the agency: His position then, she said, "was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada."
A spokesman for the likely presidential candidate Paul told the Huffington Post that the senator was not available for comment on Bundy's remarks. However, in a statement later, as reported by Business Insider, Paul wanted nothing further to do with Bundy.
"His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him," Paul said through a spokesman.
Of course, over the last couple of weeks, “conservatives” everywhere had sprinted to Bundy's aid. They loudly championed and ominously defended (literally with guns drawn) Bundy's “situation.” But that was only the external and obvious support as shown on television and reported throughout the media -- "conservative" media especially.
Not as well publicized, however, has been the underlying and operative ethos and philosophy steeped in a racial stew of not just “state's rights,” hatred of “big government,” low or no taxes.
No. As most black people saw immediately and clearly, if given the "opportunity," this man, his supporters and his political party would like nothing better than to return to a time before the civil rights movement; before the Jim and Jane Crow era. That's right, if they can get away with it, these people would re-enslave black people.
For now, though, they are content with claiming the mantle of past civil rights icons. Richard Mack, for example, is a right-wing former sheriff who was instrumental in organizing the militias which came together at Bundy's ranch. Mack called Bundy and his supporters real heroes. They were, in fact, like "Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus," he declared.
How about the National Review's Kevin D. Williamson? The National Review was once one of the most respected and well-read organs of contemporary conservative thought. Williamson bypassed Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King altogether. He went straight to the source of King's inspiration. Bundy's epic battle with the feds paralleled those of Mahatma Gandhi.
As if we needed another alarm sounded, blacks must take this man's statements as a serious and very loud wakeup call.
Republicans, “conservatives,” and the white right generally have been chipping away at all of the gains of the civil rights movement since the advent of their sainted Ronald Reagan. Bundy's comments come hard on the heels, for example, of the Supreme Court's latest ruling which allows each state's majority (whites) to decide if the “minority” (blacks) "deserve" affirmative action.
And how can we forget that same Supreme Court cut the heart out of the Civil Rights Act just last year?
And, lately a number of high-up GOP mukety-mucks (Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint, for example) have held forth on the blessings slavery bestowed upon black people.
"Voter ID" laws, getting rid of early voting, same-day registration/voting, moving polling places to far away and inconvenient locales -- these all are the most obvious examples of a return to a time when blacks were "better off." These are blatant, in-your-face attempts to keep black people from the polls in the same way that literacy tests, poll taxes, and dowright intimidation (including murder) once were par for the old course.
And so, it is not beyond the pale to imagine that should these people get full control of the hated government, a return to slavery is not out of the realm of possibility.