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Politicians denounce Bundy’s racist remarks
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CNN’s Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser and Leigh Ann Caldwell
Updated 9:29 p.m. ET 4/24/2014

(CNN) – What started out as a standoff over land rights may be turning into a controversy over race.

Racist comments from Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – who earlier this month appeared to win a highly publicized standoff against federal authorities over his two-decade long illegal grazing of cattle on public land – are giving Democrats a new weapon to attack some top Republicans who earlier came to Bundy’s defense.

And the controversial comments also call into question moves by Fox News and some other conservative media that highlighted the story and painted Bundy as a hero in his battle against federal authorities.

Bundy, 67, won his standoff against federal rangers after armed militiamen came to his side. Even with the incident over, Bundy continued to talk to a dwindling crowd of media from his ranch, about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The comments that sparked the latest controversy came this weekend when Bundy recalled to supporters about a time he drove by a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, according to a report from The New York Times.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said, “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?” Bundy continued. “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.”

What Cliven Bundy’s comments on race reveal

In a press conference Thursday, Bundy defended and repeated his comments but emphasized he was merely “wondering” whether African-Americans were better off as slaves.

“And that’s a question I put before the world: Are they better, or were they better then? I’m not saying I thought they should be slaves, or I wasn’t even saying they was (sic) better off; I’m wondering if they’re better off,” he said.

Bundy said he questions whether those living under government subsidies are living as slaves to the state, but denied he held racist views.

“I might not have a very big word base or vocabulary, I guess, but let me tell you something: When I say slavery, I mean slavery…Slavery is about when you take away choices from people, and where you have forced labor,” he said. “You think that’s what I’m about, America? If it is, you’re sure wrong, because I don’t believe in any type of that stuff.”

And Bundy didn’t back down in an interview Thursday night with CNN’s Bill Weir. He questioned whether blacks are better off now when “they don’t have nothing to do with their children, their family unit is ruined (and) I don’t think they have the life that they should have.”

“I don’t think I’m wrong,” he told CNN, insisting that he’d spoken “from my heart.” “I think I’m right.”

Asked whether he was any more or less a “welfare queen” as those who get entitlement checks – since his cattle have been feeding off the government, literally, by eating grass on public land – Bundy said, “I might be a welfare queen, but I’ll tell you I’m producing something for America and using a resource that nobody else would use or could use.”

He said, “I’m putting red meat on your table. Maybe I’m not doing enough, but I’m trying.”

‘Comments are completely beyond the pale’

Thursday morning, hours after The New York Times story went viral, the Nevada Democratic Party put out a statement saying “These comments are reprehensible, and every Republican politician in the state of Nevada who tried to latch on to Cliven Bundy’s newfound celebrity with TEA Partiers and the militia movement should be ashamed of their actions.”

“Every Republican elected official who risked inciting violence to gain political capital out of Cliven Bundy now owes the people of Nevada an apology for their irresponsible behavior of putting their own political future ahead of the safety of Nevadans,” added the Nevada Democrats.

Some top national Republicans quickly condemned the remarks.

Sen. Rand Paul, who originally supported Bundy’s case, issued a statement Thursday morning decrying Bundy’s racial comments.

“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” said the Kentucky Republican, who’s seriously considering a 2016 presidential run.

GOP Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who earlier called his supporters “patriots”, also “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way,” according to his spokesperson, Chandler Smith.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who had not previously weighed in on the land dispute, said in a statement that “Bundy’s comments are completely beyond the pale. Both highly offensive and 100% wrong on race.”

Democrats had already been on the attack against Bundy before his racial comments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – Nevada’s senior senator – last week blasted Bundy’s supporters as “domestic terrorists,” saying they were arming themselves with automatic weapons and positioning “snipers in strategic locations.”

One man, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack told a reporter the militia were considering putting “all the women” on the front lines.

“If they’re going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers,” he said.

Questions about media coverage

Some conservative-leaning pundits painted Bundy as an anti-goverment hero. Fox News’ Sean Hannity was criticized by liberal media outlets for frequently hosting Bundy on his television program and appearing to defend the rancher.

Hannity said Thursday on his radio show that Bundy’s “comments are beyond repugnant to me.”

“They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,” he said, adding that his interest in Bundy’s case was entirely about government overreach.

He also chided what he called the liberal media, arguing that they ignore racist comments by Democrats and only focus on Republicans.

“Every conservative I know does not support racism, period,” he said.

Another Fox News host, Greta Van Susteren, wrote on her blog Thursday morning that she condemns Bundy’s comments.

Others had previously warned fellow conservatives not to get too fired up about the Nevada dispute. Conservative host Glenn Beck said on his show that “10 or 15 percent” of the people who were defending Bundy online were saying things “that are truly frightening.”

“They don’t care what the facts are,” he said. “They just want a fight.”

Tucker Carlson, founder of the conservative news outlet the Daily Caller, said on Fox that he sympathizes with the Bundys, but “it’s important to point out that this land does not belong to them and that’s not a minor distinction, it’s the essence of private property.”

For his part, Sen. Paul had also cautioned both sides, including Reid, to calm their rhetoric.

“Let’s try to have a peaceful resolution to this,” he said last week on Fox News.

While Republicans are now trying to distance themselves from Bundy, that’s not stopping Democrats from going after them for supporting Bundy in the first place. And the Democratic National Committee says the incident is “more evidence of the shallowness of the GOP’s outreach efforts.”

“Remember Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson? His racist comments last December were in the same vein as Bundy’s. Yet GOP leaders from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Lindsey Graham, and others rushed to defend (Robertson’s) comments against a liberal assault. Republicans even invited the Duck Dynasty stars as their guests to the State of the Union!,” wrote DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee.

“And therein lies the GOP’s problem. If you ever want to be taken seriously for your outreach efforts, you might want to start by not defending racists,” Elleithee added.

Battle over land rights

The Bundy standoff is emblematic of the larger anti-government sentiment around the country that has been amplified with the creation of the tea party movement in 2009. But the latest move in a two-decade-long tug of war between Bundy and the federal government is bringing to light the delicate balance that has lasted between citizens in the West and the federal government over the use of federally owned land for generations.

What made Nevada rancher fight the feds?

One protester from neighboring Utah, Stephen L. Dean, 45, called the Bureau of Land Management’s actions “tyranny in government.” And a banner at the protest site blared: “Has the West been won? Or has the fight just begun!”

In the western states, public lands are a big deal. Almost everyone uses them or depends on them. They are key to people’s recreational hiking, fishing, hunting and skiing. And they are critical to people’s livelihood, as they are used to cut timber, drill oil, mine coal and ranch cattle.

Vast swaths of the land in the West are predominately public. In Nevada, for example, 87% of the state is owned by the federal government, and the Bureau of Land Management oversees 245 million acres of public lands mostly west of the Mississippi River, not including the lands overseen by the National Forest Service and half a dozen other federal agencies.

In Nevada, ranchers depend on the federal lands for their livelihood. The government began allowing the use of the land in 1877 to promote the economic development of dry, difficult-to-cultivate desert areas. So it offered land for dirt cheap. Bundy says his family has owned the ranch since about the time the Desert Land Act passed.

A version of the law still exists today, allowing ranchers to graze their cattle on public lands for a nominal rate. The fee is cheaper than what the rancher would pay the state or a private land owner, but the tradeoff is that the rancher has to share the land with the public.

After the desert tortoise became a protected species in 1993, the Bureau of Land Management rebuked or phased out the permits of ranchers in the designated area in southern Nevada.

Bundy is the last remaining rancher, refusing to leave and refusing to pay more than $1 million worth of fines. Bundy lost all efforts at appeal and litigation. In an effort to enforce the law, the BLM attempted to round up Bundy’s cattle and was met with a clan of armed defenders, leading to the current stalemate between the government and Bundy.

The Nevada Democrat had already been on the attack against Bundy before his racial comments. Last week the state’s senior senator blasted Bundy’s supporters as “domestic terrorists,” saying they were arming themselves with automatic weapons and positioning “snipers in strategic locations.”

Another Fox News host, Greta Van Susteren, wrote on her blog Thursday morning that she condemns Bundy’s comments.

Tucker Carlson, founder of the conservative news outlet the Daily Caller, said on Fox that he sympathizes with the Bundys, but “it’s important to point out that this land does not belong to them and that’s not a minor distinction, it’s the essence of private property.”


  1. This is a propaganda campaign against Bundy. The man doesn’t need to like me or black people for us to realize that the state cannot go around confiscating people’s land.this rogue police state is a problem to all of us and while the implication of us picking cotton today is dreadful, the black community as a whole is still living under slavery, they just don’t realize it. What economic opportunities are there for the people who’ve lived in the projects generation after generation? The prison system is the new plantation so there’s truth at the core of his statement.

    1. You have a way with words! My sentiments exactly, I don’t think he meant what he was aying as bad but if your not worded correctly and your of a different color it is usually accepted badly!

    2. ..and even if his comments are racist, which race is he complimenting? None….basically he is saying his own race is dreadful…………and in the interim if he does not like black ppl as long as he is not killing or hurting them its his choice

  2. Hi Foxy Lady I like you a lot, you can be considered a wise girl.mericans woere.. Most African Americans are in slavery for true, the prisons have many upon many Blacks working for cheap enslaved labour, it has been designed that way. No work for the people = living on goverment subsidies or turning to crime, either way you are fcuk’d… In the 1960’s & 70’s African Americans were working hard and buying houses for themselves, many were working in car assembly factories, when they saw blacks stepping up they decided to sabotage their efforts by moving the Car assembly factories out of their vicinity and re-opening them in far away states which housed mainly white people…All this was designed to keep down the blacks and then introducing the crack cocaine to finish them off !!!!!

  3. Bundy is racist for intimating that we were better off as slaves. I will never deny
    the face that the African American community has a lot of problems. However, it is ironic
    this rich welfare recipient is seeking to castigate the impoverished.

    His land should be confiscated;he entered into an agreement with said [police stated] and
    now he wants to default; let me say it again, his land should be confiscated–if he does not pay up.
    It is not like they are asking him for a lot [relatively speaking].

    He is the epitome of the the free loader that he accuses African Americans of being. Then look at all
    those bigot and racist politicians running to his aid. This man is a super liar and if not for video recording,
    I Fox News would have had us thinking that the New York Times and the government were lying.

    What’s ironic, is that it is people like Bundy–under Republican rule–who
    promote the dispatch of US military to murder innocent man, women and
    children–destroying and destabilizing countries.

    These wicked white people if left to their own devices, would seek to relegate us back in to physical bondage
    I am not a fan of Babylon;however, this man is of the system and accordingly, he should pay up…

    1. Who deh pan aid like white people? Him need fi talk bout fi him race and dem problems and pay we mek we address ours.

  4. Our enemy is not Bundy and his thoughts. Our enemy is the system. If they can send armed military for Bundy, what will they do to us? Republicans and Democrat is a deceptive mind control stratagem used to divide and conquer. Blacks have been voting Democrat for so long and how has it benefitted us? This blind allegiance has only served to disenfranchise us since Democrats are already assured of our votes. They need not go anything to uplift or appease us except throw us an occasional bone.
    Look at Miami and the damn Spanish, they run that place. You can barely get a job unless you’re bilingual. You know why? They have no allegiance to anyone but the ones who further their causes.
    The biggest threat to the system is unity and Bundy was not opposed to paying the taxes to the state but where did the federal government come from?
    The federal government has infringed on too many of our rights and it will take brave American men and the militia to stop it in its tracks.
    This Republican is for them, Democrat is for us is killing us and we need to wake up. One man’s thoughts or opinions have nothing to do with us. Our community is in a sad state.

    1. I agree with everything with the exception of Bundy not being my enemy. We are dealing with a very racist African American hating man who does not want to honor his obligations. There are more whites on welfare than black…

      I am anti-State; however, Bundy, functions within a paradigm where he is support by the very State that he is going against. Trust me, Bundy’s disdain has a lot to do with who is in office at the present. He–along with his supporters and cronies–regard Obama as being illegitimate and as such, their resentment for the State that has [taken ] away their rights–by liberating slaves–and attempting to advocate for equal rights for the law has been compounded because a non-European is the president.

      If Bundy were innocent–in that he did not make an agreement with the State–I would have been his biggest advocate. However, he is a cheat, liar and a racist and we can’t ignore such. White America–especially in the South–regard so-called “Big Government” as the enemy simply because the government has forced them to share with other non-Europeans.

      As despicable as they might seem, if not for the federal government [Washington, DC], would all be slaves to this day–especially in the South… It is not out of care why Bundy uttered that which he did–as it relates to African Americans. It is out of unadulterated disdain for us.

      Don’t be fooled into thinking that such hatred has anything to do with so many of us being welfare recipients–he is a racist; hence, we are hated by Bundy because we are of African decent.

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