Bundy Ranch Owner Says Blacks Might Be ‘Better Off As Slaves,’ Political Supporters Run For Cover
Bundy Ranch owner Cliven Bundy made a series of racially charged statements in a press conference Saturday that have his top political supporters now distancing themselves from the man some backers have compared to Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi.
The remarks surfaced in a New York Times story, but not until Wednesday, largely because the press conference attracted just one reporter and one photographer. But about 50 of Bundy’s supporters, many of them armed, gathered at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada to hear his views on such hot-button topics as abortion, the welfare state — and race relations, as he reminisced about once driving past a public housing project in North Las Vegas.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” said Bundy. “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.”
The term “Negro” has been out of acceptable use at least since the 1960s, considered a distasteful relic of the segregation era. But his further remarks appeared to suggest that the 67-year-old Bundy Ranch owner was himself nostalgic for that era.
“Because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” asked Bundy. “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.”
His remarks — including the suggestion that black people had “more freedom” as slaves than today — sent his most prominent political supporters scrambling for cover.
Nevada Senator Dean Heller, who had previously called Bundy a “patriot” for his armed ranch standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, immediately denounced the statements.
According to a Heller spokesperson, the Republican senator, “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul had also spoken in favor of the Bundy Ranch owner who battled the government over unpaid cattle grazing fees. But on Wednesday, Paul put acres of daylight between himself and Bundy’s latest remarks.
“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said in a statement.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had publicly questioned whether the BLM would take over land in Texas after backing down at the Bundy Ranch, said his position had nothing to do with Bundy and “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”