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There’s some high-fiving going on over at the New York Times.

A reporter got Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who became a hero to millions for standing up to gun-toting federal authorities, to step in a big cow pie.

In a profile of Bundy, who likely didn’t have the benefit of a slick New York public relations firm to keep him to the script, the Times apparently got him to say some appallingly racist remarks. It’s unclear what the context of those remarks were, if there is a recording or what the circumstances were that prompted them.

Here’s what Bundy allegedly said while driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas: “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. … 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? 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.”

Immediately, of course, the New York Times solicited quotes from all lawmakers who stood up for Bundy and against the heavy-handed federal authorities who sent 200 armed agents to seize his cattle and chase him off federal land. The question: What did they think of Bundy now?

Naturally, every clear-thinking public person will be forced to distance himself or herself from such remarks – which was the intent all along by the New York Times.

This was a sting operation by the New York Times. The entrapment target wasn’t so much Bundy, but anyone in public life who denounced the Bureau of Land Management’s Gestapo-like tactics in dealing with him.

The people defending Bundy and criticizing the federal government didn’t examine the rancher’s racial views. They didn’t say he was an articulate spokesman representing their views on issues not even relevant to the siege. They didn’t elect Cliven Bundy to represent them in public office. They didn’t test him on his ability to articulate deep thoughts.

They simply said, “Hey, don’t treat this poor old rancher like a criminal.”

Let me say this: Cliven Bundy may be an old racist, redneck coot. But that’s not why he was targeted and treated like a serial killer. And, yes, even racist, redneck coots grazing their cattle on public land don’t deserve to be surrounded by armed federal agents.

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Criminal suspects who are entrapped by authorities in sting operations often see their cases dismissed.

Cliven Bundy won’t be so fortunate after been stung by the New York Times.

But it won’t change Bundy’s life much. It wasn’t intended to. It was intended to isolate those in public life who stood up to the obvious brutishness and injustice perpetrated on Bundy by the federal authorities and public officials who targeted him.

No one should apologize for defending Bundy. He was never held up as a paragon of virtue or for his intellectual prowess. His case was simply an illustration of what happens when the government is out of control and loses all perspective of right and wrong.

Related column:

Why the land belongs to Bundy by Ilana Mercer

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