An embattled Nevada rancher whose dispute with the federal government over grazing cattle on public lands recently prompted an armed standoff is speculating on whether blacks were better off under slavery, according to the reporting of Adam Nagourney in the New York Times.
Nagourney reported that Cliven Bundy, in a daily meeting Saturday with reporters and photographers covering his case, made the comments that critics are calling racist.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Nagourney quoted Bundy saying.
Bundy was recalling public housing projects 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? 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.”
Questions or other comments preceding the quotes were not available, leaving unknown the context of Bundy’s response.
Bundy, 67, has been in the headlines over the past few weeks for his defiance of the federal government’s demand that he pay grazing fees. The federal Bureau of Land Management responded with an operation to confiscate and sell off his cattle.
Bundy claims that since his ranch operation, run by his family for more than 100 years, was grazing cattle before the BLM existed, his fees should be paid to the state, not Washington. More than 1,000 supporters, including armed militia members, joined Bundy at his ranch in a standoff with federal agents.
The federal agents backed down April 12, released the cattle and left the area.
The Washington Post noted some lawmakers have been supportive of Bundy.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., however, has distanced himself, saying through a spokeswoman that he “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who had suggested Bundy had some valid concerns, said: “His remarks are race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
The Times report said the dispute, which was rekindled lately by Sen. Harry Reid’s description Bundy supporters as “domestic terrorists,” has sparked a nationwide wave of concern over the federal government and its management of Western lands.
In Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott raised the issue of BLM’s claims to thousands of acres of land along the Red River for which ranchers have been paying taxes.
Nagourney quoted Ivan Jones, 60, a bricklayer who came from California to support Bundy.
“Western states don’t have the control over their land that Eastern states have over their land,” Jones said. “Someone like the Bundys, they have been here for generations, before the BLM was ever created, using this land to graze their animals. And the BLM comes in and changes the rule. A small little rancher trying to make a living and they come in like big bullies.”
Politico reported Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who had dedicated program time to the Bundy case, said: “Let me make this plain: I condemn what Cliven Bundy said about African Americans.”
On Easter Sunday, he said he respects the federal government, pledging allegiance to the flag.
“But [the government] has its place. It doesn’t have its place in the state of Nevada and … Clark County, and that’s where my ranch is. The federal government has no power and no ownership of this land, and they don’t want to accept that,” he said.
“I don’t stand alone,” he continued, “I have all of the prayers from lots of people around the world, and I feel those prayers. And those prayers take the tremble out of my legs. And I can stand strong and straight. And you know the spirit from our heavenly Father, I seek that every morning on my knees. And he gives me some guidance, and I go forth and I actually feel good. My health is good, my spirit is good and I feel strength. I do, I feel strength, I feel even happiness. And I have no idea where I’m going with this. It’s a day-by-day spiritual thing for me.”
Listen to Dianne Linderman’s entire 18-minute Easter interview with Cliven Bundy:
WND also reported the BLM confirmed some of Bundy’s cattle were killed while government agents were rounding them up.
The BLM said four animals were killed and two died from unspecified causes.
“They had total control of this land for one week, and look at the destruction they did,” family friend Corey Houston told Fox News.
At the time, Fox News reported BLM officials said it needed to destroy “illegal structures” such as water tanks and water lines to “restore” the land. But Fox noted that a court order justifying the operation only granted permission to “seize and impound” cattle.
The plan, under which the BLM paid a Utah wrangler $966,000 to collect Bundy’s cattle and a Utah auctioneer to sell them, fell apart after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert refused to let Bundy’s cattle into his state.
“There are serious concerns about human safety and animal health and well-being, if these animals are shipped to and sold in Utah,” he wrote.
Columnist Barbara Simpson wrote about the standoff: “It wasn’t an innocent confrontation but a heavy-handed, one-sided overkill.”
Simpson said that in “a scene out of a tyrannical government playbook,” the federal government “moved in with armored personnel vehicles and helicopters.”
“Armed men equipped with the latest in weaponry and body armor surrounded the ranch house and outbuildings while comparably armed snipers took their places, at the ready, as they lined up their targets, just in case,” she wrote.
“The targets? Unarmed American citizens on their own land.”
New York Times sting entraps Bundy by Joseph Farah
Why the land belongs to Bundy by Ilana Mercer