Moral Low Ground

US Government

Rebel Rancher Cliven Bundy’s Racist Rant Sends Supporters Fleeing

(Peter Stevens/Flickr Creative Commons)

(Peter Stevens/Flickr Creative Commons)

Erstwhile conservative supporters of Cliven Bundy spent Thursday distancing themselves from the rebel rancher after he launched into a racist rant in which he claimed the American “Negro” is less free today than when bound in slavery.

The New York Times reports Bundy, the 67-year-old Nevada rancher locked in a tense standoff with the United States government over his longtime refusal to pay land use fees for grazing his cattle on public property, has been holding daily news conferences at his Bunkerville home.

During a recent address to supporters gathered there, who include armed militia members and other right-wing, anti-government groups and individuals, Bundy railed against abortion, welfare and what he called the “Negro.”

“I want to tell you [what] I know about the Negro,” Bundy told the gathered crowd on Saturday. He then talked about a time when he drove past a public housing project 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 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.”

Bundy continued: “And because they were basically on government subsidy, 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.”

Bundy’s remarks wondering if blacks were better off under slavery, which killed millions of men, women and children and bound tens of millions more in brutal servitude for more nearly 400 years, have caused conservatives who once championed his anti-government stance to flee from him like rats from a sinking ship.

A spokesman for US Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who previously lauded Bundy and his backers as “patriots,” said the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a fierce government critic beloved by Libertarians and widely considered the very early front runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, also rebuked the racist rancher.

“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said.

Even Sean Hannity, the acerbic Fox News host who was widely seen as Bundy’s most staunch mainstream media ally, roundly rejected the rancher after his bigoted comments. Speaking on his radio show on Thursday, Hannity said he was “pissed off” by Bundy’s racism.

“His comments are beyond repugnant to me,” said Hannity. “They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me.” The popular prime-time pundit added that Bundy has done a great disservice to conservatives, who will now all be “branded because of the ignorant, racist, repugnant comments by Cliven Bundy.”

But not all conservatives backed away from Bundy. Documentary filmmaker Pat Dollard, who has advocated violent insurrection against the US government, published a more complete video clip of Bundy’s Saturday address in which the rancher expressed sympathy for “colored people” before launching into his racist rant.

Conservative radio host Joe Walsh also jumped to Bundy’s defense, while right-wing pundit Dana Loesch, who has previously raised eyebrows by voicing her support for US war crimesargued that Bundy simply lacks media training, which would presumably teach him how to conceal the racism that many on the right still harbor towards blacks and other minorities.

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