Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has won acclaim from high-profile politicians in his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. But they're unlikely to get so close to Bundy, after The New York Times quoted the 67-year-old making racially-tinged comments.
'I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,' he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving 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 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?' he asked. '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 fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management dates to 1993 when the BLM eliminated livestock grazing in the area, citing the protection of an endangered tortoise species. That was when Bundy decided to stop paying grazing fees. Now, the agency says he owes more than $1.2 million. A federal judge first ruled in 1998 that Bundy was trespassing on federal land. Last year, a federal judge ruled the agency could remove the cattle.
The BLM, among others, says Bundy is breaking the law. Bundy says the land is his property, and he has accused the federal government of being overreaching and oppressive.
Some lawmakers have offered statements supportive of Bundy. One of them, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), quickly distanced himself. A Heller spokeswoman told the Times that the senator "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way."
And here's a comment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has also been supportive of Bundy's cause: "His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him."
Bundy is getting little sympathy outside his die-hard group of supporters and some conservative media backers.
I'm really shocked that Cliven Bundy is a flawed hero and has fringe views. Shocked. http://t.co/RCDrZuOcs1- Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) April 24, 2014
Cliven Bundy just ruined his cause http://t.co/8w6fA2HlUO- Brian Resnick (@B_resnick) April 24, 2014
But some say Bundy's ugly racial outlook doesn't invalidate his point about federal land control.
what does right wing think of Mr.Bundy now? despicable! Cliven Bundy on blacks: - �Are they better off as slaves?' http://t.co/jC2zXrShkg- Kate Fielder Jenkins (@katefielder) April 24, 2014
Snowden being a traitor did not change importance of his revelations. Bundy being a racist does not change importance of his situation.- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 24, 2014