Bundy, race, and the GOP

The fact that Republicans are supporting this guy at all is just disgusting. TNC:

White supremacy is one of the most dominant forces in the history of American politics. In a democracy, it would be silly to expect it to go unexpressed. Thus anyone with a sense of American history should be equally unsurprised to discover that rugged individualist Cliven Bundy is the bearer of some very interesting theories:

“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.”

Prick a movement built on white supremacy and it bleeds … white supremacy. That said, I think it’s always worth clarifying what we mean when we use words like “slavery” and “freedom” in an American context.


It’s clarifying, in a way, that embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy directly injected race into the controversy over his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management by remarking offhand that “the negro” may have been better off held in slavery than “under government subsidy” because race has not been far from my mind since the story first hit the papers.

From day one, I’ve tried to imagine the reaction if a young black man living in my gentrifying neighborhood reacted to some adverse change in government policy — perhaps funding cuts led a bus line in the neighborhood to get shut down — by stealing a bus. Then when the cops come to take the bus back, he brings out fifty friends, some of them armed, and start talking about putting the women out front so they’ll be shot first. My overwhelming presupposition is that he’d end up shot dead, along with his armed buddies, and that would about be the end of it. There would be no partisan political controversy about whether or not it is appropriate to react to changes in WMATA’s route planning with violence.

You may want the government to provide excellent bus service to where you live, but in life you can’t always get what you want.

And make no mistake about it. Ranchers like Bundy who graze their animals on federally owned land are moochers, pure and simple…

What happened to Bundy is that due to a BLM policy change, he lost access to this valuable subsidy.

That he’s pissed about this is understandable. Who doesn’t like a valuable subsidy? That he is still walking around a free man despite blatant refusal to comply with the law is odd. That he’s doing it while bemoaning the sorry state of “the Negro” and his dependence on government handouts is somehow perfectly fitting.

And I can’t help thinking about this map via Nate Cohn:


It’s really kind of amazing– politics in the South is more about race than ever.  No, not all white southern Republicans are racist  Nor are all of them even white ethnocentrist.  But, it remains clear that, to a disturbing degree, white partisanship in the South is related to racial attitudes.

And lastly, Jon Stewart really sticks it to Hannity on the Bundy issue:

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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