Throwing Gunpowder on the Fire

From the July 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

America labeled him a racist. cnn castigated him. abc condemned him. Even Fox News’s Sean Hannity turned on him.

Following the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release his cows, 67-year-old Cliven Bundy expounded on why he thinks big government welfare policies are destroying America. The New York Times reported Bundy’s 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’” (April 23).

Bundy continued, “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.”

Asking whether or not black people would be better off under slavery is inflammatory and ridiculous. Furthermore, using terms like “Negro,” though common practice four decades ago, is considered insulting today. Making sweeping generalizations is also offensive.

But is Bundy really the evil, cold-hearted racist he is made out to be? Notice what Bundy also said that was not reported by the Times: “[A]nd so what I’ve testified to you—I was in the Watts riot, I seen the beginning fire and I seen that last fire. What I seen is civil disturbance. People are not happy, people are thinking they don’t have their freedoms, they didn’t have these things, and they didn’t have them.

“We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don’t want to go back. We sure don’t want the colored people to have to go back to that point. We sure don’t want these Mexican people to go back to that point. And we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies, and do it in a peaceful way.”

Why didn’t the Times report this part? Saying he doesn’t want people to go back to those times doesn’t lend itself to the racist label—even if Bundy used politically incorrect words like “colored” that many people consider racist.

The Times also felt the following part of Bundy’s speech not worth quoting: “Now, let me talk about the Spanish people. You know, I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders. But they’re here and they’re people—and I’ve worked side-by-side a lot of them.

“Don’t tell me they don’t work, and don’t tell me they don’t pay taxes. And don’t tell me they don’t have better family structures than most of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they’re together, they picnic together, they’re spending their time together, and I’ll tell you in my way of thinking they’re awful nice people. And we need to have those people join us and be with us, not not come to our party.”

If Bundy is a racist, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with people of Spanish descent.

Why didn’t the New York Times,cnn, abc or msnbc report even a portion of the rest of Bundy’s speech? The answer is because big media intentionally stir up controversy over race to score political points and attract ratings—even as it incites hatred and destroys the nation.

Did Bundy say some offensive things? No doubt. But is he a racist? I don’t know. I have never met the man. The New York Times writer vilifying him and misrepresenting his words doesn’t know either. Nor do all the media outlets and talk show hosts who jumped all over his comments. I do know that the full transcript of his speech doesn’t indicate what cnn indicates.

Adding a racial narrative to what happened at the Bundy Ranch added gunpowder to the fire. And when you play with fire, more than one person can get burned.