April 25, 2014
In this Washington Post after-action report, you must scroll all the way to the bottom of the story to uncover the original "dangerous," "extreme," "hateful," "unhinged," "appalling," "racist" remarks, which allegedly lie at the heart of Cliven Bundy's supposed racism. But I'll put them right up top, so we can read his actual words before we form an opinion based solely upon previous opinions.
In a New York Times interview (as quoted by the Post), he said:
"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."
On a subsequent radio show, Bundy added:
On Peter Schiff's talk radio show, however, he stood by his remarks. "Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, and they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and garden, and the people had something to do? And so, in my mind I’m wondering, are they better off being slaves, in that sense, or better off being slaves to the United States government, in the sense of the subsidies. I’m wondering. That’s what. And the statement was right. I am wondering."
Cliven Bundy may be a racist; I don't know the man. But you couldn't prove it by these remarks.
Let's start with the obvious: Racism is the claim or belief that skin color is destiny. Its definition is not "rejecting affirmative action," as many on the Left clearly believe.
At the very least, racism must ascribe bad behavior primarily to a person's color. Racism is pernicious (destructive, ruinous) and perverse (wicked, contrary, the polar opposite of rightness), because -- Michael Jackson to the contrary notwithstanding -- a person cannot change his skin color; it is immutable, at least at this time. Racism thus imputes immutable characteristics to one's color: Folks with the "wrong" color skin are inferior and always will be.
Such belief by the so-called "superior" race leads to tyranny; such belief by the presumed "inferior" race leads to despair and random acts of violence.
But Cliven Bundy did not say that the problems he enumerated were caused by skin color; he ascribed the problems to social-welfare programs: "And because they were basically on government subsidy..."
But if you allow that some mutable characteristic is more important to one's destiny than skin color -- including culture, upbringing, education, religion, philosophy, entertainment, or one's own will -- then you are not a racist.
Bundy did not say color is destiny; if anything, he said a tyrannical government is to blame, with its government subsidies, government preferential treatment, government housing projects, government labor manipulation, and the destruction of an organic black culture.
Hard to disagree. I seem to remember a fellow named Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) using words of like effect.
Hard to disagree with, but easy to caricature and demagogue. Bundy is not an effective speaker, at least not on the nation's "plantation media," as I call them. He's no Phil Robertson!
Bundy garbles his terms, fails to relate his conclusions to any core principle, uses out-of-fashion words that allow the Left to seize control of his narrative, and terrifies the large portion of the country that believes guns, not people, cause murders. This doesn't mean his thoughts are wrong-headed, just that he doesn't articulate them well... like about 99% of the rest of the populace, on any side of every issue.
He likely is ill-educated in history, as when he postulates that black slaves had a stable family life, when in fact slavers could sell a husband away from his wife whenever it seemed profitable, and children could be auctioned on the block. Not every slaveholder was so callous or cruel, but the threat was omnipresent.
But instead of looking back to the nineteenth century, what if we look back to the organic black culture, black businesses, and largely intact black families of the early twentieth century, even under the Democrat leash of Jim Crow: Black culture before Lyndon Johnson's grandiose and gargantuan "Great Society" program was more robust, just, and prosperous -- and less perverse, violent, and fearful -- than today's horrors in Detroit, Chicago, Compton, Harlem, and even the nation's capital. (Score one for Moynihan.)
Clearly, that is what Bundy was getting at; and he's got a good point, despite his easily ridiculed analogy to slavery. Which raises the question: Those former supporters now "backing away" from Bundy's words... are they also backing down on their critique of government-wrought destruction and debasement of large swaths of American culture?
This is what Bundy decries, as do many other advocates, far more thoughtful, learned, compassionate, and articulate than he. Lovers of liberty cannot reject the well-sourced argument that the world-devouring federal hydra, and the rent-seeking state hyenas, are racing pell-mell to transform the United States of America into a jaded, debauched, decadent, liberal fascism in which "everything not compulsory is forbidden, and everything not forbidden is compulsory."
We cannot pretend that it isn't already happening, unevenly but relentlessly, in many parts of what used to be the land of the free. We cannot wish away the vanguard of this transformation, the leftist elites and their revolutionary foot soldiers, the "federally protected minorities" who have accepted a Faustian bargain, trading their souls for a scrap of power, and false power at that.
We can't back away from Bundy's exegesis, no matter how badly he managed to put it. For if we surrender that argument, we may as well summon up the Devil ourselves.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 25, 2014, at the time of 1:48 AM
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