Hang on a second, I thought this whole controversy was over, and the federal government now has unlimited power to seize whatever land it wants without a peep of criticism, because Cliven Bundy is a racist. That’s the impression I’m getting from media coverage, anyway.
Shades of those hilariously awkward segments where mainstream media outlets finally had to explain Operation Fast and Furious to their audiences for the very first time, because they had to report on Attorney General Eric Holder getting held in contempt of Congress over it! Cliven Bundy is suddenly a fixture on MSM outlets that barely mentioned the controversy surrounding the BLM’s seizure of his cattle, because he said something insanely stupid about how black people might have been better off under slavery than the tender ministrations of the Great Society.
He’s being re-positioned as the ultimate Republican for this news cycle, the gravitational center of the party, and every single Republican politician is expected to respond to him. As I predicted upon first hearing of the New York Times piece on Bundy, he’s the new Todd Akin, and it happened in a matter of hours. That NYT piece made a point of roping Texas AG Greg Abbott into the Bundy story immediately, with only the most cursory one-sentence explanation of what the BLM might be up to on the Red River. There’s going to be a big push, probably lasting for weeks, to (1) establish Bundy as the center of the GOP universe, (2) use him as a distraction from all the bad news for Democrats, and (3) give Low-Information Voters the idea that all opposition to BLM land grabs is the province of racist militia kooks and the politicians who pander to them.
It must delight media liberals to no end that a few conservatives, here and there, have tried defending, excusing, or downplaying Bundy’s comments – ranging from vague allegations that he was misquoted somehow, to observations that he spoke very highly of Hispanic immigrants (including the illegal variety) in the very same press appearance, so he can’t be a racist. (Those people appear to be confusing “racism” with “xenophobia.” They’re related topics, but they’re not synonyms. It is possible to be racist against one group, but not another.)
And then you’ve got the people who say Bundy’s not a vicious racist, because the context of his remarks was a lament about the sad condition of many black communities, which he blamed on government welfare programs. It should not be necessary to explain that credit for good intentions is swiftly exhausted when the speaker muses that “the Negro” might have been “better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things,” rather than living on the dole. In addition to discarding the moral and physical horrors of slavery, this is, at the very least, a potent example of the bigotry of low expectations. You don’t muse that people you have the tiniest shred of basic human respect for might be better off as slaves, even if your overall point is that “compassionate” Big Government programs have done horrible damage to them. In fact, by saying such a thing, Bundy’s expressing the same lack of respect he accuses the welfare state of, except he’s got it cranked up to eleven.
Of course, you don’t have to parse this nonsense sentence-by-sentence to understand that only a very foolish person would say such a thing in public, at a “press conference” he called, and nobody should be surprised by the reaction, including cynical efforts by left-wingers to use Bundy as a cudgel against far more important targets. If they can scare prominent Republicans away from standing up to federal overreach, they’ll have accomplished an important mission. If they can further acclimate American voters to the notion that basic rights depend on political correctness, an even stronger blow will have been struck. Nothing about BLM versus Bundy changes in the slightest because the latter says some ugly things… nor should Bundy’s case be strengthened if he says the “right” things, supports the “right” causes, and makes political donations to the “right” people.