In case you haven’t heard, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy went off about “the Negro” in an interview with the New York Times, forcing some of his conservative defenders to condemn the comments.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy told the Times, recalling driving past public housing projects where “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 added. “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.”
Over the past several weeks, Bundy has become somewhat famous for his standoff with Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights on federal land. Many Republicans have avoided coming to his defense, but a plethora of conservative pundits and politicians have either made the case for Bundy or refocused the story into one about the federal government’s overreach. How have they reacted to his “Negro” comments though? See below.
Sen. Cruz (R-TX) made waves on Wednesday when he lamented that the government’s purpose was to protect its people, “not using the jackboot of authoritarianism to come against the citizens.” And so the Bundy standoff, he asserted, “is the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government on.”
In an email, the senator’s Press Secretary Catherine Frazier said outright: “Those comments are completely unacceptable.”
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore
The Nevada Republican famously clashed with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last week, declaring “We will not allow governance by gunpoint” and deeming the BLM’s behavior “suspicious.”
Fiore issued a statement on Thursday morning, responding to the “Negro” comments:
“I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy’s comments about slavery. Mr. Bundy has said things I don’t agree with; however, we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.”
Sen. Dean Heller
In a televised debate last week with Sen. Reid, Heller (R-NV) pushed back against his Democratic counterpart’s “domestic terrorist” comments and said: “What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.” The Republican also suggested the government ought to hold hearings to figure out who is accountable for the standoff.
Heller spox Chandler Smith told the Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
TheBlaze TV host and conservative pundit Loesch has been one of the staunchest defenders of Bundy during the standoff, largely focusing on the BLM’s actions. More on that here.
In response to the “Negro” comments, Loesch said that the quote is “odd and sounds offensive.” She expressed bafflement that Bundy would pivot from government overreach to his racial remarks. “I hope no one is surprised that an old man rancher isn’t media trained to express himself perfectly,” she added, noting her belief that “He seems to be decrying what big government has done to the black family — which big government has negatively affected not just the black family, but all families regardless of ethnicity — so perhaps he included that in his remarks against big government?”
“It’s justified to have a healthy suspicion of the New York Times,” she added, suggesting the newspaper did not provide the full context. “If Bundy is a racist, that is awful, but what exactly does that have to do with the BLM?” she asked. “I’ve been saying for weeks that this isn’t about one rancher. It’s about government overreach.”
Kevin D. Williamson
National Review correspondent Williamson turned heads last week when he wrote a column likening Bundy’s intentional violation of the law to Mahatma Gandhi‘s famous stand against colonial Britain.
When confronted with Bundy’s “Negro” remarks, Williamson stood firm, noting that Gandhi had “thoroughly creepy” views on race as well, but we remember him for other reasons. “People turn out to be complicated and unpredictable,” he added after noting Gandhi’s lamentable views on homosexuality.
Sen. Rand Paul
Earlier this week, Sen. Paul (R-KY) zoned in on the policy questions at hand, asserting that the Bundy case shows “there is a legitimate constitutional question here about whether the state should be in charge of endangered species or whether the federal government should be.” He also pushed back against Sen. Harry Reid‘s inflammatory labeling of Bundy as a “domestic terrorist.”
In a statement on Thursday morning, the senator said: “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
On his radio show Thursday morning, Beck said the “Negro” comment “shows you how unhinged from reality this guy is.”
Gov. Rick Perry
The Texas Republican governor’s defense of Bundy has largely focused on “the bigger issue” of federal overreach in land management, seeing as Perry is in the midst of his own dispute with the BLM.
Appearing on CBS This Morning, the governor elected not to openly denounce the “Negro” remarks. “I don’t know what he said, but the fact is Clyde [sic] Bundy is a side issue here compared to what we’re looking at in the state of Texas.”
UPDATE: Perry’s spokesman Felix Browne told Business Insider: “He hadn’t yet read them at the time at the time of the interview. He has now had a chance to read Bundy’s comments and he thinks they are reprehensible and disagrees with them in the strongest possible way.”
“Bundy’s comments are completely beyond the pale. Both highly offensive and 100 percent wrong on race,” the RNC chairman said in a statement on Thursday.
Hannity has been the most aggressive Fox commentator in his coverage of the Bundy standoff, garnering Stewart’s mockery and our own columnist’s suggestion that he is stoking the flames of violence.
The Fox host is expected to address the “Negro” remarks on his radio show this afternoon. We’ll have coverage of that.
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