Since his standoff with armed federal agents over his refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle, many in the mainstream media have seized on any opportunity to discredit Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and, by association, his supporters.
The 67-year-old might have given them exactly what they were looking for in a candid statement made during a recent press conference.
Mainstream media sources have obfuscated the primary point of contention – i.e. a federal government willing to use excessive force in the collection of a debt – among the hundreds of protesters who made the trip to Clark County earlier this month.
Instead of focusing on the overreach of Bureau of Land Management agents, reports have attempted to steer the public conversation toward an indictment of Bundy.
His latest comments are making that effort much easier for left-leaning outlets like the New York Times. As the paper recently reported, Bundy has been conducting a series of addresses primarily to the supporters who remain on his property, along with a few media representatives who show up sporadically.
During one such conference, he decided to examine the plight of today’s black community, which he feels has been oppressed by the welfare state.
Bundy recalled trips he has taken past housing projects in Las Vegas, detailing the poverty in which the predominantly black families live.
He said that “there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch” and “they didn’t have nothing to do.”
From his perspective, Bundy explained that these families were kept down by their reliance on government handouts, wondering aloud if the most destitute among them are in a more favorable situation today than under the conditions of slavery.
“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” he continued. “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?”
Freed upon the conclusion of a bloody Civil War, Bundy contended some blacks have only traded slavery under plantation owners for a similar slavery to government subsidies.
“They didn’t get no more freedom,” he concluded. “They got less freedom.”
His comments drew criticism not only from leftist voices, but from many who have been champions of his fight against government oppression. Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, for instance, spoke out against the statement despite having been one of his fiercest defenders during his standoff with the BLM.
“I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy’s comments about slavery,” she said, though her position on the actual source of her outrage has not changed.
“I am committed to opposing BLM’s actions in this roundup and in roundups across the country,” she explained. “If they cannot be responsible and respectful, then they should be barred from any further interactions with the animals and public land.”
Bundy attempted to clarify his comments in a series of subsequent interviews, and the Bundy family issued a short statement on Facebook regarding the latest controversy:
There are new rumors going around about Cliven. We all know that with the media, words are taken out of context, meanings are twisted, and they can take anything and turn it into what they want it to be. Cliven is a good man, he loves all people, he is not a racist man. He wants what is best for everyone.
Responses to that statement revealed that most individuals who supported the Bundy family did so as part of a larger protest against the encroaching influence of the federal government. Some concluded that, as the family pointed out, the mainstream media is misconstruing the true intention of Bundy’s comments.