At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Cliven Bundy: “Racist” or Just Another Republican?

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy (of whom I’ve neither written nor said a word until now) was treated as a hero, even a living emblem of the Spirit of the Patriots of ’76, by Sean Hannity and many other self-avowed “conservatives” until just a week or so ago.

But it only took a few seconds and a few syllables for this praise to give way to scorn as the inarticulate, media-ignorant Bundy openly contended that far too many blacks today are living under conditions that, in some respects, are far worse than those under which their ancestors were made to live during slavery.

Bundy relayed his thoughts upon driving past a Nevada housing project—“that government house”—and witnessing considerable numbers of blacks just hanging around.   “They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do,” Bundy says.  “They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.”  This, according to Bundy, is because of the “government subsidy” upon which they depend.


It is this “government subsidy” that explains why Bundy finds himself wondering at times whether blacks today may not actually “got less freedom” than blacks had under slavery.  This “government subsidy” accounts for why they “abort their young children” and “put their young men in jail [.]”  Contemporary blacks have some of the troubles that they do “because they never learned how to pick cotton.”

The reaction to Bundy on the part of his Republican supporters-turned-opponents speaks volumes about the state of the “conservative” movement.

And things are not looking good.

The only difference between Bundy and his Republican critics is that the former lacks both the articulation and media savvy of the latter.  Substantively speaking, his position on race is indistinguishable from that which the GOP has been advancing for decades: the social pathology that characterizes the contemporary black lower and underclasses, we are forever being assured, is the product of the oppressive policies of the Democratic Party, policies that substitute a new “plantation,” so to speak, for the slave plantations of old.


Clearly, when Republicans describe black Republicans as having left behind “the plantation,” the intellectual and moral plantation created by the Democratic Party, they mean to imply exactly Bundy’s point: Democrats have imposed upon blacks a form of slavery that, in many ways, is at least as bad, if not worse, than that under which blacks labored for centuries.

Anyone who can’t see that Bundy was most definitely not lamenting the old days when blacks picked cotton is either dense or dishonest.  It is clear that what he was saying, or trying to say, is that, unlike their ancestors, far too many contemporary blacks, particularly among the youth—the products of the modern Welfare State—lack a work ethic.

For the record, I don’t buy this nonsense, but the painful truth is that it is nonsense that Republicans—forever desperate to out-Democrat the Democrats by pushing the cult of black Victimhood—have been peddling for years and years before Bundy (inadvertently, for sure) made their reasoning explicit.


Republican “conservatives” reveal themselves as crass, opportunistic panderers when they at one and the same moment talk the talk of liberty and individual responsibility while promoting the fiction of political determinism when it comes to accounting for the scandalous degree of pathological conduct found within black communities throughout the country.  To hear these Republicans (and Cliven Bundy) tell it, the astronomical rates of abortion, illegitimacy, crime, academic failure, unemployment, poverty, incarceration, etc. among blacks are the fault of Democrats. 

Again, this notion is absurd.  And it flatly contradicts the “individualism” for which Republicans claim to stand, for it serves to strengthen the ideology of minority Victimhood to which they’re supposed to be opposed.  Just as individual blacks, and no one else, deserve credit for their good deeds and virtues, so individual blacks, and no one else, deserve condemnation for their evil deeds and vices.


But the point is that if Bundy is “racist” for his remarks, then Republicans are “racist” for pushing the same line.  If the latter aren’t “racist,” but just idiotic and/or dishonest, as I believe, then Bundy too is guilty of the same character weaknesses.

Republicans would be well served to heed Christ’s admonition to remove the boulder from their own eyes before proceeding to pluck out the pebble from the eyes of their neighbors.




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