In a turnabout that put us in mind of some great works of satire, an obvious lunatic who had won the admiration of rightbloggers by threatening his own government with guns finally scared them off by saying black people on welfare might be worse off than slaves — that is, by repeating Republican gospel without raising it to dog-whistle pitch.
Funny as it is, it’s kind of a shame that Bundy’s stupid ideas about race have obscured his stupid ideas about the rule of law.
To nutshell it for you: A few weeks back rancher Cliven Bundy, who had refused to pay his grazing fees to the federal government for 20 years because, in his words, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing,” enlisted some like-minded individuals with guns to come defend his sovereign-citizen fantasy.
As we then chronicled, some of the smarter rightbloggers kept their mouths shut about this. The more slippery ones tried to play it both ways — e.g. John Hinderaker of Power Line, who admitted “legally Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on” while cheering on his illegal standoff (“20 Cowboys Break Fed Blockade in Nevada, Retrieve Cattle. Sure, it’s Infowars, but it’s still a great headline”) and even suggesting the rebel was targeted not for his lawbreaking but because “it is a safe bet that Cliven Bundy is not an Obama or Reid contributor.”
But many of the brethren straight-up decided armed resistance to the U.S. Government was patriotic and consistent with conservative principles, and said so out loud.
“AMERICA’S NEWEST HERO: MEET THE REAL CLIVEN BUNDY,” hollered WorldNetDaily. At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson caught insurrection fever: “Acts such as Mr. Bundy’s are not only bearable in a free republic but positively salubrious,” he wrote, and compared Bundy to George Washington and Gandhi. PJ Media’s Victor Davis Hanson supported Bundy based on more overt right-wing ressentiment: “The point is Mr. Bundy is no Rahm Emanuel, Al Gore, or Jay Carney,” sighed Hanson. “He is no Jay-Z or Sean Penn. He is a world away from the Kardashians and the BMW meets Mercedes crowd of the California coastal corridor,” etc.
“Resistance to the Stamp Act killed its implementation in the United States but paved the way for war,” reasoned Ben Shapiro at TownHall; “resistance to the BLM’s enforcement of federal law in the Bundy Ranch situation ended in federal withdrawal, but is merely the first step in a far-larger conflict.” Comes the Revolution, comrade, Ben Shapiro will be your drummer boy!
The brethren also circulated rumors that the feds only messed with Bundy to protect the Chinese solar power interests of Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid and his son (“Breaking: Sen. Harry Reid Behind BLM Land Grab of Bundy Ranch” howled TeaParty.org), a conspiracy theory which has the distinction of having been debunked by both Politifact and Snopes.com (which perhaps only shows how eager the Illuminati are to hush it up).
Oh, Bundy was also supported by actual Republican elected officials such as Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Dean Heller, and Texas Governor Rick Perry. (Yeah, we know: America is finished. Be brave, we still have this column to get through.)
Shortly thereafter, as you’ve no doubt heard, Bundy shit the bed but good, basically suggesting that because he once saw some black people (or, as he put it, The Negro) hanging out on a sidewalk and they didn’t look as happy as Song of the South had taught him to expect, he wasn’t sure whether life as a welfare buck/queen wasn’t worse than slavery had been for them.
This led to all the Republicans running for the exits, and general chaos among conservatives. Bundy lost his best friend Sean Hannity, and even reliable controversialist Ann Coulter compared the poor old renegade to Occupy Wall Street, which is a right-winger’s greatest insult next to “Obamacare” and “living wage”
What of the rightbloggers who’d backed Bundy to the hilt? Some haven’t acknowledged the incident at this writing, perhaps because they’re on a long vacation in the Arctic Circle.
Take for example TownHall’s Kevin McCullough. Two weeks ago he wrote, “Fortunately for the American people, the feds were not able to ultimately bully a simple rancher, not for a tortoise, a solar power plant, or a dirty Senator and his administration. We owe the Bundy family a great deal of thanks for standing tall.” So far, McCullough hasn’t had anything new to say about his tarnished hero. But that’s okay, we can wait!
Warner Todd Huston, who a few weeks back was so inspired by Bundy he seemed ready to aim a musket at federal agents himself — “Who can’t imagine that it will soon be open season on anyone who works in government?” he said then. “If they have no regard for us, our property, even our very lives, why should we have regard for them?” — hasn’t acknowledged the slavery incident, either. But he has doubled down on his own secessionist sentiments:
“Starting in the 1980s with the election of Ronald Reagan,” Huston explained, “Americans began a long process of falling out of love with Obama-styled communism.” Huston did not explain why, if this were the case, Americans have twice elected the man “Obama-styled communism” is named after. But he did assert that “the states are starting to rebel against Washington,” based on some of the state abortion and gun laws you read about in News of the Weird.
In another column Huston went further, declaring “the Federal government is quickly becoming an enemy to the people” and that it “would be terrible if it became open season — literally — on all government workers, but if the federal government doesn’t begin to shed some of its unearned, unethical, and un-American powers, it may just end up losing those powers at gun point.” (Huston added, “this is something we should try to avoid,” which he probably thinks a brilliant legal maneuver.)
Reason‘s Brian Doherty, who two weeks earlier was appalled that the feds would threaten deadly force against crazy militiamen with guns, has at the writing left Bundy’s racial ravings unaddressed. But last week Doherty pleaded a third way argument, which was as brilliant as third way arguments usually are: “that Bundy should have probably just given up somewhere along the line, but Christ leave him alone now…” There’s a great libertarian idea — and we bet put-upon Americans everywhere will look forward to libertarian support during their own armed stand-offs with the law. Hasn’t Johnny 99 suffered enough?
Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw, who originally praised Bundy for “raising awareness of vital questions of federal vs state vs private property rights,” hasn’t gifted us with a follow-up essay about racist Bundy, either. But he did tweet, “Actually the grazing rights/BLM story hasn’t changed at all. But it certainly helps the Left that he turned out to be a racist.”
Shaw’s sulk reflected a popular sentiment among the brethren: That it was unsporting of liberals to notice Bundy’s racism.
“Cliven Bundy Utters Racist Remark, Liberals Everywhere Rejoice,” seethed Bryan Preston at PJ Media. He was mad because “the progs” unfairly “hope to use the racism to discredit the rest” of Bundy’s argument — which, we remind you, is that the federal government doesn’t exist, that he shouldn’t have to obey U.S. law, and that he has a right to meet government officials with armed resistance. But the real point, said Preston, was Jeremiah Wright and Margaret Sanger. Not that progs would acknowledge this! Also: “Bundy’s remarks are reprehensible and indefensible. Expect progs who read this post to ignore the previous sentence.” Even when he meets them halfway, progs humiliate Bryan Preston on the holodeck.
Back at the libertarian corral, Reason‘s J.D. Tuccille was mad that liberals like Jonathan Chait were laughing at the seemingly natural tendency of conservatives who are crazy about Big Gummint to also be crazy about race. “Maybe it’s because the cameras and journalists focus on one loudmouth on horseback,” harrumphed Tuccille, “even as representatives of nine state governments meet in Salt Lake City at the Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands.” See, it’s Fox News’ job — which it did remarkably well before the fall — to focus non-stop on the “loudmouth on horseback,” while the MSM types are supposed to mainstream the states’-rights argument behind it by covering the suits. Don’t you statists know anything about journalism?
Mark Steyn tried to turn Bundy into a Bizarro-world discrimination case: If you abandon Bundy because he’s a racist nut, he argued, you’re being prejudiced against racist nuts.
“Let’s stipulate that Cliven Bundy is a racist… So what?” asked Steyn. “Does that make criticizing the Bureau of Land Management ‘racist’ or ‘homophobic’?” That would be a great argument, if Bundy were being discriminated against for his beliefs in a court of law, rather than in the court of public opinion. Nonetheless Steyn went on as if public sympathy for the crazy rancher were mandated by the Civil Rights Act: “If you run a red light and hit a pedestrian, it makes no difference whether the pedestrian you hit is Nelson Mandela or Cliven Bundy. Or at least it shouldn’t: one of the basic building blocks of civilized society is equality before the law…”
Eventually Steyn seemed to realize the futility of his cause, and descended into wingnut bathos: English-speaking people used to resist tyranny, he sniffled, but “as the Bundy example illustrates, a free people will cheerfully abandon bedrock principles like equality before the law if state power is being used to torment a racist or a homophobe or someone whose very presence offends against the citizenry’s sense of its own virtue.” We have sometimes been in sympathy with Steyn, but now, for the first time, we actually feel sorry for him.
We salute those rightbloggers who stood forthrightly with the madman Bundy before, and by God stand with him now. Kerodin III, for example, the comic-book villain who declared two weeks back that “the war is begun” and advised his comrades to “give your local BLM detachment something to occupy their time” to give Bundy cover, this week angrily told the Republicans who’d abandoned Bundy, “For everyone who cut and run – thank you. You have revealed who you are… we will remember.” You won’t be getting this absentee ballot from the Republic of KerodinIIIastan!
A few cowboys insisted Bundy wasn’t racist at all and that the New York Times was lying about what he said. “The reality is the mainstream media is attempting yet another sneaky psy-op geared to further demonize the rancher and is relying on its favorite propaganda tactic: painting the opposition as racist,” decreed Bundy’s pal Alex Jones. When the Times released tapes of Bundy spewing his bilge, some insisted that sure, the short version looks bad, but the extended club mix version of Bundy’s ramblings exonerated him.
What the liberals didn’t want you to know, said Kyle Becker of Independent Journal Review, is that in the long version Bundy “says that there has been ‘progress’ made and no one would want to go back to the days of slavery, but he indelicately wonders if some would be better off if they were ‘picking cotton.'” Wonder, emphasized — and how can there be anything bad about wonder? “Racially insensitive,” admitted Becker, “but he’s not saying that blacks are worse than whites.” Though presumably there’s no need to wonder whether whites on welfare would be better off picking cotton on a plantation, for some reason having nothing to do with race.
“Are the remarks controversial?” asked The Conservative Tree House. “Yes, however – No more so than the remarks made by Shirley Sherrod.” They refer to statements that were actually trimmed to twist their meaning… by rightwing activist Andrew Breitbart. Give them credit for chutzpah, anyway.
Others found a few black people who were pro-Bundy, and ran with them to the camera crying, Look, some The Negroes agree with us!
One Kira Davis said in a well-circulated video that while Bundy’s point was “awkwardly-made,” that’s okay because “we have basically enslaved ourselves all over again to the government by depending on them for so much” — except without the enforced and uncompensated servitude, whippings, status as property, etc. While Davis admitted Bundy was “probably a bigot,” she still accepted the “veracity” of his case: “We could talk about the legalities and the technicalities and we can talk about the taxes he owes,” she said, “or we can talk about all of the things in this country that have been legal that were unjust — slavery was legal, and Jim Crow was legal,” and thus Cliven Bundy, because he has to pay grazing fees, has something in common with slaves (except for the enforced and uncompensated servitude, whippings, status as property, etc.).
Among the other black Bundyites:
• Tea Party fixture Lloyd Marcus, who said his relatives “lived wasted lives because they were addicted to government dependency. They were Democrat party slaves… robbed of the self-esteem, pride and joy of individual achievement,” and so he agreed with Bundy, we guess, that it might be better to be owned by white people than affiliated with the wrong political party;
• The black guy who’s hanging around the Bundy compound (“Bottom line is that we are all slaves in this waning republic, no matter our skin color”);
• Niger Innis, son of black conservative Roy Innis, who claimed to have successfully explained to Bundy why slavery was bad — “it was almost like a lightbulb went on,” said Innis — but generally approved of his statement, which Innis said was just “clumsily” expressed: “What would’ve been better is if Cliven had said, ‘Look, there are a number of blacks and Latinos and poor whites now that are involved in a real slavery,'” etc;
There — that’s five, and there may be dozens more! Check and mate, libtards!
The funny thing — or the depressing thing, depending on how you look at it — is that while many of the brethren understood the necessity of decoupling from Bundy because his comments had made him toxic, they still clung to the old Confederate dream of threatening violence against the federal government and demanding a separate legal standard with impunity.
We suppose the next time a posse comitatus nut summons shooters to a confrontation with ZOG, he will first have been briefed by a public relations team. The question is whether this will make any difference. For one thing, despite general rightblogger claims that Bundy is, or at least was, “AMERICA’S NEWEST HERO,” there was never any evidence of it; the only polls on Bundy were run by rightblogger outlets, e.g. “Are you Team Cliven Bundy or Team Federal Government?” asked by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. Bundy did well among that constituency, as would anyone with a grudge against the government. But among ordinary people — who unlike Bundy think the United States exists and expects its laws to be observed — the idea that a mooching rancher can and should hold off John Law with his firepower might not go down so well.
But that discussion has been tabled because Bundy couldn’t keep his trap shut about black people. And though for the moment it looks embarrassing to rightbloggers, considering how important neo-Confederate ideas are to their movement and how unkind long public scrutiny would be to them, it may be that with Bundy’s fall they actually dodged a bullet.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 27, 2014