Is Cliven Bundy a Racist or Just an Inarticulate Old Fart?

April 26, 2014

Two things have been overplayed to the point of absurdity: First, the ‘Cliven Bundy made stupid racist comments’ story, and second, the Race Card.

Head in Hands Two things have been overplayed to the point of absurdity: First, the Cliven Bundy made stupid racist comments story, and second, the Race Card.

Cliven Bundy, the grizzled old cattle rancher from remote Southern Nevada who’s been at war for years against the federal government, has a black body guard who vouches for him. Jason Bullock said, in Bundy’s defense, “I would take a bullet for him…and I’m a pretty good judge of character.” It’s a guess on my part, but I believe Bullock is probably being truthful. Why, you might ask, would I give Bundy the benefit of the doubt? Because, throughout my life, I have been around stammering old western small town folk; farmers, ranchers, and other ordinary people who lack both racial hatred as well as the ability to articulately voice what they see as problems within minority communities. Was Bundy crass? Yes. Is he a white supremacist or racist bully, I don’t think so. The only evidence are his awkward and ill-timed words. That said. He was wrong, and tacky and insensitive, no doubt about it.

He may have been attempting to express what conservative pundits and social scientists have been saying for years, that the post Civil Rights-era condition of black families and the black community at large, has suffered a deplorable decline. The “Great Society” experiment of LBJ created a leviathan welfare system that was supposed to lift the poor out of impoverishment to the Middle Class. The effect has been the opposite of liberalism’s theoretical hope, with fewer and fewer black teens and black men gainfully employed, fewer and fewer intact black families with husbands and wives at the helm, and more and more young black men incarcerated. These facts are indisputable, and they are indisputably the result of failed liberal Democrat policies.

In 1965, during what should have been the flowering of the fully-equal black-American family, Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned the nation that the black family was in social decline. Of the black family Moynihan wrote, in his report created through statistics from the Department of Labor, “the center of the tangle of pathology is the weakness of the family structure.” And he was right. From 1950 to 1963, out-of-wedlock births to black mothers increased from 18 to 24 percent. He noted that in Harlem, 43 percent of minority births were to unmarried women. That statistic is now close to 75 percent. America was warned, but Democrats continue to this day to worship the welfare state as the panacea to all human needs, and popular culture has sufficiently normalized shacking up, fornication, single parenthood and other harmful choices, to the point that traditional families and marriage are laughed at. 

Between 1954 and 1965 about 50 percent of blacks had moved into the middle class. During that time there was a mini Exodus from rural southern towns to urban centers where opportunity for blacks to find steady work was greater. But neither of those factors harmed the structure of the black family. The economic conditions of blacks in the years immediately following the Civil Rights movement improved, but their social conditions declined, with fathers gradually becoming irrelevant as they were supplanted by the ubiquitous welfare state.

My point is not to rehash mid-Twentieth Century black history in America, but to dissect what Cliven Bundy was talking about. If he was talking about the benefits of more intact families in the first half of the Twentieth Century, when blacks were still fighting for full recognition of their rights, he was right. The black family as an institution was healthier then, and on the way to greater prosperity than it is today.  In 2014 many black communities face high crime, dangerous and poor-performing schools, and generations of impoverished families headed by unmarried women. If Cliven Bundy was actually talking about what he deems the virtues of slavery, well then, he’s just an ignorant old fool.

I’m not going to defend Cliven Bundy, though I do support the spirit of Sagebrush Rebellion in the West, because for much of my life I’ve lived with the crushing abuse and pervasive incompetence of the BLM, EPA and other government agencies which exert control over our western state lands. But it’s only fair to try to understand what he was talking about. Two things remain true; First, Cliven Bundy has lost his best supporters and suffered a severe blow to his reputation, and second, the black community as a whole in 2014 is struggling against terrible social ills; illegitimate births, substandard inner-city schools, crime, incarceration, and generational poverty worsened by a dependence on government. These factors were once the exception, and for too many black Americans, are now the rule.

by Marjorie Haun  4/26/14

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