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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cliven Bundy -- not a Racist, but a Hypocrite...

Credit: Wikipedia
The standoff between Cliven Bundy and some of his supporters, on the one hand, and the federal government, on the other, ended peacefully, with the protesters surrendering and going into custody. The core of the fued is Bundy's long-running fight with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over grazing fees they charged him for grazing his cattle on land owned by the BLM.

Bundy is one of the freemen that think the Federal Government has no authority over the States, and that therefore the BLM doesn't actually own any land in Nevada. Bundy also got flack, and lost much support, from stupid racist comments he made about how "The Negro" was better off under slavery. However, the exact comment, if not politically correct, takes this very much out of context. His exact words were, according to Wikipedia:
They [black residents of a housing project] didn't have nothing to do ... they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? 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
Well, he could have put it better. He could have been more sensitive. But the point of his statement is that life under welfare with broken families is worse than slavery, where at least you had a family and work, good things in themselves, clearly not that blacks are inherently inferior or that they should be returned to slavery.

Similarly, he made comments about illegal aliens that:
They come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders, but they're here, and they're people ... Don't tell me they don't work, and don't tell me they don't pay taxes. And don't tell me they don't have better family structures than most of us white people.
In short, hardly the words -- in both cases -- of a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist, but of a man who sees the family breakdown (in black and white communities, less in Latino ones) as terrible, and blames the federal government for it in the case of the black population.

That aside, as J. J. MacNab pointed out, he seems to be closely aligned with the Posse Comitatus views, in his views that there is no higher authority than the local country sheriff. In 2014 he "ordered" the local sheriff to disarm federal agents and deliver their weapons to him, Bundy, within an hour, later expressing disappointment that the sheriff for some reason didn't do as he was told.

All this shows us how stereotypes do not necessarily fit reality. The man is an extremist in one way -- refusing the authority of any government above the county level and "ordering" the sheriff to do his bidding -- but not in other ways, i.e., he is not a tax protester or an extreme racist, certainly not one who thinks blacks or Mexicans are subhuman.

The main moral problem (racism aside) with such views is that you can't have it both ways. If you wish to live without the government, then you cannot at the same time, as many of these protestors do. You cannot receive, e.g., federal farm subsidies, and then refuse to recognize the authority of the federal government. Some people -- such as the Amish -- do indeed see involvement with the government as morally forbidden, but they do not take federal money, for just this reason.

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