Full Context of Bundy Statement

I know it’s from Media Matters, but it’s pretty much just Clive Bundy speaking for himself:

I wouldn’t have too much to say about this if he just used the word “negro.” My grandparents used to call them “colored people,” and never quite managed to adopt the modern sensibilities on the topic of race relations. They were not racist people, but held on to a lot of old ways of thinking on the topic. But as bad as my grandparents, who were a generation older than Bundy, could get on the topic of race, I could never imagine them saying anything like this. There’s even a part at the end, not mentioned by the Times, where he says “Down there, they were probably growing their turnips.” The context seemingly suggesting that they were happier enslaved “down there,” growing turnips.

Patrick H made what I think is the best argument in the previous comments:

We still fight to let the KKK protest. We still fight to let Nazi’s speak about Jews however they want. Why? Because its freedom.

Remember the quote “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist…”

Whether Bundy deserves our support should ONLY be on whether he is right in his fight (whether that’s because he is right, or because who he is fighting), not because he has unpopular opinions.

It’s a fair point. We defend the right of the KKK to speak and protest not because we agree with them, but because we believe their freedom to do so. We defend a lot of things in this society in the name of freedom that we find repugnant. In fact, that is the definition of freedom-loving. But this argument forces me to admit that it’s not just this late statement that makes me reluctant to support this situation.

What freedom is at stake here? Is there a right to use public land without paying fees? Is there a right to use public land at all? Every post and argument I’ve seen which argues this situation is bigger than Clive Bundy, bigger than grazing cattle, bigger than turtles, etc, still has me scratching my head trying to understand how this is so. There are certainly grievances at work here at legitimate as the Mississippi is wide, but a lot of us have grievances with this Administration. What makes this one special?

As we mentioned previously, BLM is currently engaged in a big land grab along the Oklahoma and Texas Border. Here you’re talking about real private property rights being put at risk. This is most definitely a freedom issue, and I’d be more inclined to agree that it’s much bigger than any individual person affected.

I will say this: I do believe Cliven Bundy and his family have a right to not be needlessly killed by their government. Given how heavy BLM and other federal agencies were rolling in, it was clear there was the potential for another Waco-like situation. I don’t blame anyone for stepping up to make sure that didn’t happen. I’d agree that was the right thing to do. But I think if you’re going to start a civil war, it had better be over something very important. That citizens have the right to not be murdered by their government is that important, but one family’s use of public land is not. The big problem I have with the Bundy Ranch situation is it’s hard to tell where the line between stopping another Waco, and starting a civil war over one familys’ unfettered “right” to graze on public lands starts and ends.

UPDATE: Here are his full remarks:

27 thoughts on “Full Context of Bundy Statement”

  1. I appreciate your thoughtful approach to this. Being from the rural west, i happen to think that Bundy is living off a public subsidy himself, so has grown anti-social as a result. Bundy isn’t a hero, more of a freeloader who had his day in court.

    But I also agree that the BLM coming in hard and anti-constitutional in order to intimidate the public into compliance deserves a sharp and forceful reproach. It suggests a colonial or imperial attitude to me, likely borne by the BLM agents’ prior experiences in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    1. Curious what you mean by this, “It suggests a colonial or imperial attitude to me, likely borne by the BLM agents’ prior experiences in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

      You grab 100 guys on the ground over here and ask them about colonial or imperial attitudes and 99 will give you a “huh?” look.

  2. I will make no statements about Bundy and his ranch, all my concerns for this case are the BLM’s course of actions. When it comes to Bundy, I don’t give a damn.

    As for the whole “Colored People” statement, I personally have an issue with political correctness in this case. Political Correctness is NOT about preferred terms, but of constant goal post moving.

    In Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series there is a scene where a white man from the 1980s is talking to a black woman from the Jim Crowe South. Eddie calls her “Black” and she gets angry at the perceived slur and demands he call her “Colored”. He notes that calling a black person in the 80’s “colored” is a good way to get your ass kicked.

    NAACP came up with it’s name because “Colored” was the preferred term at the time. Because of the goal-post moving it has now become a slur, and people of the previous generations who haven’t concerned themselves with the modern parlance.

    Hell my Mom taught me the proper term for people with dark skin was “Negro”, and many of my college text books when speaking in jargony terms used it as well as the rather archaic “Caucasian” term.

    It’s not like he said N***er, yeah he wasn’t tactful, and frankly I don’t see why he’s talking about this in the first place, but really political correctness just distracts us from WHAT people are saying, by focusing on HOW they say it.

    I will also note that the issue he sees with people of dark skin is an issue with all races, I saw the same thing growing up in southern Maine with public housing whites and Cambodian refugees.

    His tact sucks, but I think there’s a point in there somewhere.

    1. Come on. “Negro” is bad enough but he doubled down with THE Negro”–even more dehumanizing.

      He is a racist good ol’ boy who complains about the government unless he is getting a piece of the pie.

      1. Nope, neither is dehumanizing.

        “We made a lot of progress since [the Watts riots]. And we sure don’t want to go back. We sure don’t want these colored people to go back.”

        Yep, sounds like a racist to me.

      2. On the 2010 census form, one of the check boxes under race is labeled “Black, African Am., or Negro” because the government recognized that some people of Bundy’s generation and older still use the word negro to describe their own race. The idea that a black man Bundy’s age can call himself a negro but that a white man that age, who grew up with that being a perfectly acceptable word, is a racist for still using it is absurd.

        1. And then you have blacks calling whites “Creepy Ass Crackers” in court statements and nobody bats an eye.

    2. I will make no statements about Bundy and his ranch, all my concerns for this case are the BLM’s course of actions. When it comes to Bundy, I don’t give a damn.


      Racist or not, the FedGov SWATting someone over what is, in essence, a land dispute is just fracking WRONG. The fact that the feds did so in company strength just makes it worse. Like I said in comments at the other post, “Frankly, whether Bundy was right or wrong, and whether he’s racist or not, the BLM’s “enforcement” actions were bad enough that I can’t quite say it would have been wrong for someone on Bundy’s side to start shooting if things had gone much further.”

  3. The problem is that the fight is not whether Bundy has a right to be a racist. He does. The question is that do YOU want to align with him and him to be the figurehead for whatever supposed freedom he is fighting for?

    Just ask Alan Gura about the importance of a “sympathetic plaintiff.” Who do you want to the the public face of your 2A challenge….Otis McDonald or the moron who painted the his AK orange to look like a toy gun?

    Bundy’s self-serving 15 minutes are over. Time for him to go away.

    1. Yes, if that freedom is worth fighting for. Maybe this is, maybe this isn’t. But the point is lets debate the freedom, not what the media tries to portray.

      I agree, having a sympathetic plaintiff is helpful. But sometimes you don’t have that choice. That’s my point.

  4. Let’s not lose track of Harry Reid’s corrupt land deal in all of this. Bundy might not be a sympathetic plaintiff, but you’ve already got more BLM machinations now involving private property. It should be possible to both condemn Bundy’s knuckle-dragging, and speak truth to power about the machinations behind his cows suddenly being too destructive of federal grazing land after generations. Don’t play Race Card. The other side always wins that game.

    1. This is a tough position to take for me, because it seems like it trivializes corruption, and I don’t mean to do that: but Reid’s corruption here is pretty run of the mill. Maybe we should all stand up to it, and maybe Bundy defies them because he’s willing to, but why start the civil war over this particular grievance when there are so many more serious ones?

      1. I get that, but I think a) we’ve really defined deviancy down when it comes to corruption, and b) anywhere you draw a line, the things immediately on one side or the other will seem like they aren’t worth digging in your heels. That’s how slippery slopes work, mechanically.

        I don’t advocate ‘starting a war’ here, but I don’t think that’s what was happening. It was civil disobedience, albeit where a lot of the protesters were armed. You can say Bundy lost in court, but he was facing unjust laws that have been set up for no other reason than to enable e.g. Reid’s solar project. It’s a lot like poll taxes in the old days. What do you do when the law is clearly stacked against you, and the establishment uses it call you an outlaw while they’re actually protecting their turf?

        1. Thank you. I made this same point in a reply to a different post: The American Indians (Native Americans, if you prefer) didn’t “legally” have a leg to stand on, either. It makes all the difference WHO makes the laws in question, and WHO votes them into office with a majority, since their pet concerns aren’t at stake. If several million people would rather have a railroad, they’re gonna vote for the guy who endorses that railroad, so who cares about a stone-age culture of a few hundred thousand between us and California gold? Now, replace the word ‘railroad’ with ‘solar panels’; and ‘stone-age culture’ with ‘cattle-herders’.
          Bundy’s family has been ranching that land, with no discernible ill effects, since long before the BLM existed. I’ve read several east-coast and midwest types who seem SORT of sympathetic to Bundy, but admit that they don’t really get what all the fuss is about (because they don’t understand the culture, the ‘way of life’ that has become Cliven Bundy’s very identity.) Some may argue that cattle ranching is anachronistic and obsolete, and maybe they’re right. I’m sure it’s of little comfort to Bundy, though.
          Add my name to the list of folks who, “don’t want to start a war” over this…but it’s made me consider a little more sharply just where I’d draw that line.

  5. So yes, slaves were in a horrible situation, and slavery was and is evil, but the slaves of 250 years ago resisted. Those living one welfare payment to the next – the slaves of today – seem to enjoy it. They are willing participants in their own apathetic existences. They want the chains that government offers them. And of course this applies to everyone who willingly embraces government welfare systems as a way of life, whatever their skin color. They are simply living an apathetic, spiritless existence.

    In that sense, those who were unbroken in spirit, those who resisted slavery, those who ran, those who fought back, were much, much better off.

    1. Just look at American Indians living on reservations, once proud and strong people, now broken to the yoke of govt subsidies. it’s sad no matter who it is.

      Also, from what I’ve read the real issue is that the Federal Govt has no Constitutional Authority to own any land other than that needed for offices and military bases, so in that regard Bundy is right that he should be paying any fees to the State, who is the rightful owner of all non private land.

      Also, something I have wondered for many years, how can the Govt keep anyone off of “Public Land”???? Does not Public Land mean land owned by the general public? And who is the “public”? Is it not You and I? how can we be told not to use “our” land?
      Think about that next time you see a sign that says “Public Land, No Trespassing”.

      1. The authority to own the land in question comes from the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Treaties are much like constitutional amendments, and can include new federal powers just as amendments do.

        1. No way. Treaties CANNOT include more federal powers at all. They are only valid if they are just exercising existing powers- say war powers.

          I think that’s the bigger story here- the federal government should not own 80% of Nevada.

        1. My understanding (of how this is supposed to work….) is that outside of any treaty powers, the Feds can own land just as any other property owner can. They can make rules just like any property owner can, but this does not necessarily mean that they can make federal crimes out of breaking them. The land is still part of a state, and the state retains police power. Think about it – can I legally put a trespasser in a basement dungeon because he was on my property? NO! I have to press charges with whatever state law he broke. And so it should be with the federal government.

          So… If I can charge a cattle rancher a grazing fee on my property, so can the Feds on theirs (ours, actually…). I can use a reasonable degree of force to remove somebody from my property if necessary due to immediate threats, but for anything beyond that (such as non-payment of fees), I have to call on state authorities to settle disputes. And so should the Feds.

          As for treaty powers, I’m pretty sure they were intended to be considered the same as if they were part of the constitution. But my memory is hazy.

          1. The Constitution never authorized the Federal government to own vast tracks of land within a state.

            Article 1, section 8, clause 17 states ” To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;–And”.

            This limits the Federal governments enumerated authority to D.C. and to “needful buildings”. Clearly that would not include range land, national parks, solar plants, or nature preserves. Put simply the Federal government cannot “exercise legislation” or own land that is not serving a Constitutionally enumerated purpose.

            Treaties are nothing like Constitutional amendments and they cannot include new federal powers. I believe that you are referencing article 6 of the Constitution which states the legal status of the Constitution. Here is the relevant section “…This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding…”.

            A treaty that included new federal powers would exceed the federal governments enumerated authority and would not be in “pursuance thereof” nor could it be “under the authority of the United States”.

            1. That’s an interpretation, but not one shared by the courts, or even most of the founders. Otherwise the Louisiana Purchase was illegal.

              1. Well it could be argued it was. It might be a good example of how power corrupts.

                I know its not shared by the courts, but that’s irrelevant.

            2. I find it hard to reconcile that interpretation with the fact that the early federal government made most of its revenue by selling western land that it “owned”, even though it appears to be correct by a strict reading of the constitution.

  6. Also—I came upon this late, and so I saw this post before the previous one. I don’t think Bundy’s arguing that we ought to reestablish slavery; but rather, to his mind, welfare dependence is an even worse form of slavery.
    Personally, I don’t see either one as better, but I’ve thought much the same thing. Different masters, different shackles, that’s all.

  7. After seeing the entire clip, I’m starting to think the cries of racism are a case of the fallacy fallacy. What he said was stupid, inarticulate, and didn’t actually say what he intended (as per the rest of his comments) to say.

  8. I haven’t seen a report of exactly what laws Bundy is accused of breaking. Not on the BLM website (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en.html)

    nyone who hasn’t read the actual text of the law, is honor-bound to support Bundy’s position. If you aren’t sure he’s broken a law, then he gets the presumption of innocence. You fuss when people believe the NYT and ATF’s version what gun rights you have; why do you believe the NYT and BLM’s version of what rights he has?

    I’ve read a lawyer’s analysis that the land management laws exempt family ranches from all BLM oversight, and BLM has to get the family to waive their rights, which the Bundy family hasn’t done.

    Reportedly, every court case Bundy has lost has been a judge refusing to acknowledge black letter law, and deciding to ignore the parts of the law the BLM wishes weren’t there.

    Six years ago, I would have presumed Bundy’s lawyer was lying. Now I presume the federal government is lying.

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