Cliven Bundy, who is fighting (some would say flaunting) the same U.S. government land-grabbing laws as the First Peoples whose land he is grazing his cattle on fee-free, now has something to say about the people whose ancestors were brought here against their will.
He says his family has been ranching there for 150 years. Not only that, but a Nevada reporter has found that Bundy's family didn't start grazing cattle until 1954, according to MSNBC. And political reporter Jon Ralston points out that before the Bundy family arrived, the land belonged to the Moapa Paiute.
But Bundy, speaking to dozens of gun-toting supporters who showed up for the first of his daily meetings that he has dubbed “press conferences,” thinks that the true interlopers are, apparently, African Americans whose ancestors were kidnapped and then forced to work for his ancestors.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said, according to The New York Times. What he knew he apparently gleaned from a glimpse he caught of a gaggle of people congregating outside a public-housing project in North Las Vegas.
“In front of that government house the door was usually open, and the older people and the kids—and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch—they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do,” he told the crowd gathered at his ranch on Saturday April 19.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked, according to The New York Times. “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.”
These remarks alienated even U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who until Thursday morning supported Bundy in his fight to continue grazing his cattle on public lands, which he has done since 1993 without paying the grazing fees that his fellow ranchers do.
“His remarks on race are offensive, and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said in a statement on April 24, according to The New York Times.
Of course this still skirts the issue of how American Indians have been treated on the same land, especially given that another conservative named Paul, this time his father Ron, recently compared the standoff to the one at Wounded Knee, during which 300 Lakota people were massacred by U.S. troops.
When it came to the way Bundy speaks of African-Americans, Rand Paul stepped up. But what about the Western Shoshone ranchers whose cattle have been seized and wages garnished by the Bureau of Land Management? The Dann sisters and Raymond Yowell might have something to say about that.