Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, 67, sparked a firestorm of criticism after suggesting that Black Americans were “better off as slaves” rather than being free and accepting money from the federal government, reports the L.A. Times.
Bundy has been locked in battle with the federal government over his refusal to pay fees to graze hundreds of head of cattle on public land.
According to the New York Times, “Mr. Bundy, whose family has grazed cattle here since they homesteaded in the 1870s, owes the government more than $1 million in grazing fees. He stopped paying after the bureau ordered him to restrict the periods when his herd roamed the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area as part of an effort to protect the endangered desert tortoise.”
Supporters, many armed with rifles, have closed rank around him as the federal government moved in to remove the cattle and it was in addressing them that Bundy made the following remarks:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said in comments quoted by the New York Times. He recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and 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 added: “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “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.”
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who previously referred to Bundy as a “patriot,” denounced his remarks: “Senator Heller completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way,” Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith said in a statement.
Sen. Rand Paul, who had also previously lauded Bundy, distanced himself from the rancher.
“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said in a statement, according to Business Insider.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had some extremely harsh—but true—words for Bundy:
“I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met — men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Reid, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite.”
Bundy doubled down on the statements he made Tuesday in a press conference on Saturday:
“Cliven Bundy’s a-wondering about these people, now I’m talking about the black community, I’m a-wondering, Are they better off with their young women aborting their children, are they better off with their young men in prison, and are they better off with the older people on the sidewalks in front of their government-issued homes?” he asked.
“[Are Black Americans] happier than they was when they was in the South in front of their homes with their chickens and their gardens and their children around them and their men having something to do?
“Are they better off?” he said.
Watch Bundy’s Remarks Below: