Friday, April 25, 2014

Cliven Bundy's racist remarks

I haven't commented much on the Cliven Bundy case, because really, I'm only vaguely aware of what's going on. Feds versus local ranchers and all that. But last night I hear that he made some racist remarks, and everyone is condemning him - so I figured hey, look into it.

These are the remarks, as near as I can tell:
“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy said over the weekend, according to the Times. “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.”
Right off the bat - in terms of the guy trying to gain support for his cause, which had nothing to do with race, this was a real stupid move. I suppose you can broadly draw the line from 'he was mangling with the federal government, and he's talking about government's negative impact, so...' but really, if his goal was to keep a spotlight on the particular issue he's involved in, he should have just kept quiet.

Now, if he's more interested in using his sudden bit of public spotlight to go after the federal government? ... Still not a good move. Because now everyone isn't talking about the federal government, but his comments about race. As near as I can tell, Bundy didn't want to talk about racial issues, and well, now he is. So in terms of skillful use of the media? Yeah, this was a stupid move.

And was it racist?

Before I give my analysis, I want to ask any regular reader here - give your own analysis if you're willing. But don't just tell me 'it was racist' or 'it was not racist'. Pick through the quote. Tell me why it was or wasn't racist in specific terms.

Were the broad generalities racist? Associating blacks with abortion, government subsidized living, etc?

The slavery allusions? 'Maybe they were better off as slaves.'?

I'm hoping someone gives their input in either direction, because while I have my opinion, I'm really interested in how others process this kind of thing when they encounter it. I'll write a bit more on it after I hopefully get some results.

Edit: Additional context available here:


BenYachov said...

The man isn't so much a racist as he is ignorant.

To ask if Blacks where better off as Slaves pre-Civil war vs being trapped in the welfare system today is a pathologically stupid question.

Whippings, your master can sell any member of your family he/she wants...etc. That is clearly way way way worst then merely eating the government cheese.

If he wanted to say the Welfare State keeps blacks down then he should have just said that.

True the commies on the left would say that the later is racist too but then again if I say "Beyonce is singing a classical African American spiritual here" the commies on the left would say "Oh so you think she is doing Step it and Fetch it huh? You conservative Racist!". You can't win.

But in that case Bundy's allies would not have turned against him.

The lefty commies cry WOLF so many times it's a wonder we can still spot real racism or real racially insensitive remarks these days.

Stop the world I want to get off!

malcolmthecynic said...

Frankly? I think that it's idiotic to think that his comments were actually racist. All they were is ignorant of history.

So ignorant, yes. Racist? In what way? He didn't even make any mention of inferiority or superiority. He didn't mention any stereotypes (good or bad). He just pointed out that blacks have it pretty bad nowadays in a lot of ways, something black people themselves claim all the time.

I don't get how you can possibly get "racist" out of his comments so much as you can get "wrong".

msgrx said...

Pace Malcolm, I don't think that it's idiotic to think that Bundy's remarks were racist, given the sweeping negative generalisations he makes ("They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail"). I don't think it's certain -- he might, for example, have been exaggerating for rhetorical effect, or he might simply have phrased himself poorly -- but nor would I say it's unlikely given his remarks.*

That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that plenty of those decrying his remarks don't actually care about his alleged racism, and are just using the opportunity to whip up outrage and discredit somebody they disagree with.

(*Disclaimer: All I know about the case is what Crude's posted here, so it's perfectly possible that there's some other information out there which will shed more light on the matter.)

Carlos said...

There's some truth to what he is saying, however unfortunate it might be. Sadly, a vast majority of the African-American population has embraced the sexual revolution ideology, leading to an astonishing out-of-wedlock childbirth rate (to the tune of about 60 or 70 percent, if I recall correctly), rampant fatherlessness, a terrible abortion rate, and a general destruction of the familial unit which in turn has led to a host of other social ills (e.g. drug abuse, high incarceration rates, violence, gang involvement, etc.).

Acatus Bensley said...

Being African American myself I wouldn't call it racist, but I would call it unnecessary. It was also poorly articulated. Is he saying black people never really gained freedom, and just took a watered down version? If he is then I guess he has a point.

Crude said...

Interesting responses so far! Thanks to everyone for them.

Acatus Bensley said...

I also think the backlash comes from him stating what everyone in America already knows in the first place. The left just wants to use this as an opportunity to look morally superior. The guy could have worded it better, but he's right.

Crude said...


The only problem with that is it's not just the left that's attacking him. A lot of players on the Right - I think Rand Paul, certainly Glenn Beck, and others - suddenly went 'Welp, he's toxic, this guy is a total racist, he should be condemned.'

malcolmthecynic said...

"They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail"...

Who cares if it's a sweeping generalization if it's mostly accurate? Blacks DO abort their children at a higher rate and DO have a much higher percentage of criminality.

Generalizations get a bad rap. It's not as if he was addressing any specific stereotype to any individual in particular.

Mr. Arson said...

It seems to me that the thrust behind the quote is that black people have been trying to rise above their circumstances, but that government interference has held them back. It's clearly ignorant to think that this interference is worse than slavery, but the idea that the problems in some black communities are due to government impositions rather than the inferior nature of black people seem to me to be actually anti-racist.

I suppose you could interpret him as saying that the government hasn't lived up to it's "white man's burden" of caring for people of inferior races, but I think this would be a very uncharitable interpretation. I also don't see how you could square this view with the last two sentences of the quote, which seem to indicate that he thinks the solution would be to give black people more freedom. The racist view along these lines would be that black people can't handle freedom, so they should be enslaved or ruled over for their own good.

Crude said...

It's clearly ignorant to think that this interference is worse than slavery,

I'm not so sure that's what Bundy was going for. He seems to be talking not about the actions but the results in that case - where 'slavery' still maintained a family unit, etc, but the federal government resulting in something worse /on that particular front/.

lotharlorraine said...

Given American history, I find this quote terribly offensive against black people.

If I were black, I'd feel horribly infuriated by someone daring speak in this way about a time period where colored slaves were beaten to death.

And this quote is infected with irrational and dumb over-generalizations.

So yeah it is pretty racist, stupid or both.

What is NOT racist, however, is simply stating that in France a great number of blacks or Arabs in suburbs hate white folks.
This is a statement which might or not be factual but is not racist as long as there is also a commitment to never discriminate a person because others having the same skin color act in a poor away.

Your American readers might interested in my report of the situation in France:
Anti-whire racism in France.

Political correctness (WRONGLY called "progressive values") is killing our country in that it forbids an equal and objective combat against all kinds of racism.
The base of everything should always be the Golden Rule and sincerely trying to imagine belonging to another ethnic group.

Crude said...


If you could, I'd like a couple clarifications.

First - what was the racist part of Bundy's talk in your view? Or do you equate offensive with racist? (That doesn't seem likely, but still.)

Second - do you think it's only in France that what you say is the case? Or is it more that France is the only place you have experience with it? (And why is what you said about France not an over-generalization, compared to what Bundy said?)

Thanks for your reply.

Acatus Bensley said...

Facts are offensive. His statement wasn't provoked, but he's correct Lothar. How is anything he said factually incorrect? The only thing that wasn't correct was the assertion about picking cotton. They go to jail because they break the law frequently.

lotharlorraine said...

I limit myself to France because I have never observed anti-white racism in Germany.

If I had written "THE arabs and blacks living in France..." this would have been a silly racist statement and a false over-generalization.

And this is what I reproach to this fellow.

Had he replaced "they" by "many", this would not have been racist.

malcolmthecynic said...

Had he replaced "they" by "many", this would not have been racist.

That's stretching things to the breaking point. People use "they" for "many" all the time. It's a common shorthand. Earlier today I watched a baseball game. A player who used to play on my favorite team was booed when he came up to bat. I said, "Wow, the fans should be ashamed of themselves for booing him". But I didn't mean ALL the fans in the ballpark. And once, to continue with the sports examples, I said that fans of a certain team were really sore losers. But when I said this I obviously knew SOME fans of the team took losing fine. I was merely using common rhetorical shorthand to mean "as a generality".

The only time people ever really clarify it, from what I see, is when they're making a point to be extremely precise or they're asked to clarify. To assume he really meant these things about ALL blacks is to take the absolute worst possible interpretation of what he says, and it's an interpretation I'd wager money wouldn't hold up if you pressed him.

Now, you might say "Well then he should have been more precise" and I'd agree with you, but then we're back to his comments being dumb, not racist.

I think you're grasping at straws here, Marc.

Crude said...

I don't think Marc's grasping at straws per se. I think he's giving a common reaction, he's trying to explain where he's coming from, and doing so sincerely and civilly. But I don't think it stands up to scrutiny. (I wrote a bit about this in my latest post.)

But you do a good job of explaining some of what I'm getting at as well. This kind of technicality... I don't think we can say this is the dividing line.

malcolmthecynic said...

Oh, I'm not accusing Marc of dishonesty. I see no reason to think he's not completely sincere, and as always with Marc he's been very civil.

I do think, though, that in order for him to defend his initial reaction he needs to stretch the term "racist" further and further outward. We're now at the point where he says that "racist" means "didn't state exactly what he meant about a certain race in the most precise terminology he could come up with".

When my opponent, and in this case I'll consider Marc an "opponent" in the sense that he disagrees with me and is debating me on this particular issue, has to change definitions to make his case, I think the phrase "grasping at straws" is warranted.

Frank Keefe said...

When you deal with black people you have to tread very carefully because "racism" is always Lurking around the corner.Even though the statistics might be right and they seem to be because of the history of the African American people and the terrible treatment they suffered from some white people then when a white person challenges them that history raises its head.I believe sometime ago an African American comedian criticised the black community for the exact same things even he( cant remember his name) received a lot of flak.

Crude said...


Bill Cosby, I think.

Frank Keefe said...

Bill Cosby you are right Crude.