News Media Ambush Cliven Bundy

…and sucker-punch “conservatives.”

First, the purpose of this column is neither to confirm nor deny that I agree with Cliven Bundy’s purported “racist” remarks, as reported in the New York Times. That is a fabricated issue, and in a court of law would be an objection-rich leading question. Unlike many politicians and media names who supported Bundy’s defiance of the Bureau of Land Management’s paramilitary raid on Bundy’s ranch and the theft and slaughter of many of his cattle, I’m not going to “distance” myself from the man and what he stands for, which is the courageous stand he has taken against a looters’ government. There is no good reason to sneak off and hide in a corner.

No, the purpose of this column is to castigate all those supporters who turned tail and beat a hasty retreat in order to placate those who are the true “racists” of our time: the liberal/left. After all, no one can risk criticizing any facet of the welfare state or the political establishment without now being called “racist” by the liberal/left.

Tom Roten, who interviewed me on his radio show on April 25th, observed that it took the New York Times several days to concoct its “racist” charges, which were insinuated on its April 23rd article, “A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side,” because Bundy’s remarks were made and recorded on April 19th.

Rand Paul, Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, and other “conservative” voices – such as the “Young Conservative” site – ought to have known better. They speak often enough on the subject of how the liberal/left media look for a chance to smear and denigrate individuals whose ideas go counter to the prevailing received liberal/left wisdom ,and will stoop to any tactic to accomplish the marginalization or even elimination of opposing viewpoints. They ought to have been able to spot a set-up and call it for what it was.

No, they ran like rabbits. You wonder if they’re as smart as they claim to be. Instead, they fell for it as well as did Cliven Bundy, but not as innocently. Paul, Hannity, Van Susteren, and the others have the luxury of crafting their statements. Bundy’s remarks were rambling, unguarded, and un-crafted, and, in many respects, ill-chosen. One really wishes one could give him a crash course on how to deal with the venal news media largely in the government’s pocket as a poorly paid shill for its collectivist agenda.

Perhaps the “conservatives” need a refresher course in the slimy tactics of the news media.

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, for example, stuck his tongue out at Hannity in his April 25th article, “No, Sean Hannity, you can’t distance yourself from Cliven Bundy,” and went juvenile on his readers, effectively snorting, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nya, nyah, nyah!”

No, Hannity: You don’t get this Cliven-Bundy-a-la-carte option. Either you embrace Cliven Bundy in toto or you reject him.

Despite Hannity’s protestations, this is all about a man named Cliven Bundy. How many other Western ranching freeloaders are there who have stiffed the government for two decades with specious arguments and then rally with gun-toting protesters when the feds move in to round up his cattle?

Hannity deserves the snickers, even from a liberal cretin named Erik Wemple.

Look at it this way: Cliven Bundy is not an intellectual. He is not a political innovator. As I remarked in the first of my two Rule of Reason columns, Bundy’s views on the BLM and federal power are disparate and lack rational cohesion. He is an average man attempting to unload the unarticulated anger that has built up over decades. He went off-topic when he ought to have stayed on point about what he knows best. Daniel Greenfield (Sultan Knish), treated Bundy rather harshly for not realizing that his words could be deliberately taken out of context and used against him and his cause.

As a private citizen, you can say anything you like. But once you get people invested in your cause, you have an obligation to them. Not just to yourself. And failing to recognize that is selfish behavior.

I wrote last week that there was no reason to expect Bundy to be perfect. The key players in the Boston Massacre certainly weren’t. But if you’re going to play a role in a movement, you have to be willing to think about the consequences of your actions to the people who support you….

And if you find yourself in a position where you have become the image of a particular cause, stick to that cause instead of venting your thoughts on other issues because the media landscape is polarized and there are teams searching through everything you say and have said to spot one sentence they can blow up into a scandal.

Talk show hosts have gone through that ring of fire and know how to handle it, though they still make mistakes. A random person doesn’t. If the issue is property rights, don’t talk about race. Let someone like Ben Carson do it.

Harsh, but true advice which Cliven Bundy and his friends should heed. Because otherwise we get celebratory chortling like this, as reported in another New York Times goal-post victory dance, from April 24th, “Rancher’s Views on Race end Supporters Fleeing,” penned by Lynnette Curtis, and Adam Nagourney, who incidentally wrote the original New York Times piece that “exposed” Bundy as a “racist.”

Republican leaders and television commentators who had rallied to Mr. Bundy’s cause in the days since the Bureau of Land Management tried to round up his herd and then backed down in the face of armed opposition denounced him after his racially charged comments were published online Wednesday night in The New York Times.

Mr. Bundy reiterated many of those thoughts at a news conference near his farm here on Thursday. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and a likely presidential candidate in 2016, who had been one of the most prominent people offering support for Mr. Bundy’s cause, said Thursday that his remarks on race were “offensive, and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”

Commentators on Fox News, which had championed Mr. Bundy’s cause, also expressed distress at his remarks.

“Let me make this plain: I condemn what Cliven Bundy said about African-Americans,” Greta Van Susteren of Fox News said in a headline of a post on her blog above a link to the Times article. Her fellow commentator Sean Hannity reiterated his distress about government overreach — “armed agents, sharpshooters, snipers, dogs, stun guns” — even as he denounced the leader of the standoff for his remarks.

“So people that, for the right reasons, saw this case as government overreach, now are like branded because of the ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments of Cliven Bundy,” he said on his radio show Thursday. For his part, Mr. Bundy held the news conference on Thursday to deal with the uproar his remarks on Saturday had caused, then repeated those remarks.

So, without context, without bothering to examine the circumstances, and without questioning the motives and the purpose of the New York Times in broadcasting Bundy’s faux pas, these leading lights of the conservative movement echo the “horror” of Bundy’s remarks. Because Bundy expressed his sentiments in less than judicious terms, his remarks are automatically “racist, repugnant, and despicable.”

The motive and purpose of the New York Times – and the Washington Post and other mainstream news media silently, implicitly concur – is to link the man with his ideas, and if the man can be found to have “feet of clay” – if something unsavory can be found out about him – then that automatically discredits his ideas and we needn’t pay him any more serious attention. And the last idea the New York Times wishes to see become popular is that the federal government is a destructive, insatiable monster. The New York Times is getting away with its fallacy of distraction – away from the issue of arbitrary government power, which it has endorsed for decades – coupled with an argumentum ad hominem, a charge against the man unrelated to his position on a specific subject, but which serves to bring the man down in the eyes and minds of everyone the New York Times wishes to dupe.

Mark Steyn wrote some justifiably acerbic words about the new Bundy vigilantes in his April 25th column, “How Now White Cowman?”

Like everyone else, Gavin McInnes has weighed in on Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s observations on “the Negro”. Mr. McInnes concludes:

This isn’t about some old guy’s views on slavery. It’s about government control. We’re not saying Bundy is the messiah and we accept him as our personal savior. We’re saying the government is wrong.

Let’s stipulate that Cliven Bundy is a racist. Let’s also assume, if only to save time, that he’s Islamophobic, homophobic and transphobic. So what? Does that make criticizing the Bureau of Land Management “racist” or “homophobic”?

I’m not quite certain Steyn actually believes that Bundy is a “racist”; he isn’t clear on that point, but the point is taken. Let’s concede, for argument’s sake, that Bundy is a closet racist. And? Is he wrong to defy the government for the right reasons? No. Steyn observes:

In other words, the purpose of the federal bureaucracy’s “grazing fee” was never to provide a fair-market value for the cost to taxpayers of permitting grazing on public land but simply to drive those cattle off the land, and their owners out of the ranching business. As a form of coercion, it worked. But it is not a “law” that should command any respect.

I think it’s absurd and obnoxious that an obscure and unaccountable government agency should rule an area the size of France, Germany and Italy combined. What for? Why should the 26th largest country on earth (which the Bureau of Land Management is) be maintained in perpetuity as the world’s biggest nature preserve for the desert tortoise? The seven-eighths of the United States that isn’t under the iron rod of the BLM is the Brokest Nation in History: it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more productive land.

Canada Free Press also weighs in on the absurdity of the “racist” charges against Bundy, and offers a double screen video of what Bundy said and what was edited out of his comments, as does InfoWars.

One interesting angle on Bundy’s alleged “racism,” one not mentioned by anyone else as far as I can determine, is the revelation that one of his bodyguards is “black.” The Daily Mail (London) published this interesting article on April 26th (today), “Cliven Bundy’s black bodyguard claims rancher is not racist and he would ‘happily’ take a bullet for him.

Despite a collection of seemingly racist rants about ‘negros,’ slavery and ‘picking cotton,’ not everyone thinks Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is a racist, and one of the people defending the one-time far-right-wing folk hero is one of his bodyguards – who happens to be black.

Jason Bullock has been at Bundy’s side since his battle with the federal government began heating up in late March. According to Bullock, the man he’s come to know over the last month is not a racist. In fact, Bullock says he would take a bullet for Bundy….

Bullock was recently interviewed by CNN and asked, ‘You’re protecting this man and he’s wondering whether African-Americans would be better off as slaves. How does that strike you?’

‘It doesn’t strike me any kind of way,’ Bullock answered. ‘This is still the same old Mr. Bundy I met from the first day of all this happening.’

Bullock says the things Bundy has been saying – ‘wondering’ if ‘negros’ were better off under slavery, and comparing himself to civil rights hero Rosa Parks, for example – don’t offend him.

‘Mr. Bundy is not a racist. Ever since I’ve been here he’s treated me with nothing but hospitality,’ Bullock told the reporter. ‘He’s pretty much treated me like his own family.’ He goes on to say that ‘I would take a bullet for that man, if need be,’ and that he ‘look(s) up to him just like I do my grandfather.’

The Daily Mail article goes on to report that Bundy is attempting damage control.

On Friday, he invoked the heroic actions of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who was arrested in 1955 after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her actions sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and were a defining moment of the civil rights’ movement.

On the Bundy Ranch Facebook page on Friday, he wrote: ‘I am doing the same thing Rosa Parks did – I am standing up against bad laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom. Just like the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, we are saying no to an oppressive government which considers us to be slaves rather than free men. ‘I invite all people in America to join in our peaceful revolution to regain our freedom. That is how America was started, and we need to keep that tradition alive.’

Bundy earlier said that if people were offended by his use of the word ‘negro’ or ‘slave’ then ‘Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet’.

And that’s as much as I will say on this subject. The conservatives’ cowardly and timid words and actions in response to Bundy’s remarks are largely “ignorant, racist, repugnant, and despicable.” The liberal/left’s words and actions on those remarks, however, are “repugnant and despicable,” but not so ignorant, while the liberal/left has an unbroken record of crying “racism” and “white privilege” the first time anyone utters anything that contradicts the welfare-statist, “we want all of you, black and white and whatever else, on the government’s plantation of dependency” agenda. Race is on the collective mind of the liberal/left.

It was never on Cliven Bundy’s.

  • Hilda

    As usual, it’s pleasure to read such a well-reasoned argument, Ed. I wonder if one of the reasons if not the real reason some of these conservatives are too readily willing to
    throw Bundy under the bus is that they truly fear the fist of the govt. Greta Van Susteren is very smart, and so I find it hard to believe that she would actually fall for the MSM’s racism claim. I rather think these conservatives are being cowards. I thank
    you, Ed, for not being a coward.

  • Hilda
  • mkkevitt

    Despite their initial support of Bundy, conservatives still share the liberal’s pseudo-philosophy and pseudo-values. They must both be countered with not just actual thinking, philosophy and values, but also with the appropriate action. Guess what the final argument and action against them both is, whether we choose to recognize it or not. Mike Kevitt

  • DogmaelJones1

    Yes, Americans are slaves all year long, when you think of all the ways they’re taxed, regulated and otherwise dictated to. Yes, it is curious that someone with the acumen of Van Susteren would fall for the liberal/left tactic; perhaps it fear of the government’s retaliatory power. There’s another person who has remained silent on all the major issues the past few years: Justice Clarence Thomas. All the other Justices have had their say in public, one way or another, on and off the bench. But Thomas, the most rational member of the SCOTUS, has been mute. I can’t believe his silence isn’t being extorted from him via some sort of blackmail.

  • Grantsinmypants

    Two things:

    1) Bundy’s “racist remarks” didn’t even seem racist. It seemed like he was simply (if very ineptly) trying to say that the welfare state has enslaved blacks just as much as literal slavery did. Not conclusive – he may be a racist – but that’s the point: it’s not conclusive! There’s no way to know, definitively, what the guy meant just from that video clip (ie: if it was the point above, or simply a racist diatribe).

    2) Because there’s no way to know if Bundy is a racist, it’s actually RACIST to conclude that he was making a racist statement. How could anyone know that? Because he’s a white man (and “we all know” that all white men are racist)? The only racism that is CERTAINLY racism in this whole issue is coming from those (prematurely) calling him a racist.

  • DogmaelJones1

    To the Progressive mind, Bundy was expressing his “white privilege.” This thinking is Marxist in nature. Marxists say that any protest by the “bourgeoise”
    (middle class) about the confiscation of their property by socialists or
    communists, is just “bourgeoise” logic and so is automatically invalid and must be suppressed. So, you can see how infected our politics is by Marxism. Political correctness in any form, on any subject, is a manifestation of Marxist ideology.

  • Bette

    4/25/2014 9:58:48 AM

    I posted this on the above date and time
    I´m Jewish and have heard people make plenty of stupid remarks in my lifetime. Of course, there was no media nearby to bring them up on charges. Some of these people actually became my good friends. Most idol remarks are made from ignorance and correcting these folks gently would be a better way of handling these things. This horrible reaction is not just shaming Bundy, it is the usual high tech lynching by people who have another agenda; smearing those who sided with his resistance to government overreach. Some of his supporters have run for the hills in fear of being tainted by Bundy´s ignorant/thoughtless remarks. The left surely has a strangle hold on thought and make no allowance for infractions by their enemies, but see nothing in the ignorant, often irreverent and very often lies from their own side.

    “Why can’t we all just get along”, said the famour Rodney King; this is whyQ

  • mkkevitt

    But, what’s all this got to do with Bundy’s property & land rights being denied by the BLM? Nothing, that’s what. But, the issue or non-issue of racism is used to destroy support for Bundy against the BLM because, “Who wants a racist to have his rights?”. Bundy’s alleged racism was brought up by statists who knew the American culture of sheep would take its cue, hopefully leaving him alone to face the BLM single-handedly.

    Fall for it? Go ahead. I support Bundy 100% against the BLM. Mike Kevitt

  • mkkevitt

    We can get along & we do, except for those who insist on using initiatory force, especially under cover of the guise of law, gvt. & due process.

    Those who insist on using initiatory force do so because of the ‘strangle hold’ on thought had by the left (statists). Mike Kevitt

  • Bette

    CORRECT.

  • Grantsinmypants

    I realize that. I can only (properly, effectively) comment on one thing at a time, however.

  • mkkevitt

    I guess I just thought you should ‘a commented on Bundy’s dispute with the BLM ‘stead ‘a his alleged racism. I consider those two irrelevant to each other, that his dispute with the BLM to be of earth shaking importance, but that his alleged racism of no importance. But, oh well. That’s just me. Mike Kevitt

  • Grantsinmypants

    This article isn’t about his dispute with the BLM. It’s about how the media made a big deal about his (allegedly, possibly) racist remarks. It agree with you that his (alleged, possible) racism is irrelevant to the validity of his beef with the BLM, but again, that isn’t what this article is about.