Several conservative media figures are in an awkward position this morning after Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher they've spent weeks lionizing and comparing to civil rights heroes, was quoted by The New York Times saying appalling things about "the Negro."
In a story published late Wednesday, the Times reported on a news conference Bundy held on Saturday, in which he "wondered," among other things, whether blacks were "better off as slaves":
"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. Mr. Bundy 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.
"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."
Bundy's racism follows weeks of conservatives championing his cause and comparing his fight with the federal government to those of fugitive slaves, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr.
In a column for National Review Online headlined "The Case for a Little Sedition," Kevin Williamson argued that people focusing on how Bundy was on the losing side of the legal questions in his case were missing the point. According to Williamson, "Of course the law is against Cliven Bundy. How could it be otherwise?" He proceeded to compare Bundy's fight to "every fugitive slave" and "every one of the sainted men and women who enabled them."
Williamson reiterated the slave comparison during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program, calling Bundy's defiance of the government "an act of civil disobedience." He added, "The people at the Boston Tea Party were breaking the law. The people who harbored fugitive slaves were breaking the law."
Williamson reportedly told Talking Points Memo, which asked him about his comparison of Bundy to Gandhi in the same column, that Bundy's "racial rhetoric is lamentable and backward." He also defended his comparison, saying, "I very strongly suspect that most of the men who died at the Alamo held a great many views that I would find repugnant; we remember them for other reasons."
In his regular column for WND, Alan Keyes wrote that the Bundy fight was "shaping up to be a Rosa Parks episode":
Following the example of previous generations of Americans, they formed a 21st-century instance of one of the committees of correspondence, which were the backbone of America's resistance to the intended tyranny of the British government in the run up to America's war for independence. Instead of the prospect of an intimidating victory over one isolated, vulnerable family, the Obama faction faced the common resolve of an organized community of citizens asserting their right to self-government.
It was supposed to be a chilling exercise of factional dominance. Instead it was shaping up to be a Rosa Parks episode, likely to serve as the byword for inspiring citizens throughout the nation to act on what it means to be American. Worse still from the would-be tyrants' viewpoint, the Obama faction would come off looking like the bullies they most certainly are, arrogantly drawing first blood in their bid to crush the spirit of American liberty.
Fellow WND columnist Mychal Massie posted a column attacking the "lack of leadership" from members of the government over the Bundy case. Referencing Obama's comments about slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Massie asked, "If he had a son, couldn't he have looked like Cliven Bundy or Bundy's son, whom the condemnable Bureau of Land Management (BLM) jackbooted thugs Tased?" He also invoked Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King to defend Bundy:
I referenced a lack of leadership during this desperate time. Where was Obama? If he had a son, couldn't he have looked like Cliven Bundy or Bundy's son, whom the condemnable Bureau of Land Management (BLM) jackbooted thugs Tased? Weren't the Bundys black enough for Obama to call the BLM jackboots "stupid" as he called the police in Cambridge, Mass., when he disapproved of the way the Cambridge police rightly went about doing their job in the situation involving Louis Gates?
But we were left to fend for ourselves and for one another. And that we did. Now we are called domestic terrorists. Well, if we are domestic terrorists, what were Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King? After all, Parks broke segregation laws of that time, and King led marches and boycotts that effectively crippled the bus and transportation industry. If we are domestic terrorists, what were they?
Fringe radio and TV host Gary Franchi -- a conspiracy theorist whose show has been visited in recent years by gun activists like former NRA President David Keene and Gun Owners of America's Larry Pratt -- posted a video dedicated to breaking down on a white board the ways in which Bundy is like Rosa Parks:
And media figures weren't the only Bundy allies comparing him to civil rights leaders. Appearing on Iowa conservative Steve Deace's radio show, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack likened the Bundy situation to "Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus."
UPDATED: Here's the video of Bundy's racist rant: