Bundy defends remarks, loses supporters

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Updated: 4/25/2014 1:59 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada rancher who became a conservative folk hero for standing up to the government in a fight over grazing rights lost some of his staunch defenders after wondering aloud whether blacks might have had it better under slavery.

Republican politicians from around the country who have rallied to Cliven Bundy's defense in recent weeks denounced the comments and distanced themselves from the rancher, including potential 2016 presidential contender U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada. Democrats were quick to pounce on the comments and label Bundy a racist.

Bundy has gone from a little-known rancher and melon farmer in rural Nevada to a national political star since he resisted the federal government's attempts to round up his cattle from federal land because he hadn't paid grazing fees for two decades. His supporters, especially those on the right, have praised him for standing up to what they believe is a heavy-handed federal government, and several armed militia members traveled to his ranch to back Bundy.

His comments were first published in The New York Times on Wednesday, but he did little to tamp down the controversy as he sought to address the public outrage on Thursday.

Bundy was quoted in a Times story referring to black people as "the Negro" and recalling a time decades ago when he drove past homes in North Las Vegas and saw black people who "didn't have nothing to do." He said he wondered if they were "better off as slaves" than "under government subsidy."

On Thursday during an outdoor news conference near his ranch 80 miles from Las Vegas, he echoed the same sentiment: "Are they slaves to charities and government subsidized homes? And are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons are in the prisons? This thought goes back a long time."

A statement on the official Bundy Ranch Facebook page Thursday said that Bundy was a "good man, he loves all people, he is not a racist man." Bundy explained that he wasn't saying anyone should be enslaved today.

Politicians who had defended Bundy quickly issued statements condemning the remarks.

"His remarks on race are offensive, and I wholeheartedly disagree with him," Paul said.

Heller, who last week called Bundy defenders "patriots" for their stand against the government, "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way," said his spokeswoman, Chandler Smith.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat who last week called Bundy supporters "domestic terrorists," also spoke out against Bundy's words.

"Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist," Reid said. "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 says he doesn't recognize federal authority over lands around his property that his cattle have grazed on for years.

The Bureau of Land Management claims the cattle are trespassing on fragile Gold Butte habitat set aside for the endangered desert tortoise, and that Bundy has racked up some $1.1 million in fees and penalties since 1993.

Supporters rushed to Bundy's ranch after a YouTube video showed federal agents using a stun gun on Bundy's son during a BLM roundup of the family's cattle. The resulting armed standoff became so tense that BLM agents and contractors called off the weeklong roundup, released about 350 animals back to Bundy and left the area April 12.

Federal officials have said the agency would pursue unspecified administrative and judicial remedies, but BLM officials have not provided details.


©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

11 Comment(s)
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renojim - 4/26/2014 2:28 PM
0 Votes
What exactly are blacks dealing with today, that whites aren't, last I checked with the meth and welfare abuse here in white Washoe county, I see the problems being pretty equal. We have a black president, so blacks must not be better off than they were when they were slaves right???? Your ignorance is inexusable, you are the poster child for abortions.

renojim - 4/26/2014 2:28 PM
0 Votes
What exactly are blacks dealing with today, that whites aren't, last I checked with the meth and welfare abuse here in white Washoe county, I see the problems being pretty equal. We have a black president, so blacks must not be better off than they were when they were slaves right???? Your ignorance is inexusable, you are the poster child for abortions.

renojim - 4/26/2014 2:25 PM
0 Votes
@Leeland, are you stupid?? Slavery offered more security, getting beat, mamed, women being raped, overworked, underfed, murdered for being smart,just to name a few, if this is a generation gap, your generation needs to die off soon!!!

Leeland - 4/25/2014 8:49 PM
1 Vote
What we have here is a typical generation gap. Us older folks understand him and the younger ones see racism. He is not a racist. That's the way folks look at things when you have lived through all the changes. He has a point. Considering what blacks are dealing with today, slavery was a different environment that offered a lot more security. Lets not forget that we all are economic slaves. Making that paycheck to pay the bills.

Chett2Cleve - 4/25/2014 7:30 PM
0 Votes
Cliven Bundy’s dispute with the Bureau of Land Management has brought the Western Shoshone Nation and the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley back into focus. Mary and Carrie Dann, Raymond Yowell, and Myron Tybo had horses and cattle stolen by the Bureau of Land Management for grazing their livestock on Western Shoshone treaty lands without a federal grazing permit, which the Western Shoshone said was not required because of the Ruby Valley Treaty. The current Bundy dispute with the BLM has reminded many of us of those contentious days back in 2002, even though in most ways there is not much basis for comparison. Although the Bundy ranch is not in the Western Shoshone territory, the U.S. government has previously claimed that the establishment of such non-Indian ranches was one of the ways that Western Shoshone “aboriginal title” was gradually “extinguished.” This is part of something the United States Indian Claims Commission creatively and falsely called “gradual encroachment,” or, in other words, “gradual stealing.” The Western Shoshone Nation has never ceded or relinquished its territory by a ratified treaty with the United States as required by the organic act establishing the Territory of Nevada. The Treaty of Ruby Valley was not a treaty of cession or relinquishment. And, according to the act that established the territory of Nevada, no Indian land shall become part or any state or territory until such time as the Indians enter into a treaty with the United States by which they transfer their lands to the United States. The United States government has been busy violating that part of the organic law of the United States, for millions of acres of land, some $30 billion in gold, and untold amounts of water. Cliven Bundy is being lionized by the Right as someone who is standing up to government abuse and the developing federal police state in the U.S. He is being demonized by the Left as someone who refuses to abide by “the rule of law.” Yet, once again, neither sid

Speed - 4/25/2014 7:01 PM
1 Vote
http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2014/04/25/what-cliven-bundy-really-said-the-full-quote-before-ny-times-edited-it/ He's not good at "Politically Correct",but he's also not a Racist or Bigot. He's a guy who says what he believes and is willing to back it up if necessary. What's wrong with THAT? IMO,if someone is so thin skinned they get their panties in a bunch over a WORD,they need to do some growing up.

BR549 - 4/25/2014 6:05 PM
3 Votes
Bundy has been on that land since 1877,I think he has the right to be there.He was there when nobody gave a tinkers damn about it.Do you really want to see a crook like Reid and son get their greedy hands on it so they can give it to the Chinese?I would much rather see cattle grazing than windmills or giant mirrors for solar.

Prblmslvr - 4/25/2014 8:28 AM
1 Vote
So its ok if he wants to move in to your house and eat all your food and not pay rent?

tutorialbs - 4/25/2014 8:11 AM
1 Vote
I would still support Bundy's cause if he wasn't a racist. Because he is a racist it's important not to support his cause. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.

taxpaying mom - 4/25/2014 7:58 AM
4 Votes
Agreed A liberal hate campaign. Nothing more.

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