Rancher Cliven Bundy defends slavery remarks: ‘I think I’m right’

Cliven Bundy

(CNN) — Cliven Bundy — the Nevada rancher turned conservative folk hero for bucking the federal government’s attempts to stop his cattle from grazing on public land — admits he doesn’t understand the bipartisan uproar over his comments suggesting blacks might have been better off under slavery.

But he understands what he meant by those comments, and he’s not backing down.

“I don’t think I’m wrong,” Bundy told CNN’s Bill Weir on Thursday night. “I think I’m right.”

For two decades, Bundy’s cattle have fed off of government-owned land without paying grazing fees like thousands of other ranchers.

He claims, then and now, that he won’t do business with the federal government — because, in his view, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Americans can’t use land owned by the federal government. Bundy told CNN that he’d only be willing to talk to county and state authorities, opining that they have a more rightful claim to the land than anyone in Washington.

He reiterated his stance Friday morning in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” He defended having his cattle feed off of government-owned land without paying grazing fees. He said he abides by all state laws.

“I’ll be damned if this is the property of the United States. They have no business here,” he said.

This stance made him a darling of conservatives in the media and Republican circles upset over what they’ve deemed government overreach. Militiamen literally rallied by the side of the 67-year-old rancher as armed federal rangers tried to force him off his land.

Bundy won that standoff. But he didn’t stop talking. That’s where his new trouble began, which threatens to overshadow his original fight.

Speaking to reporters over the weekend, he recalled driving by a public-housing project in North Las Vegas and seeing “at least a half-dozen (black) people sitting on the porch, they didn’t have nothing to do.”

“Because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he added in comments first reported by the New York Times and later seen on video. “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.”

The remarks have since gone viral, drawing widespread condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike. The rancher said he doesn’t feel “abandoned” by the uproar by the likes of right-wing radio firebrand and Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has ripped what he called the “ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments.”

Asked Thursday by CNN to elaborate, Bundy explained he’d been simply “wondering whether (blacks) are that much better off in the situation we’re in now.”

He backtracked somewhat, insisting he “didn’t really mean it to compare (African-Americans’ current plight) with slavery. I meant to compare it with maybe life on the farm or life in the South, where they had some chickens and the gardens, and they had something to do.”

At the same time, Bundy stood by his general premise that blacks once had better lives — stating that, right now, “they don’t have nothing to do with their children, their family unit is ruined … That’s what I was referring to I don’t think they have the life that they should have” because of the government.

How did he arrive at these generalizations?

“I feel that, because I see that,” Bundy explained.

On CNN’s “New Day” on Friday, Bundy spoke more about the issue.

“Maybe I sin … and maybe I don’t know what I actually said. … If I say Negro or black or slave … if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be (offended), then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet. … We need to get over this prejudice stuff,” he said.

CNN’s Weir at one point challenged the Nevada rancher about whether he was any more or less a “welfare queen” as those who get entitlement checks — since his cattle have been feeding off the government, literally, by eating grass on public land.

Bundy’s response: “I might be a welfare queen. But I’ll tell you I’m producing something for America and using a resource that nobody else would use or could use. I’m putting red meat on the table.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

10 comments

  • Joe

    Say whatever you’d like, that’s within your rights. That stated, it’s also within his rights to believe and say whatever he’d like. That’s what makes America so great.

    • manalishi

      Cows eat grass. This was just another “Gotcha” journalism moment to distract from the BLM jacking and killing cattle rather than taking appropriate legal action. If racist comments were illegal, he, Jackson, Farakaun, and a slew of fruits would be in jail.

  • vasumurti

    Should meat be taxed? I’ve heard that when he was with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Bruce Friedrich would urge legislators to “tax meat” — similar to the “sin taxes” we now see on cigarettes and alcohol.

    Before joining PETA, Bruce Friedrich distributed copies of his essay “Veganism and Nonviolence” to the numerous Catholic Worker houses across the United States, pointing out that many Catholic worker-types like to think of themselves as nonviolent, but are unaware of the violence that goes into a hamburger or a glass of milk.

    A bumper sticker by Friends of Animals reads “Veganism Is Direct Action”…

    …but direct action might be economic impact:

    ABOLISH “WELFARE-RANCHING”!

    ABOLISH ALL TAXPAYER SUPPORT FOR THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY!

    Vegan author John Robbins provides these points and facts in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987):

    Half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat. If these costs weren’t subsidized by the American taxpayers, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound!

    Livestock producers are California’s biggest consumers of water. Every tax dollar the state doles out to livestock producers costs taxpayers over seven dollars in lost wages, higher living costs and reduced business income. Seventeen western states have enough water supplies to support economies and populations twice as large as the present.

    U.S. livestock produce twenty times as much excrement as the entire human population, creating sewage which is ten to several hundred times as concentrated as raw domestic sewage. Meat producers contribute to half the water pollution in the United States.

    Again: half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat. If these costs weren’t subsidized by the American taxpayers, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound!

    If we abolish all taxpayer support for the livestock industry, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound, effectively making everyone in the United States a vegetarian. This would have far greater and far-reaching consequences than merely taxing meat.

    A 2007 pamphlet put out by Compassion Over Killing similarly points out:

    Nearly 75% of the grain grown and 50% of the water consumed in the U.S. are used by the meat industry. (Audubon Society)

    It takes nearly one gallon of fossil fuel and 5,200 gallons of water to produce just one pound of conventionally fed beef. (Mother Jones)

    In their 2007 book, Please Don’t Eat the Animals, mother and daughter Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers write:

    “Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.

    “The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil.

    “Thirty-three percent of our nation’s raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.”

    • athynz

      You love PETA don’t you? And yet PETA has the highest animal kill ratio on the planet, they killed 90% of the pets they “rescued” and dumped them into dumpsters that they did not even own. Can you tell me how any of that is “ethical”? Thanks!

  • athynz

    It’s obvious that the mainstream liberal progressive controlled media neither understand his remark or have twisted them to fit into their own agenda. Not surprising and I’m sure the source is Dirty Harry Reid. What he said is that after the abolishment of slavery and prior to the enactment of all of the social assistance programs that most black people had the “nuclear family” of a mother, father, and children. With the programs they were told that they can survive without a man, a father, a husband because the government would provide. They were told that the government would provide for the mother and child. So the government and the assistance programs broke up the black family. THAT is the message he was trying to get across – and of course the liberal progressives cannot stand that.

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