At the beginning of the week, Cliven Bundy was a virtually unknown rancher in Nevada battling an intrusive federal government that had stormed onto his land, killed his cattle, even tasered and arrested his son. By week's end, he was a "stone-cold racist," according to the Washington Post.
So what happened? Simple: As Bundy's lore grew among conservatives, the most extreme of whom have a deep anti-government sentiment, the mainstream (read: liberal) media decided to take the old-timer down a peg. They didn't even have to try that hard, just hold a microphone up and wait for the cowboy to blab away.
Bundy was always an odd "hero." While he complained about government overreach, drawing hundreds of supporters to his land to put up an armed defense, he was, in fact, simply stealing from the government. For 20 years he had failed to pay the government for grazing his cattle on federal land. He had one reason: "I don't recognize the United States government as even existing," he said.
But the government does exist, and all Americans comply with laws we don't much like (think taxes). Bundy had a few choices: Stop grazing his cattle -- for free -- on government land, pay the fees, or battle the powers that be in the courts to change the laws. He did none of those.
So from the beginning, Republicans and conservatives were exposed to danger in worshipping at the alter of Bundy. No one knew anything about his opinions on race -- why would they? What was unfolding was clearly an example of big government stomping on The Little Man, and race was the furthest thing from anyone's mind.
Not so the liberal media. Tagging opponents with the label "racist" is a tried-and-true practice for Democrats, one that ends all debate in its tracks. They deployed the strategy with great success to the emerging Tea Party (remember the allegations that a protester spit on a black member of Congress? It was a lie, but Tea Party members have been dismissed ever since by the MSM as hate-filled racists).
They did it again to Duck Dynasty's patriarch, Phil Robertson. (To refresh, he said this back in December about his youth in the 1950s: "I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once…they're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.").
One would think you couldn't argue with a man's recollection of his own experiences, but liberals disagree. Robertson was, no doubt, a racist for having not seen the plight of the black man before the civil rights law. And even more racist for thinking blacks were ever actually "happy."
Enter Bundy. Almost immediately, he's the darling of conservatives, appearing on Fox News so often he could've become a paid "contributor." So the New York Times sent reporter Adam Nagourney, a longtime advocate for Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Barack Obama, out to Bundy's Nevada ranch. Nagourney says he never asked a question at a daily "press conference," that "the stuff he is in trouble over today was stuff he said on his own unprompted."
But the New York Times printed only a few of Bundy's comments and offered an edited version. It wasn't until Friday that a fuller, unedited version appeared, showing the context of Bundy's "racist" remarks (at least what context there was).
Left out of the Times report were two passages: In one, the grammar-challenged rancher talks about experiencing firsthand the Watts race riots in the 1960s, and says this: "We've progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don't want to go back." In another unquoted passage, he said of Hispanics: "Don't tell me they don't work, and don't tell me they don't pay taxes. And don't tell me they don't have better family structures than most of us white people."
Now, talking frankly about race is not something hoity-toity East Coasters ever do. God forbid someone says something that could be perceived as racist. But Bundy did -- and his conclusions were clear: The federal government's so-called effort to raise minorities from poverty into the middle-class doesn't seem to be a ringing success. Sure, his use of the terms "colored" and "negroes" has long since passed from the politically correct world, but he clearly laments the current plight of American blacks under the federal welfare system while saying there has been much progress and that "we sure don't want to go back."
But by the time the unedited remarks appeared, one-time defenders of Bundy had already bailed. Fox News' Sean Hannity, his biggest champion, called the edited comments "ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable." Libertarian hero Rep. Rand Paul fled, calling Bundy "racist." A host of others followed.
By late Friday, some black supporters came to the rancher's defense. Jason Bullock, a bodyguard for Bundy, said his comments weren't racist or offensive. Why? "Because Mr. Bundy is not a racist. Ever since I've been here he's treated me with nothing but hospitality. He's pretty much treated me like his own family," he said on CNN.
And: "I would take a bullet for that man, if need be. I look up to him just like I do my own grandfather."
Former U.N. Ambassador Alan Keyes, who is black, said: "He wasn't talking so much about black folks, but about the harm and damage that the leftist socialism has done to blacks. ... "I find it appalling that we basically have a history of the leftist liberalism that wants to extinguish black people by abortion [and] destroying the family structure," Keyes told World Net Daily. "All of these things, if you just look at the effects, you would say this was planned by some racist madman to destroy the black community.”
He went even further: "I think it’s time somebody started to recognize the racism that exists in its effects – the hard leftist ideology using the black community for their sacrificial lamb, for their sick ideology. It’s time we called them what they are,” he said. "Now it's racist to point it out."
Still, just like that -- poof -- Bundy's bubble burst. Whatever point he was seeking to make -- that the federal government is too powerful, that states should control land in their own states -- will forever be colored by his remarks on race. He is a racist, the Washington Post said, and "Not the kind where we might disagree about whether he’s actually a racist, but a lazy-blacks-had-it-better-when-they-were-slaves kind of racist."
End of story.