Now that he’s won a confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing his cattle on federal land, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has time to hold court on everything from abortion to the current state of “the Negro.”
Bundy made some racially charged comments about government assistance in his daily news conference Saturday, according to a New York Times story published Wednesday.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” the rancher began as he described a “government house” in Las Vegas where he recalled that all the people who sat outside seemed to “have nothing to do.”
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he said, as quoted by the Times. “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 Times reached out to spokespeople for Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Dean Heller (R-NV), who have spoken in support of Bundy, and for Texas Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott (R). Those who responded distanced themselves from Bundy and his remarks.
A spokesman for Heller, who had called Bundy and his supporters “patriots,” told the Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”
A spokeswoman for Abbott, who asked BLM to respond to reports that it planned to acquire land near his state’s Red River in the wake of the Bundy ranch standoff, told the Times that the gubernatorial candidate’s letter to the agency “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”
A spokesman for Paul told the Times that the senator wasn’t immediately available for comment on Bundy’s remarks. In a statement later provided to Business Insider, Paul denounced the comments.
“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said through a spokesman.
In the aftermath of Bundy’s standoff with federal authorities, conservatives were quick to champion the rancher’s cause, going as far as to compare him to civil rights icons. Richard Mack, a right-wing former sheriff who helped organize the militia that gathered at Bundy’s ranch, said the rancher and his supporters were like “Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus.” National Review correspondent Kevin D. Williamson wrote that the Bundy’s struggles with the law paralleled those of Mahatma Gandhi.
Watch the video below, courtesy of Media Matters:
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.