America’s folk hero

About a week ago, in an article I posted, I asked, “Who is Cliven Bundy?” Today, that question probably does not have to be answered by me. Mr. Bundy is currently the darling of the mainstream media, a man who, with the support of his armed vigilante cowboys, stared down the federal government.

Bundy is a 68-year-old wealthy cattle rancher from Bunkerville, Nevada, who refused to recognize federal authority over the land where his cattle graze. He has accumulated, over a 20-year period, more than $1 million in fees and fines. Having gotten approval from the courts, the government agents impounded a few hundred of Bundy’s cows. And, this leads us into the confrontation between the feds and Bundy’s armed right-wing “patriots.” The government backed down and Bundy became a folk hero for the right-wing, conservative, anti-government cause.

As a hero, Bundy was given a platform to speak, and he did. This is what he said: “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro . . .” 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.”

Republicans and conservatives initially ran to his support. Why not, after all their platform is consistently anti-government. However, his comments ignited a storm from his original supporters, Rand Paul, Sean Hannity, Rick Perry, and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), as well as others, distancing themselves from their own hero.

As we know, we are in a post racist society which means no one is a racist. George Zimmerman, another darling of the right-wing, gun toting crowd, is not a racist. That is why race is no longer an issue in trials where white men kill people of color. That is why some states have instituted the “stand your ground” or “kill a black man” laws. But, I digress.

Why is everyone so upset by what Mr. Bundy said? Upon further review, I found that it wasn’t so much what he said, but how he said it. Republican politicians spoke out loud and clear, blasting Mr. Bundy for making flagrant racist remarks instead of relying on the subtle racial code words.

Let’s be honest. Bundy said in plain language what many, if not most , of the people in this country think and feel. Our post racist society is nothing more than a public relations gimmick. Example: what would have been the response of the federal agents had the armed resisters been Native Americans, or Middle Eastern Muslims, or the Black Panthers?

Are we on the same page yet?

Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.

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