Cliven Bundy Is The Exploding Racist Cigar That Just Went Off In The Tea Party’s Mouth

CLIVEN BUNDY: “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. 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. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: As we wrote in this space yesterday, those comments placed Hannity in a bind, considering that he’d used his program to popularize Bundy’s fight against the Bureau of Land Management over his tendency to allow his cattle to graze on public lands. According to the feds, Bundy owes about $1 million in grazing fees and penalties and the like. No stranger to outrage, Hannity deployed a little bit of it in responding to Bundy’s musings about the conditions of the “Negro”: “All right, allow me to make myself abundantly clear. I believe those comments are downright racist. They are repugnant. They are bigoted. And it’s beyond disturbing. I find those comments to be deplorable, and I think it’s extremely unfortunate that Cliven Bundy holds those views.”

A good start. The next logical move would have been to repudiate his own coverage of Bundy. But that was too far a walk for Hannity. Instead, he got into the hair-splitting business, attempting to keep alive the larger theme of his coverage, despite the unseemly comments about race from his ranching hero: “However, I also want to say this. The ranch standoff that took place out in Nevada was not about a man named Cliven Bundy. At the heart of this issue was my belief that our government is simply out of control. Now, to me, this was about a federal agency’s dangerous response to a situation that could have resulted in a catastrophe, and that means people dying and people being shot, kind of comparable to what we saw in Waco, Texas.”

No, Hannity: You don’t get this Cliven-Bundy-a-la-carte option. Either you embrace Cliven Bundy in toto or you reject him. Despite Hannity’s protestations, this is all about a man named Cliven Bundy. How many other Western ranching freeloaders are there who have stiffed the government for two decades with specious arguments and then rally with gun-toting protesters when the feds move in to round up his cattle? Perhaps Hannity could be excused for embracing this guy, if only the signs of the rancher’s unhingedness had been shrouded before this latest encounter. They were not. MORE

CNN: The Republican National Committee said Bundy’s comments were “completely beyond the pale. Both highly offensive and 100% wrong on race.” But experts on race and politics say the comments, much like those of rocker Ted Nugent, who created a firestorm when he called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel,” also speak to complicated and deeply fraught cultural tensions running beneath the surface in some segments of America. “We are looking at some of the ‘last white men standing,’ ” Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University, said of demographic shifts that show minorities now represent more than half of the nation’s population born in 2010 and 2011, according to the most recent census data. “His comments represent that, and people rally around him because of this idea that white men are under siege. They are calling out the political establishment to stand by them,” he said. But Bundy’s comments — much like those of Nugent and “Duck Dynasty ” star Phil Robertson, who shared during an interview with GQ last year pastoral recollections of blacks “singing and happy” as he and his family worked alongside them in Louisiana cotton fields — speak to a certain politically active fringe element, political experts say. Among those who support views of limited government, there is often a “higher than average endorsement of views that could be seen as racial resentment,” said Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University. “What this reflects is that there are groups of people who have not been accepted by politically correct circles and have never learned to frame their comments in a palatable fashion. They take pride in that,” Gillespie said. “The articulation of their views is somewhat fringe, but the underlying attitude is not. They are a minority viewpoint, but they are a large minority.” MORE