Friday, April 25, 2014

Bundy Doubles Down on ‘Negro’ Talk, and Supporters Flee in Droves

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Cliven Bundy keeps doubling down on his observations about African Americans, and many of his erstwhile supports can’t run away quickly enough.

On Thursday, the New York Times published racially incendiary remarks by Bundy, who mused about the status of black people – “Are they better off as slaves?” he asked. Bundy’s support from mainstream conservatives and prominent Republicans essentially vanished. So he began making the media rounds again, trying to explain himself.

But Bundy didn’t apologize or back away from his remarks. Rather, he doubled down, emphasizing at a press conference that he thought he was right to ask such questions:

I've been wondering – Cliven Bundys are wondering about these people – now I’m talking about the black community. I’ve been wondering – are they better off with their young women aborting their children? Are they better off with their young men in prison? And are they better off with the older people on the sidewalks in front of their government-issued homes with a few children on them – are they better off, are they happier than they was when they was in the South, in front of their homes with their chickens and their gardens and their children around them, and their men having something to do?
He also went on CNN’s “New Day” program this morning and again doubled down, this time saying Martin Luther King hadn’t finished his job if black people were going to be offended by the things he said:

Maybe I sinned, maybe I need to ask forgiveness, and maybe I don’t know what I actually said. But when you talk about prejudice, we’re talking about not being able to exercise what we think and our feelings —  we don’t have freedom to say what we want. If I say ‘Negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave’ — I’m not — if those people cannot take those kinda words and not be offensive, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet.

The flight from support for Bundy continued apace, with Republican politicians and party officials continuing to assert that they have nothing to do with the Nevada rancher – who has been in a standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over his illegally grazing cattle.

However, the militiamen who showed up with weapons at Bundy’s ranch in Nevada say they continue to support him; indeed, they see the news stories as just another conspiracy. “It’s part of misinformation to maintain the divide,” one militiaman told the Las Vegas Sun. “Things like this will be put out there to discredit Bundy.”

Controversial black conservative Alan Keyes defended the remarks, saying they weren’t racist: “He wasn’t talking so much about black folks, but about the harm and damage that the leftist socialism has done to blacks.”

But the majority of Bundy’s mainstream backers have made clear that they want to talk about other cases of “government abuse” now, instead of Bundy’s. At Fox News, Bundy’s biggest on-air champion, Sean Hannity, also denounced Bundy, but seemed to blame it all on the “liberal media” as well.

Hannity devoted much of his show Thursday to simultaneously denouncing Bundy and the New York Times, as well as his critics:

HANNITY: 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.
Now, while I supported the Bundy ranch as they took a stand against the Bureau of Land Management, I was absolutely dismayed and frankly disappointed after reading the article and then hearing the commentary. 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.

Hannity then rambled through a number of other supposed examples of out-of-control government, including cases of veterans being given bad medical care and federal water-rights disputes in California, and then concluded by throwing Benghazi and Obamacare into the mix. According to Hannity, if anyone was to blame, it was more likely the New York Times (for their Benghazi coverage) and Jon Stewart (who has been mercilessly pillorying Hannity for his coverage of the Bundy standoff).

The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz
satirically devised a statement by Fox News to deal with the controversy: “Cliven Bundy’s outrageous racist remarks undermine decades of progress in our effort to come up with cleverer ways of saying the same thing.”

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mainstream Supporters Scatter after Cliven Bundy Muses on ‘the Negro’ in the New York Times

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose showdown with federal authorities over cattle grazing rights has attracted a large contingent of antigovernment “Patriot” movement supporters – as well as fawning coverage from Fox News, and the open support of various mainstream conservative politicians – has discovered that openly spouting bigotry is a good way to lose your backers.

Bundy was quoted in a Wednesday New York Times piece spouting off at length about race relations, and it was not pretty:

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.

Now Media Matters has posted footage of his remarks:

Immediately, one of Bundy’s more prominent political supporters – Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada – distanced himself from the rancher, telling the Times reporter that he “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”

Spokesmen at the offices of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, another prominent Bundy backer, did not offer the Times an immediate response. But today Paul denounced Bundy’s rant, saying: “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also has openly supported Bundy’s campaign, demurred when asked about the remarks, saying he hadn’t read them, and told “CBS This Morning” that the Bundy matter was only “a side story” in the larger picture regarding federal land use issues.

At Fox News, where the Bundy Ranch story has filled hours of airtime over the past two weeks and its hosts – particularly Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren – have openly championed Bundy’s cause, there was mostly silence. The network’s coverage of the scene at the ranch suddenly disappeared: Media Matters reports that “Fox had mentioned the rancher only twice, and never covered his racist comments.”

Occasional host and frequent guest Andrew Napolitano told viewers to “forget the battle in Nevada” and focus on events in Texas instead.

Van Susteren did speak out on her blog: “Let me make this plain: I condemn what Cliven Bundy said about African Americans.” Hannity so far has made no comment.

Some of Bundy’s media supporters, however, were content to make excuses for him. CNN’s Dana Loesch, a conservative pundit who has been among Bundy’s more avid supporters, commented:

I hope no one is surprised that an old man rancher isn’t media trained to express himself perfectly. He seems to be decrying what big government has done to the black family — which big government has negatively affected not just the black family, but all families regardless of ethnicity — so perhaps he included that in his remarks against big government?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Back at the Bundy Ranch: More Militiamen Gather, Things Get Crazier

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
Armed militiamen are continuing to arrive in southeastern Nevada from around the nation with the aim of preventing the federal government from rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle – and they don’t appear to be going away any time soon.

The Nevada standoff has emerged as the most significant gathering of antigovernment extremists since 1996, when supporters gathered briefly en masse outside the Montana ranch where a group of self-described “Freemen” engaged in an 81-day standoff with FBI agents who sought to arrest key members of their group.

The militiamen at the Bundy Ranch are from all over the United States. Only a few, however, are from militia groups large enough to be known quantities.

A Las Vegas Review-Journal report noted that one man from Philipsburg, Mont., claimed to represent the “West Mountain Rangers,” a group that has not popped up on anyone’s radar previously. A Utah man said he was from the People’s United Mobile Armed Services, whose Facebook page says that they are a “Revolutionary Movement for the Second American Revolution” but are otherwise almost completely unknown.

Indeed, most of the militias in attendance appear to have very small memberships, such as the Oklahoma militiamen who showed up hankering for a fight: “It’s up to the feds. The ball’s in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you!” They make the dubious claim in their video that they are 50,000 strong.

These militiamen believe Oklahoma could be next for federal “tyranny”: “Just look around the country. They’re doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, they can do it in Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is We the People.”

Members of an outfit from the Idaho Panhandle turned up in Nevada, the Idaho Lightfoot Militia. They have been organizing for over five years now and are a known quantity back home. Their level of participation in Nevada is unclear, and their leader, Jeff Stankiewicz, was quoted saying he discouraged people from going.
Ed Komenda, a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, spent some up-close time with militiamen at the scene in Bunkerville, and what he found was especially eye-opening. His piece for the Sun revealed a high level of anger and testosterone, whipped up by conspiracist paranoia, that seems unlikely to level out any time soon.

One militiaman in particular, who was fond of dropping the F-bomb, rode with Komenda and other militiamen to a protest with an assault rifle and plenty of other weaponry, including a .338 Magnum rifle and a Marine-issue 7-inch knife:

Rapolla is prepared for a war with his government. His guns, he says, aren’t just a show of force. Not knowing what to expect when he rolled into town, he says he was ready to die — and, if he must, shoot a federal agent.

“Our pistols are shooting through my f****** window if there’s a roadblock, then we’re f****** getting out,” he said. “We’re gonna go to wherever the guns are blazing. We’re not gonna walk to a f****** bloody (battlefield).”

Komenda found that, to a man, these people were more focused on having an armed conflict with federal agents than on rescuing a cattle rancher from supposed tyranny:

In their view, the government’s goal was to exterminate the Bundys. As several militia members put it, they came to the Bundy ranch to prevent another Waco — the 1993 standoff between federal agents and David Koresh that left 76 men, women and children dead. That incident helped spawn the modern militia, which is not an official force but a collection of armed citizens who believe the government is out to destroy the nation and enslave the American people.

“You feel an obligation as an American,” DeLemus said, standing near his tent, wearing a water-filled hydration pack, full Army fatigues and loaded sidearm. “You’ve got an American family who is rightfully on property their family paid the grazing rights on over a hundred and some odd years ago and our government comes in and decides they want to change the rules on that, break the law, really, by changing those rules after a contract’s been signed with their great-great-grandfather — I believe it was — and then run them out? And then use force on their family? And then put the full weight of the American government on them? Shame on them.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Potok on MSNBC: ‘Patriots’ at Bundy Standoff Not Quite ‘Domestic Terrorists’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada decried the antigovernment “Patriot” activists who rushed to southeastern Nevada to mount an armed defense of Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle as “nothing more than domestic terrorists.”

On the Friday edition of “All In” on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes asked the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok if that was the right term to use. He explained that Reid was not far off:

POTOK: Well, they’re not quite domestic terrorists, not yet. But you know, I’ve seen the pictures, they weren’t merely sitting up overlooking law enforcement officers with their sniper rifles, they had them trained – scoped rifles trained on the heads of law enforcement officials. I mean, you know, they were a split second away from real bloodshed, and bloodshed that was entirely provoked by the Bundys and the Bundys’ supporters.

Earlier in the segment, Hayes hosted Nevada Republican Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, a Bundy ally and one of the mainstream political figures who has been on the scene in Nevada, supporting the “Patriots” in defiance of federal authorities. Hayes tried to pin Fiore down on whether she believed federal authorities had the right to confiscate Bundy’s cattle, considering they had a court order in hand – Bundy has been adamant that he does not recognize the federal government as a legitimate entity – but Fiore was evasive on the point, claiming instead that the feds had mishandled the situation by coming in with guns after Bundy threatened a “range war.”

HAYES: Do you agree with that stance? Do you recognize the authority of the federal government?

FIORE: I recognize our federal government overstepped and overreached in our state of Nevada. That’s what I recognize. I recognize we have a lot of issues to conclude. We also have the spotlight on Nevada right now, looking at the way BLM had zero stewardship in herding cattle, slaughtering cattle. That’s what I’m recognizing.

I’m recognizing what I’ve seen. This is my sixth day on the ground here in Bunkerville, and I’m recognizing that this was handled totally incompetent, I’m questioning the BLM and I’m also going to request either a resignation or termination of the person that had ordered this to be done.

HAYES: But that’s a distinct question. I mean, I understand your point. You think that the way that the law has been enforced the BLM has been heavy handed. That`s a distinct question from lines of legal authority. I’m just asking you a simple yes or no question — do you recognize the authority of the federal government?

FIORE: Oh, I recognize the authority that they’ve — they believe that they have. I just question it.

HAYES: So you do not — you agree with Cliven Bundy the federal government does not have authority over the land and over the taxpayers of Nevada.

FIORE: No. Chris, don`t put words in my mouth. I’m not saying I agree with Cliven Bundy. What I’m saying is the way this was handled is really suspicious. When in the heck do we send our federal government with arms to collect a bill? When do we do that?

Fiore told Hayes that the message Bundy’s supporters sent to the government was: “Don’t come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back.”
Hayes asked Potok about Fiore’s perspective.

HAYES: What do you say to the argument that the BLM basically provoked this entire thing?

POTOK: Well, I don`t think it’s true. I think we`re talking about a man who is a thief, a man who has
stolen a million dollars or whatever the precise amount might be from the American people, from his fellow ranchers, all the ranchers all over this country who actually do pay their fees.

You know, something else to respond to something the assemblywoman said, you know, in fact the jails, the prisons are full of people who have refused to pay their taxes for one reason or another.
So, you know, yes, I think the optics were bad. I think coming in there with helicopters and police dogs was almost guaranteed to provoke this kind of reaction, especially because the whole operation was dragging on day after day after day.

But, you know, at the end of the day, what these people are proposing is that we are not a nation of laws, that stealing money from other Americans is somehow a defense of the Constitution and liberty. You know, this whole idea of county supremacy truth be told is directly descended from groups like Posse Comitatus, you know, racist, anti-Semitic violent groups. That’s where this whole ideology is coming from.
In the meantime, Sen. Reid continues to stand behind his remarks: “These people think they’re patriots, they’re not,” he said on CNN. “If they’re patriots, we’re in very big trouble.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Originator of ‘White Man’s March’ Hangs It Up, Saying Idea Will Live On

It wasn’t the flood of scorn and derision, which Kyle Hunt says he fully expected last month when he announced his nationwide “White Man’s March” – in which small clusters of white supremacists popped up in various locales bearing banners with the slogan “Diversity = White Genocide” – that most discouraged him. No, it was the astonishingly vicious reaction by his would-be allies within the white power movement that really rocked his world.

Either way, Hunt announced this weekend at the White Man’s March blog that he was handing off the reins of the “White Man’s March” to…no one in particular. He’s just resigning:

Of course animosity was to be expected from the anti-White media, but sadly many alleged pro-Whites have been launching vicious assaults upon me, trying to discredit the message and methodology of the White Man March by attacking my character and reputation. Sure, the aspersions are being cast by cowards and incompetents, but such tactics still help to discourage others from joining the cause. At this point, I consider having myself as a “leader” to be more of a hindrance to our cause than a help. I do not want to be a liability. I previously wrote that this is not an organization and there is no leader and now I am just making it official.

It’s not clear how, but Hunt apparently believes the concept will now continue anyway:

Now that the White Man March has taken off, you really do not need me anymore. You are your own leader. I look forward to seeing all of the things that you will accomplish.

Hunt is right about one thing: His ex-Google-guy-with-a-ponytail schtick went over like Malcolm X at a cross burning among the longtime white supremacist factions to whom he was a complete newcomer and stranger. One leading white power activist, who himself claims credit for the “Diversity” banner, called Hunt’s campaign “a hijack,” and numerous white nationalists denounced his efforts as a sideshow.

Kyle Hunt’s illustration for spreading his ideas in Easter eggs

None of that seemed to have bothered Hunt until very recently, as far as we can tell. Earlier this month he published a long, cheery post titled “Game Planning for Future Marches” that included, among other bright ideas, invading children’s Easter celebrations by planting white supremacist messages in their plastic eggs: “You could buy some of those really cheap plastic Easter eggs, maybe put in something for a little bit of weight, and include a small strip of paper in there with some of our material printed on one side, with your favorite websites printed on the back.”

Hunt does make a disclaimer of sorts – “Since we are not targeting children, think of some ways to get these eggs into the hands of adults” – that overlooks the fact that Easter eggs are in fact targeted to children.

Retirement was probably a good idea for Kyle Hunt.