For several weeks, Cliven Bundy, US Nevada cattle rancher, has occupied the Right Wing radio airwaves, the press, in print and electronic venues, as well as on network and cable news since his elevation to cause célèbre status among the conservative Right Wing of the Republican Party and the Fox Channel.
Such notables of the Right Wing as Republican Senator and assumed presidential candidate for 2016 Rand Paul from Kentucky, his father, former Libertarian presidential candidate and Texan Ron Paul and TEA Party Right Wing money men, the Koch brothers, through their organization Americans for Prosperity, hailed Bundy as a hero and patriot as he has stood his ground refusing to pay his taxes.
Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has called Bundy, and the hundreds of armed militia that showed up from across the country to aid him against the federal government, domestic terrorists.
Some of the aid provided by the militia included snipers with guns trained on federal authorities from a government highway overpass. The Fox Channel aired an interview with a member of the militia revealing the militia’s discussion to use women and children as human shields for dramatic effect if any gunfire were to occur.
Bundy’s refusal to pay taxes has its origin in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. This act’s original purpose was to expedite the removal of federal troops at the end of the Civil War in 1865, troops that were sent into the southern states to uphold and enforce laws that were enacted after nearly 4,000,000 enslaved people were granted their freedom and the right to vote through government apparatus.
The Posse Comitatus Act was enacted as part of the Compromise of 1877, which allowed Republican Party candidate Rutherford B. Hayes to assume the office of the presidency after a deal was struck between the Democratic Party, which, at that time, was pro slavery and the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln.
The Compromise of 1877 and this act are viewed by many historians as the betrayal of the newly freed enslaved people of African descent as well as ushering in nearly 100 years of Jim Crow discrimination and terror imposed upon Black people after the period known as Reconstruction.
Various interpretations of this act have been used by a number of anti government organizations as they have fought against obeying any federal law they proclaimed did not and should not apply to them or their organizations. In this case, Bundy argues the federal government has no right to tax him for using government land, land he thinks the government should not own.
The Fox Channel and a number of Fox Channel pundits, most notably Sean Hannity , had embraced Bundy and his cause to avoid paying over 20 years of taxes he is said to owe for the 20 plus years his cattle have been grazing on federally owned land. The conservative Right Wing, using smoke and mirrors, has portrayed Bundy’s tax dodging as his duty to thwart government overreach.
Bundy appeared on the Fox Channel stating on camera that he did not recognize the federal government as having authority over him. He stated his allegiance was only to county representatives of Nevada. His claim was stated a number of times during several interviews granted to him by the Fox Channel.
During his new found celebrity status, Bundy has articulated his musings, sharing “…. something else I know about Negroes ….” , that maybe “Negroes”, his reference to so called Americans of African descent, might have been better off being employed, as they were under slavery, learning to pick cotton and having a family structure under slavery rather than laying around, relying on the government. Since his musings, the majority of his Right Wing supporters have dropped him like a hot potato, running for the hills. The Fox Channel has banned him from further appearances on their channel.
In a less than successful effort to clean up, well sort of clean up, his racist musings, Bundy has bemoaned, in a less than articulate manner, that what Dr. King fought for was civil rights and he, Bundy, should be allowed to use terms like “Negro” and “Black boy” without folks getting offended. He says that Dr. King has not succeeded in getting his work done. He seems to think it was Dr. King’s desire to make Black folks less sensitive to racist rhetoric.
With the exception of Bundy’s slavery comment, Cliven Bundy’s thoughts vary only slightly from those expressed by former Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan. They have made similar comments during and after the presidential campaign of 2012.
Shortly before Mitt Romney lost the US presidential election in November 2012, it was revealed that he had spoken to a closed audience, characterizing supporters of President Obama as those who were “ …. dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them ….”.
In the case of Republican Congressman and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the same Paul Ryan formerly Mitt Romney’s running mate, he has learned to interchange the code words ‘inner city’ and ‘urban’ for the word ‘Negro’ when he discusses laziness, which he says has been borne out of generations not “ …. learning the value and culture of work….”. Paul Ryan’s remarks were reported by the press in March 2014.
As all of the glowing praise and support for Bundy vanishes over the proverbial horizon, it may be worth looking more closely at the culture and environment that continues to grow individuals with this mindset.