Top 5 Signs Cliven Bundy is Wrong about African-Americans

Cliven Bundy told the NYT,

“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…”

These bizarre remarks are wrong and wrongheaded in too many ways to count, but here are some problems:

1. Mr. Bundy seems to think that the US is still an agricultural economy. Less than a million US workers toil in agriculture. There are 122 million Americans in the labor force, so that is less than one percent. African-Americans are 11 percent of the work force, or 13.4 million. Even if all agricultural laborers were African-American, which they are not (and why should they be?), that could not absorb even ten percent of the African-American work force, much less cotton-picking within the agricultural sector. Agricultural workers only make $18,000 a year on average, so such work cannot lift a family out of scarcity.

2. In fact, African-Americans are largely urban, and many suffer from high unemployment rates because of discrimination against them by white employers. They need job training, but not in cotton picking. Unfortunately, it is the GOP that has cut job training programs.

3. It isn’t taking food stamps that makes you a slave. It is being deprived of liberty, and part of liberty is a guarantee that you and your children won’t starve. The Declaration of Independence spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All Americans are owed the maintenance of life, i.e., enough food to live on, by the government, when they fall into unemployment or dire poverty. It was slavery that caused the health and diet of African-Americans to deteriorate. When the Tea Party Congress slashes aid to dependent children, who do they resemble?

4. The US government is not aborting African-American babies. African-American women are exercising their right to reproductive choice. Denying African-American choice or agency is what resembles slavery, not the woman’s choice to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. It was the slave owners who controlled African-American women’s sexuality and forced them to bear children so that the latter could be sold or made to work without wages.

5. White legislators and juries do in fact incarcerate African-Americans unfairly. They are only 13% of the US population but are 40% of the prisoners. There are clear differentials in how African-Americans are treated by the authorities. African-Americans who are imprisoned for felonies are typically deprived of the right to vote at all, a situation that has something in common with slavery. Parolees and former prisoners are still under administrative control. However, remedying this situation would require changes in legislation and changes in attitude, and Mr. Bundy’s party is opposed to both.


Related video:

The Young Turks: “Cliven Bundy Blames His Racism On Martin Luther King Jr.”

19 Responses

  1. Reading Gail Collins’ very funny take on Bundy she notes that the fee for grazing cattle is $1.35 per cow per month, a fee so low that it doesn’t cover the administration cost, and yet this honkie wants to stiff the government by claiming “I don’t even think the US government exist.” And still this illiterate A-mur-can has the balls to brand all blacks as deadbeats!

    • Not to mention that he seems to enjoy riding around on a horse carrying the flag of a government he claims not to exist.

  2. You forgot the Top Five Signs Cliven Bundy’s Racism is not an Outlier but the GOP Norm

    1. Five words: 1988, Lee Atwater, Willy Horton.

    2. It’s the GOP that wants to repeal voting rights and use voter identification to suppress minority voters.

    3. GOP budgets, such as that recently proposed by rep. Paul Ryan, invariably contain cuts to social welfare expenditures that hit minorities and minority children very very hard, and, by the way, often contain coded racist phrasing.

    4. Both the verbal and media rhetoric used against the sitting president by the GOP and its supporters is frequently tinged with a racist element or designed to emphasize his “otherness”.

    5. The Tea Party wing of the GOP has not even tried to hide its vile racism, for which there is copious documentation (link to, for example, link to

    And I just have to say it: Really Cliven? “Negro”, at this late date? Ugh! Someday we may need to simply ban this party and its offshoots.

  3. New York City’s stop and search anti-marijuana laws resulted in the NYC police stopping over 5 million people in just ten years. Over 90% of them were young Black and Latino males. Five million in ten years averages to 500,000/year. That breaks down to over 1,300 a day, every day for over 3,600 days. It was the most effective method for getting young non-white males into the legal system.

    Richard Nixon and the federal govt. used the barbaric marijuana laws the same way during the last illegal war.

    Even though Obama was a BIG POT HEAD back in his yut, as president he supported these anti-pot laws until the people in two states, Colorado and Washington, voted them down.
    Their votes broke the dam. If Obama and Holder could have stuck their fingers in the dike, these pot smokers would have been indefinitely detained as a threat to NATIONAL SECURITY.


    PEACE, MAN. :)

    • You’d be surprised how many ordinary American believe these myths. Which is how the rich use them as a zombie army to destroy anything they don’t understand. We need to talk about this.

  4. > The Declaration of Independence spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

    Richard Hofstadter along with other US historians have noted that “Liberty” at the time meant liberty to own property without government interference. Including people. SPECIFICALLY. (but not only) Africans… eg. African Slaves

    Ihad an interesting twitter exchange regarding Cliven Bundy, Welfare Mother “Rancher” yesterday that speaks to this issue and more.

    link to

    About my tweet: “#WelfareMother ‘ranchers’ ALREADY gets dirt cheap to free grazing land from the government. He should be happy w/ what he’s got“, see this article by Yasha Levine @NSFW from independence day last year “Conservation is an Oligarch’s Best Friend” about the benefits of ‘ranching’ in America today and this Levine article from June 28 last year “Small Government, Huge Hypocrite” where Yasha posits ““Welfare for the rich is the only kind of welfare our political culture can tolerate.”.

    Indeed, That’s been said in a photo which I dedicate to Xerox, GoldmanSachs, and the rest of the corporate welfare mothers who make their money handling state “Welfare” systems, meaning poverty is profitable. See this study: “Food Stamps: Follow the Money (Are Corporations Profiting from Hungry Americans?) by Michele Simon (PDF @ Mega 1.4 mb 28 pgs)

  5. Bundy is only a small part of the problem. The real problem is the swarms of unthinking, robotic people who charged, in many cases with loaded guns, to support him.

    Gavrilo Princip (link to was only a small part of Europe’s problems in 1914, but his gunslinging showed how little fish can blow up the aquarium.

  6. You *might* think that Bundy would have noticed that the only person ‘picking cotton’ these days is the combine driver? In fact it’s been mechanized since his distant ancestors settled his ranch in 1946…link to

  7. Bundy can’t help it. Being devoutly Mormon, he thinks as a Godly man should. Do Mormons still disallow the Negro in their fellowship?

  8. If the “patriots” who rushed so eagerly to Bundy’s defense were so concerned about tyranny, why are they so silent on real issues of increasing oppressions? For example: DC thinks it can silence a new Snowden, but the anti-leak hypocrisy is backfiring: The Obama administration’s latest secrecy guidelines would make Deep Throat spin in his grave. Good thing the floodgates are about to open on drones” by Trrevor Timm – link to

    Can it be because such things are beyond their comprehension while they can identify with Bundy’s simplistic rants?

    • They are opposed to drones – spying on white Christian reactionaries. Spying on subhumans? They’ll let you know after they seize the levers of power.
      That was the whole point of that same Right-wing media machine freaking out over airport scanners 3 years ago. Their real message was: “We real Americans don’t need to be run thru these dangerous machines, all we need to do is racially profile the races that produce all the terrorists/criminals.” Once that was legally established, a caste system would inexorably develop around the inferior character of the Other.

  9. Bundy is a “Common Garden Variety Racist”, by definition.
    He is a typical, out of the closet, Republican Base Voter.

  10. He probably should pitch his educational thoughts to LA Clippers’ slave plantation owner Donald Sterling.

    Low lifes…

  11. Oh Cliven, what will we do with you? How many Black people do you know that you can speak of them that way?
    You need to get out more often. Variety is the spice of life.
    People were rooting for you and you just let them down.

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