Bunkerville, NV rancher Cliven Bundy mobilized supporters in a standoff with Bureau of Land Management over his cattle. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who attracted media attention for his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing on federal land, was quoted in the New York Times for what many view as racial and insensitive comments toward those who accept government subsidies.
In an article posted on the Times' website on Wednesday, the Bunkerville rancher effectively blamed African-Americans for willingly submitting to dependency on federal assistance. He also proposes whether those people were better off living in slavery-era conditions.
The Times quoted Bundy as saying, while relating a story about a visit through North Las Vegas, "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."
Bundy was also heard saying the same in what purports to be a video of the meeting quoted by the Times (watch the full video at Bambuser).
The Times wrote Bundy was quoted saying his remarks to a group of supporters last Saturday.
In all, the government said Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees that have run up for two decades, prompting the seizure.
However, Bundy supporters were engaged in documented clashes with BLM agents that also led to the arrest and release of one of his sons. The bureau eventually stopped the roundup and released the cattle it seized.
Six cows died during the roundup, the bureau said on Wednesday.
Before the article was posted, Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV, called Bundy's supporters "patriots." Heller's camp has since condemned Bundy's statement.
In addition, the Nevada State Democratic Party weighed in on the Times quote:
"These comments are reprehensible, and every Republican politician in the state of Nevada who tried to latch on to Cliven Bundy's newfound celebrity with Tea Partiers and the militia movement should be ashamed of their actions. […] Every Republican elected official who risked inciting violence to gain political capital out of Cliven Bundy now owes the people of Nevada an apology for their irresponsible behavior."
"For their part, national Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy," Reid said in a statement.
Reid further painted an opposite illustration to Bundy's remarks, citing his experiences in North Las Vegas.
"I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met," Reid said. "By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers."
A Facebook page belonging to the Bundy Ranch responded to the published article, calling what he said "rumors."
"There are new rumors going around about Cliven," a Facebook post dated for Thursday read. "We all know that with the media, words are taken out of contest, meanings are twisted, and they can take anything and turn it into what they want it to be."
The post goes on to say, "Cliven is a good man, he loves all people, he is not a racist man. He wants what is best for everyone."