Racism is abhorrent, a collectivist notion that seeks to strip rights from one “group” to benefit another. It contravenes the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) that governs libertarian philosophy, a philosophy that guides my own world view. As a libertarian, I’m also a strict constitutionalist, supporting both states’ rights and private property rights. Needless to say, when the events in Gold Butte, Nevada, surfaced I was instantly a Cliven Bundy supporter. Here was a man, a rancher, standing up against an overreaching federal government that was seizing state land and Bundy Ranch cattle. This man was unjustly branded as a racist by The New York Times. His cause became a rallying cry against an increasingly tyrannical federal government. For many, his fight was their fight, and soon patriots descended upon desolate Bunkerville, Nevada, to support someone they didn’t know and had never met, but could wholeheartedly relate to. Almost immediately, videos surfaced of brave citizens confronting the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a government agency that was illegally confiscating and killing Bundy Ranch cattle. These videos revealed BLM paramilitary units shoving both an elderly woman and a pregnant woman to the ground, tasing protesters without provocation, and threatening to exert lethal force upon anyone who got in their way. The actions of the BLM were not representative of a government that exists to protect individual liberty. The agents seemed more at home in “one of those other countries” that don’t have freedom, like Americans claim to enjoy. Is this what we’ve become?
Citizen militia and online researchers
Enter the citizen militia, and a growing online community researching all political and financial ties to the BLM. Many of the exposed business relationships involved Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Reid took center stage when he called the militia groups “domestic terrorists” and vowed that “this isn’t over,” referring to the BLM pulling out of Gold Butte in an attempt to quell the growing public attention. Those comments set online investigators into motion. Three of the many pieces of information that came to light were very revealing.
First, the current BLM head, Neil Kornze, is a former chief of staff for Reid. Kornze awarded lucrative contracts to BrightSource Energy, Inc., a developer of solar thermal technology, particularly solar panels. As it turns out, BrightSource has been a major Democratic campaign contributor since 2008.
Second, Senator Reid and his family has ties to ENN Energy Group, a Chinese energy company looking to build solar arrays in Nevada. An August 2012 Reuters article by Marcus Stern outlines the ethical conflict:
Now, questions surrounding family ties are flaring again in Nevada around the Senate majority leader. He and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert.
Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada. His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.
Third, Reid benefits immensely through his privately-owned companies Reid Bunkerville, LLC and Reid Acquisitions, LLC, which own large parcels of land in Nevada.
Damage control: the modus operandi of media manipulation
On April 23, The New York Times published an article that labeled Bundy a racist. The Times based their reporting on an edited video released by Media Matters, a leftist non-profit organization whose aim is to discredit conservative news media.
The video released by Media Matters is a prime example of news manipulation for the sole purpose of advancing a political agenda. In this case, it was an attempt to discredit Bundy and convince his supporters to turn their backs on him and his family. The effort was an apparent attempt to deflect attention from Reid, as he became the focus amidst growing scrutiny of his financial ties to the BLM.
And it nearly worked.
These are just things I know about the negro. I want to tell you one more thing I know about the negro. When I go through Las Vegas, north of Las Vegas, and I would see these little government houses, and in front of that government house the door was usually open, and the older people and the kids, and there’s always a least 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 subsidies, so now what do they do? They abort their young children. They put their young men in jail because they never learned to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves picking cotton?
There are two ways to view those statements. The first, which is purely reactionary, is through the lens of racism. They sure do seem racist, but only to the uninformed, and upon a mere cursory inspection. That, unfortunately, was what Media Matters and the Times hoped the consumers of their reporting would conclude. Another way to view Bundy’s comments is to place them into context. Fortunately, the entire interview segment was also available to the public:
And so what I testify to you, I was in the Watts riots. I’d seen the beginning fire and I’d seen the last fire. What I’d seen was civil disturbance, people are not happy, people are thinking they don’t have these freedoms, they don’t have these things. And they didn’t have them. We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and we sure don’t want to go back. We sure don’t want these colored people to have to go back to that point. We sure don’t want these Mexican people to go back to that point. And we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these bureaucracies, and do it in a peaceful way. Let me talk to you about the Mexican . . . [MEDIA MATTERS EXCERPT HERE] . . . having family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidies? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom. They got less family life, and their happiness? You can see in their faces they weren’t happy sitting on that concrete sidewalk. Down there they were probably growing their turnips. So that’s all government; that’s not freedom. Now let’s talk about the Spanish people. You know, I understand that they come over here against our Constitution and cross our borders, but they’re here and they’re people. I’ve worked side-by-side a lot of them. Don’t tell me they don’t work, and don’t me they don’t pay taxes, and don’t tell me they don’t have better family structures than most of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they’re together, they’re picnicking together, they’re spending their time together. And I’ll tell you, in my way of thinking, they’re awfully nice people, and we need to have them join us and be with us, not “not coming” to our party.
As you can see, the sentiment changes from racism to championing of equal rights. If the 67-year-old Bundy is guilty of anything, it’s employing outdated terminology. A black militia member, Jason Bullock, was interview by CNN in the aftermath of this attempted character assassination:
CNN: But aren’t those offensive comments to you?
Jason Bullock, Black Militia Member: Not at all, because Mr. Bundy’s not a racist. Ever since I’ve been here he’s treated me with nothing but hospitality. He’s pretty much treated me just like his own family. . . . I would take a bullet for that man, if need be. I look up to him, just like I do my own grandfather.
Bullock: Because I believe in his cause, and after having met Mr. Bundy a few times, I have a really good feeling about him, and I’m a pretty good judge of character.
Online news source World Net Daily quoted former U.N. Ambassador Alan Keyes, a black man, as saying, “[Bundy] wasn’t talking so much about black folks, but about the harm and damage that the leftist socialism has done to blacks.”
World-renowned black economist Dr. Walter Williams has written extensively on the economic state of the black community. In his 1982 book The State Against Blacks, Dr. Williams outlines the many ways in which government regulation and subsidies destroy the economic opportunities of Black America. In his 2010 autobiography Up from the Projects, Williams exclaimed, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do, and that is to destroy the black family.” These are the same observations that Bundy shared on video: welfare prevents economic elevation and destroys the morale of those bound to it.
Opportunists abound. Media Matter’s mission statement says that they are a “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.” Unfortunately, it appears that they are the ones engaged in misinformation and news falsification, defaming an innocent man to appease a corrupt Senator Harry Reid and an unconstitutional BLM. The New York Times completely abdicated their responsibility as a free press, which underscores the need to support independent media.