Left and right painted Cliven Bundy as a racist for some comments he made and while conservatives followed up on this by saying that government overreach, and not Bundy, should hereafter be the central point to come out of his standoff with the federal government, it still doesn’t mean they’re right to join with the left in vilifying Bundy for what he said.
The New York Times was one of the first media outlets to pick up on some comments Bundy made in a video. Leftists quickly labeled Bundy a racist and some conservatives followed their lead, denouncing him and insisting that all conservatives should completely reject him. Government overreach, and not Bundy, should be the issue from this point forward they said.
But I wonder how many people bothered to watch the full video of what Bundy said. It’s not very long and the media didn’t do a very good job of analyzing it.
Each person can interpret Bundy’s comments on his own. Some people think they’re racist and others don’t. I don’t think they are. People can also think what they want about Bundy. I don’t have an opinion on him because I don’t know him. I don’t side with him (everything I’ve seen about his story indicates that he has broken the law) even as I don’t side against him (if civil disobedience is valid for the left then it’s valid for everyone else). But I definitely do not denounce him for his recorded comments.
In fact, after I watched the full video of Bundy’s remarks I lose at least some respect for those conservatives who have denounced Bundy. Here’s why.
Most people don’t have time to spend their lives tweeting, blogging, and making media appearances. Many people work in the traditional world. And they work a lot. They aren’t up on the latest trends and proper PC terms and phrases; they aren’t professional speakers. So it’s no surprise that Bundy’s comments don’t sound like the polished and poll-tested speeches you hear from politicians—or even pundits who supposedly believe in something but actually don’t; who actually think the battle between right and left is just a game.
I wouldn’t have said what Bundy said in the way he said it. But so what? People say things in their own way all the time—including in ways people inside Washington and the infotainment world can’t comprehend. Ironically, if you actually listen to Bundy’s remarks he hints that he might be for amnesty. I would disagree with him on that but those most loudly condemning him now probably would rethink their opinion of him if he does. That would be funny.
Furthermore, when I consider all the crap our elected officials have said and done I’m even more inclined to be disgusted by the reaction against this private citizen. There’s Nancy Pelosi saying the GOP doesn’t like black people and that it wouldn’t oppose amnesty if it was for Irish people. Harry Reid previously commented on Obama’s lack of a “negro dialect.” Obama maintains ties with his racist Chicago Trinity United Church of Christ. And Sarah Palin reminded everyone that if Tea Partiers were terrorists Obama would “pal around with them” like he did with Bill Ayers. Then there are all those people who opposed the U.S. and supported its enemies during war. And there is Peter Singer, a Princeton ethicist, who openly advocates for legalizing the murder of babies—those who have already been born. All these people remain in good standing with the ruling class.
So don’t expect me to join in the denouncing and demonizing of Bundy when left and right tolerate (and even embrace) all the villains they do.
Even if you don’t like Bundy or what he said you would think there would be a little understanding and forgiveness for him. The wife of the recently murdered doctor in Afghanistan says she forgives his murderer. So why can’t people forgive Bundy even if they think he’s wrong? Or is forgiveness only for murderers and those who violently oppose the political right?
The hysteria over Bundy becomes even more absurd when considering that Mary Katharine Ham is praising Joan Rivers for refusing to apologize for a tasteless joke. I guess I generally agree with what Ham wrote but then the same standard should apply to Bundy. Tell the “Perpetually Outraged” to move on.
Some conservatives have seen the frenzy over Bundy similar to how I see it. And that’s a good thing. It’s encouraging to see some people not fall for this predictable trap. It’s just too bad so many others did.
Conservatives are right that government overreach (and not Bundy) should be the central issue to come out of his standoff with the federal government. And they’re likely right that Bundy isn’t blameless in what has happened to him. But they are wrong to denounce him for his recorded remarks. Might he be a bad guy for his actions and other reasons? Sure. But so could I. So could many conservative pundits. And so could a lot of other people. I know for sure that a lot of our government officials are bad guys and yet they are treated with basic decency and as members of polite society. Let’s give Cliven Bundy that same courtesy.
Paul Hair honorably served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a non-commissioned officer; he is veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has worked as a civilian in both the government and private sectors. His writings have appeared at various websites. Paul now runs The Security and Culture Intelligencer website (http://scintelligencer.blogspot.com/) and is an independent consultant for Wikistrat, a strategic analysis and forecasting network. Connect with him at the S&CI website and on Twitter at @PaulHair1.