Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cliven, Cliven, and More Cliven: Short Takes on the Bundy Debacle

Hate when that happens: One minute you're keeping it real defending a far-right scofflaw rancher who's skipped out on a million dollars in back fees to the federal government for using public land and is now guarding himself with a crew of heavily armed militia types and the next thing you know he turns out to be kinda racist.

In short, the only difference between Bundy and a whole host of conservatives is that the renegade rancher isn't sophisticated enough to couch his nonsense in soundbites and euphemism. Or, if Bundy has anything to say about "the negro," he learned it from the conservative movement.

The Kochs' AFP [Americans for Prosperity] starts scrubbing its Bundy support.

Bundy's either a hideous aberration, or another misunderstood soul. But he can't be representative of a subculture, because that would entail acknowledging that safety-net opposition and voting-rights opposition and other conservative policies draw political sustenance from sources other than heady libertarianism.

Or is the problem too persistent to explain away like that? Is there something actually wrong with the script? Something inherently inclined toward racism in complaints about oppressive big government on the one hand, and minority moochers on the other?

As others have noted, this line of analysis was just recently endorsed by Paul Ryan, the de facto intellectual leader of the GOP. So Bundy’s only real sin was, as Slate's Jamelle Bouie correctly wrote, not being "sophisticated enough to couch his nonsense in soundbites and euphemism."

People, we have got to do something to protect the word "freedom." It used to be our best word, and lately it's turning into something you have to approach with a certain wariness, like "bargain" or "fat-free."

The graphic: a chart produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center showing the steep rise in the number of patriot militia groups in the U.S. in the past few years. What accounts for the sudden increase of these groups of late, I wonder? Any ideas?

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