Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday blasted Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher whose racist rant was captured in an interview with The New York Times.
In a lengthy statement issued Thursday afternoon, Reid referred to Bundy as a “hateful racist” and suggested he “mooched” and profited off government-held land. And Reid, who represents Nevada in the U.S. Senate, called on Republican leaders to denounce Bundy’s “hateful, dangerous extremism.”
“I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met — men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Reid said in the statement.
“By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite.
“To advance his extreme, hateful views, Bundy has endangered the lives of innocent women and children. This is not a game. It is the height of irresponsibility for any individual or entity in a position of power or influence to glorify or romanticize such a dangerous individual, and anyone who has done so should come to their senses and immediately condemn Bundy. For their part, national Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy.”
In the New York Times interview, Bundy openly wondered if African-Americans might have been “better off” as slaves, referring to them as “the Negro.” The comments caused many Republican politicians, who had offered him support in his fight with the federal government, to quickly distance themselves from the 67-year-old rancher.
“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 said in the interview.
Bundy’s recent standoff with the federal government exploded on the national scene this month, as activists flocked to his ranch to support him.
His now high-profile fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management dates to 1993 when the BLM eliminated livestock grazing in the area, citing the protection of an endangered tortoise species. That was when Bundy decided to stop paying grazing fees. Now, the agency says he owes more than $US1.2 million. A federal judge first ruled in 1998 that Bundy was trespassing on federal land. Last year, a federal judge ruled the agency could remove the cattle.
The BLM, among others, says Bundy is breaking the law. Bundy says the land is his property, and he has accused the federal government of being overreaching and oppressive.
Reid has been one of Bundy’s most ardent critics, at one point calling Bundy and his armed supporters “domestic terrorists.”
“This is not a game,” Reid said Thursday, again urging Republicans to publicly denounce Bundy’s remarks.
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