Katie Zerr: Bundy, Sterling not alone in racism


Racism has been rearing its very ugly head at an alarming rate in this country in recent years. It is not just the people who are get caught saying and doing ignorant and repugnant things. It is also those who don’t really speak in racial slurs, but walk right up to the edge, pose on their tip-toes as if to swan dive into to the cesspool of hate, only to retreat before they commit (or admit).

The Clive Bundys and Robert Sterlings of the world were just stupid enough to take that dive in a very public manner.

Bundy the Nevada rancher who grazed his cattle on federal lands and then refused to pay the annual fees for that privilege, became a cult hero of sorts to those who say the federal government abuses its power.

He became the darling of many right-wing politicians and media who put him on that pioneer spirit pedestal and touted his stand against the “jack-booted thugs” of the Bureau of Land Management. Those who screamed loudest when the BLM seized Bundy’s cattle as payment for the $1 million in fees and fines owed for 20 years of grazing rights on public land, scrambled for cover when Bundy opened his not-so-educated mouth.

The New York Times quoted him as wondering if black people were “better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things.” Bundy has tried to clarify his remarks by citing the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If I say ‘Negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave,’ if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be (offended), then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet. We need to get over this prejudice stuff.”

Bundy also argued he’s like Rosa Parks for fighting the federal government over grazing fees, which he compared to discriminatory laws. Blanketing himself in the ever-so-popular “the government is destroying our freedoms” flag, Bundy, who systematically stole from the federal government for years, spewed his disgust for blacks on tape for all to hear.

The politicians, their national committee and media talking heads then ran as far from him as possible, calling his remarks disgraceful and repugnant. That was fine with their fanatic followers. Anyone can make a mistake.

That is disgraceful.

The notion that Bundy has the right to graze cattle on public land and not pay for it, must stick in the craw of all of those ranchers who dutifully pay for that same right all over the country.

Is Bundy not getting an entitlement that he claims has hampered “Negroes” from become the type of outstanding citizen that he was promoted to be? Are not the lower fees on public lands verses those on privately-owned land a type of government subsidy?

The taxpayers of this country own the land that Bundy used to feed his cattle. He owes that money to the government and should never have been touted as anything but a fanatical wing nut.

And now he has proven himself to be racist.

But at least Clive Bundy and Donald Sterling, who yesterday was banned form the NBA for life for his racist rant that was made public last week, spoke the words, not hiding behind the art of spin.

So many in recent years stroll to the edge of that board only to pull back before taking that last little action that would show their true colors. But their followers and those who listen carefully know exactly what they are saying.

Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t finish his work, according to Bundy. That is because somebody with the same mindset as Clive Bundy assassinated him. Many at that time touted that person as a folk hero.

Bundy and Sterling are not alone in the racist thoughts and words. We live in an area where racism, on both sides, Native and white, is visible every single day.

As we listen and are repulsed by the words and actions of the Clive Bundys, Donald Sterlings and others who don’t exactly say the hateful words but imply them, let’s remember that some things we say are racist also.

The harm caused by off-the-cuff remarks about others is not just hurting the person of whom you are speaking, but the children who play baseball with your kids or share the same playground.

They are hurt because of what you say, what your children hear and are living it.

The legacy of hate needs to stop.

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