Friday, April 25, 2014

The cancer that is Cliven Bundy

It turns out that Cliven Bundy is not just a liar and a deadbeat, he's also a bigot. I thought about quoting him, but his remarks have gotten so much play it doesn't seem necessary. The New York Times piece quotes him, and Media Matters found the video. (He also self-interestedly misconstrued MLK and Rosa Parks for CNN.)

As a handful of high-profile politicians and pundits scramble to distance themselves from his appallingly racist remarks (proof that rurals can be as unbelievably ignorant of urbans as urbans are of rurals), they're keen to argue that his racism has nothing to do with his fight against the Bureau of Land Management.

They're right. You don't have to conflate the two, and you shouldn't. It's possible to condemn Bundy for being an armed deadbeat and a bigot.

And you should. He's a contemptible lout.

Bundy's not contemptible because of his politics. He's contemptible because with every utterance, he proves himself to be the most ignorant man in the country, and he's impervious to fact, reason or logic. He's also convinced he's on the road to canonization as a patriotic saint in the mode of Thomas Paine.

His self-delusion would be pathetic were he not armed and completely indifferent to everybody else. His lack of concern for other people, a logical if deeply regrettable extension of his libertarian impulses, is sociopathic. The full weight of the justice system needs to fall on him because the rest of us can't afford to indulge people who have absolutely no interest in their duties as citizens. And yes, you have duties as a citizen, the chief of which is to follow the laws that are set up for our collective benefit. If you think that's "socialism" or somehow tyrannical and unfair, as I suspect Bundy and his ilk do, you are opposed to civil society, and like I said, the rest of us can't afford to indulge your sociopathy. You know what we call people who don't follow the minimal duties we ask of citizens? Criminals.

By the way, if you do business with Bundy, stop. That's the way to make him understand that it's not just the federal government that is pissed, it's all of us. The entire nation. Bring the pain to him in ways that his weapons can't stop. Show him that he isn't as self-reliant as he'd like to think, and that the rest of us expect — no, insist on — a minimum standard of civil behavior.

[UPDATE: Conor Friedersdorf makes one of the points I tried to make a lot more clearly than I did in his Atlantic piece, "Villains Can Be Right, You Know (Even If Cliven Bundy Isn't)".]

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