Archived Storify dialogue on Cliven Bundy’s alleged racism

Viewable on Storify here.

Dialogue on Cliven Bundy’s alleged racism

Dialogue on Cliven Bundy’s alleged racism

prefatory to a more systematic discussion of a possibly inadmissible argument

  1. @bpsycho1 I’d be interested in seeing you follow up on your Bundy post, now that “race” has been injected into the story.
  2. bpsycho1’s prior discussion of the Cliven Bundy matter is at 
  3. @bpsycho1 when @jbarro claimed that gut-level aversion to govt was “almost exclusively” a white thing, couldn’t help but think of you.
  4. @CK_MacLeod I don’t think him being a bigot makes the case of the gov’t any more effective.
  5. @bpsycho1 as per the last tweet, he’s being used as “proof” that anti-govt sentiment is completely tied up with racism
  6. @CK_MacLeod @jbarro there’s a long and unfortunate history of ppl saying “freedom” when they mean cultural dominance.
  7. @bpsycho1 thing is, I haven’t seen much evidence that’s he’s a “bigot” – ignorantly insensitive re stereotype, perhaps, but not bigoted
  8. @CK_MacLeod if someone with a straight face asserts they think blacks were better off as slaves, that is bigotry.
  9. @bpsycho1 what he asserted was that the result of public policy was so bad it made him “wonder” whether an ambiguously defined segment…
  10. @bpsycho1 …was not in fact worse off. That kind of observation is not unknown in radical left and black nationalist etc literature
  11. @CK_MacLeod only ppl I’ve heard such crap from have been right wingers.
  12. @CK_MacLeod if there’s a strain of “radical left” thought that slavery isn’t the worst, then they’re idiots IMO.
  13. @CK_MacLeod BTW: pointing out extent to which slavery type conditions apply due to prison industrial state is not the same thing.
  14. @bpsycho1 prisons, war, drugs, destruction of families, etc., all have been in various ways both likened to and linked to slavery
  15. @CK_MacLeod yes. That isn’t equivalent to “slavery would be better than blah blah blah policy”.
  16. @CK_MacLeod it’s “this reminds of slavery — and should stop”
  17. @bpsycho1 which, again, is not what Bundy said, if we’re still discussing him
  18. @CK_MacLeod if he were referring to a sub class of blacks, why address “the negro”?
  19. @bpsycho1 because, in his government-hating view, “the negro” is a particular victim, or a class disproportionately containing victims…
  20. @CK_MacLeod blacks described by his stereotype from blacks that don’t fit it.
  21. @bpsycho1 in his vignette he describes a particular scene, he specifically blames it on govt, not any supposed innate racial characteristics
  22. @bpsycho1 he is of the belief that subsistence aid destroys the character of the recipient – not really such an unusual or extreme belief
  23. @CK_MacLeod rather than the welfare his prime target should be the police state & the legacy of systemic white supremacy.
  24. @CK_MacLeod but he would never go there, because addressing that is beyond his capacity to care.
  25. @CK_MacLeod most who talk about dependency never ask how so many became dependent to start with. They don’t care.
  26. @CK_MacLeod it’s just “my money is going to lazy ppl”. Actually it’s mostly going to war & corporate favors.
  27. @bpsycho1 I would not accuse Bundy of being intellectually sophisticated or credit him with moral imagination
  28. @bpsycho1 right, but now you’re assuming that he posseses those sentiments based on your own stereotype
  29. @bpsycho1 he MAY possess them, he may not – we have only his words as thusfar reported to go on, and they don’t include “my money… etc.”
  30. @bpsycho1 again, he didn’t assert slavery was better overall, he said that for some people things are so bad it made him “wonder” for them
  31. @CK_MacLeod it’s a ridiculous thing to “wonder” about.
  32. @CK_MacLeod to me it sounds like if someone were to “wonder” if the Holocaust helped Jewish people in the long run.
  33. @bpsycho1 more like believing that some Jews in Nazi Germany might have been “better off” in some ways that some Jews in Israel
  34. @CK_MacLeod Ok I didn’t see @jbarro article about Bundy. Thought u meant some twitter shit.
  35. @CK_MacLeod I still think idea of ANY blacks being better off as slaves is ridiculous, but maybe Bundy isn’t deliberately anti-black.
  36. Note: I consider this a significant concession that, taken to be a fair judgment, either 1) puts the now common claim that Bundy is a “racist” or “made racist remarks” in doubt or 2) indicates a very highly problematic attenuation of the charge of “racism.”
  37. @CK_MacLeod >> “They’re agin it? I should be for it then, cuz they want to dominate me” They come 2c gov’t as “anti-cracker” >>
  38. @CK_MacLeod minority reaction isn’t exactly a shock. Binary political frame. >>
  39. @CK_MacLeod as for anti-gov’t & whites, I’ve explained that. It comes from defining of “freedom” as superiority.
  40. @CK_MacLeod >> Practice says otherwise, but such observation is seen as Lefty/Commie (discouraged harshly).
  41. The following replies directly to the above-noted concessionary statement.
  42. @bpsycho1 there is more to be said on the first part. As for the second >>
  43. (first part: thought anyone “better off” under slavery is ridiculous; second part: not “deliberately anti-black.”
  44. @bpsycho1 >> to call someone who racist who lacks racist affect or ideas is a highly problematic attenuation of the term.
  45. Back to the first part:
  46. @bpsycho1 I think there is actually little question that some legally defined as “slaves” might be “better off” than some called “free”
  47. @bpsycho1 the very long history of slavery, which includes many institutions much less horrendous than chattel slavery, points to that
  48. The twitter dialogue ends on an argument that may be taken as controversial if not absolutely inadmissible, but that I believe also must be taken as common sense, since the alternative logically implies that someone nominally or legally a “slave,” but on the verge of emancipation, manumission, self-emancipation via escape or by other material or spiritual means, etc., would still be “worse off” than a nominally or legally free individual in a state of desperation, that in other words the legal status of an individual is always more important than any other possible aspect of his or her life – so an over-valuation of legality, a pure legalism adopted without regard for actual effect, that @bpsycho1, who identifies himself as an anarchist may be better able to appreciate as unsustainable if not absurd.
    When an argument is taken to be repugnant or ridiculous, but is also arguably common-sensical, then we are at a contradictory moment that I believe is worthy of closer examination: A uniformity of thought has apparently been imposed at the expense of exception obvious to thought. The generally unasked and therefore unanswered question, here as in many, most, or all instances of thoughts held to be “good enough for political work,” would be how significant the exception is on its own terms, and whether and if so how it might point to understandings or potentials we cannot wish to do without. Unfortunately, extending the discussion further in regard to Cliven Bundy – whom I believe has been counter-stereotyped – would require an argument against seemingly nearly universal opinion across the political spectrum, with the only prominent holdouts among those who reflexively oppose any position or judgment originating from the left-liberal side. Fully justifying such an exercise would require more care than I presently am able to devote to it, so I will leave the matter here for now.


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  1. I know why spoil the narrative, that Media Matters put forth, courtesy of the Center for Biological Diversity,

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