HERE’S THE DEAL with Clive Bundy, the alleged racist.
First off, he calls the darker citizens negroes. Negro is Spanish for black, of course, and was the polite term for blacks when Clive was a youngster. He still uses it because he does not keep up with cultural trends emanating almost exclusively from elitist neighborhoods on the two coasts and in Madison, Wisconsin. And because you likely can count the blacks who live in rural Nevada on half of one hand.
Clive also says blacks were likely better off in slave days than they are now. Here is what Clive knows about slave days: pretty much nothing. What he thinks he knows is that blacks were brought over from Africa and put to work in fields, barns and plantation houses. They learned farming, domestic work and how to make wagon wheels and rope and plenty of other useful stuff.
They also were fed and clothed. What they could not do — and here comes the slavery part in Clive’s mind — is resign their post and go elsewhere. Clive, due to never really being interested because there were cows to care for, knows nothing of the nastier elements of slavery.
Flash forward: Clive drove past a housing project in Las Vegas, where he likely had gone to buy a saddle and horseshoes, and he noticed lots of black folks — adults and kids — sitting on porches, drinking beer, twiddling their fingers, doing not much of anything, which is common in urban ghettos. This sits badly with Clive, a man with — one supposes — a formidable work ethic.
Clive knows squat of the black middle class because those people are less visibly concentrated, and they almost never visit the open ranges of Nevada, which is Clive’s world. Clive only drives by the ghetto now and then on his way downtown to buy cowboy stuff.
And he sees what he sees, and it doesn’t look right to him. That is reasonable. You shouldn’t fault an old cowpoke for thinking differently than a clinch-jawed Bryn Mawr professor of gender-identity studies who was born in 1985 in Berkeley.
Plus, Clive was baited by an effete East Coast reporter (with a clear agenda) to jump into these roiling waters in the first place. The Nevadan is no more a racist than you or I, at least in the bad way.
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We are all racists. It’s just that a minority are more extreme than most of us. Those are the bad boys and girls who join the Nation of Islam or the Klan. We moderates, you and I, simply prefer the company of people like us, similar to us in skin tone, educational level, political opinion, economic status, culture, nationality, whatever. It is human nature to prefer the company of folks who are similar.
And that’s a fact, Jack.