Last week was not a good week for race relations on the West Coast. The quick-to-laud Republicans are hurriedly backing away from Wild West cowboy savior Cliven Bundy after he made some racist remarks, while Los Angeles Clippers fans have had their heads in their hands and their tickets up on StubHub. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded telling his half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend that he doesn’t want her posting pictures of minorities on her Instagram account. These men are public relations fiascos for a party criticized for its blindness to the racism still prevalent within our country.
Bundy, a cattle farmer in Nevada, allowed his cattle to graze illegally on federal land that he claims he owns. Since he stopped paying his dues in 1993, he has amassed $1 million in fines and charges. Bundy has been indicted by two judges, first in 1998 and more recently in 2013. When the government, under a court injunction, took his cattle away and arrested his son for refusing to leave, Bundy asked his friends for help. They responded, coming from all over the area, armed to the teeth, to stand up against the “oppressive” feds who were “stealing” his livelihood. Wanting to avoid another Waco Massacre — where 76 cult members were burned to death by the FBI — the feds backed off, giving Bundy his cattle with a promise to return.
To that weird circle of Fox News fans and prominent Republican congressmen who think that government is contemptible by nature and exists only to bring the little guy down, Bundy was a hero. He successfully stood up against the government, exercised the Second Amendment and the right ate it up.
But their fun didn’t last long. Bundy was later quoted questioning if African-Americans would be better off as slaves. He reasoned that the high abortion and incarceration rate among African-Americans is because they “never learned how to pick cotton.” Sean Hannity of Fox News, who considered Bundy a close friend and frequently invited him to appear as a guest on his show “Hannity”, was rattled by Bundy’s racist turn. Hannity followed his repudiation of the bigoted Cliven Bundy with a sincere belief in everything else Bundy stands for.
The allegations against Sterling may be even more bizarre, if that’s even possible. A recording came out last weekend of what appears to be Sterling, an 80-year-old white guy, reprimanding his 30-something minority girlfriend for posting an Instagram photo with a “minority” (the person in question was basketball legend Magic Johnson). Sterling, whose team’s roster boasts 12 black players and only two white players, claims minorities are “enemies” and that it won’t ever change because “it’s been that way historically.”
It sure does seem that Sterling has been that way historically. He’s been sued for housing discrimination against Koreans and African-Americans as landowner of an apartment complex. Elgin Baylor, a black former player and former Clippers general manager, sued for racial employment discrimination after discovering he made less than a tenth of salary of the Clippers’ white head coach, despite being named the NBA Executive of the Year.
Sterling and Bundy create problems for the delusional post-race Republicans. They got an unfortunate win when an amendment to the Michigan state constitution banning affirmative action was upheld in the Supreme Court last week, with Chief Justice John Roberts claiming that racism will end when we stop helping minorities. But, as these abhorrent individuals were so happy to show us, we are not in a post-racial society, and it will take more than ceasing aid to end racism.