Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on Republicans to condemn rancher Cliven Bundy, who made a series of racist remarks in an interview with the New York Times this week.
In a piece published Wednesday, the Times reports Bundy wondered aloud about "the Negro," asking if black people were "better off as slaves."
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” Bundy said at what he called a daily news conference. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
In a statement Thursday, Reid called on Republicans, several of which had publicly expressed their support for Bundy in his dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees, to disown the "hateful racist":
I used to live in North Las Vegas and it is home to some of the hardest-working people I have ever met - men and women who embody the American dream by working hard every day to build a better life for themselves and their families. By contrast, Cliven Bundy has spent decades profiting off government land while refusing to pay the same fair use fees as his fellow ranchers. Today, Bundy revealed himself to be a hateful racist. But by denigrating people who work hard and play by the rules while he mooches off public land he also revealed himself to be a hypocrite.
To advance his extreme, hateful views, Bundy has endangered the lives of innocent women and children. This is not a game. It is the height of irresponsibility for any individual or entity in a position of power or influence to glorify or romanticize such a dangerous individual, and anyone who has done so should come to their senses and immediately condemn Bundy. For their part, national Republican leaders could help show a united front against this kind of hateful, dangerous extremism by publicly condemning Bundy.
The bottom line is that elected officials and those in positions of power or influence have a responsibility to unite behind the basic principle that we are a country of laws, and that whatever our differences, it is unacceptable for individuals to use violence or the threat of violence to advance their radical views.
For more on Bundy's comments and his dispute with the BLM, go here.
CORRECTION: Harry Reid was originally misidentified as a Republican. He is a Democrat.