Dear Mr. Cliven Bundy:

You have taught me a valuable lesson and, for that, I thank you.  Although I suspected it, you have driven home the fact that prejudice is learned – passed on from generation to generation.

You betrayed your profound ignorance with your comments about believing that part of the problems of black poverty can be traced to their failing to learn to pick cotton.  Mr. Bundy, I know this will come as a surprise to you, but people haven’t picked cotton for more than 50 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_picker).  In fact, there have been several models of mechanical cotton picking machines available to farmers for decades.
Cliven Bundy
What you revealed is that your brand of racial bigotry goes back at least 60-70 years when people, primarily blacks, did pick cotton. It is obvious that you are caught in a time warp. Blacks are no longer property. They don’t work the cotton fields, and they don’t sing because they’re happy to be slaves. They now have the opportunity to seek the same kind of success you enjoy, and they have been struggling against your kind of prejudice every step of the way.

While I realize that many who once supported you have abandoned you because of the comments about black people, I wish to express something other than anger and indignation.  To be sure, racial prejudice is a bad thing.  I am not advocating on your behalf for your feelings and beliefs.  What I am doing is offering my hand as welcome in case you would like to join the human race – those who have grown beyond the petty prejudices of yesterday.

You might ask why, so I will tell you.  We are all the same – interchangeable in many ways. If you believe in God, then I ask you to think about it this way. If God designed our bodies, then do you think God is stupid? I bet not. If He did not intend for the “races” to mix, he could have made it impossible with a stroke of the genetic pen. He could have designed us so we could not create children. However, He did not do that. He wanted us to create children of many colors, so He designed us in a way that allowed that. To believe that blacks are somehow deficient is to fail to appreciate God’s design.

If you truly believe that federal programs cause many of these problems, I can’t disagree. They need to change, but blaming people for the failures of the government is counterproductive. Work to change the programs and improve them. Of course, you have a problem because you do not recognize the existence of the federal government. I find that fascinating because you are the beneficiary of so many of its programs and services.

Consider this. We do better together.  We are stronger together.  You disavow the existence of the United States of America without realizing you acknowledge its existence every day. If you use electricity from the grid or interstate highways, etc., you use the resources made available to you by the government of the United States. The freedom you treasure is made possible by the military that protects you, the people you care about and, even, your cattle. Why is it that you are reluctant to pay your share of the cost of creating this powerful infrastructure? Do you realize that your fellow ranchers pay their share? You take advantage of them when you refuse to participate. Do you also realize that if you were to graze your cattle on Nevada land, the charge would be considerably higher? Can you not understand that you have no right to treat your neighbors so unfairly?

If we are to move forward together, we must learn to forgive each other for our imperfections. Thus, I am forgiving you and hope you will forgive those I, most certainly, have. Find the courage to change. Consider the feelings of other people – all of them. They matter as much as you do, and they deserve your consideration. Think about all those you hurt when you do not participate in the process as opposed to trying to destroy it by refusing to acknowledge its existence. We all have a voice in the way this country moves forward. By all means, express your opinion, but respect the opinions of your neighbors – including me.

I don’t want to shun and condemn you. You can’t help the way your were raised, but you can help the way you feel now. It doesn’t seem to me that anger is going to make you feel tolerant and compassionate, but friendship might.

Sincerely,

RLH


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