Bundy is just the lightning rod of the moment, just as Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame was before him, and Paula Deen before that.

Meanwhile Racism 2.0 is busily working in the shadows, gerrymandering away voting rights and creating legislation that makes pre-emptively shooting dead a young black man who makes you nervous synonymous with standing one’s ground. The longer the media allow ignorant relics like Bundy to continue to hog the spotlight — and the public points at him as the face of conservative racism — the longer the current incarnation can go unchecked…

During the height of the recession, according to an analysis in The American Prospect, 33 states increased spending on prisons while decreasing spending on education, and we’re to believe the disproportionate number of minorities in jail is a coincidence?

So, yeah, yuk it up at Bundy’s expense, but don’t make him out to be anything more than what he is — one of the few remaining voices of oppression from years past. Today racism has a different look. A different sound. A softer, more subtle voice… although the song is still the same.

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That’s what’s so interesting, not about this racist moron but about the Republicans who supported him until he revealed his views on slavery…

What if, instead of being a right-wing rancher who flouted the law, Bundy was the leader of a left-wing group of college radicals who occupied a government building? Ronald Reagan notoriously said of Berkeley protestors, “If there is to be a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement!”

Or what if Bundy had been the leader of the New Black Panther Party? What if he and his followers had, for 20 years, brazenly stolen from the federal government, refused to obey court orders and threatened police with guns? Would Hannity have been duped into defending him? Fat chance.

Or, umm, what if Bundy had been a Muslim, declaring a tiny caliphate on that dusty piece of Nevada? Does anyone really think Fox News would have made a hero of him then?

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The other delusion in Bundy’s comments is that Africans who became slaves were lucky to be brought into the shelter of this country’s wealth, as if they had arrived in a mansion already built. They made the South rich. Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural, rightly argued that what the Confederates lost on the battlefield was “all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.” They weren’t here to play music on porches until someone was kind enough to show them “how to pick cotton.” The astounding conflation that Bundy makes is black people working with black people enslaved. Does no other alternative, such as a decently paid job, occur to him? Could someone who claims that the federal government can’t constrain his unbridled spirit have so limited an imagination?

This is where Bundy exposes more broadly held, and corrosive, assumptions: that poverty is a matter of laziness, or, as it is put in polite society, “a certain culture.” This, again, is where one cannot reassure oneself that Bundy is simply on the fringe. Just get off that porch, stretch out your arms and legs, inquire politely about cotton, and all will be well. It doesn’t work that way. In America, it never has.

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Casual, careless and incorrect references to slavery, much like blithe references to Nazi Germany, do violence to the memory of those who endured it, or were lost to it, and to their descendants.

There is no modern-day comparison in this country to the horrors of slavery. None! Leave it alone. Remember, honor and respect. That’s all

Romantic revisionism of this most ghastly enterprise cannot stand. It must be met, vigilantly and unequivocally, with the strongest rebuttal. Slaves dishonored in life must not have their memories disfigured by revisionist history.

America committed this great sin, its original sin, and there will be no absolution by alteration. America must live with the memory of what its forefathers — even its founding fathers — did. It must sit with this history, the unvarnished truth of it, until it has reconciled with it.

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Conservatives largely see racism as racial hatred, treating people as groups rather than individuals and then displaying animus toward members of those groups. Discrimination is deliberately treating individuals differently on the basis of race.

Liberals tend to see racism as a desire to preserve a socioeconomic structure that grew out of slavery and segregation, maintaining a privileged status for some and a disadvantaged status for others. Discrimination is anything that has a negative disparate impact on protected minorities.

There is an element of truth to the liberal view. Obviously, the effects of slavery and an impoverishing racial caste system are going to linger for generations. The descendants of those victimized by human bondage or Jim Crow are going to inherit less social and economic capital than those who were not victimized.

And while a plausible case can be made be made that more recent phenomena—like the decline of marriage and the nuclear family in large parts of the black community or the disappearance of work in many communities—do more than racism to perpetuate this inequality today, these things cannot be hermetically sealed off from the injustices of the past.

The problem is that separating individuals into victim and oppressor groups has the potential to create fresh new injustices. It also obscures other facts, such as the high number of affluent minorities and poor whites living in a country where Barack Obama is president and David Duke is a pathetic joke. “White privilege” is too often used merely as a synonym for “shut up.”

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I think it was Eugene Volokh who once wrote that sometimes societies panic over the things they have the fewest reasons to worry about. In Victorian England, there was widespread concern about the loosening of sexual mores at a time of widespread chastity. I’ve long believed that America is suffering from a similar panic about bigotry and racism. Yes, yes, bigotry and racism still exist (See, Bundy, Cliven). But they are arguably at the lowest ebb in American history.

And yet, there’s a sense of almost witch-hunty panic over “white supremacy” in our culture. I think there are lots of reasons for this. One explanation: When you have a black president and then discover that the presidency isn’t nearly as powerful as you thought or hoped it would be (or that the specific black president isn’t that great at the job) the cognitive dissonance pushes you to develop conspiratorial theories about the “real” reason for his failures.

Another reason is that liberalism hasn’t figured out a moral vocabulary that doesn’t depend on the fight against slavery and Jim Crow. I am amazed how, on every campus I go to, no matter what the subject, liberal kids — not to mention their professors and my debate partners — can only internalize and conceptualize arguments about political morality and action in relation to the black civil-rights narrative. That’s a hugely important narrative. But it is not a tesseract providing an infinite and invincible moral power to every claim under the sun.

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As we’ve learned once again, there are, quite frequently, people who believe and say reprehensible things — or even take foolish actions — who nevertheless find themselves facing an unjust or excessive government response. Often we find out about the person’s challenges with the government well before we find out anything about that person’s beliefs or character, and in the resulting rush to stand on principle we can inadvertently, prematurely, and often wrongly elevate the person…

Let’s be clear, one is not giving aid and comfort to the Left when one condemns foolish and reprehensible behavior by those whose cause-of-the-moment you might sympathize with or support. Nor does such criticism render a person a “RINO.” But one does give aid and comfort to the Left when one embraces not just the principle but the deeply-flawed person — especially when that person has revealed themselves to not just suffer from the normal flaws that afflict all of us but from deep character defects that bring shame to their allies.

And, yes, I know there is a double standard. After all, a man like Al Sharpton has not only made racially reprehensible statements, he has incited deadly violence. Yet he has an MSNBC show and is a friend of the president. A man like Bill Ayers is an admitted domestic terrorist. Yet he is now a respected member of the Left establishment, he helped our president get his political start, and even now he is the toast of Leftists on college campuses around the country.

But this is the Left’s profound moral failure, not ours.

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[I]f what the Bureau of Land Management is doing is wrong, the fact that Cliven Bundy is a racist sexist homophobe whateverphobe doesn’t make it right – any more than at Ruby Ridge FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shooting Vicki Weaver in the back of the head as she was cradling her ten-month-old baby and running away from him is made right by the fact that she allegedly had “white supremacist” sympathies. As I wrote last week, I’ve little doubt that, in the era before cellphone video, the bureaucratic enforcers would have been happy to off Bundy and then come up with a reason why it doesn’t matter. At Waco, there were supposedly children being abused. So Generalissimo Janet Reno killed them all, and now they’re not being abused. In that sense, Mr Bundy is a lucky man: He got to live, and to trash his own reputation rather than having the feds do it for him…

I’m not sure terms like “left” or “right” are very useful here: Communism is assumed to be “left-wing” and Nazism “right-wing”, and my former colleague Jonah Goldberg has written an entire book on that, named for a coinage of H G Wells’: “liberal fascism”. But on the matter of “tolerant” “centrist” fascism: In the Twentieth Century, a nation of great beauty and culture embraced Fascism, and a backward peasant society embraced Communism, and the most evolved civilization in Europe embraced Nazism. And observers still wonder why the great anglophone democracies were almost alone in not going down this path. I think the reason’s simpler than it seems: No one – Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Franco – had devised a form of totalitarianism appealing enough to seduce them. Now they have. As the Bundy example illustrates, a free people will cheerfully abandon bedrock principles like equality before the law if state power is being used to torment a racist or a homophobe or someone whose very presence offends against the citizenry’s sense of its own virtue. Whether or not this is a middle-of-the-road fascism, it’s certainly a very flattering strain: what, after all, is wrong with benign despotism in the cause of preventing “climate change” or transphobia – or ensuring that Nevada’s desert tortoise has an area the size of the United Kingdom to gambol and frolic in?

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Via RCP.

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Via Mediaite.