Guess which American political movement Cliven Bundy is a hero of. If the image isn't enough, here is one of his quotes:
I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro... 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.
You guessed it, the man is a hero of the Tea Party. Not because of his racism (that is just a bonus!). Afterall, that is just the liberal media taking his perfectly innocent comments out of context.
No, Cliven Bundy is the sweetheart of the Republicans for his armed stand-off against the US Federal government. Bundy is a rancher, who feeds his cattle on public lands. Since 1993 he has refuse to pay the (below commerical rates) fees for exploitating public lands, and has racked up more than a million dollars in debt to the government. Bundy went to court and lost, and still continued to graze without paying the fees. A few weeks ago, the Federal government finally impounded his cattle while they were grazing on public lands, with release on condition of payment of his outstanding debt. Bundy whipped up a storm among survivalist-types, and set up an armed camp around his ranch. He publically announced war on the Federal government, announced that he would use lethal force if need be, and in a confrontation with the police his mob assalted federal officers.
Guess what the Feds did? They gave him back his cattle and withdrew from his lands.
To me, that is the true sign of racism in America, at a level far more important than Bundy's personal racism. Image if a black man living in Chicago had refused to pay a $1000 fine, then threatened armed force and finally assalted a police officer who had come to collect the fine. That black man would probably be dead, and if he was not dead he would certainly be in jail. Can there be any doubt that the Federal government treated this rich white man differently from how they do poor black men, despite a crime magnified a 1000-fold?
Racism in America has changed rather than disappeared. It is now relatively rare (but not unheard of) to have people in power publically state views like that of Cliven Bundy. Explicitly racist laws have been removed from the books, and according to the Supreme Court, if a law does not explicitly evoke race then it is not racist, regardless of the intent or effect. No, racism in America is now more coded. It is not a CEO deciding that the company won't hire African-Americans, it is middle management not promoting black staff, while being careful not to give race as a reason. Electoral racism is not Jim Crow, it is voter suppression laws and underfunding of polling booths in black neighbourhoods.
The best examples of legal racism in America today are the drug laws. African-Americans use drugs at essentially the same rate as white Americans, making up 13% of the population and 13% of drug users. Yet African-Americans are three times as likely to be arrested for drug use, once arrested they are twice as likely to be charged and convicted, and if convicted they are twice as likely to be sent to jail. So overall, despite the same level of drug use, African-Americans are 13 times more likely to be sent to jail for drug use. Add onto this laws that extend the prison sentence among the black community, such as differential prison sentences for crack vs powdered cocaine, or the school zoning laws that amp up the sentence of drug use in inner cities versus rural areas. The net effect on the black community is absolutely destructive - thanks to the drug laws, 30% of all young black men in America will spend time in prison, after which a host of other legal impedements follow them for the rest of their lives, making basic rights such as housing, employment and voting far more difficult to gain.
That is the face of racism today in America. Implicitly racist laws, differential implementation of those laws, and a society which penalises both being poor and being black. Thanks to the legacy of slavery and explicit racism, the black community is far poorer than the white community, so a typical African-American gets hit with both racism and class warfare. What is needed to end this cycle of poverty and racism is not the election of a black President. Instead we need the repeal of the drug laws, the stand-your-ground laws and the myriad of other (smaller) legal injustices still on the books. And we need Affirmative Action and public education to break the cycle of poverty, providing a multi-generation pathway to ending the class-race divide. Unfortunately, while the Supreme Court does not seem to have a problem with the racial discrimination built into the drug laws, they are dismantling Affirmative Action and allowing voter suppression laws. Because the conservative wisdom is that as long you don't mention race, nothing you do is racist.