Embattled Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy didn’t back down from his views on race in a CNN interview Friday morning, saying “no, I’m not a racist” while attempting to invoke the legacies of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks in his defense.Bundy has been a controversial figure since engaging in a contentious stand-off with the government over $1 million in unpaid grazing fees, racked up after letting his cattle graze on federal lands for years. Republicans swarmed to Bundy’s defense during his tense stand-off with the Bureau of Land Management, but abandoned the rancher after The New York Times exposed his retrograde views on African Americans.
Speaking on CNN Friday, Bundy launched into an elaborate retelling of Rosa Parks’ story, saying that Martin Luther King didn’t necessarily want her to sit in the front of the bus.
“Now Reverend Martin Luther King did not want her to take her seat in the front of the bus, that’s not what he was talking about,” Bundy told CNN. “What Rev. King wanted was that she could sit anywhere in the bus and no one would say anything about it.”
Bundy said this shows he isn’t prejudiced, he’s exercising free speech.
“He didn’t want this prejudiced thing like the media tried to put on me yesterday and I’m not going to put up with that because that’s not what he wanted and not what I want,” Bundy said.
The interview then approached perhaps even more offensive territory, when Bundy said he believes it was King’s work to ensure his right to use slurs like “negro” freely.
“I took this boot off so I wouldn’t put my foot in my mouth with the boot on. Maybe I sinned and maybe I need to ask for forgiveness,” he said.
“But you know, when you talk about prejudice, we’re talking about not being able to exercise what we think and what we feel,” he continued. “We don’t have freedom to say what we want. If I say negro or black boy or slave, I’m not, I’m not, if those people cannot take those kinds of words and not be offensive, then Martin Luther King Jr. hasn’t done his job done yet!”