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    The Irony of the Rand Paul Kerfuffle

    The Irony of the Rand Paul Kerfuffle

    I’m glad I spent most of yesterday traveling, so that I missed much of the blogospheric tsunami regarding Rand Paul’s libertarian views on the virtue of the federal government banning racial discrimination in private businesses.

    Where I come down on the issue is that the history and entrenched nature of racial segregation and discrimination both by government and by the private sector in some areas of the country necessitated government action, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    As anyone who reads this blog knows, I do not equate limited government with no government, which is the strawman argument frequently raised to attack conservatives. While in an ideal world we could have let the market work out discrimination in private businesses, the world was not ideal.

    I acknowledge that there is a slippery slope of government intrusion, such that protecting civil rights ends up with regulations mandating the purchase of private health insurance and restricting how much salt one can put on one’s food. The existence of a slippery slope, however, does not mean that necessary societal steps are not taken at all.

    Regardless of one’s political philosophy, however, there was no justification for the attacks on Paul as a racist. Paul was very clear in his original statements and subsequent clarification that he was against racism even in private businesses, the issue being one of political philosophy as to how racism was to be eliminated.

    The nature of our political debate is such that Democrats’ official strategy for the 2010 campaign cycle is to find wedge issues, and there is no bigger wedge in our society than the issue of race. This did not start with Rand Paul; it happens on issues such as health care, immigration and almost every political issue.

    The charges of racism against Paul will have little political effect because Democrats have cried wolf so often using the race card that charges of racism in politics have become background noise for most, and counter-motivators for many who resent falsely be called racist.

    While Memeorandum filled almost its entire home page with blog posts on the subject, I’d be willing to venture a bet that the vast majority of people in the country are hardly aware of the dispute, and do not care because the issue was settled several decades ago.

    But I do also think there is enormous hypocrisy here, because it is Democrats who perpetuate institutionalized race-based discrimination through affirmative action programs which include the color of one’s skin as part of the decision-making process. This may be legal in certain circumstances, and may even be desirable to remedy historical imbalances, but it is discrimination nonetheless.

    The irony is that it is Republicans and Tea Partiers who hold most true to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a nation where people were not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    But you wouldn’t know it to read Memeorandum yesterday.

    Update: We’ve seen this movie before, A Warning For The Next Scott Brown

    Related Posts:
    They Have Nothing To Fear, But Fear Itself
    “Limited Federal Government = No Government” (or something like that)
    Saturday Night Card Game (When The Race Card Met Godwin)

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    Although I disagree with your stance on the CRA itself (I agree with Paul that all government discrimination should be eliminated, but private ownership means also the right to determine how that property is both used and disposed of), your unequivocal stance on the charges of racism being leveled at Rand Paul are spot on and clearly presented. Very nicely done.

    As to the CRA, I think that it actually has worked counter to its sponsors stated goal of a colorblind society. It has resulted in greater institutionalization of racism, and in a manner that is going to be even harder to eradicate. Additionally, it has acted as precedent for further social engineering, making our society more of an experiment than a free people. Sadly, experiments seldom end well for the guinea pig.

    "Racism" is used a lot these days, but it's interesting how it has become almost exclusively a rhetorical device rather than a real-life phenomenon.

    What I mean is, 50-60 years ago, if you were black and especially if you were living in the South, you would experience racism, first-hand, in your day-to-day life. People opening espoused racist views, and society enforced racist standards of conduct. This wasn't kip-service, either: If blacks (or whites) failed to abide by those standards, any number of people, were prepared to take actual, physical action to redress that failure. (Try taking a white girl to dinner and the movies and see how far that goes.)

    Today, we still talk about "racism," but during those times when we do, it is almost always in the context of someone in the public eye's being labeled as racist on account of something he has said, or some position he has publicly taken. Rarely these days do we witness or experience anything that can clearly be called racism in any practical, tangible form. It's just that the ideas or political beliefs that people — and mostly people in the public eye — express draws accusations of racism, which accusations themselves rarely lead to anything more than further rhetorical sniping.

    So it seems that racism today exists primarily as a rhetorical charge. People aren't seen doing actual, racist things, they are simply accused of holding racist beliefs. (Moreover, almost all of these accusations rely on the interpretive skills of the accuser rather than any unambiguous racist declarations of the people being accused.)

    I don't understand your criticism of Paul. His response seems reasoned and truthful. Having worked on a rig, I can assure you that it is always one big accident waiting to happen. One spark and things go bad fast. In fact, I find his response comforting instead of the feeling you have in talking with most politicians. Many times I feel I have to go home and take a bath when I am around them. From what I understand, there is little we can do if a firm or country decides to drill outside of our legal boundary. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Powerline has the right — and the smart — take on this for conservatives:

    In a way, there's really no such a thing as a "private business." As I put it on my blog yesterday:

    "Private businesses may be privately owned, but they do not exist in a private vacuum. They use public roads, water, and other services. They employ people educated in the public schools, treated in the public hospitals, serviced by the public largess. They are dependent on the state for protection, for the enforcement of contracts, for the value of the currency with which they transact. A business can not exist without a society around it. Business is a dependent product of civilized society – and not nearly as much the other way around."

    Libertarianism is the simple-minded, convenient polticial ideology of teenagers. It's not for serious adulte. The Tea Party have shown themselves to be nothing more than the equivilant of adolescent racists. And Paul's argument is wrong no matter how you look at it, as racist or not.


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