So what is Rand Paul -- an ordinary white racist? Or a more sinister sort of closet racist?
In response to an onslaught of what he terms "liberal media attacks" after a recent interview with Rachel Maddow -- in which he argued against federal restrictions on business owners' "rights" to refuse service to whomever they like -- Libertarian whiz kid Rand Paul is now claiming that he actually supports the Civil Rights Act.
On his official candidacy site, Paul states,
“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws."
Like his initial claims in the Maddow interview -- basically, that he's against racial discrimination, but also for allowing businesses to refuse service to whomever they like -- Paul's official response to the firestorm that he's provoked is nothing short of bizarre. It's a blatantly self-contradictory stance being expressed by a (suddenly) national figure (which, come to think of it, isn't all that unusual).
How can Paul logically be for the Civil Rights Act, which forbids businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, and also for the "right" of businesses to do whatever they want, including discriminating on the basis of race? And how can he be for an act of law, but actually for the "intent" of that law? Basically, he can't. And yet, like so many other adherents to Libertarianism, he simply ignores the fundamental contradictions that arise when simplistic theories get tested in the real world.
I think it's great, and pretty entertaining really, that this example of Libertarian ideology -- which Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul both hold so dear -- has been exposed as illogical so early in his candidacy. Rand Paul's bumbling attempts to address his self-contradictory stance, all while completely failing to address it, just might bring about the kind of sunlight that could disinfect a lot of the rising and similarly bankrupt Tea-Party ideology (its adherents fervently support Rand's candidacy).
Such attention might also help to expose an apparently new common white tendency -- explaining away racist actions by saying they're not a problem, because the free market will take care of them.
Rand Paul made this particular argument when he said the following, in explanation of his position on business rights and civil rights: "I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant."
Got that? Paul's implication is that businesses that refuse their services in a racist manner will suffer or even fail, presumably because in our "postracial" society, most people will spend their money at businesses that don't practice racial discrimination, because most (white) people aren't racists anymore. The free market is sacrosanct and magical, you see; if the dastardly liberals who supposedly control everything would just let market practices be "free," all problems would be solved. Including racism!
This is the same excuse given, for instance, by that racist justice of the peace in Louisiana. Remember Keith Bardwell, the one who refused to grant marriage licenses to interracial couples? He said that his refusal wasn't racist (of course), because he only meant to protect the children produced by such unions. Then, after the couple obtained a license elsewhere, Bardwell said this:
I'm sorry, you know, that I offended the couple, but I did help them and tell them who to go to and get married. And they went and got married, and they should be happily married, and I don't see what the problem is now.
Got that, all you racism chasers? Bardwell is basically saying, without saying it outright, that even if his actions were racist, that's not a problem, because the couple was free to get their marriage license elsewhere. The market took care of it! And Bardwell himself was supposedly just expressing his all-American, God-given personal right to serve, and not serve, whomever he liked.
I don't know if these two examples justly represent a "common white tendency" (can you think of others?). However, they do help to explain why such an overwhelming percentage of Libertarians are white, and also why a lot of them -- although they'd never admit it in public -- are flatout racists. As Niky Ring writes (in a post entitled "Libertarianism: the ideology of American racists"), "Why are people shocked when a libertarian flips over and there's a Klansman on the other side?"
That's not to say that all Libertarians keep pointy-hooded robes in their closets. But it is to say that it's not difficult to see why the ideology itself attracts so many adamant racists. Now that we have another ardent Libertarian on the national stage, one who's aligned with the similarly, thinly veiled racists of the Tea Party (you know, those crowds of white people clamoring to take "their" country back), here's hoping that the "liberal media" will keep up the "attack" on Rand's self-contradictory stance on the Civil Rights Act. Maybe they'll also be able to figure out just what kind of racist he is too.
[h/t: swpd reader Jon]