Terrance Heath

Rand Paul Wants It Both Ways

Filed By Terrance Heath | June 01, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: civil rights, gay rights, Jim Crow laws, Kentucky, racial discrimination, Rand Paul, segregation, Senate race

When I heard Rand Paul’s statement about the civil rights act, I had a sense of deja vu. Not only that I’d heard them before, but that I run into the peculiar conservative phenomenon they represented: wanting have it both ways on an issue when conservative “values” are “repulsive to the mainstream,” and to most people’s sense of decency. It usually happens when they’re caught saying what they mean, and then claim to have been misunderstood, “taken out of context,” or merely speaking in a “hypothetical” sense.

Until Rand Paul though, I’d only ever heard it spoken aloud on the subject of marriage equality. At the time, it was Sen. John McCain’s response to a question about marriage equality, saying that he was fine with same-sex couples having “private ceremonies” but against marriage equality.

Actually, John, your remark reminded me of an interview I saw years ago when some sweet little old lady was asked about a law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. I guess she wanted to preserve her image as a sweet old lady when she said of the proposed law, "Oh, I'm against discrimination. I just don't think we need a law against it. It's a nice sentiment, but even then I knew the reality was that in the absence of a law there was no way to prevent discrimination, no possible penalty for those who did the discriminating, and no legal remedies or recourse for those who were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation to fight it.

In her mind, that little old lady got to have it both ways by personally opposing discrimination, but at the same time supporting it by supporting a status quo that at best took a "do nothing" approach to anti-gay discrimination that left people no better off. But she got to feel good about herself, and remain a sweet old lady.

And then there’s Rand Paul.


I’m willing to give him some degree of the benefit of the doubt, though. Rand Paul may very well be personally opposed to racial discrimination. Perhaps he would never personally discriminate against anyone on the basis of their race or ethnicity. Perhaps he would even speak up against it, if he witnessed such discrimination personally.

Rand Paul may not personally believe in racial discrimination. But, make no mistake about it, he doesn’t believe anything should be done about. He doesn’t believe it should be prevented, and he doesn’t believe there should be an legal consequences for those who practice it, or any legal recourse for those who experience it.

This is “the hard part about supporting freedom,” he says. Hard for whom? We don’t ned to ask. It is, of course, a “hard part” that he would likely never face.

Black people had been living in the “leave it to the states” nightmare since Reconstruction, during which the war-weary North abandoned black people to the terrible lawlessness of a vengeful South. Civil-rights movement leaders were fighting for the federal government to secure their rights against the arbitrary tyranny of the political powers in the Southern states, which maintained their hold on local government through coercion and violence. That’s why the attempted appropriation of the civil-rights movement by the likes of Glenn Beck is so bizarre — the tyranny the civil-rights movement was the kind of federalist paradise he imagines.

…Paul’s defenders will argue — as conservatives did with Barry Goldwater — that Paul himself is not a racist. Indeed, Paul said he finds racism abhorrent and would not frequent a segregated business. And Paul rather incoherently defended his position as being “the hard part about believing in freedom.” This is a key statement because it rather poignantly expresses the utter selfishness at the heart of Paul’s argument against the Civil Rights Act.

Paul would never face the actual “hard part” of his vision of freedom, because it would never interfere with his own life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Rand Paul would not have been turned away from a lunch counter, be refused a home, a job, or denied a loan, or told to sit in the black car of a train because of his skin color, or because of the skin color of his spouse. Paul thinks there is something “hard” about defending the kind of discrimination he would have never, ever faced. Paul’s free-market fundamentalism is being expressed after decades of social transformation that the Civil Rights Act helped create, and so the hell of segregation is but a mere abstraction, difficult to remember and easy to dismiss as belonging only to its time. It’s much easier now to say that “the market would handle it.” But it didn’t, and it wouldn’t.

It boils down to this: if Rand Paul could turn back time, there would be no Civil Rights Act of 1964, or at the very least, there would be no Title II in that legislation. So, when it comes to Rand Paul, the answer to the question of how far the right would like to turn back the clock the answer is July 1, 1964 (when the act was signed into law), at the latest.

According to Paul, apparently Americans had more freedom back then.

Has there ever been a golden age of liberty? No, and there never will be. There will always be people who want to live their lives in peace, and there will always be people who want to exploit them or impose their own ideas on others. If we look at the long term--from a past that includes despotism, feudalism, absolutism, fascism, and communism--we're clearly better off. When we look at our own country’s history--contrasting 2010 with 1776 or 1910 or 1950 or whatever--the story is less clear. We suffer under a lot of regulations and restrictions that our ancestors didn't face.

But in 1776 black Americans were held in chattel slavery, and married women had no legal existence except as agents of their husbands. In 1910 and even 1950, blacks still suffered under the legal bonds of Jim Crow--and we all faced confiscatory tax rates throughout the postwar period.

I am particularly struck by libertarians and conservatives who celebrate the freedom of early America, and deplore our decline from those halcyon days, without bothering to mention the existence of slavery. Take R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., longtime editor of the American Spectator. In Policy Review (Summer 1987, not online), he wrote:

Let us flee to a favored utopia. For me that would be the late 18th Century but with air conditioning….With both feet firmly planted on the soil of my American domain, and young American flag fluttering above, tobacco in the field, I would relish the freedom.

I take it Mr. Tyrrell dreams of being a slave-owner. Because as he certainly knows, most of the people in those tobacco fields were slaves.

Chances are Mr. Tyrrell didn’t dream of being a slave owner any more than Dr. Paul dreams of a return of segregation (at least not legal, government-sanctioned segregation). But his ideal of a “free society” would mean very different realities for both of us.

Paul was born in 1963, a year before the civil rights act and six years before I was born. Neither of us have ever lived with the reality of legal racial discrimination. If it hadn’t passed, we both would have lived with it, but in very different ways. It’s unlikely that Paul would be denied service at a restaurant. I, on the other hand, likely would -- depending on where I happened to be. Likewise, with bus lines and bus stations, train travel, bathrooms, water fountains, hotels, etc.

Even after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, if Paul and I had both attempted to dine at the Pickrick Cafe, owned by segregationist and Georgia governor Lester Maddox, Paul would have been allowed to dine. I would likely have been chased out with a gun or an axe handle.

In 1944, Maddox, along with his wife, the former Virginia Cox, used $400 they had saved to open up a combination grocery store/restaurant. Building on that success, the couple then bought property on Hemphill Avenue off the Georgia Tech campus to open up the Pickrick Cafeteria.

Maddox made the Pickrick a family affair with his wife and children working side-by-side with him. The restaurant became known for its simple, inexpensive food, including its specialty, skillet-fried chicken. It soon became a thriving business. The restaurant also provided Maddox with his first political forum: the restaurant became well known in Atlanta for large newspaper advertisements that featured cartoon chickens. Following the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954, these restaurant ads began more and more to feature the cartoon chickens commenting on the political questions of the day. However, Maddox’s refusal to adjust to changes following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 manifested itself when he filed a lawsuit to continue his segregationist policies. Maddox said that he would close his restaurant rather than serve black people. An initial group of black demonstrators came to the restaurant but did not enter when Maddox informed them that he had a large number of black employees. In April 1964, more African-Americans attempted to enter the restaurant. Maddox confronted the group, brandishing a handgun.[1] Maddox provides the following account of the events:

Mostly customers, with only a few employees, voluntarily removed the twelve Pickrick Drumsticks (pick handles) from the nail kegs on each side of the large dining room fireplace. They had been forewarned by the arrival of Atlanta’s news media of an impending attempted invasion of our restaurant by the racial demonstrators and once the demonstrators and agitators arrived, the customers and employees pulled the drumsticks from the kegs and went outside to defend against the threatened invasion.[2]

Unable to win his case, he became a martyr to segregationist advocates by selling the restaurant to employees rather than agreeing to serve black customers.

But those were the “good old days” when people had more freedom.

If they could turn back time, and literally take the country back to a time when “Americans used to be free,” would that mean less freedom for those of us who don't fit the old definition of “American”? Why should we even want to test it? It is possible to return to “the good old days” (once we determine when they were) and, as my online debate opponent said “make them good for everybody”?

It's an old argument, but one that conservatives haven't effectively answered - at least not in a way that wouldn't horrify many people. How do you return to the “good old days” and make them good for everybody? Because they weren't. Or is that what actually made them good?

First, there's not much evidence from today's nostalgic conservatives that they would want to. Indeed, the rhetoric and imagery of the tea parties, which have for better or worse become the dominant face and voice of conservatism today, suggests quite the opposite.

…Again, being white, male, Christian, and heterosexual doesn't come with the privileges it used to. That this loss is blamed on minorities comes as no surprise. To blame it, instead, upon the lawmakers whose policies actually helped close those factories, and whose economic policy made the outsourcing of their jobs possible, would cause an even greater crisis of identity. Because, for the most part those two groups - the tea baggers and the lawmakers whose policies got us where we are today, are almost mirror images of each other. And that might just be too much to face up to.

After all, the “freedom” extolled by the writers Boaz and Devilstower reference, was available only to some who fit a certain criteria - white, male, property owners, at minimum - and then at the expense of virtually everyone else. Their enjoyment of those freedoms - merely mere rights and privileges of citizenship -depended on everyone else not having them.

Much of the rest of our history has been, on the part of progressives, a process of correcting that imbalance, and expanding those freedoms to more and more Americans. Thus, if they could turn back time “good old days,” and the way things used to be way back when, it would almost certainly leave most of the rest of us - who don't fit the tea party demographic - much worse off than we are now.

I can’t imagine going about my daily life today wondering where I can get something to eat and where I can’t, where my family can stop for the night while traveling and where we can’t, we I can shop and where I can’t, etc. I can’t imagine having to tell my children why.

My parents were born in the 1930s, grew up during the 1930s and 1940s, and married in the mid-1950s. They knew a world where they hade to face all of the above, and a world where their children would not. Because the world changed.

If Paul and other conservatives had their way, it wouldn’t have. At least, not much or as soon as it did.


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I don't think there's much to discuss in Rand Paul's pseudo philosophy. He has no problem involving the government when it comes to police helping white business owners kick out black people. He just has a problem with the police/government taking the black person's side.

It's not too hard for me to guess why he believes that.

Excellent article Terrance. Unfortunately those pictures on the Flektor TV screen are about as real to Dr. Paul as a Donald Duck cartoon. He hasn't a clue. He may carry the title of Dr. but in my humble opinion his education is sorely lacking. He is not stupid just ignorant.

Scientists claim that a headless cockroach can be expected to survive about 10 days.

Kentucky might have found an exception to the rule in Rand Paul.

Here's as short social satire video that I think he deserves:

http://bit.ly/asYks5

Wow, how many different ways can Dr. Paul avoid answering a question? And how many ways can he try to say he's not a racist? Seems the more he protests, the harder it is to believe him.

+1 Rachel Maddow for driving it home.

P.S. Unsurprisingly, every time she asks a question mentioning "blacks and gays," he never talks about gays in his answer.

Taelyn I just have to respond to your final point. You see, the state song is My Old Kentucky Home. Dr. Paul thinks blacks and gays are the same thing because the original words start like this ...."The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home, 'Tis summer, the darkies are gay; "

Now if you asked him about homosexuals he might understand the question. Emphasis on "might".

The utter dearth surrounding the Natural Rights of an individual and Civil Rights is utterly frightening, not to say wholly disheartening.

Natural Rights are ours merely by birth, no government can grant them nor can they be taken from us unless we subjugate ourselves to the state. The rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, are not "gifts" from government. It is merely to serve as a warning those areas outside the purview of any Government, state or Central.

Whereas Civil Rights are "Rights De Jure" that is, rights granted by legislative or judicial fiat. Thus, that which can be given by the force of government can just as easily be taken away by government under a different administration.

Should one actually choose to understand an issue and delve past the Old-Media's noxious soundbite-intellect foisted upon our consciousness, then it is quite easy to understand what Rand Paul believes and what he meant.

However, should you wish to instead take STATIST talking-points then it is even easier to utterly butcher his philosophy in hopes of scoring some quick political points.

The CIVIL RIGHTS Act, largely dealt with Institutional racism promoted by force of government, which of course cannot exist under a republican system of government as it seeks to deny rights to a political or other minority, utterly contrary to the Natural Inherent liberty of an individual.

This was the case with segregated public schools, poll-taxes,and all "Jim Crow Laws" which mandated segregation all Public, i.e. Government institutions. All where instituted and maintained under the force of government denying individuals their inherent rights under a system of feudalistic oppression.

However, the Woolworth lunch counter IS private property and government has no right telling individuals whom they must serve.

Personally, if one day my dream to own a coffee house does materialize I will most certainly discriminate against anyone who espouses or declares statist philosophy, evengelical Christians who promote unjust aggressive war, pedophiles, racists, bigots, and anyone else I deem unworthy of coming into my private place of business.

Would it be my motivation to deny service to someone based on their sexual orientation, race, or gender, absolutely not, but should someone be allowed to do so; in a free society, yes.

The rest of us are free then to boycott or open our own restaurant, and compete both for better employees based on skill and serve a wider base of customers, solely based on their ability to pay.

Moreover, Alex, you should be ashamed of yourself, as I do not believe you are ignorant on the matter, as to infer that Rand Paul believes in using police power to forcibly remove and beat black individuals.

It is You and your ilk who seek to empower government in order to serve YOUR interest under the doctrine of force.

Dr. Paul, nor anyone I am friends with in the Liberty Movement believes in using force, as it is an anathema to liberty, regardless of intention, ergo spreading democracy or leveling the playing field, both impossible actions outside of reality.

So if you are all for serving everyone under the civil rights act as some sort of settled acceptance of government force, it should be interesting to see if your rhetoric is consistent. When shall Bilerico then accept a government dictate to offer a counter view to the "LGBT" point-of-view such as being forced to publish guest contributor Rick Warren, John Hagee, Fred Phelps, or David Duke?

After all,this blog is not a "Private" entity according to you and the STATIST philosophy, it serves a "public" readership, thus you cannot deny the afore their "civil" rights to their freedom of speech.

Unless of course you are hypocritical in how government should apply the use of force, which really shows whose philosophy is fundamentally flawed.

Talk about having it both ways. LMAO

You want to have this discussion, those in favor of actual freedom in lieu of government force are more than willing to make this an issue you cannot simply smear with half-baked misinformed rhetoric.

Liberty, is even for those actions you find opposed to you, until it violates your person or your property. Anything less is statism.

So Rand Paul was born in 1963? That explains why he never saw what I saw growing up the colored only signs etc they were mostly gone by the time he was old enough to notice such things. I was going to school when we had our first Black kids go to school with us yep eye oepener time for sure. To bad Rand missed all of that maybe his eyes would have been opened to on why segeration and discrimination are wrong.

Hes an opertunist just like his Daddy say what ya gotta say to get them thar votes.


Caty
Politics is a contact sport with no rules.

Dear Cathy,

Too bad you failed to listen to the part where Rand said he supported 9 out of 11 TITLES in the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT all those which dealt with government sponsored racism, of which Government School, ergo institutionalized racism.

Not really a hard concept to grasp:

Public Segregated School = Government Segregated School.

Woolworths = Private business, which means you can boycott and protest all you want, however government has no business telling a business owner whom the must serve.

Dear Alli, you obviously have never had your head beaten in by a police officer wielding a baton who objects to the color of your skin and is following the laws of the state. I recommend you go spend a few years in Ethiopia and report back in...if you live through the experience.

Dear Deena,

Once again your example is an example of an arm of government enforcing institutional racism.

Keep trying though, its fun to watch STATISTS try to justify the need for government created faux-while referencing government brutality.

Alli I know your kind of person you would reimpose segergation in a heart beat. You also sound a whole lot like the folks I know in the WP.
Oh click on Alli's name very interesting link they.

Sorry; to say I would ever support the use of government force to institute segregation really shows how little you understand.

Force is always an inappropriate response to a problem unless it is self-defense.

Government sponsored (force) racism is what Rand, myself and others abhor. Further it is those 9 out of 11 TITLES in the CIVIL RIGHTS Act Jeffersonian-Austrianists support.

Government created slavery, supported slavery, created segregation, and supported segregation.

Through all of this it was government FORCE of law which kept racism alive.

It was private individuals, abolitionists, anti-federalists, who fought against government supported racism such as the Fugitive Slave Act, and who used their Private property rights to create the Underground Railroad.

How you continue to confuse the use of force of law, and the right to free association, is mind-numbing.

"Woolworths = Private business, which means you can boycott and protest all you want, however government has no business telling a business owner whom the must serve."

Private business aint exempt there darling so I sugeset you take ya Tea Party = WP nonsense else where to some one who may not be able to conect the dots.

Caty
Politics is a contact sport with no rules.

Cathy said: so I sugeset you take ya Tea Party = WP nonsense else where

Irony - FTW

Why should I take my "nonsense" ergo disagreement with Statist philosophy elsewhere?

Do you seek to stifle my opinion, thought we were all koom-bah-yah.

Thus under your very own philosophy, regardless if my viewpoint is different from yours, you cannot force me to leave. Why should my queer opinion of Liberty be segregated from your pro-statist opinion? Guess you'll have to put up with my "nonsense" since you advocate annihilation of private property rights in favor of government coerced "equality".

Thank you sooo much for proving my point.

Hate to break it you Cathy, there are a growing number of us Queer Patriots who are tired of seeking "equality" via government, and see that the less government we have, the more liberty and individual obtains.

Bravo

I think private businesses should be exempt - as long as they don't try to claim any protection for "limited liability".

Partnerships and Sole Traders with unlimited liability are one thing. But as soon as they become incorporated entities, with state-sanctioned legal protection for their owners, they no longer have the personal right of "freedom of association".

Moreover, I see nothing wrong with such organisations - not individuals - not being permitted to trade with those that implement racist policies, as a price for the limited liability of the owners.

I would have supported the Pickrick Cafeteria. As long as he buys no electricity from a corporation, no gasoline from a corporation, that all his ingredients come from private persons not firms...

Zoe you are so right on. The fact that once upon a time corporations indeed use to be "For-Public_Benefit" is an arcane bit of history lost on the average person.

Corporation use to exist solely for a specific project such as a bridge, road, et cetera.

However when the CORPORATE PERSONHOOD doctrine came into effect, they became a protected class unlike no other, in as much as they not only were bestowed CIVIL RIGHTS, but they also gained the power through largess to influence government, ergo Goldman Sachs, et al.

Thus is why when Ron Paul calls both the Bush administration AND the Obama administration, he is correct.

In my opinion, the Oligarch's transformation
of our Republic began under Wilson, but I digress.

You missed Zoe's point entirely. Go back and read the conditions Zoe attached such as energy use.

Ron Paul is not the one running for Kentucky Senator. It is his racist son Rand Paul who will not answer simple yes/no questions. If you think for one minute that it is acceptable for a private business to have separate drinking fountains labeled whites and coloreds then the lessons of history were lost on you in my opinion. Sorry, been there, experienced that. It was wrong. Simply wrong.

Um gee thanks, I am well aware that Rand Paul is running for Senate, not his father.

My point is that RON Paul's statement that both the current puppet and the previous puppet are beholden to the corporations and thus Corporatist.

Further, the only history lost is the fact that you cannot admit that the biggest perpetrator of racism was government.

Perhaps if you managed to read outside your government text books, from your government school your understanding of the afore would be a bit more sophisticated.

All race-baiters such as yourself know how to do is call those in disagreement with your STATIST philosophy "racist".

Which is intellectually weak, and utterly misses the point.

The right to freely associate with others is a fundamental right outside the purview of government. Let the bigots be bigots, education and dialog are the path to Reason, not the empty-promises of government force.

So until I see some "Counter" points on this "Public" blog couched in "equality and fairness" by those opposed to our queer community, you remain merely a talking-point pseudo-intellectual STATIST, and a hypocritical one to boot.

Alli I was going to write you a long reply. Then I realized it would do no good. So let me put it this way. I buried friends who opposed racists. Rand Paul wasn't even born at the time. His perspective on permitting private businesses to discriminate is more detestable to me than you can possibly understand.

Politics aside, I am very sorry you had to bury friends who fell victim to force perpetuated by other individuals.

Nevertheless, basing an argument on a retaliatory use of force by government to correct a wrong is a most improper correction to a problem originally created and sustained by government.

Further, while an awful experience to endure, using your pain as that justification is a classic "appeal to pity" and thus does not equate to a reasoned argument for government intervention.

It seems we all can agree that institutionalized racism in the form of government segregated schools, public buildings, poll taxes, and everything else is utterly contrary to a federalist system designed to represent all of its people.

The question you have to answer is would you serve Fred Phelpps or RIck Warren?

I know not your answer, but mine will forever be a firm no, based wholly on my opinion that he promotes an ignorant hatred utterly opposed to my philosophy and thus my natural right to free association trumps his civil right to a meal.

It further remains most candid facts:

Government created and enforced slavery by force

Private individuals though the abolitionist and nullification movements helped create the Underground Railroad and work towards a repeal to the Fugitive Slave Act.

All people are free, free in as much until they harm person or property.

Which means, yes we must put up with the bigot, but we are not forced to associate nor serve them in our homes nor business.

"tis the same with freedom of speech; it must be preserved at all costs even in defense of speech we find deplorable, otherwise it looses its title of free.

Alli, with all due respect, you haven't a clue. To you it is all theory and concept. Let me make it simple for you. Rand Paul supports the right of a business owner to refuse service to a black, a Jew, a gay, a lesbian and yes even to you. I oppose that approach to liberty and justice for all. I do not share his belief that market forces reign supreme. In fact if this country had followed his approach Standard Oil would probably control our entire economy and you would be a slave to the heirs to the Rockefeller family enterprises. Rand Paul wouldn't even have a chance to run for Congress if market forces hadn't been checked by governmental intervention long before the civil rights era of the late fifties and sixties.

Is that simple enough for you? I can make it even simpler. Rand Paul is a racist in my opinion. Perhaps I am wrong but I am encouraging all my relatives in Kentucky to vote for his opponent. Most of my Kentucky relatives are Republicans, btw.

Nothing is more "racist" then degrading individuals into collectivist "people-groups" in lieu of respecting them as individuals each to be judged solely on their character and merits of their actions.

There is no fundamental right to a cup of coffee.

Fundamental rights are those rights that are ours merely by our birth, id est, speech, worship, privacy, self-defense, free-association.

No agency of the State has to "grant" me the ability to defend myself from some anti-gay bigot.

Moreover, the only thing simple here is your mind, and your irrational fears extolled as some virtuous excuse to have government interfere further into our lives.

If for some reason you ever found yourself invited into our family's home and started spouting your "Freedom is only what the government allows Statist mantra; this Dyked up Gadsden flying Patriot will kindly ask you to leave my premises post-haste.

Should you err and think you have some "right" to verbally vomit forth your statist rhetoric in my private home, well then you most assuredly would have another lesson coming.

#DToM

If you invited me to your home I would decline. But if you were running a business making income by providing services to the public I would expect you to keep your segregationist propensities in the closet. You are trying to turn the concept of liberty and justice for all upside down.

Let's be very clear about what Rand Paul said even though he tried his best to couch it in vague phrases. He said he is not racist and would not patronize an establishment that served whites only but he supports the right of a business to serve whites only or any other select clientele the owners of the business care to define. In other words he supports segregation in commercial activities. I oppose segregation in commercial activities. By your own philosophy you certainly must support my right to oppose commercial segregation. You simply can't have it both ways.