Monday, May 24, 2010

The Smear Bund Reloads

“I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners - I abhor racism, I think it’s a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant - but at the same time I do believe in private ownership but I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding.”

- Rand Paul, May 20, 2010

Fresh off a resounding primary win, Rand Paul didn’t leave himself much time for a “honeymoon” this week when he inadvertently uttered one of the Things You’re Not Allowed To Say.

Just what did he say? Did he espouse the merits of racism? Did he lament that the country did not elect Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats in 1948? Did our good and benevolent media handlers, who cannot possibly have an agenda of their own, catch Rand changing out of his surgical scrubs and into his Klan hood?

Rather, Rand Paul made a statement intolerable to our political and cultural elites when he suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not infallible.

In fact, there was nothing in the above quote that was even inconsistent with his philosophy.

Rand Paul’s entire campaign thus far has been about keeping government out of the lives of private citizens. Do the liberals (and a conservative establishment altogether unhappy with this marriage) want us to believe that Rand’s whole campaign, nay, whole life dedicated to preserving the privacy and rights of the individual was just part of a grand scheme to reinstitute segregated lunch counters?

It wasn’t enough to say that racism is wrong. It wasn’t enough to point out the economic stupidity inherent to discrimination practiced by business owners. Rand Paul’s detractors, both Left and Right, show us that the only acceptable way to be absolved or recused of racism is to faithfully recite the court history.

Always tenuous in his relationship with the Republican Party, whose full support he needs, a chastened Dr. Paul, with all the passion of a church heretic choosing expediency over burning at the steak, has backpedaled by saying that he would have undoubtedly supported the Civil Rights Act, a position he implied in the first place. Perhaps now that he says he believes all the articles of the government catechism, the Inquisition of Acceptable Opinion will pull back on the reins.

But this is unlikely to end as this is only the second act of a play we’ve already seen.

The Democrats have naturally lacerated Rand. They are loathe to ever pass up an opportunity to project their bloated sense of moral superiority at anyone who disagrees with them by labeling them a racist or bigot. Perhaps even less surprising is how the GOP has turned its back and tepidly cheered on the Left’s hysterics.

The Republicans, who are none too happy that Rand pummeled their candidate of choice, finally have a reason to throw him to the wolves. For a candidate whom they have no passionate attachment, cutting the rope comes naturally and easily. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the party who left Jim Bunning to twist in the wind has given the same treatment to his potential successor.

While there is a fair amount of criticism about Rand Paul’s campaign, particularly among libertarians, that he is so reviled by his party’s establishment, both before and after a landslide primary victory, shows that his enemies still see him as a legitimate threat to cut against the grain of his party. And that is what cannot be tolerated.

Despite all of this, it’s still doubtful this will sink the 25-point lead Rand currently holds over his opponent. Try as they might, the Democrats cannot put “macaca” in his mouth.

But Rand Paul has been here before.

Last December, a prominent staffer resigned when racist content was found on his page. Although the staffer, Chris Hightower, did not author the substance, he did leave it alone, an indication that he values a person’s right to the freedom of speech, even when it’s detestable.

Likewise, Rand Paul never condoned racism or discrimination but only nodded that property rights are sacred in the western tradition, even when the holders themselves are repulsive.

But the point is that Rand Paul has survived this sort of controversy before. He kept on his message of rejecting government interference and balancing the budget, even when his primary opponent tried to use this incident as a club in evidence of Rand’s “strange ideas.”

Yet, Rand Paul is still naturally strong in this race. He’s the indisputably conservative candidate in an indisputably conservative state.

“Gotcha” questions like these will come up again. The successful distraction caused by this kerfuffle only proves that it will come up again because the more time we spend talking about 46-year-old legislation that is not about to be repealed means there will be less time to talk about dangerously inflated budgets that are sinking the economy.

Rand Paul needs to get together with his team to prepare for every possible contingency because the next irrelevant question is already being cooked up.

Otherwise, damage control will have to be added to his list of talking points.


Here are a few other takes on this situation that are worth a read:

Tom Woods: Rand Paul and the Zombies
Jack Hunter: Rand Paul's Practical Philosophy
Daniel McCarthy: Rand Paul and the Paleos
Daniel Larison: Can Rand Paul Revive Conservative Foreign Policy?
Jacob Hornberger: Rand Paul, Civil Rights, and More Liberal Hypocrisy on Race
Michael Scheuer: Maddow and the Obamas: Killers of Hope, Spurs of Rebellion
Wes Messamore: A Question for Rachel Maddow
Chris W: Progressive Hypocrisy and Rand Paul


This essay is also now up at The Humble Libertarian.


TAO said...


I am going to ask you one simple question: Do you agree with what Rand Paul stated?

Does an individual, who lives in a society that promotes equality, have a right to expect to be treated equally by all members of that society?

You basically are arguing, as Rand Paul does, that 'property rights' trump individual rights.

You basically are arguing that an individual with property has superior rights to those of an individual that has no property.

That is elitist.

To argue that a business owner, WHO DOES NOT DERIVE A BENEFIT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, can do whatever they want with their business to whomever they want, really makes the whole argument of Rand Paul a moot point in reality.


Real simple, find one business that does not benefit from tax deductions given by the federal government? Thus every business has to follow the guidelines of the Civil Rights Act because all of them benefit from preferencial treatment from the federal government.

Rand Paul knows this because he derives 50% of his income from medicare/medicad.

Carl Wicklander said...

The short answer is yes, I do agree with what Rand Paul originally said.

The point is, if a business is not receiving public funding, then his opinion on that part of the Civil Rights Act is moot, as you said.

But is a benefit, for example a tax cut, the same thing as public funding? A tax cut is simply returning money you already earned, not money taken by the federal government from someone else and redistributed to your business.

And it’s also not elitist. A person has a right to their property. I don’t have a right, however, to eat wherever I want. I do have the liberty to eat anyplace that is willing to provide the service to me in exchange for money. Otherwise, it’s a sense of entitlement on my part – that I am entitled to food cooked by somebody else.

A local restaurant can choose not to serve me because they made up a company policy against bearded carpet-baggers from Kentucky. Fine. The owner is in charge of that property and I don’t have an in-born right to their labor and service.

Property rights cut both ways. Just as a white business owner might want to discriminate against blacks, a black business owner should be permitted to discriminate against whites as well. It’s their business and if they don’t want my money I can take it elsewhere.

I also take issue with “equality” as it has been used in this debate, not because I’m against the idea of equality but because equality is subjective and one person’s definition of equality is different from another’s.

Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal, even though he held slaves, an idea that wouldn’t satisfy anyone’s definition of equality today. Not even definitions of equality are equal.

So what sort of equality do we mean in this debate? Does it mean equality of outcome? That was the Soviet model.

Does it mean equality of opportunity? Even that doesn’t truly exist and we can’t make it exist except in a brutal and arbitrary way, again, like the Soviet model. Some people are just smarter and more talented than others. Other times the lack of equality exists because of external factors.

I might have a particular job skill but if there is no market for it where I live I don’t have equal opportunity as I would if I lived someplace else. True equality of opportunity is hard to achieve in this world because it must be enforced top-down.

Man is a fallen creature. Government can no more legislate racism out of existence than a pastor can lobby to legislate adultery out of existence. If a man lusts after another woman in his heart, no commandment from God or secular law can change that.

We can make all the laws we want against every evil we can conceive of, but that doesn’t eliminate the feeling in a person’s heart.

Forcing a bigot to open the doors of his business to minorities he hates in his heart isn’t likely to make him less bigoted. It’s more likely to harden his prejudice as it builds up resentment and creates more of a problem that the Civil Rights Act was meant to alleviate. Persuasion at least stands a better chance.

Even the liberals who are incensed at Rand Paul’s position imply that racism either hasn’t been or can’t be legislated away with their insistence that re-segregation would take place.

This probably isn’t a satisfactory answer for your question.

I do think racism is a problem and is a consequence of human nature. That means we have to life in the world as it is. I don’t expect us to ever achieve perfection or “equality” as it is meant in these discussions. I just believe that freedom for the individual, rather than compulsion, is a better way to improve our lot.