Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul may not be a racist, but he is an extremist.

Rand Paul and other right wingers have an unbelievable belief in the power of the market to correct all wrongs, even after the market almost utterly collapsed due to individual greed.

Here, Rand Paul argues that he is not a racist - and I am happy to believe that he is not - but he also argues that individual business's should be allowed to discriminate if they so choose.

He puts such faith in the market that he is actually unwilling to answer whether or not the Woolworth lunch counter should be allowed to remain segregated.

This is an extremist position. He has such faith in the market that he is adamant that private business should have no government interference at all, even if the private individual who owns the business is determined to deprive other people of their human rights based on nothing other than their skin colour.

Ezra Klein:

"I wouldn't attend, wouldn't support, wouldn't go to," a private institution that discriminates, he told Rachel Maddow. But he would let them discriminate.
He might not agree with discrimination, and he might wish to take his business elsewhere when faced with restaurants and bars which discriminate against people based on their colour, but he nevertheless argues for their right to discriminate.

Maddow does a masterly job here of allowing Rand Paul to skewer himself.
I'm always impressed by broadcast journalists who can, without getting angry, grab the point of contention and drive at it in a manner that is as civil as it is relentless. This is the art of killing softy, of quietly twisting the knife.
Rand Paul may not be a racist, but he believes that the right of the individual - rather than the collective - should always have supremacy. To that end he is prepared to argue that racist bar owners should be allowed to discriminate.

That's appalling. And this will follow him throughout this campaign, as it deserves to.

This morning he is already expressing regret, not at what he said, but for the fact that he even appeared on Maddow's show at all.

"It was a poor political decision and probably won't be happening anytime in the near future," the Tea Party endorsed Senate candidate said on the Laura Ingraham show on Thursday morning. "Because, yeah, they can play things and want to say, 'Oh you believed in beating up people that were trying to sit in restaurants in the 1960s.' And that is such a ridiculous notion and something that no rational person is in favor of. [But] she went on and on about that."

He's playing "shoot the messenger", but the problem here is his message. Racism and discrimination are simply wrong. And governments should have the power to stop people, even individual business owners, when they seek to discriminate against others. To me, that point is simply inarguable.

And Rand Paul has no-one to blame but himself for the hole he now finds himself in. He should stop digging.


It appears as if he has stopped digging and has issued a complete retraction.

A spokesman for Rand Paul just clarified to me that the candidate does, in fact, believe that the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from discriminating based on race.

Paul had earlier claimed he didn't support that role for the Federal government, sparking a raging controversy. A statement he issued today in hopes of quieting the firestorm affirmed his support for the Civil Rights Act, but only said he backed it for stopping "discrimination in the public sphere."

Asked for further clarification, Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul campaign, confirmed that Paul does in fact think the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from commiting racial discrimination. He told me:

"Civil Rights legislation that has been affirmed by our courts gives the Federal government the right to ensure that private businesses don't discriminate based on race. Dr. Paul supports those powers."

His position was untenable, but he does appear to have, at least, acknowledged that.


Steel Phoenix said...

You infer his opinion. He neither stated a specific opinion, nor retracted it. He dug himself a pothole and the media spent all day widening it with a back hoe (previous to this interview). I think he neither wanted to dig the hole deeper or to explain himself at length, which just came across as dodging. He did very poorly in the interview.

I think in a small business with few employees, hiring is a very personal thing, and I think those employers should be able to hire based on whatever their personal preferences may be. If I were to interview a prospective employee who was deeply evangelical and spent all day prattling about Jesus and her nine children, I'd know she would would drive me nuts, yet I would be guilty of religious discrimination were I to oppose the hire on such grounds.

The restaurant example is a bit different. it may be privately owned, but it is a publicly accessible situation. You don't have to knock and ask permission to enter a restaurant. He got his gun analogy backwards. You can't carry a gun into a restaurant precisely because eating there is a public as well as private activity.

I also see an issue of both scale and jurisdiction. For hiring, I would support a small family restaurant's right to hire who they want, so long as they comply with local or state laws. A big chain like McDonald's however, has no excuse for personal preferences, and clearly falls under the interstate commerce clause, thus making it valid for Congress to be involved rather than just the state. They also have some mandate under the fourteenth amendment, but that's a bit complicated. I don't blame him for not wanting to get into this at all on Maddow. It's sorta the equivalent of a liberal being asked on a conservative talk show to explain in exactly which circumstances they support the murdering of unborn babies.

Kel said...

I don't think the subject of hiring employees was raised at all during this interview. It was about a private business's right to discriminate who to serve.

Rand Paul is arguing that private business's should have that right. And he is arguing that specifically as it pertains to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I'm sorry, but that's idiocy.

He neither stated a specific opinion, nor retracted it.

That was, indeed, his problem. And it became a problem, not because he was appearing with the Liberal Rachel Maddow; it became a problem because of comments he had previously made on NPR, which he then seemed reluctant to explain.

He has now attempted to draw a line in the sand; but as Politico reporter Shira Toeplitz tweeted, "You know it's a rough day on campaign trail when you have to issue a statement that says you will not repeal Civil Rights Act of '64."

It was idiocy which led him to think that one can ever be ambiguous about other people's civil rights; to imagine that the power of the market to self correct is more important than the issue of discrimination.

Especially in a country with such a desperate history on this subject.

He got belted for it, and it was utterly deserved.

Steel Phoenix said...

Bah, by going on Maddow, he deserved to be asked the same question ad nauseum, it's a hostile interview technique, but fair game, but since he wouldn't play, they put the words in his mouth. What specific quote do you have from him that supports your claim? Dodging a question isn't an admission of guilt (which is also in our Constitution btw).

It is an odd issue if you turn it around a bit. If I choose not to go to a Mexican restaurant because I'm racist, can they call the cops, have them drag me into the restaurant, stuff food into me, and then give my money to the proprietor? What if I'm a store owner who refuses to buy produce picked by Mexican labor?

Another weird thing in the act is that it has an exception: You are allowed to refuse to serve someone because they are a communist. When you allow the government to decide issues of race,sometimes the outcome isn't exactly equality. If he had said that he opposed the civil rights act because it discriminated against communists, would you still think he was wrong?

Steel Phoenix said...

I suppose my produce example is also more of a private issue. I guess a better question might be that of a pawn shop. Should we prevent pawn shop owners from saying they don't buy from black people? I would assume so, but how about if they never say so, but do it anyway? Does it matter who has the goods and who has the money? What groups should be protected? Should it be illegal to discriminate against white male atheists? Can you refuse service to communists, but not Zionists?

Kel said...

What specific quote do you have from him that supports your claim? Dodging a question isn't an admission of guilt (which is also in our Constitution btw).

What claim do you think I am making?

I am saying that he disagrees with the Civil Rights Act as it pertains to private business's. Do you think I am saying something else? Because I have specifically said that I am not calling him a racist. I am saying that I think he has far too much faith in the market to self correct.

I guess a better question might be that of a pawn shop. Should we prevent pawn shop owners from saying they don't buy from black people?

If only matters in 1964 were that nuanced. The truth is they hung signs saying "Blacks not allowed".

The Civil Rights Act did not remove racism and discrimination from American life, but it did stop people being able to be so blatant about it.

Kel said...

Sorry the quote which I think shows he disapproves of the government making laws regarding business's which discriminate:

"There's ten different titles to the civil rights act and nine out of ten deal with public institutions and I am absolutely in favour of. One deals with private institutions and had I been around I would have tried to modify that."

Steel Phoenix said...

Ok, that's what I thought. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something. I don't know his stances well enough to feel confident stating them, but what you say here that I'm not sure is supported is:

"he is adamant that private business should have no government interference at all"

"he also argues that individual business's should be allowed to discriminate if they so choose." -I don't think he said that. He said he wanted to modify federal controls. He neither stated extent, nor ruled out state and local laws, which is something important to consider in Libertarian philosophy, that we aren't against laws so much as centralization of power at the federal level(although he claims not to be a Libertarian).

I notice a reluctance on your part to state your position on where the line should be drawn for restricting discrimination against political affiliation, bartering, and by patrons. Clearly you are an extremist.

If you look at our Second Amendment, it clearly wasn't designed with chemical, nuclear, biological, and automatic weapons in mind. It's important to take steps to make sure your laws will withstand the test of time. Lawsuits on the level of the pawn shop will come up. If the legislation doesn't provide some intelligent guidance as to where its jurisdiction ends, then perhaps it should be 'modified'.

Kel said...

"he is adamant that private business should have no government interference at all"

"he also argues that individual business's should be allowed to discriminate if they so choose." -I don't think he said that.

That does appear, to me, to be his position. He says things like, "Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant own his restaurant or does the government own his restaurant?" He is clearly in favour of the owner of the restaurant making these decisions, and the question being put to him when he made that statement was regarding segregation at counters.

Now, he goes on to insist that he would not "attend, support or go to" any establishment which segregated in this way, but he is clearly arguing that they have the right to do so.

Clearly you are an extremist.

That you can call me that - whilst defending Rand Paul's comments - leaves me speechless. I have read and posted on here many people's reactions to what he said, including the reactions of many on the right of the political spectrum. Most people appear to share my reading of what he said. So, unless all those people are also "extremists" I really don't get your decision to apply that label to me.

Kel said...

By the way, Rand Paul is on record supporting the right of individuals and businesses to openly discriminate against people. This is from a letter he sent to the editor of the Bowling Green Daily News about the Federal Fair Housing Act:

But the Daily News ignores, as does the Fair Housing Act, the distinction between private and public property. Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual’s beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn’t want noisy children? Absolutely not.

Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered.

As a consequence, some associations will discriminate.

As I have always stated he clearly does believe that the government should not intervene in private business even if discrimination is taking place.

Steel Phoenix said...

Interesting, and a bit more solid, but when broken down, churches are pretty much immune to all this stuff (that's what happens when you protect religion from discrimination). The retirement neighborhood against noisy children seems like it would fly now as well. I'm not sure what he was saying about the bed and breakfast.

On a related note, I imagine you and I take two very different opinions about what is going on here:,0,3597465,print.story

In the end, I do think RP is an extremist. I don't see anything wrong with that in itself. He's made enough leading statements that I wonder if what you say is true, but I really haven't seen anything all that damning, and the devil is in the details. I'm sure he is going to have to go near media again sometime soon if he wants to be elected. I'll wait and see how he conducts himself when his opponents call him on it.

Steel Phoenix said...

No need to get up in arms over the extremist comment, it was a joke. If you haven't noticed, the reason a lot of people are calling him an extremist this week is because he declined to state his opinion when asked.

There's nothing wrong with being an extremist. All it means is that you aren't a moderate. Pretty much anyone who is in disagreement with the majority parties qualifies in my mind, Green Party just as much as Libertarian. If you were to call me an extremist, I would take it as a compliment.

Kel said...

RP is an extremist and, as you say, there's nothing particularly wrong with that; he is well within his rights to be so.

However, his belief in keeping the government out of private business dealings, even if that results in discrimination, puts him towards the whacko wing in any democratic process. He has every right to believe what he believes, but I doubt many people would be willing to pay the price he is willing to pay for his ideological purity.

The Civil Rights Act attempted to correct an historic wrong. He would run the risk of undermining that in order to make an ideological point. I doubt many would agree with him on that.

I know that you are seeking a wider discussion of discrimination in other areas, but the point he is making is far more specific than the generality you wish to discuss. He is arguing that discrimination should be allowed, not how we should police it and ensure fair play.