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What he said and didn’t say to Ms. Rachel Maddow.
Now, while the body of Senator (and former Exalted Cyclops) Robert Byrd (KKK, WVA) is still as warm as a smoldering cross on a black family’s lawn, and the memory of his record-length service in the U.S. Congress as fresh as a clean white sheet on a Grand Imperial Wizard — now is a good time to take a cold look at the comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made by Kentucky senatorial candidate Rand Paul. (They can be found here.)
What is most surprising about Dr. Paul’s comments is how he barely said that a private establishment should be allowed to discriminate against black patrons.
What he did say (in an eleven-minute interview with Rachel Maddow) was that he would have marched with Martin Luther King and that it was sad that the South wasn’t desegregated until 120 years after transportation in Boston was desegregated. He said that there had been “incredible problems” in the South, which had to do mostly with voting, schools, and public housing — in other words, with “governmental racism,” “institutional racism.” He said that that was what the Civil Rights Act largely addressed, and that he largely agreed with it. He pointed out that the Act had ten titles, and nine of them addressed institutional racism. He then asked, If you support nine out of ten things in a law but you think the tenth is misguided, do you just vote for it or do you work to modify it?
He also said, “I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race.” But he said we should ask the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech by people we find abhorrent? Should we prevent racists from speaking?
He said, “I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way, in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it.”
He couldn’t have been referring to former President Bill Clinton, who, in a eulogy for Senator Byrd, excused the senator’s association with the Ku Klux Klan on the grounds that he was just “a country boy from the hills and hollows of West Virginia” trying “to get elected” (read about it here). Paul couldn’t have been referring to Clinton’s comment because Ex. Cy. Byrd hadn’t died at the time of the Paul interview.
Then Paul has some fun at the liberals’ expense: “[R]ight now… many gun organizations are saying they have a right to carry a gun in a public restaurant because a public restaurant is not a private restaurant. Therefore, they have a right to carry their gun in there and that the restaurant has no right to have rules to their restaurant.…
“So, you see, when you blur the distinction between public and private, there are problems.”
But not for liberals, because they care as much for property rights as they do for a first edition of The Fiery Cross. Liberals could easily decide that there is no popular consensus that property rights are fundamental — and for them popular consensus, not the Constitution, is what governs. See the recently decided gun case McDonald v. Chicago.
Finally, the obviously frustrated moderator Rachel Maddow says, “But I think wanting to allow private industry — private businesses — to discriminate along the basis of race because of property rights is an extreme view and I think that’s going to be the focus nationally on your candidacy now and you’re going to have a lot more debates like this.”
Maddow’s second thought was probably correct, but it’s worth noting that the statement about wanting to allow private businesses to discriminate is hers, not Paul’s.
Nevertheless, the issue prompts some observations.
1. It is always useful to consider the effect any piece of legislation has on property rights (of course, it is individuals who have a right to property, not the property that has rights). Liberals tend not to be fastidious about property rights, but conservatives, and Tea Partiers, and probably most Americans, are. Liberals tend to subordinate individual rights to the dictates of the state.
2. It is always useful to remind people that it was Republicans who made passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possible. As Time Magazine observed (Feb. 21, 1964), “In one of the most lopsidedly Democratic Houses since the days of F.D.R., Republicans were vital to the passage of a bill for which the Democratic administration means to take full political credit this year.” (A bottle of champagne and an autographed copy of the new book by American Spectator editor Bob Tyrrell goes to the first ten readers who guess correctly how Senator Byrd voted on the bill and whether he engaged in the second-longest filibuster in history, taking up 86 pages in the Congressional Record.) Remarkably, the Democrats are still taking credit for the Act today, at the same time that they and their Main Stream Media colleagues excoriate, on matters of race, the party that enabled it to pass. (For a superb history of the period, see Bruce Bartlett’s Wrong on Race.)
3. It is interesting to note that black progress stopped at about the time of the Civil Rights Act. Of course, that was also when the Great Society programs were introduced. Thomas Sowell has made the point that the biggest drop in black poverty took place during the two decades before the Great Society — which was also, of course, before the Civil Rights Act. In the 1970s, Sowell says, “when the impact of Great Society programs was fully realized, the trend of black economic improvement stopped almost entirely.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?