Letting Rand Paul Twist in the Wind

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Libertarian
Rand Paul, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky,
shocked many conservatives when he refused to give full-throated
support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act criminalized public
sector racial discrimination, and struck down laws that required
discrimination and segregation. But it went much further. It outlawed
racial discrimination by private actors such as restaurant and hotel
owners who refused to serve blacks.

National
Review’s Rich Lowry, for example, wrote: "[T]he Civil Rights
Act was the last spasm of the Civil War. The South had frustrated
the imposition of black civil rights during Reconstruction in a
low-grade insurgency that successfully rumbled on into the 1960s.
Black civil rights weren’t going to be vindicated any time soon,
absent the application of federal power again … I’m sympathetic
to libertarianism, but it sometimes has a weakness for theoretical
exercises removed from reality."

This sounds
like a white, guilt-ridden rationalization to justify an abandonment
of principle. And it has real world, not merely "theoretical,"
consequences. For one thing, it encourages grievance-driven race-based
identity politics – and invites special-interest legislation
to protect all manner of niche groups perceived as having been "held
down by The Man." It is in these waters that professional victim
seekers and exploiters like the Rev. Al Sharpton, race and gender
"advocacy groups," and the Democratic Party do their fishing.

Rand’s critics
also unintentionally expose the condescending way "compassionate
conservatives" deem that blacks – still standing after
slavery and Jim Crow – are in need of protection by rare "noble"
whites from the bigot-infested world through which blacks are obviously
incapable of navigating. Why else throw overboard the just and basic
principle that private actors, short of engaging in force or fraud,
should behave as they wish?

What about
the pro-life pharmacist who considers it immoral to stock and sell
the morning-after pill? What about the landlady who thinks homosexuality
is immoral and refuses to rent to a gay couple? What if she refuses
to rent to an illegal alien? What about the "morally straight"
Boy Scouts organization that discriminates against an openly gay
scoutmaster? What about the healthy 25-year-old who refuses to purchase
health insurance?

Republicans
go all deer-in-the-headlights when someone questions their colorblind
bona fides. But when Nazi sympathizers want publicly to march, many
conservatives correctly defend the "right." Constitutional
rights extend to both saints and sinners and those in between, no
matter the outrage – in this instance of Jewish Holocaust survivors
over the prospect of swastika-wearing fascists parading through
their neighborhood.

Read
the rest of the article

June
3, 2010

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