As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn’t have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.
In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn’t work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.
Belated congratulations to newly-minted Kentucky GOP Senate candidate and latest Tea Party ubermensch of the moment Rand ‘Son of Ron’ Paul, for defeating the establishment candidate with Chuck Norris round-house kicks a well-fought insurgent primary campaign.
Regardless, it’s nice to see that, after 40 long years, the pro-pot/anti-choice hater of all things federal (hissssss) has bravely reopened the segregation debate (h/t Think Progress):
INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.
PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
Oh, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ain’t no party like a Tea Party (victory!) party. At a country club. A members-only country club.
“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
“As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years.”
“My opponent’s statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims.”
“The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.”
“This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports. The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product. The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.”
“These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”
Yes, how dare the “liberal establishment” draw conclusions based on, er, what Paul himself said, or (apparently) didn’t mean to say, or meant to say more clearly, were it not for him being transfixed at the time by Rachel Maddow’s clear-eyed lesbian gaze.
Here’s the thing: segregation at lunch counters didn’t exist because individual privately owned businesses were determining for themselves that they would not serve black people. They relied on the local government to enforce this discrimination. Otherwise it would have been possible for non whites to sue white businesses for physical assault. Just because something isn’t statutory doesn’t mean that it isn’t taking place with government aid. A truly libertarian stance on the Civil Rights Act that wasn’t covertly conservative/racist would be to argue that the government must withdraw all legal aid, police help, and rights to sue for damages from discriminatory businesses *and then* leave the business free to discriminate. As I said below, on one of Steve’s threads, and as Atrios and others have pointed out when the government liscences a buisiness it performs all kinds of functions for that business that are paid for by all taxpayers, regardless of race, class, creed, and sex. To allow a business to partake in taxpayer paid benefits like firemen, police, social security, medicare, etc…while refusing to serve taxpayers is absurd. The line between public and private property is guaranteed by government action and its something we all pay for and no private business has the right to take our money and then refuse service to us.
Buckley and other wealthy conservatives were conservatives because it was the party of christianity, property, racism and classism. They were and remain revanchistes who use the language of libertarianism because they (and many of their followers) think it washes them of the ugly term bigot and racist since it appears to put the argument on a higher intellectual plane. Rand Paul (and others) explicitly argue that it is their libertarian principles, rather than their personal racist or sexist inclinations, that lead them to certain inescapable economic and political conclusions. But, of course, this is absurd. Modern day American libertarians pick and choose among their principles all the time–Mr. Paul is opposed to a woman’s right to choose whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term but I bet if you ask him he will be opposed to men being forced to pay child support for children they have fathered.