Friday, May 21, 2010

A Unique Opportunity

First, let me just start by saying that I think Dr. Rand Paul is probably a decent, principled guy. I also do not believe that Rand Paul is a racist.  I think what Dr. Rand Paul is, and I'm pretty sure he'd agree with this, is a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool Libertarian.

This is why I was happy to watch his interview with Rachel Maddow after his primary win this week, where he was called by Maddow to answer for past remarks he made regarding the Civil Rights Amendment of 1964 in general, and the Fair Housing Act (a provision of the Civil Rights Act, which was enacted in 1968) in particular.  I'll wager even folks who voted for Paul were a bit taken aback when he said there were provisions he'd try to "modify" if he were voting on this legislation.  He clearly stated that he felt, while he felt that the parts of the Act that prohibited "institutional racism" (a redundancy as racism is institutional by definition) were appropriate, but that the provisions that prohibited private businesses and clubs from discriminating on the basis of race or religion as over-reaching by the government.

In a letter to the editor of the Bowling Green Daily News in May of 2002, Paul was much clearer about his position with regard to governmental attempts to ban racism:
A recent Daily News editorial supported the Federal Fair Housing Act. At first glance, who could object to preventing discrimination in housing? Most citizens would agree that it is wrong to deny taxpayer-financed, “public” housing to anyone based on the color of their skin or the number of children in the household.

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....

...A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.

"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination -- even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin."

You know what? He's right. A free society will do that. An absolutely free and unfettered society, with absolutely no restrictions or universally acceptable code of behavior will tolerate and embrace such discrimination. You know what we call that?

Anarchy.

You betcha, by golly. That's what anarchy is. Anarchy is a society that has zero universal controls. There is no government. None. It's the strong and powerful who ride rough-shod right over the subjugated and powerless.  You know what we call that kind of society?

The Lord of the Flies.

I'm not going to give anyone who hasn't read the book a lesson in literature. Suffice it to say, it's a world you don't want to live in. And even if you do want to live in that world, I don't, and I'm pretty sure most Americans would rather not, either.

Now, here's why I say that what has been happening with Dr. Paul the past couple of days is a unique opportunity.  "Libertarian" has been bandied about as an option to Republicanism, lo, these past couple of years, when the truth is, most folks have no idea what the strict Libertarian philosophy is.  Libertarians don't believe in small government. They believe in NO government.  No governmental controls or restrictions on discrimination, on housing inequities, on the free market (we've just spent the last two years dealing with that fresh hell, haven't we?), and absolutely no restriction on personal or private behavior whatsoever.

Obviously, every self-identified Libertarian doesn't believe every premise of the party, anymore than I believe in every aspect of the Democratic party.  I am, in fact, a little too far to the left to be considered a true Democrat.  I'm probably closer to a Social Democrat or a full-blown Socialist.  But I believe enough in the Democratic party, and am willing to support their efforts sufficiently that I'm registered as a Democrat.  People who identify themselves as Libertarians must sympathize sufficiently with the party's beliefs to continue to support them.  But I think the vast numbers of people who say they're Libertarians really don't know what Libertarians stand for.  If you are a Libertarian, you yourself may not be a racist. But you must be prepared to support individual racists in their racist beliefs, and uphold their rights to engage in acts of hate and discrimination. In societies that have engaged in mass crimes against racial or religious groups, the success of such operations depended upon a marginal group of people willing to stand by and allow such crimes to take place.

Dr. Rand Paul has an idea of the kind of America where he can live free of government interference in how he lives his life.  As a wealthy white Anglo-Saxon male, he has little to fear from such a world, since his folks are the ones running the show, for the most part.  I, on the other hand, am a woman who makes .75 to the $1 what my male counterparts make in the workplace, who would not have been allowed to vote until 1920, who could have legally been raped by my husband repeatedly with no legal protection or recourse until less than 20 years ago. For reasons that should be self-evident, I am not quite as enthusiastic about living in Paul's America, thank you very much.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.


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