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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 17, 2014

 
Rand's little white slip

by digby

In what he apparently thought was a defense of civil liberties (or something) Rand Paul made one of his famous stupid statements today:
“The danger to majority rule – to him sort of thinking, well, the majority voted for me, now I’m the majority, I can do whatever I want, and that there are no rules that restrain me – that’s what gave us Jim Crow,” Paul said. “That’s what gave us the internment of the Japanese – that the majority said you don’t have individual rights, and individual rights don’t come from your creator, and they’re not guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s just whatever the majority wants.”
Jamelle Bouie explains what Paul so crudely forgets (or never thought of):
Paul might have a point with Japanese internment, which was authorized by executive order. But the reference to Jim Crow—which he’s made before—is just nonsense. The thing about Jim Crow, after all, is that it’s emergence was profoundly undemocratic and distinctly anti-majoritarian. Throughout the South, pluralities of the electorate—and in the case of Mississippi and Louisiana, outright majorities—were disenfranchised through violence and terrorism. Republican lawmakers (black and white) were driven from office, black voters were barred from the polls (or sometimes, just murdered), and paramilitary groups suppressed black political life.
What do you mean "majority" white man?

But I think Paul's even more confused about Jim Crow than that. Listen to his original comments explaining why he wouldn't have voted for the Civil Rights Act:


You'll notice that he says he believes the government had the right to outlaw discrimination in publicly owned institutions, but that it had no right to interfere in the freedom of privately owned businesses if they choose to discriminate. Apparently, he doesn't realize that Jim Crow laws mandated that private businesses discriminate:
From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated. Here is a sampling of laws from various states.
Here are just a few examples from one state, Alabama:
Nurses: No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed.

Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation
company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races.

Railroads: The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs.

Restaurants: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment.

Pool and Billiard Rooms: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards.

Toilet Facilities, Male: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.
So, he evidently believes that Jim Crow was a good example of the perils of majority rule despite the fact that the majority didn't include black people --- which was the whole point. And he also doesn't understand that ending Jim Crow wasn't just about requiring racists to treat black people equally it was also about rolling back hundreds of laws that required businesses to discriminate, even if they didn't want to.

Let's just say that Rand Paul really should stop talking about Jim Crow. His little white slip ends up showing every single time.

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