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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 21, 2010

 
In A Nutshell

by digby


Here's Congressman Ron Paul on the floor of the House in 2004:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to explain my objection to H.Res. 676. I certainly join my colleagues in urging Americans to celebrate the progress this country has made in race relations. However, contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties. The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society.

This expansion of federal power was based on an erroneous interpretation of the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. The framers of the Constitution intended the interstate commerce clause to create a free trade zone among the states, not to give the federal government regulatory power over every business that has any connection with interstate commerce.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society. Federal bureaucrats and judges cannot read minds to see if actions are motivated by racism. Therefore, the only way the federal government could ensure an employer was not violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was to ensure that the racial composition of a business's workforce matched the racial composition of a bureaucrat or judge's defined body of potential employees. Thus, bureaucrats began forcing employers to hire by racial quota. Racial quotas have not contributed to racial harmony or advanced the goal of a color-blind society. Instead, these quotas encouraged racial balkanization, and fostered racial strife.

Of course, America has made great strides in race relations over the past forty years. However, this progress is due to changes in public attitudes and private efforts. Relations between the races have improved despite, not because of, the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, while I join the sponsors of H.Res. 676 in promoting racial harmony and individual liberty, the fact is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not accomplish these goals. Instead, this law unconstitutionally expanded federal power, thus reducing liberty. Furthermore, by prompting raced-based quotas, this law undermined efforts to achieve a color-blind society and increased racial strife. Therefore, I must oppose H.Res. 676.


(Quotas? Oy vey.)

Why is everyone so surprised that Sonny wasn't prepared for the reaction he got when espousing these same views? Nobody seemed to care when Pops said it. The difference in the reaction, of course, is that by winning against the Republican political establishment he's the poster boy of the Tea Party and the new face of the GOP. People are actually paying attention to what he and his Dad believe.

Here's the thing about Paul's position, as if it isn't obvious. The civil rights act came in response to Jim Crow which was defined by institutional racism. Although Paul seems to think that "institution" in this context, can only be government institutions, it's not. Here's a good definition at wikipedia:

Institutional racism is distinguished from the racial bigotry, by the existence of institutional systemic policies and practices meant to place non-white racial and ethnic groups at a disadvantage in relation to the institution’s white members. Restrictive housing contracts (see restrictive covenants) and bank lending policies (see redlining) are effective forms of institutional racism. Other examples are racial profiling by security guards and police, use of stereotyped racial caricatures (e.g. "Indian" sport mascots), the under- and mis-representation of certain racial groups in the mass media, and race-based barriers to gainful employment and professional advancement. Additionally, the differential access to goods, services, and opportunities of society are defined within the term institutional racism, such as unpaved streets and roads, inherited socio-economic disadvantage, “standardized” tests (each ethnic group prepared for it differently; many are poorly prepared), et cetera.


During Jim Crow the government discriminated, to be sure. And Rand and Ron both believe that the government had a right to end that. But they don't agree that it had the legitimate power to end discrimination of private institutions that were open to the public because the government does not have the inherent power to interfere in such private enterprise. Here's the thing: throughout the civil rights era, the very public institution of the police force was used to "protect" private owners' right to discriminate. Here's an example:




Libertarianism has an inherent contradiction. They want you to think they simply believe the government should be completely kept out of the affairs of private ownership beyond enforcement of contracts. But that's not true. They want the government to actively protect the private property owner's right to discriminate. And that's exactly what happened, as you can see in that picture, until the federal government made it illegal to discriminate, thus putting the government on the other side of the equation, in favor of those seeking equal rights.

Now you can argue that it's not the side the sacred founders intended or that it goes against your personal political philosophy. But there is simply no position on this which doesn't include government involvement in this sort of dispute. It just depends on what side you want the government to be on.


Update: More here touching on this.


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