As I predicted Wednesday, the demonization of Rand Paul has begun. On Wednesday evening Paul was a guest on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show and was asked about his support of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the landmark legislation that bans discrimination in so-called public accommodations (i.e., private businesses) and government facilities on the basis of race, color, sex and national origin.
Paul gave a reasoned, thoughtful response, namely that anti-discrimination statutes have worthy goals, but the means used to ban racism, sexism, etc., in private businesses violate the property rights of individuals. He also pointed out that the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning governmental discrimination was a monumental achievement.The New York Times "smells blood" and on today's front page carries an article, "Tea Party Pick Causes Uproar On Civil Rights." Quoting both Republican and Democrat politicians the article asserts that Rand Paul's views on civil rights are ‘extreme' and ‘out of the mainstream."
Why is it "extreme" to question the best way to end racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc., in our society? Why is it "out of the mainstream" to discuss whether the federal government can abridge the property rights of individuals to achieve a noble goal?
As Rand Paul stated in his interview with Maddow he is opposed to any form of racism. You would think that would satisfy Maddow who was unwilling and apparently unable to grasp Dr. Paul's response, namely, that once the federal government creates a "right' to enter a private premise and demand service, then you should be careful what you wish for.
Dr. Paul calmly explained to Ms. Maddow the "logic' of the Civil Rights Act; gun owners will demand that they have the right to carry a firearm in restaurants, bars and other private facilities. If they are denied that right, as Paul made clear, gun owners would assert that their Second Amendment rights are being violated. And he would be right. But Maddow would not have any of this. She kept pestering Paul about black people being refused to be served at lunch counters.
There are numerous flaws in the public accommodation section of the Civil Rights Act. There is no constitutional right to enter someone else's property, even if it is a business. Just because a business is "open to the public" it does not mean that the federal government may force owners to welcome anyone who wants to be a customer. Moreover, as a youngster when I watched the news about the civil rights movement on television during the 1950s and 1960s I wondered why black people wanted to patronize racist business owners.
The last thing a victim of private discrimination should want to do is increase the profits of racists, sexist, homophobes or anti-Semites. On a personal level, as a son of Holocaust survivors, I would not patronize a business owned by a Holocaust denier or an anti-Semite.
But how would I know that if the Civil Rights Act forbids that information to be known? In other words, I would welcome a sign in a store or business that states clearly and unequivocally, "No Jews allowed," or "The Holocaust didn't happen." (The last sign would be allowed under the First Amendment.) In short, the first sign is banned under the Civil Rights Act, but it is important for Jews to know if a business owner is an anti-Semite in order to not patronize or work for a business I and my fellow Jews would not want to enrich.
The Civil Rights Act discriminates against minority groups because they lack the information needed so they could withhold their dollars and labor services from discriminators. The best way to "punish" discriminators is in the pocketbook, not to pass a law. But the Civil Rights Act does not do that, instead it enriches boorish behavior and thoughts. Racist business owners are forced to sell to black people and make profits, and in the "shadows" they may be funding the local Ku Klux Klan chapter. Racists in America are getting rich and perpetuating racism because of the Civil Rights Act. How ironic!
There are other flaws in the Civil Rights Act. The right of association used to be a cherished right in America, except now when it comes to business owners. There are numerous groups that are based on race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. Should the Congressional Black Caucus be desegregated? If not, why is it OK for the CBC to use tax money to discriminate against white members of Congress, apparently in violation of the Civil Rights Act?
If one of the goals of civil rights legislation is to end discrimination in our society, it does not address the following issue: every American can discriminate against any business. For example, black people can refuse to patronize white owned businesses, which is their right in a free society. By the same token, shouldn't business owners have the same right as individuals to choose to whom to do business with? Maddow would say businesses cannot discriminate because they have "power." Nonsense. The public has more power than any single business-small, medium and large.
In other words, the ‘right to choose" by every American is supposed to be a sacrosanct right. Rand Paul supports the right of Americans to be free, while Rachel Maddow wants the power of the federal government to make people "good, an idea that is the foundation of an authoritarian society.
Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for governor in 1997 and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2008. Check www.MurraySabrin.com for more of his writings.