As I write there is controversy surrounding Rand Paul and comments he made concerning the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This act has many provisions but the provision that is the focus is the provision making racial discrimination in public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, etc) illegal.
First there needs to be a bit of clarification. Rand Paul is not a libertarian. Neither is his father Ron Paul. And I do not find anything libertarian about the Tea Party. There are a lot of people who try to pass themselves off as libertarian when really they are just conservatives; often confused and uniformed and perhaps on occasion because they are too embarrassed to call themselves conservatives.
I think it is instructive to make a short and admittedly incomplete examination of Rand Paul's positions (and changes) on public accommodations and related topics because it demonstrates some of the problems with his position and some of this harshest critics. From what I see in the news reports Rand Paul originally had a position that the Federal government should not pass a law that prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations since he felt that it was unconstitutional. One thing which is important here and which Rand Paul either forgot or failed to articulate is that context matters. In the context of the current USA the current interpretation per the SCOTUS of the constitution does allow the Federal government jurisdiction. Now Rand Paul may disagree with the SCOTUS and if that is the case then he needs to say that very clearly. Just coming out saying what he did just made him look silly. Then later he reversed himself opening himself up to charges of being an opportunistic flip-flopper.
From what I gather Rand Paul is much like his father is thinking that certain topics like separation of church and state as related to school prayer should be outside the jurisdiction of the Federal courts. For example from this article which quotes Rand Paul as saying "I think some religious communities might have prayer in the schools. I don’t think that’s any business of the federal government. The first amendment says that Congress shall establish no religion, it doesn’t say that Congress shall tell the local school district whether it can have any kind of religious activity in their schools." If a person is running for the US Senate I would think they realize that it is a long settled legal point that 14th amendment extended the 1st amendment protections to everyone in the USA. Now Rand Paul may not like the 14th amendment or may not like the interpretation of the SCOTUS and other Federal courts but to make his statement as he did in a political campaign makes him look silly and uniformed.
And to use a colloquialism; it seems to me that Rand Paul just does not have a clue. Rand Paul does not appear to realize what can happen to a student who does not join in a prayer at a school event. Bigotry and intimidation are not supposed to be part of school; Rand Paul should remember that and should realize that mixing religion into the public schools is both illegal and unwise. Rand Paul needs to understand that the level of government does not negate the issue of freedom from government mandated or sponsored religious activity or messages.
And another thing that Rand Paul should remember is that Blacks in the south for years had their private property taken as taxes to pave the roads and streets, to fund the fire departments, to fund police (usually racist) and other state and local services. The very services that segregated hotels and restaurants enjoyed. Based on what I have read of his views Rand Paul would approve the taking of private property from one group (the Blacks) and using it to provide services that enhance the private property of another group (the Segregationists)? But I suspect that he and his fellow conservatives would say "But it is just taxes and everyone pays taxes so it is all OK". Well no it is not OK. If Rand Paul wants to make a property rights argument then he needs to really understand what that means and where it leads. A logically consistent theory of property rights would not lead into his murky conservative swamp of hypocrisy and confusion.
Sometimes a historical document is useful and thus I recommend that Rand Paul read Dr. Martin Luther King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail and reflect upon it and see why Dr. King wrote those words and the point that Dr. King was trying to make. Rand Paul does not need to agree in total with King but it would be very useful for Rand Paul if he understood the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Understanding context is a good first step to getting a clue.
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