An Open Letter to Rand Paul and His Libertarian Racism

by on May 27, 2010 · 30 comments

in Culture, Popular, War and Peace

rand-paulDear Rand Paul:

It is not possible to change a true bigot’s values. Much of that comes from generational views passed down from parents, grandparents, whatever.  But I want to address your recent remarks since you won the Kentucky GOP senate primary.

I would have to agree to disagree with you on pretty much every  level. One argument you make is that you prefer to have racist business owners openly advertising their hatred, so that you can make an informed decision. My guess from this statement is that you’ve never been a victim of bigotry, or racism, or true hate. Because if you had been, or if you had been exposed to it at some point or another, you would know that this is an issue that is deeper than simply saying “freedom of choice”.

Racism is a plague, a disease. If you discriminate against someone, they carry that moment with them for the rest of their life. There are emotional scars that build up over time that cannot be erased. If someone is a victim of a hate crime, you are essentially dehumanizing them. Saying, “you are not equal to me. I am human and afforded basic rights and luxuries, while you are subhuman and do not deserve the same as me”. If you expose someone to the ideology and tell them it is the way the world was meant to be, they carry it with them for the rest of their life. They become racists. They breed racism.

Civil-Rights-Act

President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The far reaching impact of the civil rights act has been that despite a small fringe that seems to be the apple of mainstream media’s eye, the overarching, GENERALIZED, INSTITUTIONAL racism that once dominated this country is gone (the prison system will take another hundred years or so to catch up, as it is the only institution that still mirrors the racist America of the past).

Maybe people are still racist at home, behind closed doors, or whatever. THAT is their free will. But as far as I’m concerned, I do not want to be exposed to hate. I don’t want to have to explain to my as yet unborn children that yes, there are people out there who will hate you or your friends just because of skin color, or religious beliefs, or some other ridiculous trait that people latch onto. It’s because I don’t want them to know what racism is.

whites only no mexIf there is any free will left in our society, if there’s anything that a libertarian and a radical progressive should agree with, it’s that. MY personal freedom is impeded by bigots. And guess what the civil rights act does? It makes sure that MY personal freedom is respected. As a human being, I shouldn’t feel obliged to pick and choose establishments based on their preference for white or blue or orange or magenta skinned clientele.

civil rights sit in counter

A sit-in at a "whites only" luncheon counter. For Rand Paul, these are okay as the Federal Government should not have the authority to tell a private businessowner who they can serve.

If I want a piece of pizza, I should be able to walk into a Newport Pizza, or a Pizza Port, and buy it. I should only be forced to choose which slice I buy based on the taste. Of course, places like Wal-Mart and other large conglomerates have cornered the market on poor ethics as well as general merchandise, and I won’t shop there either. But I shouldn’t be faced with outright racism in the decision. It is not something I feel an American should have to deal with on a daily basis in a supposedly just society.

whites only waiting roomAnd on another level, I certainly wouldn’t want to be forced to open a restaurant next door to someone who can put a sign on their window that says “whites only”. It would be bad for my business regardless of whether or not my business was open to all.

So Rand Paul,  I’m sure you have endured a ton of mistreatment and racism and bigotry on your way through medical school and now into the public eye as a politician. You really have no solid logic behind your problem with the second amendment except the empty promise of “free will” and “personal choice”. My guess is that you’re just a racist, but also a closet anarchist. Because otherwise, you would understand the implications – politically, economically, and socially – of erasing one of the proudest moments in our country’s history.

Waiting-Whites-RoomYeah, businesses still make racist decisions, particularly in hiring. But in today’s world, no businessperson is too racist to make a dollar. So a white guy who doesn’t really like Asian folks will still have business partners who are Chinese, and a black bar owner who came up through the civil rights movement and has succeeded despite incredible odds probably has served up a beer to the same guy who once threw on a hood and tossed a molotov cocktail through his window. If you want to be successful in business – which is definitely NOT something I aspire to, by the way – your personal values get thrown in the trash during business hours.

SO in the end, Rand Paul, you can’t tell me bout personal choice. My choice is to live in a country where everyone has equal rights, everyone is treated with respect and dignity until they show they don’t deserve it, and is a model for true democratic governments around the world. The civil rights act put us up on a pedestal for most of the civilized world to respect and awe. Don’t confuse veiled racism with shrinking government – it doesn’t serve any good, and weakens the libertarian value system.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie May 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Good job, Lane. It’s incredible. Rand Paul’s brand of libertarianism would allow people to discriminate against others in employment, housing, not just at lunch counters, as long as it wasn’t government doing the discrimination. And with more and more privatization of the public sphere, there would be more discrimination. Private contractors hired to do what was formerly government work could discriminate. Nice job, Doctor. Take this country BACK … about 50 years.

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avatar Ian Rammelkamp May 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm

It is fear mongering to say that Rand Paul’s comments would “Take this country BACK … about 50 years.” Since the portion of the act that Rand was discussing only applies to businesses that engage in interstate commerce, if your assertion was true there would be segregated business all over the place that don’t fall under the interstate commerce rule. But there are not.

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avatar Frank Gormlie May 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm

That’s a good one, to say that it’s “fear mongering” to analyze that Rand Paul’s politics would erase fifty years of progress in civil rights in this country. That’s like saying Paul Revere was “fear mongering” when he rode through every village and farm crying out that “The British are coming!” That damn fool. Didn’t he know that the Red Coats were only smashing colonial government institutions and were leaving the private sector alone.

It’s the Right that has been fear mongering this past decade. They and Fox News have found that fear works wonders. George Orwell also discovered that trait decades ago.

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avatar Ian Rammelkamp May 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Did you read my explanation for why it’s fear mongering? Your analogy is poor. Paul Revere had reason to fear.

The right has been fear mongering for years, you are correct, they are the masters; but two rights (no pun intended) don’t make a wrong.

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avatar Frank Gormlie May 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm

We have reason to fear Rand Paul and the racism of the Tea Party. (I know, Ian, there are members of that movement who are not racist, but the movement as a whole condones and supports and accepts racist signs, speeches and symbols.) In the end, isn’t it a judgment call, Ian, whether something or someone is a threat to fear? And if your judgment is hampered by conflicting and contradictory impulses, your (not necessarily yours Ian) judgment is faulty.

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avatar Marilyn Steber May 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I am rather dazed with that term “Fear Mongering” when it comes to Rand Paul. I am an old lady who lived in the South when there was a double standard in handling the races. (Not to say there isn’t now.) When we heard booms in my coal mining/steel making town there was a toss-up whether it was a blast in the mines or another N-word preacher’s house blowing up.
Southerners are well acquainted with the kind of tripe Rand Paul boils up. Nobody cares unless one is black. Kentucky has always been a State–‘scuse me–Commonwealth with opinions not embraced by the rest of the country. Rand Paul WOULD have a certain appeal to Kentuckians. Their heroes are still the men who rode with John Hunt Morgan and guerrillas who rode over the countryside attacking the US Army and pro-Union civilians. Discrimination is alive and well in the South…just under the guise of Libertarians.

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avatar Goatskull May 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I know this is getting off topic, but the Civil War was not only about slavery. In my opinion both sides were wrong. Americans killing Americans. Both sides took part in heinous acts that should not be viewed in any kind of positive light. Yes the South is what it is and that will not change anytime soon. Not excusing it but the reality is Southerners couldn’t care less what we think. I learned that the hard way traveling through Arkansas a couple years ago.

http://americanhistory.about.com/b/2010/01/03/top-five-causes-of-the-civil-war-2.htm

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avatar Frank Gormlie May 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Yet, parts of the South have changed immensely – Atlanta, North Carolina, Florida, for instance. The joke about Atlanta is that you can’t find a Southern accent in downtown Atlanta. Plus we can’t forget that the South was where the civil rights movement started.

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avatar Goatskull May 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I agree. As a matter of fact, the very first time I had been to the South was while visiting Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. We decided to make a day trip to Eureka Springs in Northern Arkansas. It’s a hard place to describe but I guess you could say it’s an artsy hippie town. Sort of the OB of Arkansas. Here I am a born and bred SoCal native and I actually felt like a redneck. However, once we traveled further down into the state it was a different world.

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avatar Marilyn Steber May 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Did you notice that the author of that piece is a Floridian?
Full disclosure: my father was born in Michigan and when the family moved to Miami, he became a “southerner”. You can read about him in a book called Trapped with the Enemy Four Years a Civilian POW in Japan by J O Thomas. He got angry when a fellow prisoner played “Marching Through Georgia” because he was born in Miami…NOT.
The Southern version is that the war was about States’ Rights. The Libertarians have taken up that mantra.
Today is Memorial Day, May 30 by order of the Commander of the Grand Army of The Republic!

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avatar Goatskull May 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm

The South is the South, but like Frank pointed out, not all of it is like that. I still hold the belief that the civil war would have happened even if slavery was not in the equation and I also hold the belief that both sides did unforgivable acts. Again, this was Americans fighting Americans. This was not good guys vs. bad guys. It was bad guys vs. bad guys plain and simple.

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avatar Marilyn Steber May 31, 2010 at 10:07 am

Not exactly “plain and simple”. Otherwise, Rick Perry wouldn’t have been cheered when he proposed secession. Otherwise the battleflag of Northern Virginia wouldn’t be flown. Otherwise, when the Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War issued his order to show respect to the Confederate flag they would do so without question.
I invite you to travel to the smaller country towns in the Cotton/tobacco/rice belts and live there a few months to a year. Go to a land-grant college (I recommend Auburn or Old Miss) and take a History Class.
Libertarianism appeals to the Countyboys Will Survive mentality and that’s why Kentucky loved Rand Paul.

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avatar Goatskull May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I still feel it was bad guys vs. bad guys. Both sides committed heinous acts.

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avatar Marilyn Steber May 31, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Yup, there was a lot more going on than we’ve been taught in school and in reenactments.
I’m reading a book today called Savage Conflict The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War by Daniel Sutherland. This gives a different perspective from my 20 year serious study on the Civil War. I knew about some bushwackers, snipers, and plain thieving bands who roamed thru the states but my study has been mostly in the Kentucky theater. My Kentucky Grandmother’s Uncle Lt. George W. Seaman was declared a “guerrilla” and I wanted to know why. I know what he did, but not why the term.
The civilians where he raided didn’t want him back in their county unless it was to be shot. He was captured in Nov. 1864 by the US Colored Infantry as it was known then.
BTW, Thank you for a most civil discourse.

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avatar annagrace May 31, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Marilyn- I’ve enjoyed your posts. Thanks for providing so much in the way of both informed and civil discourse. Keep reading and posting!

avatar psd May 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Excellent. I await the coming kooky explanation that a restaurant refusing service on racist grounds is no different from a restaurant refusing service because it’s out of business…

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avatar Ian Rammelkamp May 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The effects are the same. You have to patronize a different business. Both the vendor and the customer have a choice with whom they do business.

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avatar psd May 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm

So if a black guy sputters into a gas station on fumes, and the proprietor refuses to serve non-whites, is he really ‘free’ to visit the next gas station, even if it’s 50 miles down the road?

The effect of denying service to all and denying service to a select few is not the same at all. Refusing to provide a service due to inability is not the same as refusal based upon bigotry. If everyone that tries to check into a fully-booked hotel without a reservation, that’s equal treatment, if a few extra rooms are held open to whites but denied to others who might have tried to claim them first, it’s not. I don’t see how this is hard to grasp.

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avatar doug porter May 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm

the civil rights act of 1964 was the trigger for todays modern reactionary movement. realizing that overt racism was a losing historical battle, they have risen from the ashes of the segregationist movement to attack the funding, credibility and philosophy of democratic (both big and small D) politics. “Big Government” is code for opposition to the Federal intervention in the states on the side of progress. “Progressive taxation” was never an issue back in the 1950’s (when millionaires actually paid taxes) until that money started to be used towards raising the standard of living of poor people, many of whom happened to be of color.
I could go on forever here. The key is that racism is at the root of the reactionary movement. Dr. Paul was just being a little “too honest” when he spoke up.

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avatar doug porter May 28, 2010 at 9:25 am

here’s a great article that expounds on the links between racism and the growth of the reactionary forces in the United States starting in 1964: http://www.alternet.org/rights/147004/how_the_gop_became_the_white_man's_party/?page=entire

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avatar OB Cindi May 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm

The BEST article I have read so far on Rand Paul’s racist commentary. You write like a journalist Lane. Hats off to you!!!

There is nothing in the “Letter to Rand Paul” that is “fear mongering.” In high school we all learned the history of hatred, not just in our own country, but all over the world. A history of hate based on where someone is born, their religion, their sexual orientation, their skin color, their sex, and their cultural identity. Basic psychology courses teach us that everyone makes snap judgements of other people, and that we tend to like and dislike people based upon pre-conceived notions. But when bigotry comes into play, when a group of people are called a demeaning name or turned away from a business or not allowed to join a school, church, or organization or turned away from receiving services because they are considered “different,” then we DO as a society, go back 50 yrs to a time when America was run by racial hatred, and deli’s had signs in their window that said “White’s Only.” Newtons law of motion says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Lane made this point–racism creates reverse racism. Hatred breeds hatred. I want to believe that most Americans are discouraged at the thought we may live in a society where our leadership (politicians) think they can get away with encouraging businesses to refuse service to people based on skin color, religious preference or sexual orientation.

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avatar david May 27, 2010 at 11:16 pm

about rand paul, how thoughtful of his father to name his son after the author of ” The Virtue of Selfishness” and to all those libertarians out there. the working class can build monuments without Adam Roark, but Roark couldn’t erect a leanto by himself .

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avatar lane tobias May 28, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I’ve remained largely quiet after writing this first as a comment and now as a full blown article; I think it mostly speaks for itself. If you cannot grasp the significance of the Civil Rights Act in terms of not just our National, but World History, then I think the argument about a specific article of the Act will continue to be circular. Rand Paul and others who follow the same idealogy clearly don’t see the connection between institutional racism and the ability of a private business to discriminate based on race or gender or sexual preference or whatever….and as such, they will continue to be out of touch with a large MAJORITY of the American population. Shameful, but true. I don’t even want to imagine the types of discussions that go on in the Paul household.

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avatar Shane Finneran May 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I couldn’t help but imagine the type of discussions that go on in the Paul household.

Circa 1973, for example…

Rand (10 years old): Pop-Pop, why are all those people celebrating on the steps of the Supreme Court?
Ron: Them liberal activist judges just went and legalized abortion. And it’s an outrage.
Rand: What do you mean? Hasn’t the government just been forced out of Americans’ reproductive decision-making?
Ron: Dammit son! You’re taking your libertarianism to literally. Our line is that states should be free to make their own laws regarding their citizens reproductive decision-making.
Rand: But doesn’t that turn 50 state governments loose on Americans, whereas Roe v Wade clearly shifts power from the federal and state governments to each individual American citizen?
Ron: You’re thinking like a fetus. And you’re not thinking of the fetus. Whose welfare is a foremost concern of the government’s — right up until the moment the fetus is actually born. Unless a given state decides not to protect the fetus’s rights, of course. In that case, in that state, the fetus would have to wait for the free market to step in and save it.
Rand: This libertarianism stuff is confusing, Pop-Pop.
Ron: Just don’t confuse it with liberalism. If I catch you lending a hand to a stranger, I’ll disown you.

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avatar psd May 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm

This page needs a ‘like’ button like the U/T…

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avatar lane tobias June 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

and here’s an article detailing the family ethos: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/us/politics/06paul.html?hp

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avatar Wireless Mike May 31, 2010 at 11:59 am

The Civil War is over. Slavery and hatred lost. Let’s stop fighting it and relegate it to the history books, along with the Confederacy and its flag. Civil Rights are the law of the land because a lot of people fought to make it so. Civil rights need to be preserved and expanded, not because of political expediency, but because it is the right and humane thing to do.

In my opinion, Rand Paul represents a small and shrinking remnant of the Old South. As a compassionate nation, we need to make sure it keeps shrinking until it becomes insignificant. The national outcry against Rand Paul’s comments gives me hope.

Some of my white ancestors have lived in the Kentucky hill country since the late 1700s and were poor farm workers. During my lifetime, I have seen each generation become less racist and hateful. I can see the bigotry of the Old South dying, and good riddance.

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm

This just in: (AP) – The Kentucky Senate, reacting to a divisive comment by Republican Rand Paul, has adopted a resolution declaring any form of discrimination to be inconsistent with American values.

Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal introduced the resolution Friday during a special session on the state budget. It was adopted without objection in the predominantly Republican chamber.

Neal, Kentucky’s only black state senator, said he took personal offense at the comment made last week by Paul, a U.S. Senate candidate, who was criticizing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Paul said in an MSNBC interview that the federal government shouldn’t have the power to force restaurants to serve minorities if business owners don’t want to.

Neal said Paul’s “extreme belief” has made Kentucky “a laughingstock.”

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avatar Spike Dawg December 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Well said and it needs to be repeated. The bigot is like a roach, there are too many of them, they’re destructive, and it’s hard to get rid of them. Rand Paul is an “invisible bigot,” in that he spews his hatred through his educated filter. Most of the people who support him have no idea this man is a hate monger dressed in populist clothing. His father is no better, probably worse. This racist needs to be watched carefully. And anytime he crosses the line, he needs to be called out and lambasted (also known as kicked to the curb). He deserves no less.
Spike

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