Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rand Paul Sets the Record Straight

I commented previously on this controversy: "Rand Paul on Rachel Maddow: ‘IDEOLOGICAL EXTREMISM = RACISM’." Clearly, it's the moment leftists have been waiting for. As was clear last night, Rachel Maddow approaches attacking conservatives as extremists the same way a gluttonous child approaches the cotton-candy stand at the county fair: with indescribable abandon. And as I noted earlier, "I won't be surprised if Rand Paul decides he needs to issue a retraction and public apology in order to save his campaign." And this comes pretty close to it, from earlier today, "Rand Paul Sets the Record Straight":


“I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws ....

“This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports. The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product. The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state’s rights must stand up to it.

“These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign.”
As noted, my reading of Rand Paul is an intellectual one --- and no doubt, racial equality wasn't going to happen without the force of federal power:
We are 46 years since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and it certainly seems difficult --- given the crises of that era --- to envision progress in eradicating that kind of Jim Crow racism in the absence of federal intervention. But to even discuss that possibility today is emotionally polarizing. So what ends up happening is leftists win on emotion.
Interestingly, James Taranto adopts a position close to mine:
Paul seems to us to be overly ideological and insufficiently mindful of the contingencies of history. Although we are in accord with his general view that government involvement in private business should be kept to a minimum, in our view the Civil Rights Act's restrictions on private discrimination were necessary in order to break down a culture of inequality that was only partly a matter of oppressive state laws.
According to Taranto, that's Rand Paul's "rookie mistake." Or part of it. Paul should know as well that intellectualism on race will summons the left's victimology lynch mobs, for example, Representative James Clyburn on MSNBC today:

And let's not forget Amanda Marcotte, who rejects any attempt --- on the left or the right --- to clear Dr. Paul of the racism charge:
... I’m bothered ... by the way that some liberal pundits approach libertarian arguments as if we’re all in some debate club or in a court of law at worst, and this is a matter of everyone presenting arguments to be judged on their supposed rigor and the implications of which don’t fall on the person making the arguments. Conservatives particularly benefit from this mindset, which is why all of them come fully equipped with a willingness to scream “ad hominem” the second you suggest that making asshole arguments is evidence that the person making them is an asshole.

Paul isn’t arguing for a debate team or even in the court of law. He’s a politician who is seeking national office that would allow him to write and vote on legislature. The standards by which we evaluate his arguments must be very different indeed. That he supports racist policies is something that we the opposition should highlight without caveats about ideological rigor that is frankly lacking. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s a principled man is counterproductive and missing the point. From the perspective of a voter, Paul’s associations with racists and the anti-social, racist results of arguments matter way more when assessing whether he’s a racist than his claims of ideological rigor. And we should address our arguments to that.
And compare Marcotte to Digby:
Obviously, libertarians in general are not necessarily racists. But their ideology inexorably leads to a society in which racism is normal and tolerated and where those who have the social power and economic clout are able to rig the game in their favor. You know --- the America of 40 years ago before the Civil Rights Act. It's not like we never gave Rand's libertarianism a chance to work.
Well who needs the disclaimer that "Obviously, libertarians are not necessarily racist ..." Logically, if libertarianism "inexorably" leads to an America "40 years ago before the Civil Rights Act," well, that's certainly not a welcomed position from the progressive mindset (i.e., "racist").

I may or may not have more on this, since I was right that Rand Paul would backtrack in the face of the leftist onslaught. But Robert Stacy McCain's got the perfect summation, "
Rachel Maddow vs. Rand Paul: Intellectual Terrorism and ‘Civil Rights’":
What is at work here is a sort of intellectual terrorism, not just an effort to portray Rand Paul as a bigot, but to wield the accusation of racism as a weapon to intimidate anyone who dares challenge the progressive worldview.

Here is where wise men must perceive the totalitarian implications of political correctness, the Orwellian “memory hole,” the demand for conformity of thought, Trotsky airbrushed from the old Bolshevik photos. This argument is not really about racism, and it is not merely about Rand Paul or a single Republican campaign in Kentucky. Rather, it is about defending intellectual freedom from the bullies of the Left who arrogate to themselves the authority to decide what people can or cannot say in public discourse.

Conservatives must resolve to stand united against this kind of bullying treatment — to denounce it as an intellectually dishonest enterprise — or they shall eventually find that there is no remainder of the American tradition worth conserving.