I first wrote about Rand Paul when he spoke against the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), in favour of private business. The idea that we should support private business over human rights is absolutely ridiculous. Most recently, Paul appeared on Rachel Maddow to defend his position on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It seems that once again Paul is more than content to put the needs/desires of business over the civil rights of human beings.
Maddow: Do you think that a private business has a right to say that 'We don't serve black people?'
Paul: I'm not in favour of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race. But do discriminate.
But I think what's important in this debate is not getting into any specific "gotcha" on this, but asking the question 'What about freedom of speech?' Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent. Should we limit racists from speaking. I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behaviour because that's one of the things that freedom requires is that
we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn't mean we approve of it...
Maddow:... How about desegregating lunch counters?
Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion...
Rand presents the typical libertarian argument that these conversations aren’t practical and just an academic exercise, because as a White man of race and class privilege, he has never been subject to the evil that is racism.
Rands argument relies upon the rhetoric that government is evil and tramples upon individual rights, without the recognition that without said limitations, minorities are particularly vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. Social convention must be enforced by the rule of law because the supposed free hand of the market is not enough in and of itself to regulate behaviour. The many years of segregation in the south evidences this.
While Rand Paul personally claims to find racism abhorrent, the mere fact that he can suggest that laws that seek to protect the rights of minorities are some sort of oppression, speaks to the fact that his main priority is supporting White hegemony. You cannot claim that something is evil, and then reject the very mechanism that has been set into place to fight it.
Government exists to serve the people and by forcing businesses to accommodate African-Americans and the differently abled, the government specifically acted to protect a marginalized and historically oppressed class. Because Rand exists with various privileges, he can suggest that this is an infringement upon the rights of the business owner. He knows that as a White able bodied man, his ability to access these services will not be impacted by blatant discrimination.
Businesses do not exist in isolation and they are indeed public property in some aspects. The moment that a business owner must interact with the public to either advertise or sell hir wares, a business ceases to be independent and becomes a part of our social world. The impact of business is often felt most keenly by marginalized groups of people and therefore, acts that support a hierarchy that have proven to be socially harmful must be restricted. Suggesting that a business has the right to openly discriminate in support of so-called free speech (note: speech is never free, marginalized bodies pay the cost), is quite literally advocating that not all men are created equal, which of course conflicts with the Declaration of Independence --that is unless one truly believes in the framers definition of men, to only include White men who own property.
Inaction contrary to what Rand Paul believes is indeed a form of action because it allows the status quo to continually devalue certain bodies without consequence. If the state does not act to protect the greater good, those that have always lived with privilege will continue to do so unabated. Though tea party members have taken to quoting Dr. King out of context to support their warped sense of racial equality, the truth is that the maintenance of White supremacy has always been their foremost goal. I rightfully judge them by the content of their character and declare them to be an insipid cruel collection of people. They continually use a fear of a loss of privilege as their rallying cry, and yet leaders like Rand Paul claim that they believe in equal rights. If I cannot sit at a lunch counter and drink a wretched coffee without fear of being violently physically assaulted because of the colour of my skin, how can we claim that this constitutes fairness and equality?
The situations which Rand sees as irrelevant and academic, continue to be issues today. It was just last year that a private club ejected Black children who paid to swim in their pool. We are not talking about distant history, when Whiteness continues to live in gated communities in an attempt to separate themselves from people of colour on a daily basis. This is not some sort of race card or game that people of colour play to draw attention to themselves; this represents our interactions with the prison industrial complex, purposeful under education, high rates of unemployment, and lack of treatment for life threatening diseases. In every aspect of the social world people of colour continue to be devalued and therefore, the idea that legislation is impinging upon the freedom of business to operate is nothing more than a foil for the continuation of White supremacy. Is it really any wonder that that the vast majority of tea party supporters are White people with class privilege when so much of their social messages involves “othering” marginalized bodies?