It's about our community and our spirituality!

Protecting The Rights Of Racists

I think HBO comedian, political commentator, and talk show host Bill Maher said it best.  Mr. Maher said that conservative Libertarian candidate Rand Paul is the equivalent of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin if she could make it through medical school.  In an interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the new darling of the tea party movement, Mr. Paul, was asked point blank about his skepticism regarding the validity of certain components of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Mr. Paul sparked controversy when he suggested to Ms. Maddow that the government had meddled too far into private enterprise with the passage of laws that were intended to put an end to America’s institutionalized racial discrimination that still permeated the country despite a series of court decisions that found racial segregation and racial discrimination wrong.  Ms. Maddow gave Mr. Paul an opportunity to explain his position on the matter.  But instead of making a clear statement whether or not legislation designed to help assure racial accord was appropriate when asked for a yes or no, Mr. Rand continued to do his best political dance around the issue.  He did not say that he opposed any laws guaranteeing fair treatment to racial minorities.  But to some dismay he clearly did not say that he supported laws that guaranteed the fair treatment of racial minorities.

If I understand Mr. Paul’s point, government should not be in the business of telling private individuals and institutions that they must open their businesses to everyone.  Mr. Paul believes that a truly free society is one that allows businesses run by people who are racist or people who condone racism from their employees to pick and choose what segment of our social fabric they will do business with.  A government that is intended to provide for the general welfare of the public should not be empowered to assure the equal and fair treatment of anyone.  Mr. Paul says that he does not condone racism.  But even though racism may be an evil in our midst, government weeding out the evil of racism is an even bigger evil.

A business does not operate free from any obligation to the entire social collective regardless if it is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or some corporate entity given life by the stroke of some government official’s pen.  Any business that operates in our communities enjoys the benefits of being part of our social collective.  The roads that lead to any business and to its customers are provided by the public.  The utilities that provide services to the business operate under the purview of our collective authority.  The people who work in a given business are educated with our tax dollars.  Even private schools operate according to parameters laid down by our social structure.  A business enjoys the security of being protected from foreign entities by the United States government and its diplomatic and military machines.  Any given business in our community operates under the protection of the United States economy and the value of the dollar.  And although we often criticize our economic policy, our political leaders, selected by the voters, bend over backwards to protect the interest of businesses.  Businesses get a lot of benefit from being part of our community.

But now, people like Rand Paul want to say that it isn’t appropriate for us to assure that businesses that enjoy the benefits of being part of our entire society keep up their end of the bargain.  People like Mr. Paul want to say that businesses that reap the benefits of being in our American social structure should not be obligated to reciprocate to everyone in America.  In Mr. Paul’s tolerance for racism, people should not expect equal and fair treatment from private entities that suck up public resources.  It is Mr. Paul’s opinion that racism is a right that should be protected and it should not be viewed as some form of social disorder.

The freedom of business owners to deny whomever they wish a service or a product should not be given precedence over our public concept of social equality.  The freedom of a business person to exercise their right to be racist should not be given precedence over our freedom to be treated fairly and our right to equal treatment.

Rand Paul can tout his tolerance for discrimination as some kind of twenty first century enlightenment against the evil of a government run amok.  But the fact of the matter is that this is nothing more than old fashioned racism rearing its head and coming back strong after just a few decades of being on the down low.  People are saying we have the right to be racist.  That just might be true.

But our social collective not only has the right not to indulge racism, we each have an obligation to root it out call attention to it when we encounter racial discrimination or even the potential for racism.  I know I like to think that I do my fair share.  And today, I would like to call your attention to the racism of Rand Paul.  A conservative Libertarian who would rather see blacks and other minorities discriminated against rather than see our government step up to the plate and nip racial discrimination in the bud as best it can.  If Mr. Paul is elected, people all across this great nation of ours will have a hope that one day they can pull their “Whites Only” signs out of their attics or basements or garages or wherever they might have been put when our social order woke up and realized the long term impact that our tolerance for racism was causing to our national community.

Of course Mr. Paul can have his view that a truly free society must tolerate racism.  He is a white man who would benefit greatly from the social conflict that comes with racism compared to how much he would actually suffer.  Very few businesses would turn him and his kind away.  They operate in the generic majority with control of well over ninety five percent of the resources and wealth in this country.  But for racial minorities, the election of Mr. Paul and the people who support his views should be another clear sign that racism is far from over.

Saturday, May 22, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. Rand Paul is just another example of hiding racist thoughts/actions behind non racial terminology. He speaks of being against governmental intervention to hide the fact that he thinks that “good ole boys” like him should be able to do business with only OTHER “good ole boys” who look like them!

    Comment by JuJuBe | Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback JuJuBe,

      I have to agree with you. White people don’t mind these racist concepts because they know that they are not going to be the ones who will be denied services or products. After this shit goes through, these people will say that a company has the right to hire only white people if it wants to do so. And after that, businesses will have the right to give white people discounts and charge others an extra “minority interaction” charge. America is supposed to be a melting pot that respects a variety of different cultures. We do not operate under any exclusion principle.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, May 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. Well, here’s my take on the issue. Bear with me as it is infantile in its development as complete thought out theory. As you know Brother P, I am for a much more limited government. In some ways at least, although there are some sectors in which I think they could grow it a bit, if they did it smartly and not politically.

    I haven’t heard or read much on teh exact statements of Rand Paul or any other talking head. Still on a loaner box with no sound card makes it a bit hard to look into some of that. Still though, as an amateur at this questioning game, I have to ask: Did the government passing laws actually accomplish anything, or merely appear to have accomplished something? Afterall, just because someone passes a law, it doesn’t always change one’s (or a collective’s) behavior…just like your post about the K2 and weed. Pass the laws all you want, the behaviors will remain.

    As far as I can tell, we have technically stamped out Institutionalized racism, but systemic human-based racism still exists in a pretty good sector of the population. Busiensses still have teh right to refuse service to anyone, and without needing to give a reason. Granted it’s easier to bring a lawsuit and color the business owners reputation for what it is or isn’t, but technically that business owner still, for all the government’s civil rights laws being passed, retains the ability to operate as he did prior to the passing of those laws. All he has to do is make it an unwelcome environment for whoever displeases him.

    So I guess again, I have to ask…what did the government actually, and proveably, accomplish outside of a feel good measure postured out by political types looking to score some points?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Monday, May 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      But look at it this way, we have laws against murder and yet crimes of murder continue. Nobody says what’s the point of having laws against murder. It’s understood that we have laws against murder to make a statement that we won’t condone murderers in our midst. If someone was found guilty of committing murder then we would prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

      Unfortunately, we don’t approach crimes of racism with the same enthusiasm we approach crimes of murder. Nobody would say that people have the right to commit murder and the government should have nothing to say about it. Only racism is tolerated.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, May 24, 2010 | Reply

  3. “Unfortunately, we don’t approach crimes of racism with the same enthusiasm we approach crimes of murder.”

    The problem with that analogy (says the white guy, who probably does not recognize that he’s talking from a position of privilege) is that when you murder someone, they’re dead, and it’s very clear that the dead person has had a pretty serious crime committed against him.

    With racism, you’re talking about the rights of (at least) two people. One, the right of the person of color (and let’s be real, people of color are the ones who get shafted by racism) to the same access to goods and services as the white person, and two, the right of the (white) business owner to sell or not sell to whomever he wants.

    It’s complicated by the fact that most people would probably agree that, in a perfect world, a property owner should be allowed to bar people he doesn’t like from his property. For example, I can’t walk into your house without permission. Even after you’ve let me in, you can still decide to kick me out, and I’d better go. Most would also probably agree that as long as you don’t hurt anyone, you can associate or not, or do business or not, with whomever you wish.

    Does an owner of a store give up those rights when he opens his store for business? Has his store become a de-facto public place, even though he owns it?

    Now, let’s take off the privilege-goggles and take a look at the real world.

    Of course, all of those questions are pretty much moot, since a black guy can almost never just decide to patronize the black-owned business next door instead of the white-owned business that treats him like a second-class citizen. That’s why we need to have civil rights laws–we still, even after all this time, don’t have economic parity between white folks and black folks.

    We don’t live in a country where a black guy can /always/ choose to patronize a black-owned business when a white-owned business treats him badly. Until we do, repealing civil rights laws will /always/ mean screwing non-whites, and agitating for the repeal of civil rights laws is /always/ code for shoring up white privilege.

    Maybe this feels uncomfortable to some of the white folks reading this, but it’s still true.

    Comment by Jeff | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Jeff,

      “For example, I can’t walk into your house without permission. “

      That is true. No one should be walking into anyone’s house without the homeowner’s permission. The problem is that we’re not talking about matters of residency. We’re talking about commerce and the exchange of goods and/or services. When businesses work to keep black people out of their establishments, it could actually lead to the subjugation of the black community.

      I don’t know where you live but here in St. Louis, Missouri the black community does not have the means to support itself the way the more racially generic communities do. There are no black stores that are the equivalent of a Best Buy or a Target. There are no black Italian restaurants or black owned banks. There are no black owned Honda dealerships or a black owned utilities. For these goods and services black people have no choice but to patronize the dominant community establishments. It would be different if there were black businesses that could provide the services that other businesses do. It might happen in some predominantly black neighborhoods. But not here where I live.

      A business owner does not have the right to hang a sign that says “Whites Only”. The business owner may treat black people with disdain which is his privilege and many do. Just like people who try to hide their murder, people who commit acts of racism will want to keep it hidden as well. We don’t condone blatant acts of racism. We shouldn’t be making it easier for people to wear their racism on their sleeve.

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

      • “don’t know where you live but here in St. Louis, Missouri the black community does not have the means to support itself the way the more racially generic communities do.”

        Southeastern Michigan, and the situation here is pretty much the same as you describe in St. Louis. We’re arguing the same point, I think: that /if/ the black community had the means to support itself (if there were black-owned car dealerships, supermarkets, big box stores, and other businesses) independent of the (white) majority culture, we /might/ not need civil rights laws anymore.

        But until there /are/ in fact black-owned (and hispanic-owned, gay-owned, etc) businesses that the black (etc) community can chose to patronize, we /do/ need laws to prevent majority (white) business owners from marginalizing their minority customers. As you eloquently say, “We don’t condone blatant acts of racism. We shouldn’t be making it easier for people to wear their racism on their sleeve.”

        Comment by Jeff | Wednesday, May 26, 2010

  4. Very good point there, but let me come back with this… if murder were not interfered with by law, do you think it would increase or decrease? I think the idea of jail time, the death penalty, while not being a solve-all, has probably deterred more than just a few people. Admittedly, there have been a fair share of people I’ve run into that I would have had no issue with killing, had it been legally condoned.

    All I’m saying is the laws made in the way of civil rights is helped essentially further the racial divide by setting up officially separate groups, rather than creating one big all inclusive group. Instead it did nothing to combat or prosecute racism or racist activities. Afterall the way a man, woman or child thinks is unprosecutable. Thus far the KKK can have a parade through the urban ghettos if they are stupid enough to make that venture. (again, I’m willing to offer my services with a rusty saw should they make it through there alive!) It did, in my opinion at least, set the stage for some sanity in people’s minds to break free of therie parents or friends ignorant thinking, and provided almost guaranteed voter popularity points for certain politicians. The bigger question to ask here in this particualr vein of thought: Did it help reduce a problem, or just change the face of the problem from institutional to non-institutional?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

  5. And I guess I should add…did these laws actually remove the racists’ abilities to act the way they do, or did it still essentially leave them the same afforded protections, just without the official status?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      I beg to differ. Laws designed to help curb America’s institutionalized racism did not deepen the racial divide. Racism in staunch resistance to laws to eliminate racism is what deepened the racial divide. It takes a law enforcement and judicial system committed to the elimination of racism to help make racism a thing of the past. But when the local sheriff is a big time racist and makes life difficult for the black community, how is a law to check his racism the problem?


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

  6. “racism in staunch resistance to laws to eliminate racism is what deepened the racial divide”

    so without the laws, that staunch resistance wouldn’t have occurred…ergo my more simplistic reasoning says, without the advent of that law, the racial divide would’ve remained relatively stable where it was and not deepened, as you seem to agree by that statement that it has deepened.

    As for eliminating racism, I think we all know that such a thing is a long way off, no matter what the police and judiciary do. After all, we never eliminated racism, we merely made it “officially” bad. And a white guy can yell the N word out in public all he wants, and the police and judges are pretty much powerless to stop it until he maybe violates a noise ordinance, or finds himself in the part of town where a few citizens might take it upon themselves to shut him up….which mostlikely will end up in their arrest, and he’ll be lucky if he gets a disturbing the peace fine for when he gets out of the hospital. Same with a black guy yelling cracker, or whitey, or whatever. He can do it all day long, and until he violates a physical law, the law can’t touch him for it. (granted in some couties, they might just do it anyways, but thats a whole different ballgame)

    As for the laws doing anything at all look at Iowa prison statistics alone: Blacks make 3% of the population, yet represent something like 25%ish of all inmates. I wouldn’t argue that our civil rights laws are exactly lax compared to anywhere else. I also wouldn’t argue that all that jailtime being served is being equally dished out for similiar crimes between a white guy and a black guy. White guy gets busted with a pound of weed divided into baggies, he gets maybe a little bit of jailtime, some fines, mandatory NA classes… guy gets popped with 2 joints for personal use, and goes away for a year and has the rest of his life screwed up. Same laws…different results?

    So again, my larger point again still remains: What did the laws TRULY AND ACTUALLY accomplish in eliminating racism?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      “so without the laws, that staunch resistance wouldn’t have occurred…”

      Technically you are correct. Without the laws the staunch resistance would not have occurred. But then again, people would be free to be the biggest racist they can be and there would be no need for any resistance. So yes, if there are no laws there is no resistance.

      But again, I have to point out that laws against murder do not stop murders from happening. What is the difference?


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Reply

  7. And again I mightpoint out that by making murder illegal it most likely has kept murder down as best it could. My allergies to stupidity would have left a clear trail of bodies behind me had it been legal. (and sometimes I wonder if I may not have had to shoot myself for my own stupidity 😛 )

    Playing devil’s advocate here: You mentioned in a previous response you don’t want to see people wearing their racism on their sleeve. Maybe its the soldier in me, but I kind of find myself fond of having my enemy clearly marked from the rest of the populace, as opposed to blending in with the rest of us. Would also make it easier for those who choose to engage in a bit of murder with righteous indignation to pick out their targets bit better. (I kid, sort of)

    I have to say Brother P, this has been a fascinating conversation. Whenever it is I get down to the St Louis area, we’re gonna have to get together so we can come to some kind of resolution towards fixing the world’s problems face to face. Just pick a neighborhood restaurant with the good stuff, and I’l grab the bill!

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Reply

    • Mike Lovell,

      Dude, you got a deal! Look forward to the opportunity!


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Reply

  8. The upshot: private business aren’t really completely private; if they cater to the public they have obligations.

    Comment by blueollie | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Reply

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