A lesson for Rand Paul: Under Jim Crow, black folks’ money didn’t matter

Even conservative Republicans like Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) are very uncomfortable with Rand Paul’s initial musings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. DeMint, a tea party supporter, knows that the movement is already stuck with the perception that racism against the first black president animates some of its supporters.

So Paul spent yesterday dancing back so fast from his previous remarks that he’s probably still out of breath. One blogger mused, “How long will it be before Rand supporters affirmative action?”

From the WaPo:

Later Thursday, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, he went further. Asked specifically whether facilities should have had the right to segregate their lunch counters, as was common in the South, he said, according to the CNN transcript, “I think that there was an overriding problem in the South so big that it did require federal intervention in the ’60s. And it stems from things that I said, you know, had been going on, really, 120 years too long. And the Southern states weren’t correcting it. And I think there was a need for federal intervention.”

But let’s give Paul credit for — at least initially — sticking to a philosophy that reflects pure libertarianism. Libertarians believe that the individual rights of property owners are more important than anything else. In a 2002 letter to the editor of a Kentucky newspaper objecting to the Fair Housing Act, he underscored that philosophy:

Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate.

That may sound strange in 2010, but it didn’t in ancient times — way back in 1964. Barry Goldwater gained the Republican nomination for the presidency on just that philosophy.

Libertarians also believe that the free market will cure most imbalances. They see the “market” as godlike, a rational force that will alter unfavorable circumstances to produce the most prosperity. But centuries of discrimination against black Americans prove that’s just not true. And, if Rand Paul had grown up black in America, he would know that’s not true.

Restaurants, hotels and other private, profit-making facilities were more than happy to turn down black folks’ money. My parents could afford to dine out every now and then. But restaurants in the Deep South still wouldn’t take them, as conservative Bruce Bartlett notes:

As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn’t have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.

In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn’t work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.

I take exception to only one point that Bartlett made, and that’s his assumption that “any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained.” He might be right about that, but we don’t know because it was never put to the test.

This much I do know: The South chose to remain poor rather than desegregate. As Booker T. Washington once put it: “You can’t keep a man in the ditch unless you stay down there with him.” The white South was happy to stay in the ditch. Northern business executives were reluctant to invest in a region with such difficult race relations, so they didn’t come. The South started to enjoy prosperity only after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were forced upon it.

460 comments Add your comment

Cynthia is Sexy!!

May 21st, 2010
7:54 am

Being of the democratic persuasion is being all good, all knowing, non-racist and doing Gods will. AND ALL THE PEOPLE SAID? AMEN!! Amen Preacher!! Preach on!! Hallelujah!!! YEEEE-HHAAAWWWW!! And Let me tell ya something brothers and sisters…Beer didnt make Bud Wiser! Hell yes Preacher…!! GD America…AMAN!!!

Joel

May 21st, 2010
7:54 am

Private business owners should be able to do what they want in a free society just like he said. If you dont like what they’re doing, then do not support them. Get over yourself.

Mr. Angry

May 21st, 2010
7:56 am

Four or five more years of the kind of “free enterprise” Rand Paul believes in and all of us will be eating pet food to stay alive. Yeah, that’s what we want to do — we want to support a so-called Libertarian (supported by a group of half-literate Tea Party flakes )who thinks it’s okay for private business to again discriminate against folks to whom they choose to deny services/products. I wonder how U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas might rule on a case to strike the Commerce Clause restrictions out of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and reopen the way for biggots who run businesses to once again put up “White Only” signs on their establishments. We ought all be ashamed of ourselves for even having to have this kind of conversation in 2010.

Peadawg

May 21st, 2010
7:57 am

Joel @ 7:54

It may not be right, ethical, moral, etc….but it’s true. I don’t support segregation so I wouldn’t go to a business that does. But it’s their right(should be).

T-Town

May 21st, 2010
7:57 am

Sometimes putting one’s foot in their mouth is quite tasty.

Joel

May 21st, 2010
7:58 am

Mr Angry, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for not being able to have a rational discussion without going straight name calling.

dougmo

May 21st, 2010
7:59 am

Way to start off the day by whipping out the race card again. I expected nothing less from you Cynthia. You are the unmatched master of it.

Joel

May 21st, 2010
8:00 am

Isnt it funny how people want to choose when to be moral and ethical, as it serves their best interest.

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:19 am

Are the only cards in your deck race cards? What is your point?

Tommy Maddox

May 21st, 2010
8:19 am

Here we go with that Tea Party/Racist stuff again.

When was the South segregated? 50 years ago? When were Africans selling other Africans into slavery? 110 years ago?

When did a black guy [well, 1/2] become President? A couple of years ago?

Yep – that rampant racism is just booming away…

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:20 am

Joel, it’s called politics

Rev Al Sharptongue

May 21st, 2010
8:24 am

Tea Party want to take their country back……..to 1950.

Tommy Maddox

May 21st, 2010
8:28 am

Says who Al – you?

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:28 am

Rev – true to your namesakes form

Treez

May 21st, 2010
8:31 am

Don’t you just love how people who agree with Rand are saying “I wouldn’t support it but it should be their right”. It’s kind like using a racial slur, being called out, and then saying some of my best friends are black.

What about the rights of minority individuals? Do the rights of property owners trump the rights of everyone else? America has never been a nation of the kind of absolute freedom libertarians seek. everyone has to give up a certian measure of freedom to live in a society…that’s just how society works. Maybe if we lived in Somali or the Congo you could make these arguments, but in America we have all accepted the fact that we can’t alway do what we want…business or landowners don’t get a pass on this b/c of their status in society…

Putting all this aside rand’s views on civil rights are not surprising considering his father Ron authored some of the most vile thoughts on blacks, gays, and jews through news letters in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/angry-white-man?page=0,0&id=e2f15397-a3c7-4720-ac15-4532a7da84ca

Saul Good

May 21st, 2010
8:33 am

Of COURSE there are still clubs that discriminate against African Americans (as well as Hispanics and Muslims)….they just voted for Paul Rand. All one has to do is take a look at their KKK Rallies and count the African Americans/Hispanics in the crowd… (Pssst…. the ability to count to only 3 is all it will take).

Rev Al Sharptongue

May 21st, 2010
8:33 am

Some can criticize Blacks all day. They have many opinions on what Black people need to be doing to “catch up” with the rest of America.

Yet, when the tables are turned on them rather than discuss, they rant and want to change the topic. Quick to deny racism and play the race card.

southern christian right wing whites are so pathetic and cowardly. As Dr. Frances Cress Welsing said “Racism is a mental disorder that afflicts a segment of white society”

No Justice No Peace

May 21st, 2010
8:33 am

Sooo……if I want to get into the Buckhead Club, and get turned away, I must be getting discriminated against. If I apply for a job, but they want someone who is Bilingual in Spanish, I guess I’m being discriminated against, if I go to an exclusively black club and feel uncomfortable as the only white person there, I must be getting discriminated against. Damn, I’m tired of all this blatant discrimination! Someone get me an attorney!

Drawing Black Lines

May 21st, 2010
8:34 am

Rand Paul is NOT a Libertarian.

Drawing Black Lines

May 21st, 2010
8:35 am

Rev Sharptongue… some of the worst racism out there is perpetuated by yankee bigots…you can take that to the bank

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:36 am

Rev – The affliction of ‘that’ mental disorder can be said for a large segment of black society as well. That ugly truth goes both ways.

Drawing Black Lines

May 21st, 2010
8:37 am

Rev Sharptongue…”As Dr. Frances Cress Welsing said “Racism is a mental disorder that afflicts a segment of white society” — as long as you keep spouting stupid s*%t like this, you will have a long day….You mean to tell me whites are the only ones who are racist? Go home son

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:39 am

I’m a Yankee and am embarrassed by our President… does that make me a bigot?

Peadawg

May 21st, 2010
8:40 am

Rev Al Sharptongue, I have to ask. Can whites be the only ones who are racist? Can blacks not be racist?

No Justice No Peace

May 21st, 2010
8:40 am

resno,

Only if the you were’nt emberrased by any of the former presidents.

kayaker 71

May 21st, 2010
8:40 am

Jim Crow and it’s legacy was one of he darkest parts of our history in this country. There is little wonder that Paul’s comments, although purely libertarian in nature, were found to be offensive to most of the black community. As far as the Tea Party….. there has been no overt racial demonstrations at any of the rallies. Solid evidence of the Tea Party spitting or shouting racial slurs has not been forthcoming despite a reward of 100K being offered to anyone who had solid evidence of that occurring.
We have come a long way since Jim Crow but we have a lot further to go. Black animosity and hate still simmers just below the surface and it will take another two or three generations before discrimination of this sort is put in the history books where it belongs. Tucker is a product of her times as are numerous others and their older relatives who remember vividly some of the things that we would ignore as unimportant. But to them, it happened yesterday.

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:42 am

Does Clinton count? How about Carter?

ctucker

May 21st, 2010
8:43 am

resno2, If you read the entire post, you know my point.

ctucker

May 21st, 2010
8:44 am

dougmo, Rand Paul, Jim DeMint and several journalists spent all day yesterday discussing Rand’s comments on civil rights. Yet, I’m not supposed to bring it up?

No Justice No Peace

May 21st, 2010
8:44 am

resno,

Could be anyone. Since all the former presidents were white,if you found fault with any of them, it should give you a free pass to find fault with the current President of you are so inclined.

goober pyle

May 21st, 2010
8:45 am

CT – I’m still waiting for you to answer my question – should people living in America illegally be punished? yes or no

Peadawg

May 21st, 2010
8:45 am

“Yet, I’m not supposed to bring it up?”

It’s just the fact that you right some race-baiting column 1-2 times every week. That’s all.

Peadawg

May 21st, 2010
8:46 am

write, not right. it’s early.

Some Guy

May 21st, 2010
8:47 am

CT, you need to get that “racial chip” of your shoulder. I knew as soon as I saw this popped up on the cable channels that you were going to use it in your blog. The only reason you jumping on is because Rand Paul is a conservative. I do not remember you getting your knickers in a bind when Reid and Biden made some racist comments about the President. You should have but you won’t because you are an ideologue and gave them a pass. Like you do so many on racial and ideological views. I saw the interview with Rand Paul and he prefaced the comments in question with something to the fact that as a businessmen he did not think it made good business sense. Basically, Mr. Paul said as businessman the only color that matters is the color of your money. He also said that he thought racism was a stain on America and abhorrent. Also, he would have vote for the Civil Rights Act if he were a member of that Congress. This is a irrelevant issue being forced by a biased liberal press.

Byron Mathison Kerr

May 21st, 2010
8:50 am

Odd that Libertarian ideology seems to be gaining in popularity just after the “less government,” “trust in markets and corporations,” and deregulation practices have led to some of the most devastating economic and environmental disasters in several generations.

What was that definition of insanity again?

Cynthia is Sexy!!

May 21st, 2010
8:51 am

Bigotry runs rampant in ALL races and ALL of us are guilty.

Thats a FACT!

Rev Al Sharptongue

May 21st, 2010
8:53 am

These sorts of white folk unsettle me. They seem to be blind to the suffering of others. They seem, at least to me, to be terribly selfish — and dare to call that selfishness freedom, or to justify their own ugliness by an appeal to some abstract principle of states’ rights. In the interim, those who are not considered “one of us” are left to suffer the ire and violence of bigots.

In short, Paul’s principles offer little comfort to those bearing the brunt of this nation’s racist past and present. In fact, they do just the opposite. They alert us, or at least me, to be ever mindful of the ugliness that always seems to linger beneath the surfaces of our democratic form of life — an ugliness based in a troublesome conception of whiteness.

Some white folk are not too happy about the current direction of our nation. They want to take back “their” government. They don guns in public. They hurl invective at their opponents. They pass draconian immigration legislation. They ban ethnic studies in school districts. They insist on a view of the United States that mirrors their own self-conception: white and deeply conservative.

No Justice No Peace

May 21st, 2010
8:53 am

I know I’m going to get stomped for this, but I have to ask. Why does everything have to be for everybody? If certain businesses, restaurants, stores, banks, clubs etc… choose to cater to me because I look like them, what is stopping you from frequenting establishments that cater to people that look like you? in this day and age, the same products, money, financing, land etc…. are available for anyone to acquire and build upon as they see fit. if restaurant A won’t serve you, go to restaurant B, or start your own place of business and dictate who you will or will not serve.

Scout

May 21st, 2010
8:54 am

Cynthia:

You know, Jay covered this one yesterday. You two REALLY do need to coordinate.

Drawing Black Lines

May 21st, 2010
8:54 am

sharptongue…..alll blacks are poor and grew up in the ghetto? You’re a fool

Shawny

May 21st, 2010
8:54 am

“knows that the movement is already stuck with the perception that racism against the first black president animates some of its supporters.”
No, it is not. It is about over agressive, intrusive, excessive spending govt, pure and simple. It is only about race when people like you make it about race.
What Paul said is simple personal rights stuff. Neither I nor most would support those that choose to act in a way that discriminates, however, that is their right. In today’s world, their business model and personal safety probably wouldn’t last long, and that is fine.
In the world of a long time ago, that type of behavior, though unfortunate, was commonplace. Let it go. Society is beyond those days now, get with it.

Drawing Black Lines

May 21st, 2010
8:55 am

sharptongue…..you talk about whites “don their guns in public.” Blacks don’t don their guns? Really?

resno2

May 21st, 2010
8:55 am

I’m not embarrassed by obama because he is not white. And that fact is not the reason that I can’t stand the sound of his voice. I am embarrassed by how he is running/ruining this country, and, in my view, making the US look weak. I can’t stand his voice because of the condescending tone. I am especially outraged at how gutless he was yesterday when dealing with Calderon.

King of All

May 21st, 2010
8:56 am

To all those saying they wouldn’t support a business that promotes segregation: I wonder how long it would take before peer pressure and group-think take over. I guess not very long if you want to fit in with the other “whites”.

Michael

May 21st, 2010
8:57 am

Maddow caught this guy, he had every opportunity to deny that he supports discrimination, and all he did is dig a deeper hole. Now hes whining and crying unfair. Rand proved he’s unfit for office.

Cynthia is Sexy!!

May 21st, 2010
8:59 am

Cmon resno…if you are Anti-Obama then by default you are Anti-black. Just ask the blogging family.

The Equalizer

May 21st, 2010
9:02 am

How about this idea, we’ll try a little social experiment. Why don’t we divide the city of Atlanta in half. Blacks to the South and Whites to the North. Neither party will cross into the others territory and both will rely solely upon the residents of their side to either succeed or fail. All business on the North side will be built, financed, run by and cater to it’s White residents. All business on the South side will operate the same way. Give it 5 years and then see which side of the city is prospering and which side is in decay. After that, there should be no more discussion about who is keeping who down.

Bratty1

May 21st, 2010
9:04 am

What if a black guy and an ILLEGAL alien both try to enter the restaurant of their free choice, at the same time? HMM? Liberal connundrum . what are the victim class tiebreakers?

resno2

May 21st, 2010
9:04 am

CIS – sad, but true.

I am also Anti-Pelosi… does that also make me Anti-lapdog?

No Justice No Peace

May 21st, 2010
9:04 am

I don’t think resno is Anti Black, but based on his picks for embarrasing presidents, I think it’s safe to say he’s a Republican. Nothing wrong with that.