(Rand Paul; photo by Gage Skidmore)
Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, just won the Republican nomination to run for Senator from the State of Kentucky. He's mostly on the right, being endorsed by Sarah Palin as well as others, but oddly opposes the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act. He's also against the erosion of civil liberties begun on the bush regime.
Immediately after his primary victory, he stuck his foot in his mouth, and cannot seem to get it out. Among other things, he stated on national television that he "questions" the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and basically thinks that business owners should be able to refuse to provide services to anyone they want based on race, religion, or national origin. He went on to say that he personally is opposed to such discrimination, but thinks businesses should be able to do so.
This entire issue about all Americans being able to eat in a restaurant or buy a soda in a store was resolved fifty years ago. It's kind of like the people who keep waving the Confederate Flag: It's over Rebs, you lost. Go on back to the farm.
The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government authority over, among other things, interstate commerce. There are a whole series of cases involving mudflaps on trucks that were litigated all the way to the Supreme court on this issue. If Rhode Island requires mudflaps four feet square, and Massachusets prohibits mud flaps bigger than 3 1/2 feet, then how in the heck can a trucker haul goods from New York to Maine, or back again? The courts decided early on that nobody, no state has the right to interfere with the free flow of interstate commerce. That is an issue that is exclusively entrusted to the federal government.
The court also is very protective of the first amendment protections for the rights of individuals, natural born rights, to associate with others, to speak, to believe, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Anybody who is unhappy with what the government is doing has the absolute right to go to the seat of government (Washington D.C.), go see their politicians, make a complaint, and ask them to fix it.
If local businesses are allowed to refuse to sell food, or serve food in a restaurant to certain people based on race, if a bus or train can refuse to allow certain people to ride based on race, if a motel can refuse to allow people to rent a room, and the gas station can refuse to sell gas or a soda, it essentially would prohibit people of the excluded race from being able to travel. If they cannot travel, they cannot petition the government, cannot associate freely with others. They could not even move from one state to another. They would be denied fundamental rights as citizens. For that reason, as well as others, the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has the authority to prohibit businesses from discriminating against groups of people based on race, gender, religion, or ethnicity.
Rand Paul is waving the confederate flag when he raises this issue. He's appealing to the racists in Kentucky who are still pissed off that they have to sell a soda to a black person who comes into their little store.
This battle has been fought for over 200 years now. They won't let it go. Back in the early 1800s, there were blood battles between people trying to make states pro-slave or to abolish slavery. In the early 1800s there was such an upheavel across the nation around this issue that you had revivalist religious tent-groups traveling the country preparing people for the end times, or their version of it. One of the areas in upstate New York was such a popular route for the revivalist tents that it was similar to what we today call the Bible Belt, and one of the residents of that area, apparently affected by the religious fervor, claimed that God talked to him and told him to form a new religion, the Mormons, and God assured him that black people were always intended to be slaves. Racism is so ingrained in this country that people actually use religion to support their racist views.
During the 1950s, black people in this country put their lives on the line to get out and demand civil rights, the right to vote, the right to go to school and get an education, and the right to be free from violence and persecution from the state and the police. The right to justice. It is because of these struggles, and the violent brutality, including murder, which was used to beat down the people fighting for basic civil rights, that the federal government finally intervened and passed some laws to protect the rights of black Americans as citizens. These are generally called Civil Rights Laws, one of which, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rand Paul does not support. He thinks that business owners should be able to refuse to have black customers if that's what they want.
(George Wallace blocks the door at the University of Alabama)
George Wallace, governor of Alabama during the 1960s, vowed he would fight anyone who tried to integrate his state. He personally stood in the doorway of the all-white University of Alabama to prevent two black students from walking through the door, and he dared the federal government to try to stop him. They did, and he backed down, but he became a hero to racists across the nation.
In 1963, on his election as governor, George Wallace gave his most famous inaugural speech in which he fervently supported the rights of Americans to maintain a segregated country. This is George Wallace's most famous phrase still chanted today by racists: Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever.
I'm surprised Rand Paul didn't use that in his acceptance speech when he won the primary.
When George Wallace ran for president on his segregationist racist platform, he was met with large crowds of anti-war and anti-racist young people around the nation who were tired of listening to the racist and militaristic leaders of the country.
This has been a sickening rot at the core of our nation for over 200 years. Now Jim-Crow Paul wants to bring it up again, pretend that he's a nice guy, and he didn't really mean it, but you just watch to see how many Confederate Flags show up at his next campaign stop. He knows exactly what he's doing: appealing to the Southern racist white men who are still pissed off that their kids go to school with black kids. They should be pissed off about the fact that they're poor, they can't get ahead, and there is no hope they will ever retire, or pay off their credit cards, or have enough money to go on a nice vacation. But instead, they're pissed off about the fact that they lost the Civil War.
Go home Johnny Reb, you lost. Go back to your dirt farms and your ignorance, your shotguns and gas-guzzling trucks, your crappy jobs and dead-end lives. Stop being manipulated by politicians who ridicule you behind your back. Go meet your black and Hispanic neighbors and organize together to demand good jobs, schools, and healthcare for everybody in your community. Stop being clowns for the entertainment benefit of rich white southern men who think you are fools. Just like everybody else in the country thinks.