Rachel Maddow says that Rand Paul was against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 before he was for it. Recently, GOP chair Rence Preibus said that the GOP needed to do more outreach to minorities if they wanted to win back the White House. Senator Rand Paul took him up on it, one of the few Republicans to do so. However, his attempts were met by stony silence and ridicule, showing the kind of mountain that the GOP must climb if they are to cut in on the Democrats' near-lock on minorities.
First of all, Maddow notes a speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce made by Paul where he claimed that 66% of Hispanics were anti-abortion and 52% were against gay marriage. However, given recent results, it did not affect how they voted assuming these figures are true. He then talked about the "romance of Latin culture," which was met by stony silence from the audience he was trying to win over.
Then, Maddow reported on a recent speech by Paul to Howard University students. First, he said that the NAACP was founded by Republicans, which led to heckling. This statement is not factual. The NAACP, on its website, talks about its founding, which had nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with the promotion of civil rights for Blacks. One of their main founders, W.E.B. DuBois, was in fact a socialist who came under the wrath of Republican Senator Joe McCarthy. Maddow characterized Paul's speech as patronizing as in, "If only you knew your Black history."
Paul, in the speech to Howard University students, then went on to deny opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But in fact, as reported by Huffington Post and Maddow, Paul said that he had deep reservations about it. Maddow recounted that she had tried to pin Rand for 15 minutes on the subject. He said that he agrees with most parts of the Civil RIghts act, except for the key provision which prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of race. Paul told Maddow that if he had been in office, he would have tried to change the legislation, raising concerns about the 1st Amendment right of freedom of expression. He said on Maddow in 2010:
I'm not in favor 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 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 behavior 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...
Paul at the Howard University talk said that there were ramifications of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that went beyond race such as smoking, calories, and guns. The moderator noted that Paul had stated in the 2010 that he didn't like the idea of telling private businesses what to do.
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
What Paul misses is that the Constitution was never meant to be written in stone. Jefferson, in particular, noted that it was a living document and that future generations might very well apply it differently than how the people of his generation did. Private property is important, especially given the fact that Keystone is one of the biggest threats to private property that this country is facing today (in addition to the environmental concerns). But when there is a compelling public interest at stake and the government can prove that there is, then the government has the Constitutional right to act, as the courts have long held. And in this case, the government had a compelling public interest in destroying the "separate but equal" doctrine which, in actuality, relegated Blacks to the status of second-class citizens. And the fact that racism is alive and well in this country means that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is still needed today.
And furthermore, the Constitution was never meant to be interpreted in a way that negated the rest of the Constitution. The fact that there is free speech in this country, therefore, cannot be construed to negate the 14th Amendment and its requirement that all people be treated equally and that all persons born in this country are US citizens