by George Davis
(NNPA)—Rand Paul and his defenders say he’s not a racist. He calls himself a Libertarian…If you have webbed feet and you quack and waddle, you can call yourself a pigeon, but you’re probably a duck.
Rand Paul says he thinks the government should not make laws to prevent racist behavior by private business owners. He says: “private business owners should be able to decide whether they want to serve Black people, or gays, or any other minority groups.” I guess he thinks they should not be able to decide whether they want to serve Whites. But he’s not a racist.
Paul is a doctor. Suppose a guy opened a doctoring business and I said I do not support his passing out bad medicine. I simply support his constitutional right to operate his private business as he sees fit. People get sick, many die, but I still insist that the government should not have the right to tell business owners how to run their businesses.
Black people died all over the South fighting for equal rights to public accommodations.
Recently, on the “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, Paul fudged around, squirmed and, not very convincingly, said he was not in favor of any form of discrimination, but he said he would have opposed Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce.”
What about hospitals? Many hospitals in this country are private businesses. What if they simply choose not to “serve Black people, or gays, or any other minority groups”? What about airlines? They are all private. Suppose they said they can run their private business as they wish.
When they overbook they have a right to pick anyone they wish and say: “You!…get off the plane! Wait for the next flight.” What if they pick someone White? What if that someone was Rand Paul? Would he feel his rights were violated? No, I forgot. They couldn’t pick him. They’d have only the right to “decide whether they want to serve Black people, or gays, or any other minority groups.” And Paul is not a racist!
Okay, what if a Black veteran who has just finished a third tour of duty in Iraq, which the law said that he had to do. . .suppose his tour was over and he picked up his seven-months pregnant wife and two kids, a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, in Maryland, say. He is driving across, let’s say, Kentucky, where Paul is running for the Senate on the Republican ticket.
The soldier gets tired. His wife cannot stay awake to drive. He pulls in at a motel. Paul says the owner should have the right to deny the soldier a room.
Suppose the soldier refused to leave the motel. Would the police have the right to use nightsticks on his skull? Suppose his wife defended him. Would police be within their rights to use a stun gun on her? The five-year-old boy kicks an officer. Is he guilty of assaulting a policeman? Suppose the little girl runs and screams and strikes out at the officer who catches her. Is she guilty of resisting arrest?
Suppose Black and White people in the nearby town hear about the soldier and his family. They picket the jail. Should the police turn fire hoses on them? What about using police dogs and cattle prods?
Of course, Rand Paul would likely say this could not happen in 2010. He’s right, because scenarios like this, and worse, happened thousands of times more than 40 years ago. And that’s why we have Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Paul says he would have opposed.
(George Davis is author of “Until We Got Here: From ‘We Shall Overcome’ to ‘Yes We Can’” to be published in 2011.)