Thursday, May 20, 2010

Was Civil Rights Legislation Passed In Error and Does It Matter in 2010?

File Under: Convoluted Theories of BS

"There's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches." – Future U.S. Senator from South Carolina (who notoriously filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for over 24 hours), James Strom Thurmond in 1948.

All right, here is another Facebook spillover. I apologize sometimes I can be over-zealous when commenting on wall posts. Essentially the original took umbrage with Maddow’s slanted-seeming “gotcha” attempt at a fresh, juicy target on her show in the above clip. Some comments felt the interview was an attack that Paul successfully countered; others felt that this was an interrogation showing Paul to be a dangerous choice for a legislator. I do not perceive Maddow as being better or worse than other shows on primetime cable network "news.” She pressed her guest for an answer, he gave it, and she disagreed. I think around the 9:00, 12:00-13:00, and again at the 14:30 minute mark Paul succinctly addressed the question. He thinks discrimination is bad, he believes in 80-90% of the articles in the Civil rights Act of 1964, and he believes that businesses should determine how they do business where public interests are not concerned. The interview was straightforward and Paul's position sounds perfectly defensible to me.

I agree with Paul's argument that a) the government should not police social issues but b) sometimes, it has no other choice. This country has been equivocating on racial equality issues since before the signing of the Declaration of Independence - mainly to preserve some sort of a union wherein future generations can find solutions that confound current generations. The problem is that we do not actually do that - definitively. Civil Rights laws were another set of slapdash "no duh" laws crafted to stop the country from tearing its insides out and get us out of a turbulent era whole. You cannot cure stupidity with a law, you can only add layer upon layer of bandages on it until the burden of bandages outweighs the problem they were covering up in the first place. That said, I also agree with Maddow that without such laws there is nothing to stop these "institutions" from returning. I think as a nation we are backsliding from the stances we took in the 50s and 60s. However, I do not think that another piece of civil rights legislation as important as the Civil Rights legislation of the 50s and 60s will come before Paul or anyone elected this year. Therefore, this question is in fact the first salvo of red herrings, straw men, and other diversionary tactics to come this year.

I will however say what Paul and no other politician conscious of his or her career would say. If I genuinely believed a tenant of the Civil Rights Act violated the Constitution I would have voted against the act in totality if I could not get the offending piece removed or modified. I would have been a starving, rabid wolverine with a sore tooth in my pursuit of passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 WITHOUT the offending Articles. I think what Paul might be quibbling over is Titles II and VII. On the surface, they do overstep based upon capitalist and democratic philosophy. Nevertheless, what people who adhere to Paul's philosophy do not understand is that private organizations are only private in so much as they are funded and operated by private citizens. Every resource, product, and service, harvested, manufactured, or delivered in this country belongs to the people who participate in the functioning of this democratic republic. What is scary is that social networks (read: clubs and other “private” groups) are a resource as well. That makes some people shiver I am sure, that is another discussion for another time. No this is not a socialist agenda it is a fact. Imagine trying to haul lumber cross-country, or go on a cross-country family trip if every gas station, diner, park, motel, shopping mall, or other necessary piece of infrastructure had the right to wantonly discriminate against anyone based on whatever criteria they wanted. That would be somewhat difficult would you not agree.

Now you may feel that your great times 4 grandfather came to this country with nothing but $5 dollars and a dream, he worked himself to death so that when his son grew up he could go to Harvard, and because that son had the savvy to invest in real estate one day his son had the startup capital to buy his first oil well, and on and on and on, any notions of “shared” anything is rubbish. However, from the moment great-granddad raised his hand and swore allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, his $5 dollars, hard work and everything it wrought became part of the collective effort to make America great. The difference is, in America, we supposedly allow the person actually doing the work to enjoy the lion share of the benefit - supposedly.

What does that have to do with Titles II and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? It is quite simple. I need to be able to walk into ANY business anywhere and receive service. I need a quality, safe, and reliable product or service that is no different from the one sold to the person before me or sold to the person after me. I need to know that if I place an application with a company my application will be considered based on my qualifications and experience, and that only a more qualified or experienced person will be selected in my place. I need to know that my family will be able to buy groceries, for a fair price, at the most convenient supermarket. I need to know that mine, my family’s, and my friends’ lives, liberties and happiness have protection beyond what means we are capable of protecting as individuals. That is how a smooth economy operates. That is a “more perfect union.” This in a way feeds into the concept that certain issues should be determined at as low a level of government as possible. However true that might be, we simply cannot entrust people to do what is naturally right in every instance across the board. Had we waited on the community to decide that such issues were paramount many individuals would be waiting still.

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