Liberals, Libertarians, and Civil Rights
It is important to note the reason for the present civil rights discussion was not to give libertarians an opportunity to seriously discuss criticism of civil rights legislation. Rand Paul’s appearance on the Rachel Maddow show was meant to characterize libertarians as racists, or out of touch with reality, or simply incapable of ensuring the liberal vision of the world championed by the left since FDR and LBJ.
But libertarians should not cringe when faced with discussing the most controversial of their beliefs. If anything, as I’ve already said, it should be viewed as an opportunity to take ideas that are rarely discussed into the mainstream.
But by refusing to discuss our most unpopular positions, we lend credence to the idea that there might be something wrong with them. And it is most necessary to become well-read and well-spoken about these particular issues given the disadvantage of conventional wisdom being set against us.
So what is the opportunity presented to libertarians at this time? To demonstrate the Civil Rights Act (CRA), like many liberal policies and programs, is given too much credit for advancing racial minorities when all it really does is persecute ideological minorities for not voluntarily embracing liberal beliefs and acting accordingly.
I doubt liberals actually use laws like the CRA for the sole purpose of discrediting their ideological critics. I’m sure many believe the CRA is responsible for “fixing” society the way they give government credit for curing all sorts of social and economic ills. However, this does not change the fact that whenever their beliefs regarding race and government are questioned their immediate response is to smear their critics as racist.
The reason they often get away with this is because of the widespread but mistaken belief that only liberal laws, institutions, and policies promote the well-being of racial minorities. Thus, whenever anyone criticizes them, the initial response is invariably, “You’re racist!” or “You don’t really care about racial minorities because the only way to care is to support liberalism.”
The dynamic liberals often describe is one of having to give up some freedom for a larger benefit that far outweighs the loss of liberty involved. For racial minorities to advance, the freedoms of ideological minorities must be taken away. Liberals love the drama and rhetoric they can dream up when they present issues as zero-sum games in this way.
As is often the case with economic questions, it is in this instance the libertarian’s job to show the black-and-white, zero-sum view of the world liberals take is childish and intellectually lazy.
In several articles on the Huffington Post, liberal writers give their darkest, most abysmal prognostications of a world without the CRA. It is a place where racial minorities are nothing more than property and permanent members of an underclass who have no way of escaping the corporate monopolies that will succeed in returning blacks to the chains of bondage they previously bore.
In other words, liberals are civil society fear mongers who like to scare people into believing they are the saviors of man’s better nature.
For the last forty to fifty years, Americans have been programed to live under that fantastical delusion. Media and political elites have sold us on the idea that government is responsible for all progress and that we are dependent on government to ensure a fair, orderly society.
Dependence begets power with the balance going to those who are depended upon.
And as liberal pundits are currently dreaming up the most heinous set of circumstances imaginable to describe a world without the CRA, we can see this justification of empowering government taking place through fear mongering.
The Rand Paul/Rachel Maddow interview is part of this liberal exposition. It is a form of political theatre that mimics a true inquiry into someone’s opinion on a controversial issue. Instead, it was a way for Maddow to discredit libertarianism now that everyone knows libertarians are a growing force in the political arena. If there’s one group of people that threaten the liberal agenda more than republicans, it’s libertarians.
Others will say my accusations are not true. Maddow was simply asking Dr. Paul valid questions about his beliefs and his inability to respond persuasively (or at all, really) illustrates the shortcomings of libertarianism with respect to race.
But Maddow’s line of questions betrays her liberal bias and intent to smear libertarians by framing their beliefs as racist, or at least as nothing more than a fetish for freedom that cares nothing for the welfare of blacks. This is the zero-sum game liberals try to push on everyone.
Not once during the interview did Maddow ask how someone could believe the CRA was unnecessary and/or wrong to implement while at the same time wishing to promote the advancement of blacks. It is simply inconceivable to her that libertarian beliefs can be reconciled with a concern for racial minorities.
For Maddow, the only reason a person would support the position of not having the CRA is because they care about abstract, unrealistic, libertarian ideals more than racial minorities. And since Rand Paul was not successful at conveying the idea that freedom does not mean the end of racial equality and progress, libertarians have suffered a minor setback in the effort to combat the prevailing liberal wisdom that has had such a pernicious effect on freedom for the past fifty years.
But Rand Paul was never supposed to convey that message on Maddow’s show. Instead, Maddow was intent on hammering home the point that racism still exists, from which the audience is supposed to infer equality would collapse if ideological minorities were allowed to associate with whomever they wish. Somehow, liberals go from a few racists choosing to be racist to a world where blacks are nearly slaves again without any good explanation.
However, they are entirely sure the only thing that stands between us and this horribly racist world they’ve dreamed up is the CRA. This is why the CRA and the advancement of blacks are the same for a liberal like Rachel Maddow.
When she asks if Woolworths should have been allowed to remain segregated and demands Dr. Paul give a simple yes or no answer, it is because a simple yes or no answer is intended to paint him in a certain way depending on how he answers. (Thank you to CR for this following analysis.)
If he answers yes, he’s either a racist or a wildly misinformed libertarian idealist. If he answers no, he’s being inconsistent since it’s already assumed that without a law against segregation it would never go away. If he tries to explain why he’s answering the way he answers, he’s evading the question.
This is what is known as a loaded question.
Maddow needs to maintain this bit of theatre with her yes or no demand in the interview. Without it, Dr. Paul may have actually explained how one can say, yes, it should have been allowed to remain segregated as a matter of law, but, no, this does not mean segregation would never end, nor would have blacks remained a permanent underclass.
But this bit of clarification is necessary given the prevailing liberal order. Without further explanation from Dr. Paul, Maddow’s question remains loaded and the simple yes or no conveys exactly the message it’s supposed to: libertarians don’t care about racial minorities and libertarian philosophy is incapable of “protecting” racial minorities if actually implemented in US law.
So what should libertarians do now? Not shrink before the challenge of releasing American politics from the grips of modern liberalism. And also, remember that avoiding certain issues is the equivalent of conceding the shortcomings of one’s own philosophy.
What should Rand Paul do? Stick to issues that are actually in play. No one is calling for a repeal of the CRA and it’s not like there’s a foaming-at-the-mouth, racist, grassroots movement to subjugate blacks. (And, no, the Tea Party is not that either.) The liberal smear job Maddow perpetrated against Dr. Paul has created an opportunity for libertarians to go mainstream and for the doctor to sharpen his game.
Let’s get moving.