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Thursday, May 20, 2010  

Take #2

Well, my dreams of seeing a certain sage and dignified lunacy personified by Rand Paul have come to an abrupt end. Rather than defend his openly eccentric views on civil rights on the grounds of principled constitutionalism, he's decided to chalk the whole thing up to the agitation of the 'loony left.' Excuse me, Bugs Bunny, but the full-bore support of the 1964 Act is no longer controversial anywhere outside of the extreme libertarian fever swamps. People are upset about these comments because they don't agree. Not even conservatives agreed. They never tire of pointing out that a greater percentage of the Republican senators voted for the 1964 than Democrats. Never mind that all their heroes opposed it, and that the Republicans who voted for it were the RINOs of their day, loathed by the activists back then and entirely forgotten now. Lawyerly arguments of that sort speak well of movement anxiety over its deplorable record on civil rights. People have learned and grown. Good for them.

"People" here, however, pointedly must not include Rand Paul. He's still fighting this battle. Consigning it to "libertarianism" rather than opposition to civil rights is not going to cut it. Opponents of civil rights used libertarian rhetoric; the two were indistinguishable back then and have been ever since. Either the federal government may legitimately and affirmatively protect these rights or it may not. Rand Paul seems to think not. People have a right to be angry about that, because it's a stupid and vicious opinion. Own it or let your thinking "evolve," but don't just pretend it's a tempest in a teapot.

Incidentally, conservatives who don't wish to be associated with this sort of knuckle-dragging should probably start speaking up.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 11:13 AM
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