Friday, May 21, 2010


Here's a comment from a Paulbot troll named Acadian, found over at Zandar Versus the Stupid:

...Has the Civil Rights Act made racism in this country better or worse since it was passed? Can anyone honestly say that the Civil Rights Act succeeded on that front? if it was such a good bill, how come it had to be changed over and over again?

... Or ar you going to compound your ignorance more and say the Civil Rights Act has actually eliminated racism? It hasn't after 45 years, after all. People understand this....

This, I realize, echoes remarks made by Ron Paul, Rand's daddy, on the floor of the House in 2004:

...contrary to the claims of the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the sponsors of H.Res. 676, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.

... The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society....

Of course, America has made great strides in race relations over the past forty years. However, this progress is due to changes in public attitudes and private efforts. Relations between the races have improved despite, not because of, the 1964 Civil Rights Act....

It took me a while to grasp the thinking here, but now I get it. To libertarians, there are only two choices: either the Civil Rights Act eliminated all racism whatsoever or it accomplished absolutely nothing. There's no possible middle ground, no chance that it could be part of a process of reversing appalling legal and cultural wrongs, something that's done a great deal of good, even if it hasn't wiped out all racism in America forever.

To libertarians, the thinking on this law must be absolute because libertarian thinking on government and private property is absolute. Government is always purely evil. The marketplace, by contrast, is absolutely perfect -- it heals all wounds and corrects all flaws, even flaws it creates, even flaws as brutal as the forceful repression of one race by another. Left to its own devices, the libertarians say, the marketplace absolutely could have eliminated racism -- all racism, or certainly all racism in the private sphere.

But keep in mind that this kind of absolutism isn't limited to a small group of cranks, one of whom happens to have made his way into the political big time in an unusual election cycle. This thinking is now mainstream Republican -- it's teabag rhetoric.

When teabaggers say that a few government interventions in the marketplace that leave the vast majority of capitalism alone are "socialism," full stop, when they invoke Mao and Stalin to discuss this mix (which is a far less interventionist mix than we were accustomed to under, say, that great commie Dwight Eisenhower), they're engaging in the same sort of all-or-nothing thinking. Capitalism can't withstand any government modification; if it isn't kept pure, it's so delicate it must cease to exist. It's either pure or it's destroyed, they tell us. (This is absurd, of course, as long as we have Medicare and the interstate highway system and corporate tax subsidies and the like, but never mind.)

This rhetoric is nuts when longtime believers make the arguments and it's nuts when a guy in a tricorn hat holding an Obama-as-Joker sign makes them. Nevertheless, this thinking is powerful enough to be driving our politics right now.

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