Rand Paul, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Turning Back the Clock

In the early 60s, I entered Texas Christian University as a freshman, and learned that this Christian Church-subsidized institution in Fort Worth, Texas required six hours -- two semesters -- of Judeo-Christian religion, the Old Testament first semester; the New, the next. While I found that I enjoyed these courses and in fact took another six hours of comparative religion the following year, it began to dawn on me that this was a place for the privileged. Only on scholarships (many for sports) did one see a brown or a black face, from Mexico or Uganda. (Actually, I am not certain if there was one African or African-American those years, but I had a Mexican roommate.) But my major pursuit (and my double major, along with English) was journalism, and it was as a journalist that I discovered the prejudices of the Christians.

The year that I won Sigma Delta Chi awards for best news story and best feature only to find that they were somewhat begrudgingly given to this particular honoree, I covered an event that the local media, cabal-like, refused to cover by "gentleman's" agreement, civil rights was such a burr under those Cowtown saddles. It seems that African-Americans were barred from sitting anywhere in movie theatres but in the balconies. (At that time almost all Fort Worth cinemas were ocated downtown.) My father had taught me that the Bill of Rights did not say, "all men but not all women and certainly no blacks, browns, gays, or lesbians, were created equal." And I must suppose that had he been a religious nut, Dad would have added that Jesus' table is an awfully big one: it has room for everyone. (As we all know, Jesus is just a myth, but such innocuous interpretation of N.T. scripture shouldn't upset any sane atheist.)

When my piece on the N.A.A.C.P. picketing of the movie theatres ran in the campus weekly, The Skiff, it was the only report in the city (perhaps in the state) about the people picketing, why they wanted to sit where all the white folks sat, and so forth. Although this news story was put on the front page of our student newspaper, the Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Fort Worth Press both refused to run it anywhere in their pages. They must have thought they could get away with it, the City Fathers and Media Men. But there it was, along with my pictures, on the front page of the student paper. I could envision City Hall taking a collective shit. A couple of years later, when the student advisor visited the "Startlegram" (as some wags had it) with post-graduate placement on his lips, the managing editor told him in no uncertain terms, "We don't have time to fuck with an angry young man." What an honor!

Rand Paul is Paul Rivere. This is the age of his mentality, his thinking on things. And I don't mean to insult Mr. Revere. Paul wants to turn back the clock. Down there in his blue-grassed Kentucky, with the Teabaggers consulting on his agenda, Paul would jettison the same Jim Crow laws that would prohibit Fort Worth movie theatres from forcing African-Americans back into balconies, just as they infamously allowed lunch counters in Southern cracker diners and drug stores to forbid seats to blacks. Rand Paul's ideas are not antediluvian; they're just regressive. Pick your century. As it turns out, he is a very religious man, too. And with that I have a problem.

Mr. Paul says that Christianity is "the basis of our society." These are the same folks who, In Texas, took Thomas Jefferson out of history books because the Founding Father was more interested in freedom from religion than freedom of religion. Rand Paul is a theocrat. Or at least a crypto-theocrat. He is downright scary. These people want to rewrite our laws to reflect not only Mosaic-canonical prohibitions but the dogmatic accretions as well: abortion, gay rights, the environment, and so forth. Rand Paul is a social conservative rerunning the race of 2000 and, to a lesser extent, the race of 2004. Rand Paul is a dangerous lunatic.

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Comment by Dre Smith on May 23, 2010 at 12:19pm
Very well said. Rand Paul unfortunately cannot intellectualize his argument to be logically and practically consistent. If you remove the protections that private business can discriminate, yes it's true a good deal of business will suffer from not only P.R., but as well money. And yes maybe there is a part of me that would like to know if the money I do spend at various companies does/does not go to support some racist sitting at the top. But, the idea practically once you remove that law is no question gonig to have a chilling effect on race relations especially in the south and midwestern states. Even as he foricibly had to admit, federal intervention was needed in the south. He speaks from a person of being a beneficiary having seen all the success in a social climate of civil rights laws, and years nay decades of people being forced to learn that more or less racism sucks, and is a horrid practice. The simple fact is I think he "trusts" people in 2010 do the right thing, as opposed from 1964. And I tend to be a little more on the said of John Adams, that men are in great need of strong governance in some aspects, social being one of them. But you cannot repeal the law, and then you have other morons like John Stossel coming out and saying that businesses should have the right to discriminate. He never actually said race based or sexual orientation wise, he mentioned something about people everyday making discriminatory choices based on choosing a spouse, or where to shop etc, but we know this is BS and is a cover. Denny's just to make a point in the last 10 years didn't like serving blacks. The "public/private" argument is flawed simply on the grounds that business always operate within the public sphere, especially one's that either tend to make money or even ones that are non-profit. Sure one may have a private club, but no smart business man would discriminate. The simple fact is people simply left to their own devices will openly discriminate, and we as a whole nation cannot let that happen.



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