2010 May 26 Wednesday
Ezra Klein Labels Rand Paul Extremist

Kentucky Republican Senatorial candidate and libertarian Rand Paul expressed unhappiness with the way the 1964 Civil Rights Act restricted right of free association in the private sector. This served as the occasion for lots of left-leaning commentators to call Paul racist and other names. Ezra Klein says Rand Paul is not a racist but he is an extremist.

Over at Right Now, Dave Weigel offers up the generous and, I think, correct interpretation of Paul's opposition to the parts of the Civil Rights Act that desegregated private businesses. "Paul believes, as many conservatives believe, that the government should ban bias in all of its institutions but cannot intervene in the policies of private businesses." And Weigel is right that this is not an unknown belief among conservatives: I've had this argument with some of my libertarian friends, and libertarians occasionally have this argument among one another.

So I take Paul at his word that he's not a racist. What he is, however, is an ideological extremist. He is so categorically opposed to public regulation of private enterprise that he cannot even bring himself to say that the Woolworth lunch counter should've been desegregated. Instead, he falls back on the remedies of the market: "I wouldn't attend, wouldn't support, wouldn't go to," a private institution that discriminates, he told Rachel Maddow. But he would let them discriminate. And in the segregated South, that would've been a perfectly viable business model for many, many very important institutions.

Let us be clear here: According to Ezra Klein if you support a right to free association as strong as, say, a right to free speech then you are an ideological extremist. Not just an extremist but an ideological extremist.

Once upon a time (say, for most of American history) a right of free association was considered a basic right. Clubs and companies could and did exclude applicants on any number of ethnic, racial, religious, class, and other characteristics of birth or achievement or belief. But since that was considered to be racist this right was greatly cut back starting in the 1960s, at least for some (mostly white) people. Not all rights of free association were curtailed. Certainly some groups can restrict memberships without getting called names or labeled extremists. But a substantial fraction of the populace can't.

While the people who sought to reduce unfairness based on race had some pretty laudable intentions that hardly makes libertarians who favor a right of free association into extremists. An extremist is someone who takes positions beyond the norm. But that automatically opens up the question of whose norm? Ezra Klein would like to make his norm (and those of other liberals who dominate the press) into the norm. Certainly from where he sits the left-liberal consensus among the press and academics seems like the norm. People who take views in opposition to the left-liberal consensus are quite effectively marginalized on a large assortment of subjects, free association just being one of them.

But just because a group dominates the press and academia that does not mean that they are representative of the populace as a whole. In fact, what's most notable about the press and academia is the extreme (ha!) degree to which they do not present the norm. For example, in academia Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1 in social sciences and humanities. Among anthropologists Democrats outnumber Republicans 21 to 1. One might raise questions about whether this makes anthropologists extremists and whether they therefore have views that should be discounted.

The same sort of extremism found among academics is found among reporters with a trend toward more Democrats than Republicans as reporters with that trend hitting extremes in recent decades and with greater extremes among the media elite.

The Left has marginalized a very large sector of the American public. Then, adding insult to injury, the Left now labels rational reasonable people as extremists. You gotta admire their audacity.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 May 26 07:14 PM  Cultural Wars Western


Comments
aye see things said at May 26, 2010 8:03 PM:

Replace "left" with Jews. Thanks.

adam said at May 26, 2010 8:12 PM:

Aren't you talking about Rand Paul? Ron Paul is a Congressional representative from Texas.

ugh said at May 26, 2010 8:16 PM:

How to put this gently? FUCK Ezra Klein.

Ron Paul was doing useful and important work--delivering babies--while Ezra was still sucking his Mom's dick. (What, you didn't know hermaphrodites could reproduce?)

Plus Áa change, plus c'est la mÍme chose...

Randall Parker said at May 26, 2010 9:11 PM:

adam,

Yes, big oops. Meant his son.

Toadal said at May 26, 2010 9:30 PM:

US television network news organizations are waiting until after the California Republican nomination before bearing down on voters. The directives are probably are being composed or circulating now in the offices of CBS News: Leslie Moonves, ABC News: Anne Sweeney, and NBC News: Steve Capus regarding how to portray either Meg Whitman or Steve Poisner and Arizona voters as far right political extremists while portraying Democratic candidate Jerry Brown as the doubleplusgood duckspeaker open borders advocates and the liberal media can embrace.

In fact, Steve Capus has directed NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo to devote much of today's (May 26th) newscasts to immigration, unfortunately, the broadcast as usual turns a hard, disapproving eye towards whites and their preoccupation with law enforcement and while being sympathetic to deserving, illegal, yet vibrant, Hispanics.

Typical to their worldview, NBC News didn't use the word "illegal" in today's news release on immigration.

Mthson said at May 26, 2010 11:18 PM:

Regardless of whether we agree with Rand Paul, he doesn't seem very aware of what he's doing. If you're in the public eye, don't touch the subject of race with a 10 ft poll, because it's the pre-eminent irrational subject of the modern era. Shortly after his controversial statements on civil rights, he got into controversy again. The NYT writes:

[Paul said] 'What I donít like from the presidentís administration is this sort of, ĎIíll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,í Ē Mr. Paul said, referring to a remark by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the oil company. ďI think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. Iíve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think itís part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that itís always got to be someoneís fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.

It sounds like he doesn't have any sophisticated process for shaping his message... he's just saying whatever he feels. It's one thing to be an advocate for the free market, but in the above statement he seems vulnerable to being interpreted as being pro-corporatism, and there's no market for that in the public square.

There seem to be so few highly intelligent politicians who know how to use the public effectively. Politics in general seems to me to be one of those 'free careers,' in the sense that it'd be easy for a systematic thinker to go into it and out-compete all the non-intellectuals like Rand Paul and most national politicians on either side.

Mercer said at May 27, 2010 10:17 AM:

What is considered extreme is subjective. In the media, the political class and the residents of Manhattan and DC; Paul is an extremist for having any negative opinions about civil rights law. None of these people matter to Paul. The voters of KY are the only people who do. I bet many of the white voters, who make up 90 percent of the electorate, do not have 100 percent positive views on current civil rights law and how it is being enforced. They certainly know that they do not benefit from the diversity cult industry. Jessie Helms won several races in NC with less favorable demographics than Paul faces.

I wish Paul had criticized the employment provisions of civil rights law instead of the public accommodations provisions. Reading about the recent court rulings on firefighters I think it is impossible for an employer not to risk getting sued no matter what their hiring criteria are.

Ray Sawhill said at May 30, 2010 6:44 PM:

"An extremist is someone who takes positions beyond the norm. But that automatically opens up the question of whose norm? Ezra Klein would like to make his norm (and those of other liberals who dominate the press into the norm." -- Great passage.

NotProgressive said at June 4, 2010 6:53 PM:

If Rand Paul had framed the issue as Booker T. Washington vs W.E.B. Dubois, he would have thrown his enemies, and highlighted his point with black history. Booker T. wanted the freed slaves to use Green to become fully emancipated. Green as in Greenbacks...money. Booker T. built black colleges, and advocated for a multi generational build up of black families, and building up of skills over time. He felt that the white man would accept the black man because of the black man's earned virtues. Booker T. expected that Jim Crow laws would melt away as the reality on the ground changed over time. Booker T. started with teaching the trades such as carpentry, roofing, plumbing, etc. He wanted the next generation to go further in education, and he wanted black families to stay intact.

By contrast W.E.B. Dubois advocated for using State Power and the Law to force change. Dubois was liberal fascist who advocated for black elites to manage black affairs. The top 10 percent of black elites should speak for the remaining 90 percent. Dubois' organization ended up becoming the NAACP. Many of the first leaders and funding of the NAACP were Jewish, while Christians funded WEB Dubois.

Liberals desire to use State Power to force Societal Change. Rand Paul could have pointed out that Booker T.'s way would have been much more humane and civilized, and would not have used the corrupting force of the State. If an alternate reality had emerged, where blacks had intact families, money, and skills, they would simply build their own businesses. Today's reality is that liberals use the Civil Rights movement as a great bludgeon, and they incorrectly feel morally superior. When in reality, Liberals use corrupting state force, and they have blown up the black family with illegitimacy and dependency.

Rand is right in that freedom implies that businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone. Booker T. was right in that "GREEN" would have won the day.

Jim Crow lawas were simply a way of making sure the Cotton got picked, and the economy could keep on moving. The economy of the south was based on Cotton and MONEY was the cause of slavery. Money was the cause of keeping the black man down, and Money was the cure...not state power.

You cannot force someone to love their fellow man. This is a simple fact eluding our brain dead Liberal friends. You can learn to respect a fellow man if he shows the virtues Booker T. was advocating.

NotProgressive said at June 4, 2010 7:00 PM:

Correction: Christians funded Booker T. One Christian railroad magnate liquidated his entire fortune to give to Booker T. Booker T. was blown away by the compassion and giving by White Christians. This is how he was able to finance the build up of black colleges. The NAACP was heavily Jewish influenced, until much later when there was a falling out. Echoes of that falling out are still heard today in Liberal circles.


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