Friday, May 21, 2010

So, my opinion doesn't count in this Rand Paul business?

Yesterday, thanks to Rand Paul, we received proof positive that the rotten racist apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I am of course speaking of Rand Paul’s not-necessarily disastrous decision to advocate for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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I say not-necessarily, because this is still Kentucky we're talking about. Not the most racist state in the Union (too many nominees to mention), but just about as racist as they come.

Mr. Paul's racism has, of course, generated a lot of chatter on the TeeVee, and in the blogosphere. In most cases, a lot of journalists went out of their way to say that Rand Paul was not a racist. Ezra Klein's post is but one example. There are more.

Why? Because he said so.

But with regard to racism, I don't believe in any racism. I don‘t think we should have any government racism, any institutional form of racism.

That was from the Maddow interview of May 19th.

Guess that takes care of that.

If this douchebag is going to so casually throw my rights (as an African-American) under the bus to serve his ideological aims, while his remain intact (what a coincidence), how does that not make him a racist?

Put another way, a better way by Adam Serwer (first highlighted by Ezra Klein):

Paul's defenders will argue -- as conservatives did with Barry Goldwater -- that Paul himself is not a racist. Indeed, Paul said he finds racism abhorrent and would not frequent a segregated business. And Paul rather incoherently defended his position as being "the hard part about believing in freedom." This is a key statement because it rather poignantly expresses the utter selfishness at the heart of Paul's argument against the Civil Rights Act.

Paul would never face the actual "hard part" of his vision of freedom, because it would never interfere with his own life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Rand Paul would not have been turned away from a lunch counter, be refused a home, a job, or denied a loan, or told to sit in the black car of a train because of his skin color, or because of the skin color of his spouse. Paul thinks there is something "hard" about defending the kind of discrimination he would have never, ever faced. Paul's free-market fundamentalism is being expressed after decades of social transformation that the Civil Rights Act helped create, and so the hell of segregation is but a mere abstraction, difficult to remember and easy to dismiss as belonging only to its time. It's much easier now to say that "the market would handle it." But it didn't, and it wouldn't.

But, there is another thing that has bothered me about this debate.

Where are the African-Americans? I mean, it's not like we don't have an opinion on this thing.

For some reason, the debate about Rand Paul, about his beliefs, about his racism, has happened exclusively in the province of white people.

That’s not to say that white people don’t have a say in this matter (in fact, some of my best friends are white people). But they are only half of the equation in any discussion about race in America. Worse still, they are not exactly experts when in comes to suffering under racism. (Though a some are experts at dishing it out.)

Sorry, fellow Liberals. I’m not trying to insult you, I’m just reflecting an honest truth. I know you hate racism. I know you will act against it whenever it’s identified for you. But any expertise you have comes from the outside looking in. You don’t live it like I do, or any African-American does.

It’s the same way I viscerally hate Anti-Semitism, from my gut. Still, I have to acknowledge that any Jew anywhere is better suited to speak to the issue than I am.

Following that, in a discussion about the harm Public and Private Institutions can inflict upon American Citizens of color, and the Government’s role in ending that harm, why weren’t there any African-American (people who are the authority on this kind of harm) on the TeeVee??

Yeah, we had Jim Clyburn. Twice. Both times on MSNBC. Once on Andrea, once on Keith.

That’s it?

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Not that Jim Clyburn didn’t hit it out of the park, he did. He was great. He spoke for me, word for word.

But come on, you’re trying to tell me there weren’t more Black people who could talk about this?

Eugene Robinson? (MSNBC Regular)

Melissa Harris-Lacewell? (MSNBC Regular)

LeBron James? (It's not like he hasn't been in the news).

Tiger Wo--

Yeah, you're right. Scratch that. Bad idea.

It wasn’t until Rachel Maddow (who started his mess by taking an oft-reported local story and putting on said TeeVee) interviewed Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP that we had another black person talking about the subject.

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Child, please.

Listen, it’s bad enough that you have a segment of the population desirous to go back to the “bad old days”. It’s bad enough that a moment of true racial transcendence (the election of the first black President) has become mired in an explosion of racial divisiveness.

But is it too much to ask, that if you have a discussion about race in America that we be a part of it?

Leaving African-Americans out may be the most offensive thing about all this.