Racism: Pin the tail on the donkey

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 11:45pm
Bradley Harrington

As on object lesson for those who would divorce principles from politics, and as an indication of the evasive follies that result from such attempts thereafter, consider the latest Tea Party tussle:

"Tea Partiers had barely started their victory lap for propelling Rand Paul to triumph Tuesday [May 18th] in Kentucky's GOP Senate primary, when a controversy over the new nominee's criticism of the Civil Rights Act threatened to rain on the parade." ("Tea Party activists defend Rand Paul amid civil rights controversy," Foxnews.com, May 21st.)

Mr. Paul, in a series of interviews, aired the belief that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which concerned itself with racial discrimination on private property as well as in the public arena, stepped outside the bounds of proper government by doing so. And now, naturally, Democratic cries are loud and clear: "Racist!"

Yet on this issue Mr. Paul is correct: regulating personal behavior on private property, beyond the scope of force or fraud, is outside of government's legitimate boundaries — and such regulations always end up causing more problems than they purportedly solve.

The first casualty is the integrity of property rights themselves — which, ethically, brook no compromise whatsoever. They are present or they are not. Private property owners have the right to peacefully use their property in any manner they please. And, while most of us find uses based in racist motivations morally reprehensible, our only legitimate weapons against such uses are boycott and social ostracism. Turning a government gun on such ill-thought motivations simply obliterates the proper fabric of social interaction.

Nor does such aggression cure bigots of their racist beliefs: it merely fosters them by adding new elements of resistance to, and opposition against, the unwarranted control.

No, the only true cure to racism is education and the promotion of its opposite, individualism — but one doesn't promote individualism by destroying its corollaries of capitalism and individual rights. Corollaries which, it should be noted, had already wiped out segregation in the North long before passage of the Civil Rights Act.

While Mr. Paul — who has stated repeatedly that he is not racist — has the guts to stand up for principle, however, the same cannot be said about the Tea Party coalition that propelled him to victory. "'The people in the Tea Party movement oppose racism,' said Debbie Dooley, a Tea Party Patriots organizer and FreedomWorks volunteer outside of Atlanta. 'We don't believe private businesses should be allowed to discriminate.'"

Observe the smear of linking racism with — of all things — individual rights. And more: the extent to which Tea Party advocates refuse to acknowledge the primacy of those rights, is the extent to which they cut the ground out from under their own feet. For on what other basis do they intend to challenge Big Government's takeover of every aspect of America's political structure?

But principles cannot be ignored with such impunity. And, when they are so ignored, observe the consequences: "The Tea Party movement faces a dilemma. The conservative grassroots phenomenon that has shaken up the political landscape in the past year has faced accusations from the left of racism. Now it must decide how to deal with the fallout over Paul's comments, which have given Democrats more ammunition for November's midterm elections."

Yet, historically, the South's "Jim Crow" laws, which were properly invalidated by the Civil Rights Act, resulted from the machinations of which political party? Democrats.

Which political party engineered poll taxes and literacy requirements to effectively disenfranchise Southern black voters? Democrats. Which political party formed paramilitary organizations such as the White League and the Red Shirts to intimidate, terrorize and murder black citizens and Republican officeholders all throughout the late 1800s'? Democrats. And from which political party does the Ku Klux Klan derive most of its members? Democrats.

The facts are quite clear: so, if Republicans and Tea Party types now find themselves paralyzed by "racist" Democratic charges, it is only their complete abandonment of principles, ideas and history that permits it to happen.

And the answer to the Tea Party's "dilemma"? Wouldn't a spirited defense of individual rights, as well as pinning the "racist" tail on the Democratic donkey where it belongs, be a good place to start?

Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wy.

Filed under: City Voices

16 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 5/27/10 at 3:02

I could care less about the "Tea Party". If I were a "Tea Party candidate I would not worry about being tagged as a racist. 95% of the black community will not vote for any candidate racist or non-racist who does not promise a "chicken in every pot"

For reasons that only history will be able to ascertain the United States changed over the last 25 years the voting face of America. Our corporate leaders and lawmakers exported the stability of this country to Mexico and China.

The jobs for the masses are being created at wages that require a sub-standard level of living. When this happens and the government is the only means of subsidy the masses will flock to any candidate that offers hope.

You can be assured that the "Tea Party" no matter how noble and logical are their agenda will be just a cry in the wind. We have entered a period in U.S history where the greatest threat to democracy has reared it's head. "The have nots" are overwhelming the haves" In a democracy the "have nots" will vote themselves over a period of time the end of the democracy.

By: sidneyames on 5/27/10 at 6:00

Richgoose, I've had people who are of color say they voted for obama BECAUSE he is black. They had no clue of his platform. And said that I was racist for NOT voting for him.

And when they didn't vote for Bush or Palin, they thought they WERE NOT racists. Twisted!

By: dargent7 on 5/27/10 at 6:27

Ames: The Tea Party movement sprung up within 4 weeks of Obama's Inaguration.
They wanted to "take back the government". Read: overturn an election.
Obama was duly elected, he won the 2008 National election, and these "Tea Partiers" are 95% white.
Not a Latino or Black among them. Maybe 2 in the back row.
That's RACISM.

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 5/27/10 at 7:06

Some Tea Party people seem to be drifting toward the support of anarchy by the absence of government.

The writer says:
"Yet on this issue Mr. Paul is correct: regulating personal behavior on private property, beyond the scope of force or fraud, is outside of government's legitimate boundaries — and such regulations always end up causing more problems than they purportedly solve."

That statement is either naive or stupid, since it is clearly wrong. There are many illegal activities which occur on private property for which arrest is appropriate (such as illegal drug use or sales, for one example).

The 1964 Civil Rights Act is one of the best legislative acts during the past 100 years.

Civilizations rise and fall. The United States has risen, but due to much of the nonsense going on, unfortunately, it is possible that it will fall.

By: Ex Civil on 5/27/10 at 8:26

Mr. Harrington (of Wyoming) ignores the history of the present day Republican and Democratic Parties. Andrew Jackson is considered to be the first national (Presidential) candidate. Though he was despised by the eastern silk stocking elite and nearly all of East Tennessee that is was 1854 before the a Republican Party would mount a presidential candidate in John C. Fremont who campaigned on an abolitionist platform (his father in law a Democratic Senator from Missouri). Lincoln’s election in 1860 so close on the Fremont’s abolitionist campaign terrified the land and slave owning elite (in 1860 Mississippi had more wealthy individuals, value land and slaves, than any other region of the nation), though most of Lincoln’s writings, comments and positions placed in the camp the feared the impact of freeing slaves on the employment opportunities for white men. The fears of Lincoln and others on employment of labor’s opportunities did materialize in the late 1800’s with a depression that some economists consider to be far more severe than the “Great Depression,” 1920 to the Second World War. The sting of defeat at the hands of a Republican President and Congress in 1865 kept the former powerful and influential southern men from considering the Republican Party that dominated the national political landscape from 1860 to 1932. The modern label of “Blue Dog” could rightly be applied to democratic southern white politicians from then to day. The southern white politician of today can more easily ignore the defeat of 1865 and embrace the anti labor, get those immigrants out of my country, English only, keep um pregnant and in the kitchen, what do you mean you’re not a Christian espoused by the ultra right wing tea party movement.
I would conclude by suggesting that when private property is opened to the public for the purposes of commerce public accommodation legislation should [does] apply. Private Clubs and private property owners, sorry to saying are still permitted to use wealth, national origin, skin color and other, who knows what, criteria to restrict membership and access.

By: richgoose on 5/27/10 at 8:42

EX-CIVIL.....You last paragraph is certainly worthy of thought by all people who have the benefit of relaxing at their country clubs devoid of the problems of the masses and the United States as a whole.

By: Tull on 5/27/10 at 8:55

"Not a Latino or Black among them. Maybe 2 in the back row.
That's RACISM"
How many whites are in the Black Caucus?
From Wikipedia
Over the years, the question has arisen, "Does the Caucus allow only black members?" Pete Stark, D-Ca., who is white, tried and failed to join in 1975. In January 2007, Josephine Hearn reported in Politico that white members of Congress were not welcome to join the CBC.[5] Freshman Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tn., who is white, pledged to apply for membership during his election campaign to represent his constituents, who were 60% black. Hearn further reported that although the bylaws of the caucus do not make race a prerequisite for membership, former and current members of the Caucus agreed that the group should remain "exclusively black."
THAT'S racism!

By: Kosh III on 5/27/10 at 9:06

"I would conclude by suggesting that when private property is opened to the public for the purposes of commerce public accommodation legislation should [does] apply."
Consider a coffee shop which wants to refuse to serve Hispanics.
Harrington would say yes, they have that right as a private business.

I say no because it is NOT a private business.
It uses water and electricity from a PUBLIC utility.
It's racist customers use a public sidewalk or road paid by ALL taxpayers to reach the business.

By: kenwinter on 5/27/10 at 12:50

Two points on Bradley Harrington's article on racism (May 26):

1. Of course property rights, whether "forceful or fraudulent " or not, may be abridged. Civilized society has always restricted actions of one property owner when they impinged on property rights of the next door neighbor or the larger community. In Nashville property owners cannot grow high weeds, keep junk cars, have loud, late night parties, maintain unsafe and unsanitary buildings, etc.

2. It is neither logical or philosophically persuasive that individualism is the "opposite" of racism or that capitalism helps ameliorate racism. Individualism is more probably the opposite of community. Define community as you will: "all God's children" or "We the people" will suffice. Community is much more likely the corrective of racism - and of Harrington's "no compromise" individualism.

These points explain the nation's current downward spiral into anarchy and ruin. Both the radical left of the 1960s and the radical right of the 80's elevated individualism to a "leave me alone" religion; they also crippled community, whether religious, political or social. Until people of goodwill recognize that "we" trumps "me, " racism will remain a force. And unregulated capitalism will continue to steal pensions, swindle investors and homeowners, and evade taxes and patriotism. We the nation cannot survive such twisted individualism.

By: idgaf on 5/28/10 at 2:42

The same government intrusion could and should be applied to them trying to dictate (non) smoking and what kind of food you serve and its ingrediants.

The more power you give government the more they will take.

We don't have rulers we are supposed to have government of the people.

When government finaces a business (they can't because they have no money of their own) then they have the right to dictate how that business is run.

One tea party member does not speak for all and the teaparty has no "leaders". They are a group of people that want to reclaim THEIR government from the progressives and their lust for power and control.

By: global_citizen on 5/28/10 at 6:50

At one time I belonged to the Libertarian Party, but once I realized how it was laden with simpleton logic, I could no longer be a part of it. This article embodies that simpleton thinking.

When the author writes about "private property" I don't believe he's talking about your home. The Civil Rights Act could not reach into your home and tell you who you can and can't invite to a dinner party.

It addressed businesses that served the public. Call that private property if you like, but most rational, thinking people can clearly see that as disingenuous. Do you believe it's acceptable for your pharmacy, if privately owned, to refuse to dispense medication to blacks?

And while it's true that forcing civil rights legislation on business owners probably didn't make them any less racist, it did pave the way for blacks to be treated equally (even if it was grudgingly) and helped dispel the gloomy prognostications about the dire consequences of desegregation.

Why the City Paper chooses to run such a clearly partisan and uneducated opinion piece baffles me a bit.

By: GUARDIAN on 5/28/10 at 6:53

OK comrades get ready for your day. Check your pockets and be sure you have all your "tools of HOPE and CHANGE for tomorrow". You must have your book of Quotations from Chairman Mao. You most have your get out of jail card signed by "The Terrorist in Chief " in the White House. You have to have your S.E.I.A. union card and your ACORN ID. Whatever you do never but never go out without a pocket full of "RACE CARDS" you can not survive without them.

By: GUARDIAN on 5/28/10 at 6:56

LOL-SORRY that was S.E.I.U. I always get sick and screw up writing their dirty name.

By: budlight on 5/28/10 at 8:46

Not a Latino or Black among them. Maybe 2 in the back row.
That's RACISM.
D7, I personally know of some Black voters and Latino who support the Tea party values. You're missing something or else you're not listening.

The gov-ment is larger and more controlling now than it's ever been. Calories, light bulbs, transportation, and much more. Most people do care. Most are intelligent. The current climate is to call all republicans stuipd, greedy, rich, and racist.

That is so untrue.

By: Dragon on 5/28/10 at 1:19

By: dargent7 on 5/27/10 at 7:27
Ames: The Tea Party movement sprung up within 4 weeks of Obama's Inaguration.
They wanted to "take back the government". Read: overturn an election.
Obama was duly elected, he won the 2008 National election, and these "Tea Partiers" are 95% white.
Not a Latino or Black among them. Maybe 2 in the back row.
That's RACISM.

Paul - 95% of the blacks voted for Obama so you would expect, at best, 5% of blacks begin in the Tea Party. Since they make up about 14% of the population, you would expect the Tea Party to be 0.7% black.

That ain't racism, that's math.

By: budlight on 5/28/10 at 2:14

Dragon's right. BUT alas. When you're right, D7 can't find a come back. Why don't we just all get along?