Abstract and obscure conversation? Private business ought to get to discriminate? Whiteness speaks.

May 22, 2010

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul criticizes Rachel Maddow for bringing up an “abstract and obscure” topic during his appearance on Maddow’s show where she questions him about his position on the Civil Rights Act.  The abstract and obscure topic?  That would be the desegregation of the Woolworth lunch counter in the 1960s.  The arrogance of whiteness speaks. . .

Paul says he disagrees with the part of the Civil Rights Act that made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race and frames his argument as government interference in private business. When Maddox pushes him to directly answer whether he would have supported desegregating lunch counters, he responds:

Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says ‘well no, we don’t want to have guns in here’ the bar says ‘we don’t want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.’ Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion…Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Woolworth’s lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.

Rand Paul discusses Civil Rights Act (Go to 17:50 in the video for the abstract and obscure comment).

This is whiteness rhetoric born out of privileged experience that enables Paul to create this framing around such an experience for people of color. Unfortunately, he’s not the only white person to do so.

John Stossel, a Fox News contributor and business anchor, said Thursday that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act should be repealed — the part that says businesses that serve the public can’t discriminate on the basis of race.

“It’s time now to repeal that part of the law because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.”

Stossel Video

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