Conversations about race are always had on slippery slopes. The challenge is finding stable enough ground upon which to build a mutual understanding without sending both viewpoints colliding violently into one another. Yet as difficult as it is to manage the slippery slopes, the greater challenge, even danger, is to understate the issues and not at all consider the proliferation of these viewpoints and all the consequences they invite to a society whose camel is already one straw away from a broken back when it comes to race.
This is what makes Rand Paul’s viewpoint (click here) about the Civil Rights Amendment a dangerous one. Don’t get me wrong, as a Republican, I don’t find his views to be offensive or even incorrect at all. Lord Jesus, please help me duck fast enough because in theory, I agree with Rand Paul. Absent other factors, private businesses should have the ability to operate as they choose within the boundary of law and let the free market punish or reward them for their choices. On its face, the CRA it is false boundary when imposed on businesses to force them to provide services to everyone equally. It does not necessarily violate someone’s rights to refuse them service at a restaurant. Quite frankly, if you don’t want to serve me your bland ass food with your chunks of stuff swimming in your nondescript sauces, well, I’m not necessarily put upon. I mean really, would it kill you to dust a little Lawry’s on the chicken every now and again? But I digress…
The problem is you can’t draw a clean enough line around exclusion. Yes, we might agree that it’s okay to deny someone a meal because of race (Side note: I recommend this at Sylvia’s in New York. The last time I was there, the white folks at the table ahead of me got served the last of the greens. Where is the justice in that? Doesn’t that violate some kinda Negro code somewhere??) But back to the topic at hand – denying me dinner might be okay but is it okay for the same restaurant to deny me a job because I’m black? All of a sudden, I’m not so sure I agree anymore. Or what if instead of a restaurant, we’re talking a pharmacy or even a hospital…now is it okay for someone to deny me service because I’m black? What if the nearest Negro-serving facilities are 50 miles away? Now, I’m even less sure and in fact, it really sounds like not just my civil right but perhaps my human rights might be violated if I was on the verge of death and walked into a hospital but the private white owner, being angry at the black guy who knocked up his daughter, decides to turn me away. (Although you’d think he’d be happy for his daughter to be dating a professional athlete! Geez, what does it take to make some folks happy?)
The one thing we can learn from our history is that institutionalized hatred has never reached a well-managed conclusion. Rand Paul’s comments are at the very least a clear indication of irresponsible leadership, he does not understand the job he’s asking for. I expect nothing more from a member of the Tea Party Movement. This is the problem I’ve had with them all along. While their ideas are good in theory, our current political and economic climate add layer upon layer of complexity to the vacuum they want to believe exists. They continue to press the view that race is irrelevant. Wrong country, fellas! Y’know, capitalism works best when businesses behave predictably. This translates roughly to our underlying belief that business will always choose the most profitable behaviors. Predictability is an indicator of a mature market. Racism imposes false constraints on predictability – rather than highest profits, individual businesses, unfettered by regulations like CRA, would be pursuing their highest but constantly shifting ideals. Problem is…ideals don’t create jobs and fuel economies. These are not independent concepts.
Ultimately, I hope we are not irrevocably damaged by the hayseeds and cowpokes that the TPM are putting in office throughout the country. At this point, it looks like we’re going to ride with them for a minute. Sure, it’s easy to ride the wave of idealism…but what they’ll learn is what our President is learning. Americans have lost interest in change, we ain’t looking for reform, we’ve tired of the political rhetoric. We need results. And for all philosophical arguments around how to get there, very little progress has been made by anyone on this front.
Since we’re talking slippery slopes…How do you say, “Welcome Great Leader of the State of America” in Chinese?