Welcome to The Tea Party Cafe: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Sheet…No Service!

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?


9 thoughts on “Welcome to The Tea Party Cafe: No Shoes, No Shirt, No Sheet…No Service!

  1. Kym,

    Okay, I disagree with you on this one. Allowing buisness to discriminate on race would lead to the “balkanization” of america, and well….we all saw what happened to Yugoslavia and how the word “ethnic cleansing” became popular.

    To get even deeper, Gov. intervetion to force “integration” in the south during the 50’s thru late 60’s was necessary due to the amount of blacks getting wacked just because they wanted equal service in a white restaurant/bus stop/or use of gas station bathrooms. And with the evildoers who had no fear of “punishment” for their deeds because they had friends on the police force and in the courts, the feds had no choice but to step in.

    Either the feds stepped in, or a then-young elijah mohammed and a young malcom x would have traveled south with guns and started Civil War 2.

    • Your points make good sense, Phil. I see a parallel in Rand Paul’s position and the one I have on the new immigration law in Arizona. I oppose the law but I don’t oppose what the law is trying to accomplish. Illegal immigration is a real problem, but I don’t think the new law solves the problem of illegal immigration as much as it makes life harder for the Americans in Arizona who happen to have Hispanic heritage. Seems like Rand is trying to articulate something similar about the CRA but his timing and his position just makes this a terribly stupid, irresponsible thing to say. Stupid/irresponsible and racist are not the same thing. His being a racist is not my business but his being stupid and irresponsible becomes my problem when he enters the national political arena in a policy-influencing capacity.

  2. I am really disagree wholeheartly against allowing American Restaurants the right to discriminate against a group, race etc. – to do so takes our country back to the good old “Jim Crow” days that black people and good people in general died for during the hot and heavy civil rights days… No this is America… if you have an public place of business .. you should not be able to discriminate against groups or race. No way, no how!

    To imply that they are a private business and have that right … in America is not legal… and I am glad we have civil rights laws on the books to prevent those sad days in America history from coming back!

    • I am always a firm believer in a free market this is why I agree with his statement…in spirit. But while free market sounds good here in theory, it hasn’t worked in practice because racism constrains the market falsely. Hence, our gov’t and the American people had to intervene as you pointed out. That said, it has to be okay to have dialogue about the continued effectiveness of the law because this is how we drive out the best idea. We reacted to the thought of repealing the law…but what if it benefits us? or what about improving instead of repealing it? or, what about making a thoughtful decision that it’s effective as is. It doesn’t to do the brave men and women who sacrified for this law any disservice to continue and improve their great work.

  3. If I’m reading it right, part of your point is that racism can distort the market (presumably by excluding its target group from free participation in the market). Further reduced, this translates to “racism doesn’t pay” and, at first glance, I would think that would lead to a correction in the market. More inclusion should mean more profit, roughly speaking: more consumers.

    But then you bring up ideals (or ideology) as a factor. Correction might not occur in the market IF racism as an ideal (such as it is) morally trumps the ideals of consumerism AND this gets reflected in policy. Well? Proof of that is historical: Jim Crow, aka “separate but equal.” We shouldn’t have to consider a separate economy for every subculture in America. But if we did, we could also (slippery slope) consider a separate monetary system for Montana in which all the coins are made of wood. But we are one nation (and thus efficiently governable) only if we are one (and not 50) currencies/economies etc. From that thought experiment we can learn that we are better off with ideological inclusiveness than we are with ideological separateness — and racism divides. Although “freedom” means the ability to think whatever one pleases and act accordingly, divisiveness expressed in policy is not (for lack of a better phrase at the moment) a morally legitimate expression of freedom.

    Did I ever tell you, you rock?

    • Given the beating the American economy is taking these days, the last thing we need is factioning! One America, one economy. So, if take out the moral considerations around racism, as a purely economic decision, I agree – racism hurts our pocketbooks.

      But I also think you point out a bigger problem. Racism is just one issue of many. You nailed a serious dilemma when you qualified the expression of freedom as morally legitimate. We seem to have lost our collective sense of right and wrong about all but the most extreme and/or egregious behaviors. Now, almost anything goes as long as we are individually happy. But how do we determine what’s morally legitimate in a society where morals are definitely shifting to allow expressions and behaviors that we’ve not had to deal with in a public realm before. As we become desensitized to what we might have once considered morally reprehensible, does it by default become legitimized?

      And you, sir, are the one who rocks!

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