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So, it’s been an interesting world out there while I’ve been wandering around the landscape getting flat tires and trying to figure out how the air conditioning works in a class room with the heat still turned on…

I am, as I said before, reading a book, called The Flight of the Intellectuals, by Paul Berman, which is not the book it sounds like from the title.  So far–and I’m more than halfway through it–it seems to be a history of Muslim intellectuals and especially the views and commitments of one Tariq Ramadan.  Ramadan is, these days, the West’s favorite “moderate Muslim.”  Or not.

But I think I’ll finish this thing and get to more of that later.

What has struck me more forcefully these days is the absolute firestorm over the discovery, but a lot of the media here–and especially by MSNBC–that Rand Paul, son of Texas Republican Ron Paul and now the Republican nominee for, I think, Senate from Kentucky, is a standard issue libertarian.

Let me try to be a little clearer here.

Rand Paul believes–along with most libertarians–that the government has not only the right but the obligation (under the fourteenth amendment) to prohibit discrimination by race, sex, ethnicity, you name it, in any government-paid-for enterprise.  That means there must be laws against such discrimination in things like voting, getting hired for a government job, and attending the local public school or state university.

Rand Paul also believes–along with most libertarians–that such laws should not apply to private, non-governmental enterprises.  Private businesses, private schools,  privately owned apartment buildings or, yes, your house–in those cases, if you’re a jerk and you want to discriminate, the governent should not be able to prevent you.

Now, in spite of the completely hysterical explosion the “revelation” of these ideas has caused (Paul has been giving press interviews about them for years, so they’re not exactly something that had to be “discovered”) there’s nothing particularly odd or particularly out of the mainstream about these ideas.

This is the rationale the Supreme Court uses every time it decides–as it has, consistently, in case after case after case–that state universities may not institute speech codes but private universities may, and that the Carter administration was wrong and the federal government cannot remove the tax exemption of a private school or university because they happen to be all white.

But, you know, this is one of those things.  The peculiarity of morals legislation, of whatever kind, is that it looks perfectly fine to people who share the moral precepts it’s installing.

In this case, I do indeed share the precepts.   Everything I’ve ever believed in, every fondation I’ve ever been able to find credible as a basis for moral thought of any kind, begins with the command to treat individual human beings as individuals–not as members of groups, no matter what the group.

And it is an outgrowth of the need to recognize individuals as individuals and not to treat them only as members of groups that racism is wrong, that it is morally unacceptable under any circumstances.

There are a lot of things in this world that I’m interested in changing, and I’m going to go after the things that I think impinge the most on my ability to live a right and free live in this particular world.

I do understand that morals legislation, even morals legislation that upholds what seems to me to be such an obvious moral precept, in the end does more harm than good–but at the moment, it does not do more harm than good to me.  I’m not going to go after laws that do not impinge on me because they prohibit something I have no intention of doing in the first place.


I want to make a prediction.

My prediction is this:  within the decade, the talking heads on MSNBC and elsewhere who have spent the past week yelling and screaming that Paul must be a racist of the worst kind, that he must want to go back to Jim Crow and not allowing black people to vote–

Those people will get on the bandwagon of “private entities should be allowed to discriminate if that’s what they want to to” and they’ll do it loud, clear, and big time.


Because within a decade, allowing private entities to discriminate is going to be the only way to save affirmative action.

I don’t know why this has not occured to any of them, but it occured to me years ago.  This SCOTUS is conservative, especially on issues like affirmative action.  Its last decisions on AA were not terribly favorable to AA, and the court has become even more conservative since then.

What’s more, even assuming an eight-year Obama presidency, there’s simply no way he’s going to be able to make the court any less conservative.   The only available seats for replacing are liberal already.  Putting other liberals in those chairs will not change the conservative skew of the court.

My guess is that the next direct challenge to AA, AA will go down.  And then people like Keith Olbermann will have a choice.

Either they accept that AA is gone, for good, in every business, college, university, organization, you name it–and that the floodgates will open for lawsuits by whites, men, Asians, etc, from one end of the country to the other.

Or the Olbermanns of the world will get on the “private entitites get to do what they want” bandwagon, so that everybody from Harvard to Exxon Mobil can keep their AA  programs. 

Because this is not 1957.  Large businesses and major universities are not resisting diversity, they’re actively pursuing it.  And they’re doing so for largely practical reasons–especially in the case of businesses, for whom minority populations are customers they don’t want to antagonize.

Eck.  I usually like Olbermann, quite a lot.  And Greg has an Olbermann bobble doll and a new life ambition–to be a political commentator, like Olbermann or Jon Stewart, because you can do it a a kind of stand up.

But the coverage of this thing has been asinine, and, worse, disingenuous.  Paul is just as much on the record as saying that government entitites are required NOT to discriminate–so no Jim Crow laws, and no segregated public schools or universities, and no keeping black people from voting.

Which means that suggesting that he’s FOR those things because he doesn’t think it’s the proper place of government to enforce them on PRIVATE entities is simply playing dumb for effect.

But I’ll stick to my prediction.  Because it’s going to come true.

Written by janeh

May 22nd, 2010 at 8:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Controversial'

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  1. Well, I fully agree that the liberal three quarters of the commentariat will say or do whatever is necessary to maintain a regime of racial preferences and quotas, which I refuse to call “affirmative action.” And of course they will call everyone who disagrees with them a Klansman or a Nazi. That’s what they do.

    But I don’t think we’ll see an end to the government forbidding private parties to “discriminate”–that is, requiring that they DO discriminate, but only in favor of certain groups. Every Obama appointee will favor such policies, and even if no justice opposed to such dies or is incapacitated unusually early, one has to allow for the continual leftward drift of sitting justices. By the end, Stevens was supporting doctrines he’d mocked in his early years.

    Nor will we see an end of the doctrine that holds that the government can observe behavior and determine motivation. If the student body is 50% female but the schools sports teams are only 40%, or if the general populaiton is 15% Latino and hiring 10%, this will go on being evidence–indeed conclusive evidence–of illegal bigotry.

    This is why I particularly object to “anti-discrimination” laws as the reign of the telepathic police. A libertarian may object to laws against prostitution, adultery or the purchase of certain drugs, but at least the laws themselves are reasonably objective: someone did or did not pay someone to have sex with him, parties engaging in sex were or were not married to someone else, and the accused person did or did not purchase Substance X.

    There are gray areas elsewhere–self-defense, for instance–but the ENTIRETY of “anti-discrimination” laws rests not on what someone did, but on the belief that the legal system can determine what the accused was thinking when he did it. Call it the Hubert Humphrey Fallacy. And I do not expect it to be overturned in my lifetime.


    22 May 10 at 3:57 pm

  2. I thought of you and laughed (bitterly) when the press outrage hit! Seriously, have these people never heard of a libertarian? I’ve been explaining it to people…. My husband thinks that the press folks certainly do understand it, but they are blowing it up on purpose because controversy sells soap. I think he gives them too much credit.



    22 May 10 at 5:01 pm

  3. In fairness, the whole notion of Libertarianism is foreign to the modern American press. For them, there is a right half of the spectrum that begins with “right wing” and ends with Nazis, and a left end which begins with “moderates” (i.e., them) and ends with Communists. They have no other method of political analysis than as points along that line. It is, after all, what they were taught in school.

    It reminds me strikingly of a conversation with my father about Orthodox Christianity. His view was essentially binary, and for aome time, no matter what I said, he kept asking whether the Orthodox were Roman Catholics or Protestants. There just wasn’t room for anyone else.


    23 May 10 at 10:14 am

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