Faux Pas

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In a series of television and radio interviews, Rand Paul, the libertarian Republican candidate for senator from Kentucky, suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was too broad and should not apply to private businesses, such as luncheonettes. Under a swarm of criticism he partially recanted, saying, “Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.”

Herman Belz in his 1991 book “Equality Transformed” relates how President Kennedy’s 1961 directive and Civil Rights laws in 1963 and 1964 forbade discrimination and effectively neutered Jim Crow. It was later presidential directives and court rulings that added objectionable affirmative action and quotas to the body of law as it is now applied.

Paul should have praised the Civil Rights laws as they were written and intended by the legislators. His objection should have been to the extra legislative perversions of the Civil Rights laws that the courts and bureaucrats inserted to suit their ideologies. Whether he can recover from this major blunder remains to be seen.

The New York Times and other media outlets had a field day ragging on libertarians. I suppose that there is no bad publicity, but it would have been nice if a better-prepared candidate had been hoisted onto the national stage.

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