PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that.Back in 2006, some of you may remember, I got into a very uncomfortable situation with some libertarians over precisely this issue. Rand Paul wasn't around, but I got a close-up view of some libertarians displaying an attitude about private race discrimination that literally made me cry:
PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
What disturbed me was the assertion in the writings that the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were pernicious. And when I said that at the conference, a lot of the participates immediately challenged me. Did I think the law was right?!! This is what I mean by the excessive belief in the libertarian principle at the abstract level. These folks -- including [Reason Magazine's Ron] Bailey, I think -- would have left restaurants and hotels to continue discriminating against black people as long as they pleased. Someone asserted that the free market would solve the problem better than government regulation. I said that the restaurant in the case about the constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in fact made more money by seating only white customers and serving take-out to black people. One other person at the table agreed, but the point was pushed past. It didn't fit the abstraction. I thought the failure to deal with this point was very damaging to the credibility of what we were reading and talking about.Much more at that second link. What we were reading and talking about — at a big, well-funded conference — was "a slim book touting a political philosophy that was used in its time very specifically to oppose civil rights and desegregation."
Too many people at the table wanted to talk -- at length and repetitiously -- about abstractions, such as the meaning of the word "virtue." I found this perverse and offensive.... Why should I respect this man [Frank] Meyer at all to want to engage with his book? He wrote screeds in the National Review urging the southern governors to take over the National Guard and fight off school desegregation!I have no idea if Rand Paul has the cold inner core that I saw amongst the libertarians in 2006. I would like to like him. But this point about private discrimination and the free market... Paul needs to tell the truth!