Rand Paul's Confederacy Scandal Is Not an Anomaly -- Libertarianism Papers Over Deep Racism in America
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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul the guy who questioned the wisdom of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when he first ran for office, finds himself at the center of yet another race related controversy this week.
On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon published an article titled “Rebel Yell” detailing the previous career of Paul’s right-hand man co-author Jack Hunter.
While working as a radio host in South Carolina, Hunter appeared in public wearing a Confederate flag mask, openly called for secession, and even defended the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He called himself “The Southern Avenger” and was a chairman of the Charleston wing of the League of the South, a group, which, according to its own website, “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union, and the formation of a Southern republic.”
Rand Paul is now trying to disassociate himself from Hunter, but that will be a difficult task. The “Southern Avenger” isn’t just some random Senate staffer: he’s a close associate of Paul and helped him write his first book back in 2010.
It now looks like Senator Paul is continuing in a great family tradition. Even though he denies responsibility, his father Ron published a series of racist newsletters during a1996 Congressional campaign.
However, we shouldn’t really be that surprised by either of the Pauls’ connection to far-right racism. That’s because they’re libertarians and libertarianism is the velvet glove over the iron fist of racism.
Here’s how it works: when you have an entrenched racial and economic class that has ruled a continent for five centuries, they have well-established levers and levels of power and wealth. They will, generation after generation, do whatever is necessary to hang on to that wealth and power.
History shows, including the history of Reconstruction and the history of integration in the 1950s and 1960, that the only thing strong enough to challenge the political and economic power of a multi-century hereditary ruling class is the power of government.
It was government that made Alabama Governor George Wallace and Georgia Governor Lester Maddox integrate their states. And it was government that both passed and made the South finally accept the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
This is what George Wallace had to say about integration during his inaugural address in 1963: "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
But Wallace lost that fight because the power of government, when appropriately used, is greater than the power of wealth, class, or race.
It took government to break the stranglehold of white rule in the 1870s and 1880, but even that white power structure reasserted itself and fought to reclaim its power, leading to the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 and a half century of segregation which kept in place the political and economic privileges of white people.
So now comes a political philosophy - libertarianism - that says everything is fine, everything is equal, and government should get the hell out of the way.
They say this when the average wealth of a white family when the median net worth of a white family is $110,729 and that of a black family is $4,955.
They say this when in the entire history of the U.S. Senate there have only been three African-Americans elected to that body.
They say this when just twenty minutes after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most populous state of the Old Confederacy, Texas, put into place discriminatory voter suppression laws and began gerrymandering.
So, in effect, when conservatives and libertarians say government should get out of the way, what they are really saying is “let’s lock into place white political power, white wealth, and white privilege.
Of course, not all libertarians think of themselves as racist, and most probably don’t see how their “get rid of government” policies prop up institutional bigotry, but the reality is that when you blast government as the root of all evil and neuter its power, you end weakening the one thing that can keep the ruling elite in check.
And when you do that, the rich and powerful race hangs onto its wealth and power and the poorer minorities lose even more of what little they have.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Rand Paul agrees with Jack Hunter that the Confederacy was a good idea.
Because by going on and on about state’s rights and freedom from government tyranny, Senator Paul and his friends on the Libertarian right make sure that the values of Old Dixie – an entrenched racial elite and racial inequality – continue in America.
Libertarianism truly is the velvet glove of a nice-sounding “freedom” policy that covers the iron fist of five hundred years of genocide and apartheid in America.