Should Business Owners Have More Rights Than Blacks?

With the end of Jim Crow, business owners had fewer rights. But blacks had more rights. Whose freedom counts?

With the end of Jim Crow, business owners had fewer rights. But blacks had more rights. Whose freedom counts?

Black History Month has got me thinking about Rand Paul’s belief that business owners should have more rights than Blacks.

What? You say. Paul never said that!

Well, not in those words. He’s probably never thought about it that way, himself. But that’s the implication of his stand on the Civil Rights Act, which forced White business owners to hire and serve Black people on an equal basis with Whites.

Like other libertarians Rand feels there is a trade-off between liberty and equality. The more fairness arises via legislation, the more freedom is suppressed.

Government is tyranny, we are told. Government should not force private businesses to do anything other than abide by contract law and pay as few taxes as possible to support police and defense.

Under segregation, allowing Blacks to eat at any restaurant, stay at any motel or be hired for any sort of job would infringe on the liberty of Whites to keep Blacks out of their restaurants, motels or sundry businesses.

So last May, while running for senate, Paul stated that he would not have supported the Civil Rights Act at the time it was introduced (though as established law, he would not support its repeal now).

Too much freedom lost!

But whose liberty is lost, exactly? Did the Civil Rights Act infringe on the freedom of Blacks to eat, sleep or get a job? Or did it expand their autonomy?

When Black people could not find a place to eat or sleep, or even use a restroom while traveling in the South, health problems could arise, including falling asleep at the wheel — killing themselves and others. Health problems also stem from the poverty that comes from poor education and job discrimination. And a Southern resistance to paying for healthcare for Blacks was a key factor in fighting universal healthcare under Nixon.

How free is someone who’s sick or dead?

Whose freedom counts in Paul’s world? Really, who counts and who doesn’t?

Powerful Whites may have felt restricted under the Civil Rights Act. But powerless Blacks could gain liberty only with greater equality.

In Paul’s world might makes right: The powerful should stay powerful. And since they have much more control over political and economic structures, as well as media, they’re likely to retain privilege.

If there is a conflict between freedoms, whose rights should take precedence? Here we have property rights of Whites versus health, dignity, and self-determination of Blacks.

I personally feel that health, human dignity and autonomy should take precedence over property. But you make your own call.

Georgia Platts

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How Does Racism Hurt Racists? The Case of Emmett Till
Rise Up or Beat Others Down: Reactions to Oppression

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 2, 2011, in feminism, race/ethnicity, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. handsomerandyblackladbrad1953

    Rand Paul and his nutty,bigoted old man,Ron Paul,are typicl rednecks who believe we blacks are their inferiors.(Old man Paul spoke of the need-and impossiblity-of running from young Afrian American men intent on robbing them.True,but he forgot the black women who couldn’t run fast enough to elude lusty Southern-and Northern white lads’ attempts to rape them.)and want us shining their shoes,cleaning their sewers,carrying their luggage,
    parking their (fancy,from the cash they looted from the 991/2″ percent) cars,etc.,and the women as nannies,cleaning ladies,laundresses and,of course,CONCUBINES!!!!!!THE H**L WITH BOTH AND THE OTHER TEA PARTIERS,GOPers (GOP:”Goobers,Oddballs and
    Popinjays;in Toronto,think “Mayor” [sort of] Robbie Ford!!!!) and other crypto-fascists and their one-thousandth of one percent financiers/masters.(See:Koch Bros.)

  2. While I understand the significance of welfare first, I am a strong believer in equality before anything else. Often times, African Americans come from a “sticky situation” meaning that their a single parent or do not have a job to support their family. It is true that the economy is not in it’s best stage at the moment, but it is also true that if people keep looking instead of giving up, sooner or later jobs will open up.

  3. Darlene Pizzitolo

    I am one of your students in your Women’s Studies class. I agree that the welfare of people should come before property and privledge of the rich business owners. Paul and most of the other libertarians only care about their constituents: rich white male business owners. Blacks don’t generally vote for republicans and libertarians. Naturally, they are going to be pro white business owner all the way. because thats where the campaign dollars are.

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