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Big Government's Katrina Mr. President, You're Stuck on Stupid

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The Rand Paul Gaffe and Liberal Injustice

by Christopher Chantrill
June 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm

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A POLITICAL gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. So when GOP senate candidate Rand Paul discussed with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow “his belief in a limited government that should not force private businesses to abide by civil rights law” the media’s gaffe alarm went off.

The fact is that liberals have got us trained. You’d think that the whole point of non-discrimination laws is to stop the government from discriminating on the basis of race or sex. If private businesses discriminate, it’s ugly, but it’s not unjust. But when governments do it you get Jim Crow. Or political correctness.

Under liberal instruction, in today’s America, private businesses must not discriminate against protected groups, but governments may flexibly discriminate in their favor—as the mood takes them.

Now Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review has come out and agreed with the liberals. Segregation in the South was “a deeply rooted social system with many facets that blurred the private-public distinction,” so ingrained that it needed a root and branch reform and that included banning private discrimination in restaurants.

Maybe he is right. Maybe in 1964, the United States government needed to make a huge gesture, to send the US cavalry charging into the South and bring its flashing sabers down on the defiant evil of racial segregation.

And, of course, Ponnuru acknowledges, modern conservatism has its original sin to atone for, that conservatives like Bill Buckley were slow to understand the moral necessity of confessing and repenting of America’s original sin.

The trouble is, of course, that liberals didn’t stop with the applying the Civil Rights laws against the Jim Crow South. They banned private discrimination on everything that liberals care about—gender, class, and gays.

Every American know that they’d better watch their step, on racism, sexism, classism, homophobia because the government can wreck your life if you put a foot wrong.

Some Americans imagine that, with Obama, we have turned the corner on race. Dream on. Liberals are never going to give us absolution on race. Or on women, gays or any of their protected group Americans. Liberal political power issues out of the moral and cultural power they have acquired as champions of the oppressed.

Modern liberalism started out championing the workers. That’s how we got Social Security and Big Labor. Of course liberals were a bit late to the parade; workers had been organizing themselves for a century. Then liberals championed African Americans and we got the Civil Rights Acts. A bit late again. African Americans had been working to defeat Jim Crow since the beginning of the 20th century.

Somewhere along the line, liberals realized that they could generalize this approach to politics. They could champion all self-described oppressed groups, and win their eternal gratitude at the ballot box. If a group wasn’t already organized then they’d astroturf it with ACORN and well-trained community organizers.

Today, fifty years later, liberals have utterly betrayed the noble principles of the Civil Rights era. Out of the monstrous injustice suffered by African Americans they have created a monster of liberal injustice, a government run amok discriminating in the most corrupt and cruel manner imaginable.

It is the destiny of modern conservatism to stand against this liberal monster and raise the cry for justice.

Let us return to first principles. It is government that needs to be forbidden to discriminate not private citizens. The reason is obvious. Discrimination is to a politician what mother’s milk is to a baby. When politicians aren’t discriminating in favor of their supporters they are creating dividing lines to demonize their opponents.

For now, conservatives do not have the power to reverse the injustice of liberal race laws. The only weapon we have is shame, just like lawyer Joseph Welch when he shamed Sen. Joe McCarthy all those years ago. “Have you no sense of decency liberals, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Is their dealings with Sen. McCarthy, liberals understood the power of shame. So why can’t they be content with shaming private businesses that discriminate against their favorite client group du jour?

The answer is power. What is the point of power unless you use it? What’s the point of cultural power unless you convert it to law, so that you can smite your opponents with the power of the state.

We are seeing this power lust in the developing train-wreck of the BP oil spill. The first priority for the Obamis seems to be criminal proceedings rather than cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico and the wetlands of Louisiana.

The conservative approach to politics is different. Conservatives believe that most social problems should be solved not be government action but by social pressure. Better to shame a businessman into serving African Americans than throwing him in jail.

Maybe in his clumsy way, Rand Paul has fired the first shot in the great battle of the next generation. It is the battle against cruel, corrupt liberal injustice.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Action

The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Education

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E. G. West, Education and the State


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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