Perhaps as his defenders claim Kentucky’s senatorial candidate Rand Paul is not a racist, but … Even though he says he would have voted for it, it seems unlikely he would enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act with any vigor. He believes that it should not apply to businesses such as luncheonettes. On the Rachel Maddow show, despite his slippery answers to her queries on this subject, he did reply “Yes” to Maddow’s question of whether a private business should have the right to refuse to serve black people. He seemed to be saying that restaurants that are privately owned (i.e., almost all of them) are not public accommodations. He believes that it is preferable that racist restaurant owners be sanctioned by consumers who would refuse to patronize them rather than by the state. Oh sure. Rather than see them all go out of business it’s more likely we’d soon be back to the days when Afro-Americans needed a guide to know where they could go for a meal without facing rejection and humiliation.
Paul’s position is somewhat reminiscent of Lester Maddox, who operated the Pickrick restaurant in Atlanta for 20 years and was dedicated to a policy of racial discrimination. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but before he surrendered the restaurant to his employees after being sanctioned by the court for non-compliance, he created a “shrine” in the corner of the restaurant, “in memory of free enterprise.”