Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Then and Now

It is uncommon to hear prominent politicians criticize or even question the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act was a major and groundbreaking act that most would think politicians would not regret. However, as I read in the New York Times’ article, “Tea Party Pick Causes Uproar on Civil Rights”, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul seems to swim against the stream, the stream being almost all politicians, as far as stating where civil rights should apply. Rand, son of 2008 Republican Presidential nominee Ron Paul, stated on liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow’s talk show that under a limited government, something he was pushing for, private businesses should not be forced to abide by civil rights laws. Maddow asked Paul if private businesses should be able to refuse to serve black people, to which he responded with an affirmative “yes”. After many members of his party attempted to distance themselves from this ever so controversial candidate, Paul retracted his statements. He stated, “Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.” He also stated that he would have voted for the act in 1964. Even though Mr. Paul’s statements are controversial and truly appalling, the main point of this post is to compare the reaction of the masses now versus what the reaction of the people would have been if Rand Paul had spoken these words in the 1960’s. Mr. Paul made national news with his outrageous stand on civil rights. The Tea Party did not support him and fellow party members did not wish to be associated with such extreme views. The day after these comments were made, Paul had to slyly backtrack and sweet-talk his out of his prior comments. Despite his best efforts, a strong amount of Americans have discredited him completely and struggle with taking any of his positions seriously. Let’s place Mr. Paul in the 1960’s for one moment and have him repeat his offensive comments. Now he is simply a face in the crowd. His comments do not raise hell, do not turn people away, do not even surprise. Statements like these are the social norm and Mr. Paul fits in with his fellow politicians. The forty plus years between when these statements would be absolutely normal and expected and when these statements would cause quite an up rise and lash back prove that our society has experienced much change in terms of politics and the civil rights movement.


  1. If I said I was surprised by a political candidate saying something like that, I would be lying. After all, my state had a governor cancel MKL Day. It is incredibly frustrating to see these attitudes playing out in the political field in 2010, so many years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. However, the backlash on Rand Paul's campaign and his somewhat immediate retraction of the statements prove that our nation is taking small steps forward.

  2. It's hard to believe that some people to this day will still say things such as Ron Paul did. Even if he did later retract his statement, the fact still remains that he did and also that he seems to have given enough thought to the issue that he would talk about it. I like the point you had though about how if this had been said in the 60's it would have been just another everyday thing. It shows the progress that has been made however as what could be said 50 years ago would have been common and said now is seen for what it really is, disgusting.