Libertarianism and race

Not that it’s actually related to anything of late, but I love this Yglesias take on Rand Paul and civil rights legislation:

Even if you take democracy to relatively narrowly mean majoritarian voting procedures this doesn’t work. In the periods between the Civil War and World War II, African-Americans were a majority in quite a few southern states and would have been a large—and potentially decisive—voting bloc in the others. If, that is, they were allowed to vote. But instead of voting, African-Americans were disenfranchised via a systematic campaign of terrorist violence. The same campaign that gave us the Jim Crow social system. The point of the Civil Rights Act, including its provisions regulating private businesses, was to smash that social system. And it succeeded. It succeeded enormously. The amazing thing about retrospective opposition to the Civil Rights Act is that we know that it worked. It didn’t lead to social and economic cataclism. In fact, the American south has done quite a bit better since the smashing of white supremacy than it was doing previously.

I think the Cook/Paul view that we should somehow regret this and pretend that everything would have worked itself out on its own is bizarre.

But it’s not only bizarre. It seems to me that it necessarily has to stem from not taking the interests and history of African-Americans seriously to even be comprehensible. The “respectable” thing to say about people like Paul or the late Barry Goldwater, I suppose, is simply that they are ideologues rather than people driven by some kind of racial animosity. But I think it’s selling free market ideology short to suggest that government regulations meant to undue the outcome of a century long campaign of terrorist violence is just a straightforward consequence of a general support for free enterprise. You need to combine that ideology with a sincere indifference to black people’s welfare to reach that conclusion, just as you need to combine Paul’s ideology with genuine indifference to the history of race in America to reach Paul’s conclusion about democracy’s relationship to Jim Crow.

Yep.  So, whether “racist” or not is a matter of semantics.  Pretty hard to argue with “extreme indifference” to Black people’s welfare.

Civitas’ Moral Monday backlash

The decision of the Art Pope-funded Civitas Institute to mock the Moral Monday protesters and publicize all their personal information has received a terrific response from Duke Law professor (and aresteee) Jedidiah Purdy (seriously, click through and read the whole thing):

Dear Civitas Institute,

Thanks for including me in your Moral Monday Protesters database. I’m sure I speak for many of those arrested for civil disobedience protesting North Carolina’s Tea Party legislature who are happy to find our name, residence, and employer are usefully listed on the Internet.

I’d like to thank your funder, Art Pope, for making this project possible and giving it that personal touch. Linking to our mug shots is a nice detail; otherwise, your readers might not be able to recognize us on the street. Also, it has that great Rogues’ Gallery effect. I mean, everyone looks like a criminal in a mug shot.

You really enrich the picture by listing arrestees’ “interest-group affiliations,” such as NAACP, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, and, of course, Occupy Raleigh. But maybe the best grace note is the column devoted to noting everyone whose driver’s license address doesn’t match their voter registration address. Could that mean rampant voter fraud? You report, we decide.

You’ve made some really solid aesthetic choices here. The dull, column-ruled, sans-serif layout that we have to click through ten names at a time, like we were turning the pages of a Registry of Deeds? So retro. It’s like 1950s public record in a county courthouse. And that little throwback is so of the moment. I mean, hipsters are using “boss” to mean awesome and belting their corduroys high around their waists. Everything old is new again, with a little ironic twist.

And it’s way more than aesthetics. The design choices set the mood for what you’re really trying to communicate here: 1950s, blacklists, loyalty oaths, right? Am I feeling you?

Maybe it’s just because I teach Constitutional Law, so I randomly know all these little Americana details, but this whole project is a really nice allusion to those laws Southern states passed in the 1950s, requiring certain groups, which just happened to be the NAACP and other civil-rights organizations, to disclose their membership. You know, so that employers and neighbors could be informed, make their views known to the troublemakers.

I don’t think I’m going to get myself arrested (in significant part because my wife has explicitly forbidden me, but I could be persuaded if I better understood the costs in time and money), but the stupid attack from Civitas makes me think much harder about it.  And I’m probably not the only one.

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