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That’s a whole lot of coincidences!

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, May 20, 2010 13:39 EDT
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Well, I suppose that’s the end of the friendly relationship Rachel Maddow has with the Paul family. I always found her making nice with them irritating, but now I see that it’s possible she was just biding her time. The funniest part of the whole outing of Rand Paul as an opponent of the Civil Rights Acthas to be the way some conservatives are acting like that’s a private matter that isn’t the voting public’s concern, as if Maddow asked him about his bowel movements. Seriously, check out that link—folks like Dan Riehl honest-to-god think that those who support legal racial discrimination have a god-given right not to have their views aired while running for office. His reasoning is that the public is too stupid to distinguish the right kind of racists—folks like him who’ve created elaborate ideological arguments based on “states’ rights” and “libertarianism” to promote their racism—from ignorant rednecks screaming “white power”. However, I’d argue that not distinguishing between the two is evidence of how smart the audience is.

See, smart people would notice that the rise of libertarianism as a popular philosophy coincided very neatly with the rise of the civil rights movement, and therefore the rise of objections to civil rights. You can write this off as a coincidence if you’d like—I’m sure that Rand Paul and Dan Riehl would argue that you have an obligation to, as an extension of your obligation to help them conceal some of the more unpopular views they hold—but really you shouldn’t. Conservatives really need an argument that makes support of racism sound like an unfortunate side effect of some strong principles they simply have to put before the dignity and well-being of their fellow Americans, and “states’ rights” and libertarianism conveniently provide that.

What I think people need to wrap their minds around is the fact that the era of segregation wasn’t that long ago, in the grand scheme of things. Certainly, it’s close enough in history that when your average teabagger in his late 50s or early 60s waxes poetic about how the country was just better when he was a kid, he’s referring to an era when segregation was legal. You can say it’s a coincidence that this sort of sentiment is roaring back when we a) have a black President and b) passed major health care reform legislation that’s perceived as taking money from “deserving” older people and handing it over to “undeserving” younger people who just so happen to be a more racially diverse demographic. But that’s like saying it’s just a coincidence that all the characters on “Lost” keep running into each other in the second timeline this season.

Further reading.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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