Does Eric Cantor believe in Rand Paul’s “private racism”?

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    Last night I posted about Rand Paul’s strange obsession with protecting the free speech rights of small businessmen who happened to be racists, calling Paul’s approach “private racism.” Paul claims not to be a racist, but repeatedly expressed concern that the rights of small businessmen who happened to be racists should be respected.  Unfortunately, in Rand Paul’s definition, free speech includes the right to withhold critical services based on race.

    Paul’s long, rambling defense of “private racism” on the Rachel Maddow Show prompted a gut check for many Republicans, especially those who happened to be undergoing interviews by media outlets at or about the time of Rand Paul’s remarks.  Eric Cantor was one of the handful of Republicans who refused to condemn Rand Paul’s remarks, and Cantor’s Democratic opponent Rick Waugh went after him for it:

    On Thursday of this week Eric Cantor declined to take a stand in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, nor in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    The context of Cantor’s refusal is controversy in the last 48 hours over Republican Senatorial candidate Rand Paul’s statements regarding civil rights.  Rand Paul told Rachel Maddow this week that he opposes Title 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that the law should not have played a role in the desegregation of restaurant lunch counters.  Rand argued that sound policy would provide some federal protections against discrimination – such as on public transportation – but not the full protection against discrimination currently afforded by federal law.   Although Rand fiercely argued that he is personally opposed to discrimination, he said that federal law plays too extensive a role in preventing discrimination: he made the point that although discrimination may be unfortunate and may be bad business, private business people should be able to discriminate against minorities, gays, Jewish people, or any other group of their choice.

    Rand Paul’s position would clearly allow for the return of segregated lunch counters.   Yet Eric Cantor refused to state that Rand Paul’s positions should be adjusted even slightly.  On Washington Journal, Cantor declined to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964: “Not being familiar with the context of his response or his questions, I really can’t opine to his position,” Cantor said.

    Unfortunately, Eric Cantor represents the people of the Seventh Congressional District of Virginia, and whether Cantor knows it or not, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 plays an essential role in the daily lives of tens of thousands of his constituents.

    Those of us who live in the 7th Congressional District know that Eric Cantor is a little “off,” but I never suspected that Cantor was so far out of the mainstream that he’d go along with Rand Paul’s remarks.  Heck, Rand Paul was trying to withdraw what he said yesterday.  I mean even someone as far right as Jim DeMint expressed support for the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and promised to talk to Rand Paul about these issues.  

    Eric Cantor is way off base and out of touch with the mainstream on this issue.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      I viewed the entire Rachel Maddow interview with Rand Paul, and we owe MSNBC a vote of thanks for giving someone of Maddow’s intellect her own show.

      Rand Paul’s reasoning falls apart on one issue – setting aside the extremism he is showing. He equates discrimination based on a particular trait shared by a specific group of individuals, whether race or religion or sexual preference, with the right of a business owner to ban a specific behavior that might be exhibited by all persons and might be dangerous or obnoxious.

      Rand continues to return to some sort of argument that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is hampering business owners from making decisions like refusing to allow armed individuals into their privately owned establishments. That’s a behavior any person might want to indulge in, not a trait inherited or adhered to by faith. That’s comparing apples and oranges. The government has never told private business that they could not ban certain behaviors that might be detrimental to some other persons.

      (Well, except in Virginia. Heck, here the state government just told private business owners they have to allow people armed with concealed weapons to be served, as long as the business owners made sure the gun-toting patrons don’t  consume alcohol. Even Dodge City in the days of Wyatt Earp made the cowboys check their guns at the door of saloons, but I guess that place was more “civilized” that our state today.)

      Rand may actually be opposed to discrimination, as Cantor may be. However, to argue that the federal government over-reached by requiring businesses to be open to all persons, without regard to their race or religion is hardly hampering business. Rand – and Cantor if he refuses to condemn such a view – will be judged as being prejudiced.

      Rand Paul just shot himself in the foot. Eric Cantor does that on a regular basis, but here he is simply too “chickens**t” to take a position.

      Final note: If anyone thinks that much of the force behind the so-called “Tea Party” is NOT racism, this should correct that erroneous view.  

    • WestEndVoter

      Sure — the full extent of Title II of the Civil Rights Act is somewhat of a stretch of the commerce clause which might not be considered constitutional by today’s conservative justices if they were not bound by precedent. Title II would surely be opposed by much of his Tea Party constituency, who wants the Federal Government to stay out of such matters.  But prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation is water under the bridge – the Supreme Court cases were not even close. Does he really think we should (or even can) go back to the “good ole’ days” of the 50s and 60s?  

      Probably not.  He is supposedly for 9 of the 10 Titles, including the most burdensome for private business, Title VII.

      But wow…a breathtaking absence of good judgment to take on Maddow on an unwinnable legal issue on Maddow’s show.  An opthamologist defending the rights of restaurant owners to discriminate on the basis of race?  

      If I lived in Kentucky, I would be far less concerned with these revelations re: civil rights, than what has been revealed about the space between Paul’s two ears.

      Now, as for Cantor, maybe he is just being “careful” as Elaine implies.  Or maybe he does not want to throw more gasoline on the flames, and cause Paul even more embarassment.  Or maybe he just doesn’t feel like he needs to respond to such questions.  After all, according to the most recent FEC reports, Cantor is beating Waugh by $1.2 million to $0.00.  

      Perhaps he needs to be made a bit more accountable.

    • TomPaine

      and a lot of the younger Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly really do believe in the Ayn Rand libertarian B. S. So far most of them have been able to avoid the Rand Paul trap!

    • Colston Newton

      Paul was really poor on Madow, not because of his views but because he wouldn’t address the question. He, and folks like him are supposed to be straight shooters and he was ducking and dodging all over the lot. His position on Federal enforcement of integration in private establishments is not one often heard, but it is an acceptable, as opposed to nutso, Constitutional argument…Just how far does the Commerce Clause go? It is unfortunate that an intelligent guy of his stature didn’t just say, “Look. Segregation is bad. Federal overreaching is worse and stretching the Commerce Clause entirely beyond its originally intended scope is worse still. The best of causes doesn’t justify twisting the Constitution.”

      Well, he’s not alone in being scared to talk that way.

    • Teddy Goodson

      When the response to Rand Paul’s comments is “out of touch with the mainstream,” I have to laugh. Mr. Paul is very much in touch with his mainstream, and his intent, and the intent of the Tea Party-Republicans is to impose that mainstream on the entire country. See my earlier diary last month: http://www.bluevirginia.us/dia

    • dgjudy

      He will never have to answer any questions like that unless the 7th District changes fundamentally, or a truly remarkable candidate emerges to challenge him.

      I say this regretfully, having lived the majority of my life (though not currently) in VA-07.  But we’re talking about a district that returned Cantor to the House with 63% of the vote, against a decent challenger, in 2008.

      I don’t mean to just negate the spirit of this post.  But energy spent attacking Cantor is likely energy wasted.  The way to get after him is to elect Democrats in as many other places as possible, and for the good people of the 7th District to act locally and cultivate legitimate party organizations, candidates, and elected officials who aren’t bionically connected to the national GOP machine.

      The good thing, at least, is that while Cantor has amassed huge power in his party at the national level, he is so smug and smarmy in his deportment that there’s little chance of him ever presenting a serious challenge for the Va. Governorship or a Senate seat.  Maybe AG one day…:)