Yesterday, U.S. GOP Senate candidate from Kentucky Rand Paul wrote an op-ed in the Bowling Green Daily News, attempting to explain his widely condemned belief that private businesses should be allowed to turn away customers because of their race. In the piece, he compares himself to 19th century abolitionists and Martin Luther King, Jr. and tries to argue that he is carrying on the legacy of their “battles” — such as fighting for restaurants to allow people to smoke:
I am unlike many folks who run for office. I am an idealist. When I read history I side with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas who fought for 30 years to end slavery and to integrate public transportation in the free North in the 1840s. I see our failure to end slavery for decade after decade as a failure of weak-kneed politicians. [...]
Segregation ended only after a great and momentous uprising by idealists like Martin Luther King Jr., who provoked weak-kneed politicians to action.
In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state.
For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option. Think about it — this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?
Ph.D. Octopus has more on why Paul’s “idea of how to fight segregation and racism is simply nonsense.”