Larry Elder

Republicans go all deer-in-the-headlights when someone questions their colorblind bona fides. But when Nazi sympathizers want publicly to march, many conservatives correctly defend the "right." Constitutional rights extend to both saints and sinners and those in between, no matter the outrage -- in this instance of Jewish Holocaust survivors over the prospect of swastika-wearing fascists parading through their neighborhood.

This is freedom 101.

It is this freedom to discriminate that enabled Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson to become a billionaire through the use of race-based programming. It is this freedom that allows the Miss Black America beauty pageant to exclude non-black applicants. It is this freedom that allows private colleges and universities to discriminate against white applicants with higher SAT scores to achieve "diversity" by helping the "underrepresented." The Congressional Black Caucus discriminates when it refuses membership to whites, as it did recently to a white Tennessee representative even though he represents a majority black district.

If National Review's Lowry owned a restaurant, would he discriminate against blacks? Does he intimately know anyone who would do so? How would he treat friends who patronized restaurants that refused blacks? Of course he wouldn't exclude. Nor would his friends or associates. Obviously none of those "noble" souls in his immediate circle would consort with racists. So why assume that some unacceptable percentage of the "unwashed masses" will act as merchant-racists -- either without harmful consequences or the willingness to accept those consequences? Why do we further assume that, whatever the number of bigots, they will be capable of meaningfully affecting the day-to-day lives of blacks? If anything, these racists would have publicly outed themselves as part of the bad and the ugly.

The consequences of government coercion are more harmful than the certainty that some will use their freedom in ways that offend. Bad behavior tends to get punished in the social and business "marketplace." The Boston Red Sox, one of the last teams to hire black ballplayers, discovered fans valued winning much more than team racial homogeneity.

The well-intended, but misguided, passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- as applied to private conduct -- sought to change not only whites' behavior but also their "feelings." Some blacks perceive racial hostility toward them from their local Korean grocer. But if treated with a smile and offered quality goods at fair prices, most blacks patronize the store. People expect and respond to a certain measure of respect as a customer, regardless of how the proprietors may personally "feel" about them.

Instead of defending Paul on this issue against race-card-playing leftists like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, conservatives/Republicans/pundits panicked. How are we to get the country back on the course set by its Founders if we cannot stand with the Rand Pauls of the nation on the bedrock principle of maximum personal liberty?


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.