Ethics Justice Racism Rand Paul

Rand Paul’s Double-Speak on Racial Injustice


As you may recall Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) wrote an op-ed two weeks ago denouncing the militarization of the police and unequal justice. And while I predicted that he would walk his comments back within a day, ultimately it took him a little over a week to change positions.

Rand son of Ron appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday and said that events in Ferguson, Missouri may have “had nothing to do with race.”

“Let’s say you’re African-American and you live there, let’s say none of this has to do with race. It might not, but the belief — if you’re African-American and you live in Ferguson, the belief is, you see people in prison and they’re mostly black and brown, that somehow it is racial, even if the thoughts that were going on at that time had nothing to do with race.

So it’s a very good chance that had this had nothing to do with race, but because of all of the arrests and the way people were arrested, that everybody perceives it as, ‘My goodness, the police are out to get us,’ you know? And so that’s why you have to change the whole war on drugs. It’s not just this one instance.”

While Rand uses one hand to agree with you, he uses the other hand to muddy the waters.

To imply that racial injustice is actually a matter of perception rather than reality is not helpful. And it’s cynical.

Many people will see Rand’s comments and understand them for what they are — empty pandering. But many more (mostly white people) will see his comments and mistake them for genuine sentiment or profound positions.

Rand Paul has no genuine sentiments or positions. He’s a changeling.

There are good reasons why some of us in the blogosphere choose not to side with Rand even when it appears that we agree on something, and this is emblematic of that. He cannot be counted on and even the positions you find yourself agreeing with are ambiguous.

When Rand embarked on a joint campaign with Senator Cory Booker to denounce the state of our overcrowded prisons and the policies that created them, I would have liked to endorse that campaign. But fast forward to today and Rand has implied that racial injustice may be a matter of perception rather than reality.

Sometimes the perception is the reality. Sometimes if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

Rand Paul is capable of understanding this, but he’s incapable of taking a principled stand on it. He can’t.

Rand says we have to “change the whole war on drugs” and I agree, but ending the war on drugs won’t end the war on black men and he doesn’t believe the latter is real.

In the free market of ideas idolized by libertarians like Rand Paul, we don’t need policies like the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act because racism is just an idea that can be voted out through osmosis.