What were they thinking? The Michigan Republican party will open it’s new African American Engagement Office in Detroit next month as part of the party’s attempt to attract more minority voters and repair its image as unconcerned with civil rights. The star of the show? Senator Rand Paul, a man who has repeatedly expressed his dislike for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Despite having been taped on numerous occasions decrying the impositions of the law on the freedom of a private business to discriminate at will against anyone based on race, religion or sexual orientation, Paul continues to deny that he has ever said any such thing. His statement that, “The hard part of believing in freedom,” is that one has to accept the right of a business or an employer to discriminate, is misunderstood according to him. He says that he is personally opposed to such discrimination but that those who choose to do it should be allowed to.
It is hard to understand how the Michigan party thinks that this man will aid in recruiting more minorities to the Republican cause. When he appeared at Howard University last spring in an earlier attempt to win over more blacks to the party he fumbled badly.
At that event he displayed his condescension to the audience by attempting to explain race relations and racial history to them only to be corrected over and over by the students who were much better informed than he. He tried to tell them how the Republican party was the party of Lincoln and emancipation while leaving out the evolution of the Democratic party beginning in the 1940s and the racially divisive policies of the modern Republican party.
He went on to badly mangle the name of the first black Senator to be elected, Edward William Brooke III who was a Republican and who Paul identified as Edwin Brooks and he was once again corrected by the students.
He followed that faux pas with the claim that, “I’ve never wavered in my support for civil rights or the Civil Rights Act.” Omitting his constant opposition to imposing its restrictions against discrimination on businesses but which the students were quick to point out to him was on tape.
In August he told an audience in Louisville that he didn’t believe that, “there is any particular evidence of polls barring African Americans from voting.” Apparently the doesn’t see any connection between the SCOTUS striking down sections of the Voting Rights Act and the spate of voter ID laws and other actions in southern states immediately afterward.
Last November on the eve of the election the NAACP conducted a poll among black voters in battleground states and found that 54% of those who responded don’t believe that Republicans, “care at all about civil rights”, and that 32% think that the party, “just says what minorities want to hear.”
It is hard to believe that Rand Paul is the man who can convince the 97.5% of Detroit voters who supported the President last year that they should switch their allegiance to the Republican party.
As you watch the Senator explain his view on civil rights in the video below you might ask yourself, “if I was black would he be able to persuade me to vote for his party?”