In the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, Homer Stokes, a candidate for governor, traveled around with a midget as a symbol that he was a “friend of the little man.” One almost expects Rand Paul to begin traveling with a black person after claiming that there is “no greater defender of minority rights” than him.
With only fifteen minutes on the clock, Paul teed up Harwood by saying “it was awful what happened to black Americans during the Jim Crow years.” Harwood pivoted to Paul’s departed social media adviser Jack Hunter.
“What conclusion should people draw from the presence of that former shock jock on your staff?” asked Harwood.
“He’s no longer on my staff,” said Paul.
“But you had a pretty strong association with him,” said Harwood, truthfully — Hunter co-wrote Paul’s first book.
“I think some of the things he wrote, or many were stupid, and I don’t agree with,” started Paul, without getting specific. After he cleared his name, he took a moment to defend Hunter. “I do think he was unfairly treated by the media, and he was put up as target practice for people to say he’s a racist, and none of that was true. If you look at his writings, I think there are a lot of problems and a lot of disagreements and none of it do I support. But none of it was racist. He got along with everyone in the office, treated everyone fairly without regards to race or religion.”
By definition, since Hunter was nice to non-whites, he didn’t fit Paul’s idea of a “racist.” This is how the Paul movement views the question. It won’t accept the framework of “societal racism.” Liberals can’t be allowed to define what is racist. Racism is what’s observable: Personal bias against non-whites. And on that count, Paul considers himself not just spotless but exemplary.
“There is no greater defender, truly, of minority rights, if you consider minorities to be the color of your skin or the color of your ideology, than myself,” he told Harwood. “I will stand up there with the most progressive members of the caucus.”
The guy who, like his father, has close ties to white nationalists and neo-confederates. The guy who says the Civil Rights Act is wrong and that people should be able to refuse to hire people on the basis of their race. He’s the greatest defender of minorities there is. The mind boggles.