There was a Senate hearing just last week on Apple using unprecedented schemes to sidestep U.S. tax laws, prompting Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to apologize to Apple for Congress bothering the company. And wouldn’t you know it, a week later, Paul took a trip to Silicon Valley, seeking political support.
Wired sat down with the senator and broached an awkward subject (thanks to my colleague Vanessa Silverton-Peel for the heads-up).
Wired: Some of your positions on race issues and civil rights have led critics to hold back supporting you on the national-security issues they agree with you on. What do you say to these critics?
Paul: No. No.
Wired: Just – no, period?
Paul: Yeah, I haven’t had any problem. If you’ve seen or read anything I’ve ever written or talked about, you’ll find someone who’s been a great defender of minority rights, a great defender of those who wish to be different, those who are different, those who have different religious beliefs. Those who are of an ethnic group that may be a minority. You’ll find no greater champion of someone who believes that you have rights, privileges and immunities that go beyond what majorities are allowed to do. Most of the bad things that have happened in our country in the past were things where we lost track of the fact that individual rights and freedoms ought to be protected by the Constitution.
Paul’s apparent discomfort is understandable. It was just last month when the Kentucky Republican spoke at Howard University and lied rather blatantly about his record, while delivering a condescending lecture on historical details he didn’t fully understand.
But his record is nevertheless clear. Despite his “you’ll find no greater champion” rhetoric, Rand Paul has opposed the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. He’s also spoken out against the Americans With Disabilities Act and said children born in the United States should not be considered American citizens if their parents are undocumented immigrants.
Now, it’s quite possible Paul would defend these positions by pointing to his libertarian principles, not his support of discrimination, and there’s certainly room for a spirited debate on those principles. But his record is still his record, and it’s genuinely awful on civil rights. For him to boast about his status as “a great defender of minority rights” only makes matters worse.