Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) generated quite a bit of attention last week for delivering a speech at Howard University, during which he blatantly lied about his support for the Civil Rights Act, and delivered a condescending lecture on historical details he doesn’t fully understand.
The senator now wants to complain about the reaction to his appearance.
Paul acknowledged criticism for the speech he gave at Howard University Wednesday, saying, “I think some think a white person is not allowed to talk about black history … which I think is unfair.”
Really, senator? That’s what you took away from last week’s criticism? That you’re some kind of victim? (Quick quiz: name anyone, anywhere, anytime who said white people are not allowed to talk about black history.)
At Howard, he spoke for about an hour about how, historically, Democrats opposed integration and minority voting rights, while Republicans were the party of Abraham Lincoln. At Simmons, he talked about how blacks once registered in large numbers as Republicans, how Democrats in Kentucky opposed constitutional amendments that gave African Americans expanded rights and how Henry Watterson, editor of The Courier-Journal from its creation in 1868 until 1919, opposed letting black people vote.
“Much of the public doesn’t know that anymore, and part of my reason for bringing it out was that so people know Republicans aren’t hostile to civil rights or somehow to African Americans,” he said.
He still doesn’t understand the significance of the cultural and political shifts of the mid-20th century, when white-supremacist Dixiecrats made their home in the modern Republican Party, which proceeded to embrace a racially-divisive “Southern Strategy” for four decades, and continues to pursue racially-charged voter-suppression tactics to this day.
Maybe he should have spoken less and listened more at Howard?
It’s led Ta-Nehisi Coates to reconsider some of the credit he extended Paul last week.
Rand Paul went to Howard University, lied, and then got his ass kicked. That’s not so bad. I got my ass kicked regularly at Howard. That was the reason my parents sent me there. But having gotten his ass kicked, his answer is to not to reflect but to make an allegation of racial discrimination.
One of the things I try to do in my work is – in general – take people at their word. It’s very hard to communicate about anything without good faith. This, of course, assumes that communication is the goal. That was my assumption about Rand Paul. I was clearly wrong.
As for Paul’s assertion that his critics don’t want white people to talk about black history, Ed Kilgore added, “Those of us who wondered whether Paul in going to Howard was engaged in legitimate ‘minority outreach’ or just playing to the white galleries, have a lot more reason to suspect the latter motive now that he’s openly posing as a victim of racism against white folks.”