Jonathan B. Wight
Frank Rich in today’s NY Times makes an interesting analogy:
To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.... The apocalyptic predictions then, like those about health care now, were all framed in constitutional pieties, of course. Barry Goldwater, running for president in ’64, drew on the counsel of two young legal allies, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, to characterize the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.”
Richard Russell, the segregationist Democratic senator from Georgia, said the bill “would destroy the free enterprise system.” David Lawrence, a widely syndicated conservative columnist, bemoaned the establishment of “a federal dictatorship.” Meanwhile, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.
Jonathan’s query for readers:
The Civil Rights Act could be criticized on libertarian grounds: The Act deprives me of my own liberty to run my business exactly as I like. If I run a restaurant, the act forces me to serve people I previously may have barred based on race. The act forces upon me certain minimal standards of behavior as a basis for citizenship. It is thus coercive. Yet most Americans today support the Civil Rights Act as a necessary delineation of African American rights—implying that others do have positive duties toward fellow citizens.
For those following the previous post on health care and
conscription, does this analogy to the Civil Rights Act work? Why or why not?