Justin Elliot of TALKING POINTS MEMO explains:
"In light of Rand Paul's decision today to back out of his scheduled appearance on Meet the Press, it's worth looking back to his father Rep. Ron Paul's appearance on the show in 2007 -- in which Ron Paul came out against the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the very same grounds that have gotten Rand Paul into such a mess this week.
Asked by then-host Tim Russert if he would have voted for the landmark legislation, Paul said he would have opposed it "If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations." He continued: "it has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights."
That's the same libertarian position articulated by Rand Paul on Rachel Maddow this week: that the section of the legislation that allowed the government to bar racial discrimination by private institutions like businesses was wrong.
Russert had asked Paul, then a Republican presidential candidate: "I read a speech you gave in 2004, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. And you said this: 'Contrary to the claims of' 'supporters of the Civil Rights Act of' '64, 'the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of' '64 'increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.' That act gave equal rights to African-Americans to vote, to live, to go to lunch counters, and you seem to be criticizing it."
Paul responded: "But when it comes, Tim, you're, you're, you're not compelled in your house to invade strangers that you don't like. So it's a property rights issue. And this idea that all private property is under the domain of the federal government I think is wrong. So this--I think even Barry Goldwater opposed that bill on the same property rights position, and that--and now this thing is totally out of control. If you happen to like to smoke a cigar, you know, the federal government's going to come down and say you're not allowed to do this."
I thought this person at the TPM site posted a great comment answering someone who said the government can't legislate what's in the human heart, i.e., racism:
"By refusing to serve blacks, restaurant owners and other business owners weren't just exercising their rights, they were also curtailing the rights of African-Americans. Before the civil rights era, blacks in the south were treated as second-class citizens not only by the state and local governments, but also by private citizens. Of course the federal government was justified in curtailing the rights of bigoted business owners to choose the skin color of their patrons, so as to ensure the right of African-Americans to be treated as equal to whites.
Finally, while you are right in pointing out that you can't legislate people's hearts, it is also equally true that by outlawing certain racist practices, you are making it easier for the next generation to grow up in a country where such blatant acts of racism are less common, which does affect how they view race. If younger generations are on average more tolerant and less racist today than those who grew up before the civil rights struggle is, to a significant extent, precisely due to the successful passage and enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."