“It’s now crystal clear what the Tea Party stands for” says Frank Rich midway through a column that makes it crystal clear what Frank Rich stands for, and it isn’t pretty.
Whatever you may think about the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a whole, it indisputably narrows property rights by allowing politicians to dictate the policies of private businesses. Not only is it perfectly reasonable to find that at least a little disturbing, it’s perfectly unreasonable not to find it a little disturbing—even if your ultimate judgment is that it’s a necessary means to a desirable end. Even avid supporters of the Patriot Act ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about privacy, even avid supporters of capital punishment ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about false convictions, and even avid supporters of the Civil Rights Act ought to acknowledge that it raises legitimate concerns about property rights.
Frank Rich, who equates Rand Paul’s expression of those concerns with nostalgia for the Confederacy, thereby makes himself as scurrilous as those who equate reservations about the Patriot Act with being “on the side of the terrorists”. The “gotcha” game is bad enough when a single thoughtless remark becomes the pretext for dismissing an entire movement. Here the pretext is a single thoughtful remark.
If we are to discredit everyone who is capable of subtler thought than Frank Rich, then there is no hope for the level of public discourse.