American economist Murray Rothbard founded the anarcho-capitalism school of libertarian thought that espoused minimal government and free-market anarchism (where the markets themselves regulate the actions of a society). He is considered one of the great libertarian thinkers of the 20th Century. In 1963, Rothbard wrote:
"the Negro Revolution has some elements that a libertarian must favor, others that he must oppose. Thus, the libertarian opposes compulsory segregation and police brutality, but also opposes compulsory integration and such absurdities as ethnic quota systems in jobs."For writing this, the egalitarian Left has castigated Rothbard as a racist for 50 years.
Statists who worry about losing their grip on the vise of power claim that Rothbard was also a racist because he favored a separate state for Americans of African descent. They almost always conveniently omit the part about Rothbard sharing this view with Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X. Rothbard also felt Malcolm X was a more important leader than Martin Luther King, Jr., who Rothbard felt was in power because he was favored by whites.
While I don't agree with a lot of what Rothbard wrote, to call him a racist to bolster a lame argument against personal freedom is asinine. The Left goes to the well of racism to attack those who disagree with them on a regular basis without a true grasp of the facts, and the people the monolithic Left targets this propaganda with are the people who have been harmed the most because of it.
One! Two! I Hate You! Democrats Are Racists Too!
Most Democrats would be surprised to learn that the 1924 Democrat convention (commonly referred to as the "Klanbake" was pretty much hijacked by the Ku Klux Klan. There is racist history on all sides of the argument, but only one side owns the propaganda. The Democrat party defaults to racism while the Republican party stands blushing with its hands in its pockets wishing the Democrats would stop crushing them over race. The Democrats hide their historical racism while the Republicans are unable to recall the positive things they have done. Both sides are foolish and shouldn't be trusted.
Have The Strides Made in the 1960s Been Lost Forever?
While there are conditions of culture that I find myself uncomfortable with from time-to-time because of my ignorance of the culture I am being introduced to, I am simply not uncomfortable around people of different races. I grew up during the racial turmoil of the 1960s and the images and words that swirled around my youth had a profound impact on how I viewed the people around me. The color-blindness of my generation -- black and white -- who lived through the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s has seemingly been lost on the generations that followed. We are now more segregated and mistrusting of other races now than at anytime in the past 40 years, and to me it's no coincidence that the country has veered sharply toward the Left. Whites, blacks, Hispanics and everyone in between are all to blame for the new racial ignorance of our current political dialogue.
I am not so dumb as to attempt to claim that racism doesn't exist -- it does, and exists from all races to all races. There are stupid people everywhere, and no amount of institutional control over people's thoughts and hearts will change that. At the core of a color-blind society will be the men and women who only see a person's deeds.
Recognizing the Mistakes of Those Who Carry the Banner
All political parties and ideologies have been hijacked by low-thinking racists, and unfortunately the libertarian movement has not been immune. Murry Rothbard's endorsement of David Duke because Duke was a staunch state's rights proponent with a belief in small government while ignoring Duke's white supremacist views was indeed a low-point in Rothbard's career, but it wasn't a racist endorsement, it was a naive and politically ignorant one.
There is no excuse for the racist rants of Ron Paul's newsletter in the 1990s, and Paul's claim he was unaware of what was being written under the banner that bore his name is simply not acceptable. But to call his son Rand a racist because he favors repealing the 1964 Civil Rights Act is equally unacceptable. For a robust, stable and color-blind society the government must eschew all forms of institutional racism -- both negative and positive. To favor one race over another in an attempt to make both races "equal" (positive racism) is no different than telling one race it must use a separate water fountain (negative racism). To tell an entire race of people that the government must help them become "equal" is condescension in the extreme.
Was the country heading down a stupid path when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed into law (a law most Democrat congressmen vehemently opposed)? Absolutely, but as usual, the government's solution only made things worse for both sides. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has effectively given us two countries -- one that only sees race through the filter of government control and one who has overcome the racial ignorance of our forebears.
There are examples of racism throughout the histories of both major political parties in the United States. For a member of one party to accuse the other of racism is a fool's game played only by foolish people without a firm grasp on the political history of their country or party.
Group Think Tends Toward Racism, Individual Think Rarely Does
While there are individual morons in the world who will always shatter the illusion of human evolution, racism tends to be manifested by groups. Group-think is the fuel of racial hatred and when left on our own to pursue individual relationships and pursuits we are rarely subjected to the small-mindedness that comes from the group at large. We tend to judge those we encounter on how they treat us personally and how they perform in their lives.
I am a libertarian because I know that living among people who are free to pursue their lives in a peaceful and self-interested manner only enhances my life and the lives of those around me. Every healthy human being in this country has exactly the same opportunity for success as every other healthy human being. It's a tragic fraud when a person fights for more governmental control over the lives of others while calling themselves "liberal." Government cannot legislate equality -- it can only ensure that every man has a chance.
Libertarianism isn't a panacea. It is flawed just like every other political theory, but it's childish to abandon libertarianism for modern American statism because of those flaws.