These statements have generated a lot of criticism. One conservative writer, however, has attempted to defend Paul. Washington Post writer David Weigel, for example, praises Paul for his honesty:
He told the truth about his stance on the Civil Rights Act. I've posted the video and transcript below the fold, because I find it fascinating to watch Paul stand by his philosophical and legal stance and refuse to dissemble in a way that would, you know, get people to stop accusing him of some archaic form of racism.What a ringing endorsement. I too have said that I believe Paul is probably speaking honestly. Nevertheless, I believe his views are "miserable" (for many reasons).
Weigel also defends Paul against a strawman argument. He criticizes people who call Paul a "racist." Although it is likely that some people have called Paul a racist, Weigel does not cite to any of those arguments. More importantly, this is not a necessary element of a critique of Paul's position. Regardless of what Paul feels in his heart about race, his policy perspective on civil rights would have a disastrous effect. This is the most important issue from a policy perspective.
Finally, Weigel provides a link to a Rachel Maddow interview during which Paul discusses his views on civil rights (see below). Paul claims that only one of the ten substantive provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 regulates private behavior. That is absolutely false. One provision bans discrimination in privately owned places of public accommodation -- like hotels and restaurants. Another provision bans discrimination by employers (private or governmental). A third provision bans discrimination by entities that receive federal funding (whether they are governmental or private). It seems that Paul might agree with this provision.
Several of the other provisions create and strengthen enforcement mechanisms -- including those that respond to private discrimination. The remaining provisions address various forms of governmental discrimination. Although he attempts to reduce his opposition to one singular provision, Paul's argument would negate a significant portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That is disturbing regardless of his personal feelings about persons of color.
For more discussion of this issue, see: Rand Paul and Civil Rights: MISERABLE and Rand Paul on Gay Rights and Persons With Disabilities.
The Maddow interview is posted below. Paul performs miserably: