Ron Paul has said that had he been in Congress in 1964, he would have voted against the Civil Rights. He’s not a racist and he opposed the Jim Crow laws, but he feels that the government went too far in banning discrimination by private businesses and organizations. I can see his point and even mostly agree with him. Freedom ought to include freedom to be a jerk or we’re not really free. Personally, if I knew of a business that discriminated against Blacks, or anyone else, I would take my business elsewhere.
There are a couple of problems with Ron Paul’s position though. First, economic pressure and boycotting might not have worked all that well in the Old Jim Crow South. In an area in which the majority of Whites are racist and determined to keep the Blacks in their place, virtually every business discriminated with the approval of most of their White customers.
Second, the nuances of his position do not translate well into 30 second ads. It’s much easier for the opposition to shout “racist!” then it is for Paul to explain why he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act. Granted, the Democrats will call any Republican racist anyway, but why make it easy?