Dana Loesch Supports a Return to Jim Crow Era America

Should non-religious businesses operating in the private market be forced to serve the public regardless of race, religion, veteran status, disability, etc.? That’s the issue conservative radio host Dana Loesch addressed on Twitter last night as she discussed Arizona’s controversial SB 1062 – deemed the ‘license to discriminate‘ act. Despite massive conservative resistance to the legislation, the ever-controversial Loesch still seems to believe (and promote) the concept that business owners should be able to refuse service not just to LGBT people, but to anyone they want.
Over the course of several tweets to her official Twitter account last night, she laid out her argument stating at one point that it is “Truly shocking how many people think that the government has the right to force another person to use their talents for state decree.” She continued, “I’d support the right of a gay baker to refuse the Westboro cult a cake. Their labor, their choice. This is freedom.”
As most people are aware, the latter would be in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on religious discrimination in places of public accommodation; but that’s the point of her hyperbolic argument though. By taking the idea of being allowed to refuse service to its absolute extreme, Loesch hopes her attempts to attack the civil rights of everyday LGBT citizens in Arizona won’t seem crass and overstated. She wants to seem like the hero in defending the very same arguments used by Jim Crow era segregationists. 
She’s not alone in her thinking, either. Another mainstream Libertarian (Rand Paul) found himself in hot water for similar views a while back when he spoke out against the Civil Rights Act and it’s public accommodation provisions. He said, “I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners — I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant — but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.”

His statement came in response to a question in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal. In a segment of her show highlighting his position (which Rand attempted to backtrack once it went viral), Rachel Maddow said, “It’s one thing to have a sketchy record on racial discrimination and basic civil rights law that you don’t want to defend. It’s another thing to be condescending enough to think you can get away with flat out lying about it.”

The problem with the current conservative/libertarian Laissez-faire Utopian service denial notion is history; mainly, history shows that it simply doesn’t work. Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert pointed out in a tweet last evening after discussing the subject with Loesch, “sad part of these nobody-should-have-to-serve-anybody RW tweets is i suspect they actually don’t know US/civil rights lunch counter history.”
We’ve already lived in a country that allowed private businesses to refuse service to anyone. It’s a country that had separate fountains and separate eating sections for African Americans. It was a nation that used identical arguments to justify blatant and religion-sanctioned discrimination. And it was an era that necessitated the passage of the Civil Rights Act to prevent these very abuses.
The funny part of this entire debate is that were this about Christians being denied service, personalities like Loesch would be raging against the business owner as being anti-Christian and un-American. Suddenly the very act she (and others) are denigrating now would be the foundation of her argument. It’s not about freedom; rather, it’s about conservatives attempting to justify discrimination under the guise of free market capitalism. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we (as a nation) learned from that mistake.
Or apparently we didn’t, it seems, if you look at conservatives in Arizona. Even they seem to be coming around though.
Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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