Rand Paul's Comments On Obama's Immigration Reform Were In Incredibly Poor Taste, Even For Him
Senator Rand Paul has been a somewhat odd presence in his own party for quite a while now. He doesn't always quite fit in with his fellow Republicans, in tone and policy alike, in spite of the fact that he's widely believed to have serious presidential aspirations. Then again, you know what else is surprising for somebody eying national office in 2016? Making wildly loaded historical comparisons with no grounding in reality, like the Kentucky Senator just did — Rand Paul linked Obama's immigration order to Japanese internment Friday, in remarks to the Kentucky Association of Counties conference.
The basis for Paul's boneheaded comparison is, like past sticky situations he's gotten himself into, a function of his anti-establishment, libertarian-leaning rhetorical brand. The point he wanted to make, however ineptly he decided to go about it, was that he feared the amount of power represented by President Obama's immigration executive order. Letting "that much power" to "gravitate to one individual," as he put it. But the comparison he decided to draw was offensive in the extreme — as detailed by Talking Points Memo, he invoked the history of World War II-era Japanese internment to illustrate his point. If it weren't so obvious, you'd wonder if he realized the cameras were live.
I care that too much power gets in one place. Why? Because there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person, and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious. Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order, he said to Japanese people 'we're going to put you in a camp. We're going to take away all your rights and liberties and we're going to intern you in a camp. We shouldn't allow that much power to gravitate to one individual.
Now, in fairness to Paul, I'm willing to give him more than enough benefit of the doubt that he doesn't actually believe Obama's immigration order is as bad as FDR's Executive Order 9066 was, which served as the basis for Japanese Interment in 1942.
But when you're trying to draw a through-line between a historical event and modern times, it's important you really think over what precisely you're saying. Bringing up America's terrible past treatment of Japanese Americans as a cudgel against an executive order benefitting modern-day immigrants is, quite frankly, a step beyond the pale. Obviously, it's fine for Paul to be an anti-executive order crusader if he wants — if he ever manages to get into the White House, I guess we'd at least see what his words were worth, to that end — but he shouldn't need to trample on old wounds to do so.
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