Sen. Rand Paul's own track record on matters of race presents a stark contrast to President Joe Biden's call for unity and responsibility.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday night criticized President Joe Biden's inaugural address for calling out racism and white supremacy.
"I think these are merely words," Paul said during an appearance on Fox News. "Also, if you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book, calling us people who don't tell the truth.
"And, 'Going forward, we're not going to have manufactured or manipulated truth,' —well, that's another way of saying, oh, all of my opponents manufacture and manipulate the truth and are liars," Paul added. "He just said it in a nicer way, but that was really the gist of what he was telling us."
Biden's inauguration speech on Wednesday emphasized unity, condemning white supremacy and systemic racism as social evils that threaten American democracy.
"We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility," Biden said. "Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain. Few periods in our nation's history have been more challenging or difficult than the one we're in now."
The new president noted the issues facing the country: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, a "cry for racial justice" that "will be deferred no longer," and a "cry for survival ... from the planet itself."
"And now, a rise in political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat," Biden said. "To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity."
Toward the end of his address, Biden again mentioned racism.
"This is a time of testing. We face an attack on democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis. America's role in the world," Biden said. "Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities. Now we must step up. All of us. It is a time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain. We will be judged, you and I, for how we resolve the cascading crises of our era."
Paul's own track record on matters of race present a stark contrast to Biden's words.
In June, he held up federal anti-lynching legislation in the Senate, a move slammed by then-Sen. Kamala Harris, who said, "What Rand Paul is doing, which is one man holding up what would be a historic bill recognizing one of the great sins of America. And it was on the day of George Floyd's funeral which just added insult to injury and frankly made it so painful that on that day that's what was happening."
In early September, Paul called Black Lives Matter protesters "marauding people in our streets" and "supporters of Joe Biden."
In 2019, he said of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia, "While I'm not saying we forcibly send her anywhere, I'm willing to contribute to buy her a ticket to go visit Somalia. And I think she can look and maybe learn a little bit about the disaster that is Somalia — that has no capitalism, has no God-given rights guaranteed in a constitution, and has about seven different tribes that have been fighting each other for the last 40 years. And then maybe after she's visited Somalia for a while, she might come back and appreciate America more."
In 2013, Paul hired as a media staffer Jack Hunter, a white supremacist whose previous public remarks included, "Americans aren't wrong to deplore the millions of Mexicans coming here. A non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious – whether we are supposed to mention them or not." He also said that "John Wilkes Booth's heart was in the right place" when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln, "not only ... the worst President, but one of the worst figures in American history."
Paul doubled down defending Hunter, calling him "incredibly talented" and not at all racist. Hunter later resigned.
Paul has also come under fire multiple times for suggesting that he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that private business owners have the right to discriminate against people on the basis of race.
Paul's campaign donations have also drawn scrutiny: The white supremacist leader who allegedly inspired Dylann Roof to commit the mass shooting at the Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, among other racist groups, donated tens of thousands of dollars.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.