One of the most contentious topics in the social sciences are civil rights. Civil rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedoms, and equality. According to the Cornell University dictionary, a civil right is “an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury.” Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights are denied or interfered with due to an individual’s membership in a particular group or class.
Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances, sexual orientation. Ideally, the role of government is to use law to protect the individuality, liberty, and property rights of each citizen from force or fraud, which is in essence the collective fortification of individual rights. In a just society, everyone should have the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of property, freedom of press, freedom of association, and freedom to choose, provided that one doesn’t interfere with the cited freedoms of another citizen.
Government enjoys no exception to this rule.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in response to the political pressure of liberals, moderates and civil rights activists who were influential within the African-American community, a community that experienced public and private discrimination, mob violence, vigilantism, and hate crimes. This catalyzed civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to initiate protest through non-violent resistance rooted in Christian, Gandhian and classical liberal principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Dr. King was a strong advocate of the government following the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that mandates equal protection under the law for all, which allows African-American citizens to enjoy the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence.
This landmark legislation consisted of 11 titles which include voting rights, injunction against discrimination in public accommodations, desegregation of public facilities, desegregation of public schools, the expansion of the Civil Rights Commission to investigate civil rights violations, ending discrimination in government-funded programs, the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the generation of voting records to ensure that there is no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or creed in voter registration, the efficiency of taking state cases to Federal court, and the legal penalties established for persons who violate the Civil Rights Act.
Governmental encroachment on the rights of citizens on the basis of race, religion, national origin, creed and other classifications are wrong, unconstitutional, repressive and repugnant. Denying someone the right to individuality, liberty, property and the right to vote are draconian. On the other hand, government usage of its powers to force citizens to fraternize and affiliate with one another in private affairs like commerce on the basis of diversity reduces their liberty and freedom of association. In other words, it violates their civil rights.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, “except for the punishment of crime,” which means that if an employer does not dispose his property in accordance with the inclinations, expectations and demands of the government, then one could face imprisonment (modern-day slavery)! Hence, it is a violation of an individuals’ civil rights for government to require an organization, corporation or any entity to hire a certain group of people on the basis of race or gender in the name of equality if it is not the preference of the employer or leader.
It may be morally unscrupulous for people to discriminate on the basis of phenotype, national origin, race or any other classification, but people have the right to discriminate because of the freedom of association. Alternatively, the person who perceives or experiences discrimination has the right and freedom to patronize or seek employment at another private establishment which will benefit from their patronage as a customer or service as an employee contrary to their social classification. People should recognize that discrimination can affect the discriminator more than the “victim” because if a business is denying service to a potentially valuable member and spender of the social group that the business is discriminating against, their discriminatory sentiments will cost the business a lot of revenue that could have been accumulated if they would have put their discriminatory sentiments aside. In addition, it will cost the discriminating employer a lot of potential revenue and profits if he or she decides not to hire highly skilled and qualified employees on the basis of their group membership.
In microeconomics, or price theory, the fundamentals of progress require being goal–oriented and exercising rational behavior to allocate scarce resources. A rational private sector person is in the business of generating as much value as possible at the lowest cost possible based on his available resources in terms of time, products and services. A rational employer trying to prosper economically would put his discriminatory sentiments aside for the sake of profit maximization. Even though racism and sexism exist, they are not necessarily the reasons why there may be a disproportionately low number of females, African-Americans, Latinos or whoever in certain positions.
The focus should be on accountability and cultural edification if we want to alleviate the “isms” in society that are supposedly causing inequality. The sole focus should not be on equality of results because life itself is unequal, whether considered from the standpoint of species survival in the animal kingdom, the imploding galaxies, the ephemeral stars, the 95% of all species that are extinct on Earth or the different skill sets and cultural habits observed in various human ethnic groups. The focus should be on individual freedom to edify one’s craft, behavior and etiquette so that the individual can be qualified to pursue a certain line of work and increase the probability of someone wanting to engage in commerce with him or her.
The Civil Rights Act should not involve the private sector because it violates the free exercise of association and property rights. In the words of Frederic Bastiat, “enforced fraternity destroys liberty” and people should have the freedom to choose wealth or poverty based on their freedom to advance or not without government interference. The only effect of government intervention into civil rights is to violate the civil rights of one categorical group to ensure civil rights for another group. This creates a mentality of victimization and entitlement and an attitude of learned helplessness for the group that is discriminated against.
Expropriating the resources of one group for the benefit of another in the name of equality causes more resentment, polarization and xenophobia between races, sexes, religions, creeds and other groups, which lead to civil wars, violence, fatalities and more chaos. Many global examples can be cited from history and contemporaneously from the United States to the United Kingdom, to Nigeria, to Sierra Leone, to Sri Lanka, to Malaysia, to Indonesia, etc.
The solution for civil rights for all citizens is for people to have the freedom to participate and evolve in the free market.
* Baruti “Libre” Kafele who is affectionately known as Baruti Libre is an intellectual entrepreneur, social scientist, proud libertarian and real estate broker who ensures quality and superiority from his enterprises to his scholarship. Baruti Libre is the chief executive of the successful fashion and multimedia firm called LiBRE BRAND-Freedom of Flyness which is a globally recognized and viable brand based on the ideals of liberty and freedom.