This is one of my hard and fast rules: If you're ever at a party and someone says the quote found in the headline to this post, it's time to leave the party*. (Any political system—from libertarianism to anarchy—can be swapped out for "Communism" and it works just as well.) This Newsweek story by libertarian Julian Sanchez about Rand Paul is notable for several reasons: It explains why even a libertarian can agree that the Civil Rights Act is necessary, it expresses a fair amount of shame for the racist wing of the libertarian party, and it pulls the old "Libertarianism works...in theory" card, even as it tries to explain what Rand Paul meant:
In a free society, Americans have long believed, even people with repulsive views have a right to express them, and to join with like-minded bigots in private clubs and informal gatherings. It is not crazy to imagine that in a more just world, an ideally just world, respect for that freedom would lead us to countenance—legally, if not personally—the few cranks who sought to congregate in their monochrome cafés and diners.
Yet that's precisely why Paul's 1.0 argument breaks down on its own terms: at the scene of a four-century crime against humanity—the kidnap, torture, enslavement, and legal oppression of African-Americans—ideal theory fails. We libertarians, never burdened with an excess of governing power, have always had a utopian streak, a penchant for imagining what rich organic order would bubble up from the choices of free and equal citizens governed by a lean state enforcing a few simple rules. We tend to envision societies that, if not perfect, are at least consistently libertarian.
*Other times you have to leave a party: If someone shouts "Very nice," Borat-style, or—God help you—quotes from any of the Austin Powers movies.