Fox's Stossel: Businesses should be able to discriminate. "It should be their right to be racist."
Help us hold FOX accountable now:
Dear ColorOfChange.org member,
On Wednesday, Rand Paul, the GOP's US Senate candidate for Kentucky repeated his claim that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong, and that businesses should be free to discriminate against whomever they please.1 Paul and his supporters don't seem to care that without federal intervention, Black people would still be second-class citizens in most aspects of American life: where we eat, where we work, even where we live.
Then, on Thursday, FOX contributor and business anchor John Stossel went even further than Paul and called for the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that applies to business to be repealed.2 And he's refused to back down.
While Paul may have started this outrage, he can be taken care of at the ballot box — FOX News can't.
Stossel's position is an affront to Black America and everyone in this country who believes in racial progress. It's one thing to be a candidate with backwards views. It's another to be employed by a supposed news network and to use that platform to push hateful ideas that our nation repudiated decades ago.
It's time that FOX drop Stossel.
If after hearing from members like you FOX does not act, it will make clear that FOX stands with Stossel and his values, and we will go directly after the network with a public campaign unlike any we've pursued to date.
Can you take a moment to add your voice to the call to fire Stossel? After you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
FOX has a history of providing a platform for bigoted views and race-baiting. Most recently you helped us hold FOX accountable by stripping Glenn Beck of more than 100 of his advertisers, a move that came after Beck called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people."3
Before that, the ColorOfChange community scuttled FOX's presidential debates, which were to be co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute4 — a cynical move on FOX's part to use the brand of the CBC as cover for the network's habit of disparaging Black leaders and institutions.5
This week, Stossel seemed to be echoing segregationist arguments from the Jim Crow era when he said:
I would go further than he [Paul] was willing to go... and say it's time now to repeal that part of the law because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won't ever go to a place that's racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I'll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.
Stossel went on to argue something that history has disproved time and again — that private business will do the right thing, without being compelled by laws, because no one would patronize a business that discriminates and it would have to shut its doors as a result. It's a blind belief in market fundamentalism that just isn't in sync with reality. In the 60s, white-owned businesses that allowed Blacks as customers would lose business. Market forces actually perpetuated discrimination; they didn't combat it.
And recent history shows that such protections are still needed. In 1994, the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act was used to hold Denny's Restaurants accountable, after that chain repeatedly refused to seat Black customers and otherwise discriminated against them.6 Just last year, a pool in Philadelphia that made its facilities available to the public tried to prevent Black children from swimming in their pool. The Civil Rights Act is the basis for holding the pool owner accountable as well.7
Both Stossel and Rand Paul have claimed that they are not in favor of racial discrimination, and that they would not set foot inside a business that refused to serve Blacks. But they don't seem to realize that segregation would have continued for many more years in this country if government hadn't stepped in to outlaw discrimination across all places doing business with the public - whether publicly- or privately-owned.
It's time for FOX News to make a choice. Are they willing to continue to give a platform to racially-divisive rhetoric and revive dangerously outdated perspectives? Or will they move with the rest of the nation into into the 21st century? Please call on FOX News to fire John Stossel. And once you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Milton and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
May 22nd, 2010
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1. "Rand Paul On 'Maddow' Defends Criticism Of Civil Rights Act, Says He Would Have Worked To Change Bill," Huffington Post, 5-20-10
2. "Stossel calls for repeal of public accommodations section of Civil Rights Act," Media Matters, 5-20-10
3. "Beck's UK broadcast runs without ads; over 100 companies have ditched Beck," Jack and Jill Politics, 2-16-10
4. "Dancing with the Devil," ColorOfChange.org, 3-14-07
5. Summary on FOX News and coverage relating to Black Americans
6. "Denny's Restaurants to Pay $54 Million in Race Bias Suits," 5-25-94
7. "Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, Country Club Alleging Discrimination," US Department of Justice press release, 1-13-10