Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants you to know there is an underlying, symbolic issue with the death of Eric Garner, and it has nothing to do with racism. Nope, Sen. Rand Paul is talking about taxes. Had taxes against American people not been so high, Eric Garner may not have been allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island, NY sidewalk, and may still be alive today.
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball” last Wednesday, Paul stated that it is difficult to watch the video of Garner’s murder by Staten Island police without being “horrified.” Paul said:
But I think there’s something bigger than just the individual circumstances. Obviously the individual circumstances are important, but I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive.
That’s not necessarily an unfair, off-base remark to make. It is somewhat true; however, considering the greater climate of protests across the country regarding racism and the continual murder of unarmed black men by white police officers, it comes across largely as a political maneuver, which is rather cheap when one considers the timing.
Rather than focusing on the racism issue the citizens of the U.S. are currently outraged over and standing up in protest over, Paul attempts to score political points by deflecting the issue to his base supporters by talking about it in the framework of over-taxation, thereby inadvertently undercutting the issue of race on everyone’s minds right now and replacing it with another issue.
Paul’s move somewhat suggests that race isn’t a problem in America, taxes are. As much as taxes may be a problem – that’s true — it denies the moment the country is insisting upon right now, which comes across ingenuous and once again, opportunistic.
This is not to say that both issues are not worth addressing at some point, but Paul attempts to use the death of Eric Garner and public outrage to bait and switch for political gain, and that’s repugnant. His timing is poor and disrespectful. Allow the nation it’s time to cope and deal with the failure to indict Garner’s murderer in the manner it sees fit, and then, after a respectable amount of time, maybe then talk about how taxes may have contributed. It’s too soon, Sen. Paul, too soon, which is suspect at the very least.
Paul continued his taxes angle by chastising politicians who have put police in the position they are now in, forced to arrest people for selling loose cigarettes due to overly high taxes. Perhaps one could even consider the alleged charges that Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri had “stolen” a pack of cigars and see somewhat where Paul might come up with such an angle. Paul stated:
Some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians, we’ve put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws.
Bad “tax” laws, one presumes Paul is speaking of, here.
What do you think? Does Sen. Rand have a valid point, or is he proving once more an opportunistic politician clawing after the limelight in hopes of garnering enough notoriety for a 2016 presidential run?
Check out a video of his statement, below: