Summary: The Republican primaries, esp the latest chapter about Ron Paul, provide a feast of insights about our America. It’s not a pretty picture, but important to know — and cheap, if we learn from this before the election.
- About the GOP
- About Ron Paul
- About us
- About libertarians
- Articles about Ron Paul and his newsletters
- For more information
(1) About the GOP
Donald Trump, Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich … and now they turn to Ron Paul. What does this tell us?
About the GOP, its leaders? Is this a sign of their desperate search for a right-wing candidate attractive to an increasingly foolish and ignorant electorate? Or does it show indifference to which puppet we elect (just like 2008 Obama vs. McCain, their knowledge that both would be in effect a third term for Bush Jr’s policies)?
What does this tell us about the average Republican (ie, as reflected in the polls)? Their ignorance and willingness to be fooled by simple stories told by shallow imitations of statesman (as proven by their fast collapse under even the US media’s light scrutiny)?
Some articles discussing these questions:
- “The Republicans’ Farcical Candidates – A Club of Liars, Demagogues and Ignoramuses“, Marc Pitzke, commentary in Der Spiegel, 1 December 2011
- “The Media’s Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Campaign Coverage“, Bob Garfield, The Atlantic, 21 December 2011 — “The most powerful segment of the political right has moved into fringe territory. Why has the press been largely silent on this?”
(2) About Ron Paul
This information (all available to the public since 2008) tells us much about the real Ron Paul. Not just the past, but today — as we see an old fashioned defense by this old politician (born 1935), making up increasingly bizarre explanations for the content of his newsletters. Highly profitable newsletters for a decade or more, but now he has amnesia about their contents — the racism, broad bigotry, and crackpot conspiracy theories. Paul might not have believed these things (grifters need not believe in their cons), but he at least pretended to do so for his personal profit.
- The Ron Paul Political Report: A Special Issue on Race Terrorism (15 June 1992) — Ugly statements
- Game Over: Scans of Over 50 Ron Paul Newsletters — Scores of ugly statements
- Transcript of Meet the Press on 23 December 2007 — Paul today would vote against the 1964 Civil Righs Act, and believes the Union should not have fought the Civil War.
- Ron Paul Personally Defended Racist Newsletters: Internview on Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, CNN, 21 December 2011
- “15 Years Ago, Ron Paul Wasn’t Claiming Somebody Else Wrote His Newsletters“, David Weigel, Slate, 26 December 2011 — But he denies it now.
(3) About us
Our history since the Ford Administration shows our increasingly fondness for underqualified and fringe candidates for the Presidency — and perhaps at all levels of government. We have elected at least two grossly underqualified Presidents — Carter and Obama. Both were fine floats in our parade of American exceptionalism, but incompetent Presidents.
People often compare the current GOP candidates to those of the Democratic Party in 1988 (the “seven dwarfs”, see Wikipedia). The comparison is spurious, as six of the “dwarfs” were experienced centrist politicians. The difference between the candidates of 1988 and today show the rapid deterioration of our collective understanding and judgement.
Now we take the next step — or begin to do so: acceptance of extremism. Typical people — often well-educated, intelligent and experienced — applaud Ron Paul because they like some of what he says. They close their eyes to the whole picture because they prefer the pretty picture in their minds to the reality. With this we crossing another red line into a new future. Crossing another red line.
(4) About libertarians
The libertarian political movement, like all political movements, consists of multiple strands working together. In the GOP, as in its libertarian component, that’s an alliance between social conservatives, small government conservatives, economic conservatives, and neoconservatives (using “conservative” in as a modern political classification, not in terms of classical philosophy). As with all alliances, they work together for common goals, overlooking large differences (eg, the US-Soviet alliance in WWII).
(a) The significant aspect of the Ron Paul newsletters — and one obscured by libertarian apologia for them — concerns the role of two central figures in modern libertarian thought: Lew Rockwell (highly involved, probably as an author of many articles) and Murray Rothbard (far lesser involvement, possible occasional author). For details see “Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?“, Julian Sanchez & David Weigel, Reason, 16 January 2008 — “Libertarian movement veterans, and a Paul campaign staffer, say it was “paleolibertarian” strategist Lew Rockwell.” Excerpt:
Ron Paul doesn’t seem to know much about his own newsletters. The libertarian-leaning presidential candidate says he was unaware, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, of the bigoted rhetoric about African Americans and gays that was appearing under his name. He told CNN last week that he still has “no idea” who might have written inflammatory comments such as “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks” — statements he now repudiates. Yet in interviews with Reason, a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists — including some still close to Paul — all named the same man as Paul’s chief ghostwriter: Ludwig von Mises Institute founder Llewellyn Rockwell, Jr.
Financial records from 1985 and 2001 show that Rockwell, Paul’s congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982, was a vice president of Ron Paul & Associates, the corporation that published the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Survival Report. The company was dissolved in 2001. During the period when the most incendiary items appeared—roughly 1989 to 1994—Rockwell and the prominent libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist “paleoconservatives,” producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters recently unearthed by The New Republic. To this day Rockwell remains a friend and advisor to Paul — accompanying him to major media appearances; promoting his candidacy on the LewRockwell.com blog; publishing his books; and peddling an array of the avuncular Texas congressman’s recent writings and audio recordings.
Rockwell has denied responsibility for the newsletters’ contents to The New Republic‘s Jamie Kirchick.
(b) It’s not just what happen decades ago. Ron Paul’s past and current behavior shows the depth of the problem. “Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support“, New York Times, December 2011 — Excerpt:
The libertarian movement in American politics has long had two overlapping but distinct strains. One, backed to some degree by wealthy interests, is focused largely on economic freedom and dedicated to reducing taxes and regulation through smaller government. The other is more focused on personal liberty and constraints on government built into the Constitution, which at its extreme has helped fuel militant antigovernment sentiment.
Mr. Paul has operated at the nexus of the two, often espousing positions at odds with most of the Republican Party but assembling a diverse and loyal following attracted by his adherence to libertarian principles.
In May, Mr. Paul reiterated in an interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawing segregation. He said that he supported its intent, but that parts of it violated his longstanding belief that government should not dictate how property owners behave. He has been featured in videos of the John Birch Society, which campaigned against the Civil Rights Act, warning, for instance, that the United Nations threatens American sovereignty.
In the mid-1990s, between his two stints as a Texas congressman, Mr. Paul produced a newsletter called The Ron Paul Survival Report, which only months before the Oklahoma City bombings encouraged militias to seek out and expel federal agents in their midst. That edition was titled “Why Militias Scare the Striped Pants Off Big Government.”
An earlier edition of another newsletter he produced, The Ron Paul Political Report, concluded that the need for citizens to arm themselves was only natural, given carjackings by “urban youth who play whites like pianos.” The report, with no byline but written in the first person, said: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.”
(c) James Kirchick explains how the Ron Paul candidacy highlights these dynamics within the libertarian movement: “Why Don’t Libertarians Care About Ron Paul’s Bigoted Newsletters?“, The New Republic, 22 December 2011 — Excerpt:
To be sure, these figures, like the broader group of Paul enthusiasts, don’t base their support on the Congressman’s years-long record of supporting racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and far-right militias. Quite the opposite: Like the candidate himself, they manage to mostly avoid making any mention of his unsavory record at all. It’s an impressive feat of repression, one that says volumes about the type of enthusiasm Paul inspires.
Ultimately, Paul’s following is closely linked with the peculiar attractions of the libertarian creed that he promotes. Libertarianism is an ideology rather than a philosophy of government — its main selling point is not its pragmatic usefulness, but its inviolable consistency. In that way, Paul’s indulgence of bigotry — he says he did not write the newsletters but rather allowed others to do so in his name — isn’t an incidental departure from his libertarianism, but a tidy expression of its priorities: First principles of market economics gain credence over all considerations of social empathy and historical acuity. His fans are guilty of donning the same ideological blinders, giving their support to a political candidate on account of the theories he declaims, rather than the judgment he shows in applying those theories, or the character he has evinced in living them. Voters for Ron Paul are privileging logical consistency at the expense of moral fitness.
But it’s not simply that Paul’s supporters are ignoring the manifest evidence of his moral failings. More fundamentally, their very awareness of such failings is crowded out by the atmosphere of outright fervor that pervades Paul’s candidacy. This is not the fervor of a healthy body politic — this is a less savory type of political devotion, one that escapes the bounds of sober reasoning. Indeed, Paul’s absolutist notion of libertarian rigor has always been coupled with an attraction to fantasies of political apocalypse.
For more about this see:
- A modern conservative dresses up Mr. Potter to suit our libertarian fashions, 17 November 2011
- “The liberty of local bullies“, Noah Smith (student), 26 November 2011 — How Ron Paul fits in the broader currents of libertarian thought
(5) Articles about Ron Paul and his newsletters
This history also tells us much about Libertarians (as a movement).
- Transcript of Meet the Press on 23 December 2007 — He would vote against the 1964 Civil Righs Act and believes the Union should not have fought the Civil War.
- “Ron Paul as President“, Tyler Cowen (Prof Economics, George Mason U), 26 December 2007
- “Ron Paul: My Two Cents“, Arnold King (CATO Institute, bio here, Library of Economics and Liberty, 26 December 2007
- “Angry White Man“, James Kirchick, The New Republic, 8 January 2008 — “The bigoted past of Ron Paul.”
- “‘Old News’? ‘Rehashed for Over a Decade’?“, Matt Welch, Reason, 11 January 2008
- “Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?“, Julian Sanchez & David Weigel, Reason, 16 January 2008 — “Libertarian movement veterans, and a Paul campaign staffer, say it was “paleolibertarian” strategist Lew Rockwell”
- “Ron Paul’s Shaggy Defense“, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Atlantic, 20 December 2011 — Ron Paul is 76; perhaps amnesia is natural for him.
- “Why Don’t Libertarians Care About Ron Paul’s Bigoted Newsletters?“, James Kirchick, The New Republic, 22 December 2011 — A very good question.
- “Ron Paul quits CNN interview after questions about racist newsletters“, Reuters, 22 December 2011
- “The Trouble with Ron Paul’s Defense“, Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online, 26 November 2011
- “Ron Paul Takes Credit For & Explains The Ron Paul Survival Report“, Real Clear Politics, 26 November 2011 — In a 1995 video interview.
- Solicitation Letter for Ron Paul’s Investment Letter and Political Report — Undated, from 1985 through late 1990s. Source: Reuters
- “FACT CHECK: Ron Paul Personally Defended Racist Newsletters“, Judd Legum, ThinkProgress, 27 December 2011
(6) For more information about American politics
To see all posts about these things see these FM Reference Pages:
- America – how can we stop the quiet coup now in progress?
- Obama, his administration and policies
- Politics in America
About conservatives and the Republican Party:
- Let’s play “Name that Liberal”
- Let’s play round 2 of “Name That Liberal”
- Let’s play round 3 of “Name That Liberal”
- What happens to the Republican Party after the election?, 2 November 2008
- Whose values do Dick and Liz Cheney share? Those of America? Or those of our enemies, in the past and today?, 14 March 2010
- The evolution of the Republican Party has shaped America during the past fifty years, 8 May 2010
- Two contrasting views of the Republican Party, 23 May 2010
- Will people on the right help cut Federal spending?, 19 June 2010
- Conservatives oppose the new START treaty, as they opposed even the earlier version negotiated by Ronald Reagan, 24 July 2010
- The Republicans are serious about the budget. The results could be ugly., 24 November 2010
- Why do Rep Ryan and the Republicans want to gut America’s military defenses?, 14 April 2011
- Why Conservatives are winning: they use the WMD of political debate, 28 April 2011
- Mitt Romney and the Empire of Hubris. Setting America on a path to decline., 10 October 2011
- A modern conservative dresses up Mr. Potter to suit our libertarian fashions, 17 November 2011
45 thoughts on “Ron Paul’s exotic past tells us much about him, the GOP, libertarians – and about us”
Great article. The GOP needs to start over. Each candidate they have fielded so far has been a disaster. The only questions republican voters need to ask their candidate this cycle is. Do you love your fears and prejudices more than the United States and it’s citizens? Since they don’t know history or government or the tenets of their faiths we can at least try to flesh out their intentions.
Salve Fabius I can’t think of a better comment on the state of American politics than your observation: “They close their eyes to the whole picture because they prefer the pretty picture in their minds to the reality.” IMO, this observation applies to those who supported (or continue to support) Pres. Obama as well as those seeking to replace him. Thanks for the clear-headed commentary.
Just curious, what are Fabius’ thoughts about Gary Johnson? On the surface, Johnson seems to be similar to Paul but without the racism and social conservative leanings(always makes me chuckle when Paul is referred to as a libertarian). I would almost think that some of Paul’s support might be because of his ties to racism if I had enough confidence in the average voter to think they thought about it any deeper than the 30 second soundbites that are on the nightly news…
I know nothing about Johnson, but he seems like a regular guy. The GOP primaries are, as Der Spiegel said, a freak show. Perhaps Johnson didn’t understand the nature of the game.
No question that there are lots of weird Birchers and similar right-wing types in the Ron Paul camp. Attempting to reason with them is as futile as any other group of zealots. But how is that different from the mainstream political left, which is still supported by a variety of radicals/extremists even after it sold out to corporate wealth!?! And how is it different from the “conservative” movement that attracts, far more successfully, wealthy and powerful interests that FM complains are destroying the Constitution?
That said, there are some odd contradictions in FM’s critique of Ron Paul that seem to reveal much about FM’s anti-populist (or anti-civilian?) tendencies.
Paul is criticized for being unvarnished and speaking from a politically incorrect perspective, and for saying “crazy” things that are really nothing but questions about “unexamined assumptions” in american culture and politics. Elsewhere on the FM blog, americans are criticized for being “sheeple”, being overly conformist and politically correct!
Ron Paul has consistently worked to abolish the banking monopoly that FM blames for a great deal of the corruption in american politics!
Ron Paul is no more “racist” than many non-whites, and he is one of the few people that was willing to begin to openly address hatred of whites in the wake of the “culture wars”. Ron Paul exhorts people to return to individual responsibility, and in the “racist” newsletters, explains in unvarnished terms how the system of big government and state capitalism (social engineering bureaucracy) has created a ghetto culture that is averse to personal responsibility.
FM is wiling to be brave in criticizing the enormous geopolitical problems that the US government’s support for Israel involves. When Ron Paul does the same, he is however somehow “racist” or “anti-Semitic”!
Populists and Independents have long been marginalized and ignored by mainstream analysts, so it is not surprising that such analysts are “shocked” that Ron Paul would have attempted to build appeal amongst those political subcultures when he was an obscure figure.
More recently, Ron Paul was willing to state support for the Transpartisan movement, and worked with people on the “far left”1 for the common good. No coverage of that in the mainstream media or on the FM blog. Ron Paul has probably been the most popular advocate for deep reforms in the corrupt military-industrial complex. FM has also called for deep reforms of a corrupt defense establishment. It looks like Ron Paul’s biggest sin is to share too many ideas with FM, but having gained far more support for them than FM has.
The fact is that Ron Paul has more of a shot at creating popular support for dismantling the bloated military than anyone else in recent memory, and that upsets people like FM that presumably wish for such reforms to “somehow” come from people like FM within the military community. ???
To make a long story short, in a networked, globalized, interdependent world, viewing the central swath of the North American continent as a cohesive, hermetically sealed, culturally and economically cohesive yet distinct unit makes less and less sense.
And yet precisely that is what United States politics is attempting to do.
It accordingly follows that American policies grow more and more contrive and less and less credible. And that American politicians, to the extent they are sincere, are QED flaky.
Until society reorganizes itself on some framework that better reflects the underlying social and economic realities, these problems will persist. Needless to say, the current “elites” have no interest in refashioning the status quo and very few such elites – perhaps only the Meiji Restoration samurai – have ever committed class seppuku for the good of society as a whole.
is one of the more well known groups advocating the kind of paradigm shift you call for:
The New Political Compass project is an example of some of the “elites” attempting the kind of redefinition that you refer to. I do not completely agree with NPC’s analysis of the “Cultural Creatives” (I see Ken Wilber’s criticisms of NPC as being valid), but it is a fairly well known example of an attempt to define a new framework that “reflects underlying realities”.
NPC does attempt to cite statistics from social sciences to support its claim that a massive paradigm shift is possible in the near future: “People Power – The New Political Compass“, Paul Ray, posted at Yes!, 30 June 2002 — excerpts:
“with ideas once reserved for militia camps and reactionary pamphleteering.”
“For instance, when Rep. Michele Bachmann asserted that public schools “are teaching children that there is separation of church and state, and I am here to tell you that is a myth,” based perhaps on her objection to the accepted understanding of the Establishment Clause, this raised no great media hew and cry. Maybe because the refrain was so familiar. In 2010, Sarah Palin said as much, too: ”
So, this is the first thing that comes up, as an idea reserved for military camps and reactionaries? ‘No establishment’ versus ‘separation’ — honestly, I think only the 700 club viewers care about this, and most everyone else doesn’t feel all that threatened. I mean, I’m not anything close to Christian, and I don’t fear theocracy in the USA. I think the media is just ignoring this because most of this stuff was kind of resolved a few decades back in the Jerry Falwell era.
Then we get this…
“Here is what Wesley Swift had to offer on the subject: “This is a Christian nation. The Supreme Court ruled on separate occasions that this is a Christian nation. And the fact remains that there are many forces that are seeking to destroy Christian civilization.”
Wesley Swift being the founder of the Christian Identity movement — a white supremacist, anti-Semite and convicted domestic terrorist.”
We’re supposed to be appalled that anyone says that no establishment does not mean separation, and that’s because some guy also says vaguely similar who is an Anti-Semite and a terrorist? I mean, come on. This is a joke. Do I have to actually explain why?
Not sure I’m clear on your point, sorry!
Christians have, literally, been their own worst enemy from early on. Elaine Pagels, scholar of the Nag Hammadi texts, has written extensively on the suppression of alternative christian thought, such as Gnosticism, suppression that has existed since about the year 300 AD.
The radical whigs, such as John Locke, revisioned christian philosophy starting around the 1640s, to reflect Natural Law (NL), a philosophy that rejected the traditional authority of aristocracy and high church. Natural Law was the foundation of the US Constitution. NL was proposed by Locke as an intellectually legitimate (rational) “alternative” to the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.
The Spanish Inquisitions would have been vivid in the minds of those rejecting traditional authority and wishing for the separation of church and state – as an example of the incredible danger of allowing politicians to take over religious institutions under the auspices of “modernizing” a society.
The earlier inquisitions of the Cathar/Albigensian heretics provide another example of Christians engaging in war against other Christians in order to enforce conformity of belief.
The 30 years’ war probably was more in their minds than the inquisition.
It’s just that there’s zero substance to the theatlantic argument. We have an article here complaining about the ignorance of Republicans, and then a link to an article that’s really nothing more than political hackery. If it were guilt by association, it would be a step up, because at least there would have been an association. But with this, people are guilty of having opinions that are vaguely similar to the opinions of Anti-Semites. With this logic, this website is Anti-Semite, the entire world is Anti-Semite.
To make it simple, racist people have various opinions about all kinds of issues, but it’s only the racism that makes them racists. If a racist believes that ‘no establishment of religion does not imply separation of religion and state’ — that does not make everyone who believes this also a racist. This is a logical fallacy. I’m not going to vet all my opinions for what David Duke believes. No one can. This is an impossible standard.
Is this how we raise the level of debate?
“there’s zero substance to the theatlantic argument … and then a link to an article that’s really nothing more than political hackery.”
Ron Paul’s defense consists mostly of lies, but even he doesn’t deny the substance to the charges — as they consist of the words from over a decade of his newsletters. Newsletters from which he made over a million dollars (perhaps many).
Marcus, thanks for mentioning the 30 years war as an example of christian-on-christian war that had a religious motivation.
Cathryn, I agree with you to the extent that Ron Paul is being subject to purity tests that are peculiar because of deeper problems that americans have with the legacy of slavery and racism. Ron Paul has talked about taboo subjects in a way that disturbs the comfort zone rhetoric of mainstream racial politics.
As I explain in another response, whites have always been aware that they are hated by large numbers of blacks, and they are also aware that black “slave” revolts have always been a threat to white privilege and power. This is nothing new in southern white culture, and the only thing that is unusual is that “outsiders” do not expect white southerners to discuss the issue openly, but Ron Paul (or Lew Rockwell in the newsletters) did so anyway.
Similar for the gay stuff. Anyone that dares to question the use of coercion and groupthink by the pro-gay movement is usually subject to thought policing and rhetorical inquisition. It is obvious that gay politics, feminist politics and all forms of postmodern politics contain a “toxic” psychological mirror of what they hate. (Jungian shadow)
Similarly, anyone that open criticizes AIPAC or other aspects of the Israeli WAR lobby is accused of “anti-semitism”. As you say, it is odd since FM has posted much criticism of that lobby’s bad geopolitics and the incredible derangement of the Israeli right wing. Why repeat charges that Ron Paul is “anti-semetic” for opposing the Israeli WAR lobby when those charges come out of a corrupt mindset?
The reality is that Ron Paul is a relic of an era before political correctness (and its Jungian shadows) became a standard method of acceptable intimidation in american politics, and people don’t want to have to engage in the mental and spiritual gymnastics necessary to think outside the box about what that all means.
The current comfort zone of racial rhetoric in america assumes that whites are in a continual state of fear of being accused of being “racist” unless they engage in specific rituals of speech and behavior designed to assure the Thought Police that they are compliant with Political Correctness.
(substitute “gay” or “feminist” as needed.)
“they are also aware that black “’lave’ revolts have always been a threat to white privilege and power.”
Truly the dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time. Totally disconnected from reality. Much of this comment is bizarre, but this line is especially so.
What is dumb/bizarre about the simple statement that white southerners were aware of the dangers of slave revolts? In slave times, whites lived in constant fear of such slave revolts, and at times did not live through them.
(see Orlando Patterson The Historical encyclopedia of world slavery, Volume 1; Volume 7)
Similarly, in the politically correct post-civil-rights era, whites live in fear of being accused of “racism” (and men live in fear being being accused of “sexism”, hetero-sexuals in fear of being accused of being “homophobic”, etc.). This why whites like “unthreatening” blacks such as Oprah and Obama, they avoid the usual tactic in black culture of “shoot first, ask questions later” by being in a continual state of holtility toward whites (in order to negotiate a position of psychological advantage). As is explained by Shelby Steele, a leading black conservative.
Your analysis of Ron Paul’s so-called racism is extremely peculiar, and frankly lacking in the nuance and sophistication neccessary to gain an understanding of the position of a character such as Paul.
Do you not actually understand the “moral” problems inherent to the social engineering bureaucracy?
But of course any viewpoint that isn’t dedicated to following the herd that is dedicated to smearing Paul and libertarian ideas in general, you see as “disconnected from reality”.
At a deep level, those that wish to damage Paul should avoid the silly “racism” stuff and concentrate of Paul’s economic theories and his support for Ayn Rand. Those are where things get “scary”.
“What is dumb/bizarre about the simple statement that white southerners were aware of the dangers of slave revolts?”
You said “they are also aware that black ‘slave’ revolts have always been a threat to white privilege and power.” That’s present tense. That’s what makes it dumb.
As for the rest, you’re just making stuff up — not responding to what I or anyone on this thread wrote. It’s a commonplace form of argument these days. It’s the most common used by warmistas — concocting stuff then writing super-duper rebuttals.
Try using quotes, and replying to the quote.
The New Republican Primary Rules Make It Possible For The Republican Establishment To Steal The Nomination From A Candidate They Don’t Like“, by Michael (Married American, 41 years old, Independent, Christian, lawyer/activist), 12/22/2011
Why not read something from someone who actually knows about this subject? Such as Jonathan Bernstein (political science prof, writes at Salon, The New Republic, Wshington Post, etc).
“Brokered Convention Edition“, 23 November 2011 — Opening:
“FACT CHECK: Ron Paul Personally Defended Racist Newsletters“, Judd Legum, ThinkProgress, 27 December 2011 — Excerpt:
Transcript of Meet the Press on 23 December 2007:
I don’t get the post on Ron Paul opposing the Civil War. Is what he said in that interview supposed to be bad?
Yes, you probably don’t get it. Which nicely illustrates why racism remains a toxic element in American culture to this day.
“Opposing the civil war” is not bad if you believe that several more generations of slavery was no big deal. Let’s test it! Take your family to East Africa and voluteer to become farm slaves. Write frequently! Don’t worry, slavery is just a temporary economic phase (as the Founders believed). Your children — or grandchildren (certainly your great-grandchildren) will be free again. Eventually.
Your descendents will be better men and women for the experience, as exlained by that noble Cavalier Robert E. Lee in a letter to his wife on 27 December 1856 (source):
Our Confederate sympathizers remind me of the Mad Magazine parody of the file 300.
King Leonidas comcludes his magnificant speech about freedom being the essence of Greek civilization. A Spartan runs up. “Sorry I missed the speech. I had to whip my slaves.”
Which nicely illustrates why racism remains a toxic element in American culture to this day.
FM, I don’t understand the fuss about this comment. What is wrong with discussing history and possible directions not taken? . I saw this interview when it originally aired. I was surprised for two reasons, first, what in the heck was the reporter doing asking a candidate in 2008 about the Civil War, and second, I was fascinated that someone would actually suggest an alternative to war to free the slaves.
It almost reminds me of how Pat Buchanan was torched for his views on Poland in his book on WW2.
You are correct that racism remains a toxic element today in American culture. It’s still used to harass and intimidate though not in the manner depicted in Mississippi Burning.
I suspect Rusty is putting us on, a troll (ie one who posts inflammatory messages in an online discussion with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response). But I’ll give a brief response.
(1) People use history as a prism through which to see the present, and as a means for communicating and advocating their values. That’s the context for modern discussions in politics about the Civil War. It’s about now, not then. Ron Paul’s comments about the Civil War are consistent with many of those in his newsletters, and his statement about the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which in effect concluding the Civil War era in America, ending the century-long insurgency of Southern state and local governments).
(2) “Pat Buchanan was torched for his views on Poland in his book on WW2.”
I don’t know to what you’re referring. Buchanan was rightly torched for his comment in the New Republic issue of 22 October 1990 and the New York Post of 17 March 1990 (text), writing about the Treblinka death camp in Poland, about “group fantasies of martyrdom” and that “Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.” It’s part of a long history of anti-semetic remarks. For more about this specific claim see here; for more about Buchanan’s history see here.
Ron Paul was not advocating for several more generations of slavery, he was advocating for an alternative method of abolishing it.
A better counter argument would have been that Paul’s alternative was not consistent with what was possible in the USA at that time. Not sure if that is true or not, so I can’t argue the point one way other the other.
The fact is that the Civil War was not about slavery per se, it was about whether the north or south was going to prevail in defining the model of western settlement. Right?
“Ron Paul was not advocating for several more generations of slavery, he was advocating for an alternative method of abolishing it.”
No. He was advocating for some (poorly stated) method of endling slavery, which would have occured either very slowly — or never (ie, impractical, so that slavery would have ended through some other means). As for the government buying the slaves (ie, compensation to slave holders, as the Brit’s did), that was not likely. Slaves were the largest single part of the antebellum American capital stock, with some estimates (from memory) of 40% plus).
(1) “Ron Paul as President“, Tyler Cowen (Prof Economics, George Mason U), 26 December 2007 — Excerpt:
(2) “Ron Paul: My Two Cents“, Arnold King (CATO Institute, bio here, Library of Economics and Liberty, 26 December 2007 — Excerpt:
Cowen: “Even when the policy recommendations stay libertarian, I fear that the wrong emotions will have the staying power.”
This is very odd stuff. How it is possible for someone that is an academic to insist that practical politics requires the maintenance of ideological purity? Cowen is making a theological argument, not a political one. Someone said that Cowen is a restaurant critic for the NY times !?!
Similarly, FM has chosen a quote from King, that tells libertarians to go sit in a corner and be quiet (about national politics). This all seems to contradict FM’s statements that americans should stop being “sheeple” and get involved in politics to reverse “decline” caused by a “rigged” two-party system!
Hilarious comment found on Cowen’s blog — Holy Jehosophat December 29, 2007 at 7:35 am:
(1) You comment about the quote from Cowen has little obvious relation to the quote itself.
(2) “Someone said that Cowen is a restaurant critic for the NY times !?!”
As I suspected, you don’t really read before writing a reply. Look at the post and you’ll see Cowen’s affiliation. Hint: he’s not a restaurant critic.
(3) Cowen is one of the most prominent libertarian economists. King is an economist with CATO, one of the (or the) most influential libertarian think-tanks. This background makes your comment look at bit … odd.
The (cynical) “joke” that I’ve heard black labor activists make is that if the “white [liberal suburbanite] social workers [substitute public school teachers that get special grants, etc.] actually solved the problems of the (poor) black community, they would be out of work”. That is what should outrage people, but of course the “sheeple” have been conditioned to think otherwise. For people that hate Ron Paul (and libertarian ideology), charges of “racism” are easily instrumentalized.
This is all part of the “decline” of american politics that FM constantly complains about, but in this case, the aversion to the politics of character assasination is set aside since it serves FM’s preferences.
The reality is that all whites, but especially southern whites, have lived in fear of black “slave” revolts for a long time. Anyone that has a clue about southern culture and history understands that that is what Ron Paul is talking about. All of the social programs that were put in place as a result of the civil rights movement were an attempt to “buy out” black leaders and to get them to convince their community to be happy with the small piece of the pie they were given, and to stop being “noisy”, asking for more.
It is interesting that Ron Paul is being subjected to bogus purity tests in a manner that other candidates are not. It isn’t that hard to make a case that the liberal social engineering bureaucracy and postmodern culture that arose as a response to the civil rights movement are deeply flawed, full of disasterous unintended consequences that have ghettoized millions of people into “serfdom” – dependency on state social programs that are significantly ineffective.
The fact that “racial” topics are taboo, and that those that challenge the taboos (or fail to make public statements consistent with the fragile “comfort zone” of anti-racist rhetoric) are smeared as “racists” tell the real story of race “toxicity”. Any fair examination of the issue would look at the plight of black conservatives, and how they are viciously attacked by the liberal establishment. (e.g., school vouchers in poor urban communities)
For a large section of the back community, things have gotten far worse in the last several decades. For another section, the increase in opportunities has been very fortunate.
The reality is that the same economic powers that FM constantly complains about require the use of state coercion of the socially disadvantaged population via a “liberal” social work bureacuracy (and public “education” system that miserably fails poor people).
Ron Paul is willing to talk about that taboo when others are not. This makes people very uncomfortable because they know that america (including most of the liberal establishment) has horribly failed a large number of blacks, and that creates the possibility of a “slave revolt” against the system of privilege that america is premised on.
While it’s always interesting to hear from the Gamma Quadrent, your might find it easier to communicate in this section of the galaxy if you qive quotes when writing replies. It appears you are writing rebuttals to things that appear only in your mind.
Good article, FM.
>> (1) About the GOP, its leaders? Is this a sign of their desperate search for a right-wing candidate attractive to an increasingly foolish and ignorant electorate? Or does it show indifference to which puppet we elect (just like 2008 Obama vs. McCain, their knowledge that both would be in effect a third term for Bush Jr’s policies)?
I don’t think the GOP is in a desperate search for a right-wing candidate. They are in an ordinary and routine search for a centrist or center-right candidate. Seems like Romney is the best they got, now that Perry totally blew it as a remake of Bush Jr.
I’d say Gingrich is a side-show, and Paul is there to keep his many supporters from leaving the GOP. Get them emotionally involved in the election process so that they remember to vote. I see Paul is being set up to be the next Howard Dean, and there will be a bait-and-switch. Paul can even win a bunch of early primaries, but then there will be some real or perceived public gaffe, and the media will then suddenly turn on Paul (like Dean), he will be declared “unelectable”, and that will be that. Maybe the newsletters from this FM article will even be the cause, to be “discovered” by the MSM sometime in late January?
(for the record I don’t like any of the GOP candidates, nor Obama.)
“I don’t think the GOP is in a desperate search for a right-wing candidate. They are in an ordinary and routine search for a centrist or center-right candidate.”
You might be right. Attributing motives to a group is a metaphor at best — and impossible to prove. My basis for the statement was the sequential popularity of Trump-Bachman-Perry-Cain-Newt. None well-qualified; some obviously unqualified. What do they have in common? None are centrist or center-right candidate. Romeny is (or was before he moved right in the primaries), but his popularity (from memory) has remainted flat around 25%.
david, nice comments, thanks.
re: “bait and switch”
Wasn’t Howard Dean shoved to the side after he helped to pick Obama? Wasn’t Dean in charge of fundraising? Was he competent? My understanding (please correct if wrong) is that the Democrats were desperate to find an alternative to Hillary because they were afraid that revelations about Bill Clinton’s ongoing sex affairs would blow up in Hillary’s face later? As soon as Obama set up shop after being elected President, Dean was banished to the wilderness, and has been pretty quiet since.
Why do you say Dean was “shoved to the side” and “banished to the wilderness”?
Dean served 4 years. Past DNC Chairpersons served for 2-4 years (see this list at Wikipedia). He was age 61 when his term finished, not an usual age for retirement.
re: “Why do you say Dean was “shoved to the side” and “banished to the wilderness”?”
Dean went from national prominence to an almost complete absence on the national stage in a very short time. The obvious suspicion would be that he was unwelcome in D.C., or in any other prominent national role because his style is more populist and “unrestrained” than Obama’s.
Ok, I just read the Wiki page, and it looks like a combination of his previous ruffling of establishment party feathers and disagree with Rahm Emmanuel was the reason for the banishment, err, snub:
Your comment is of the sort called “wild guessing without evidence.”
“Dean went from national prominence to an almost complete absence on the national stage in a very short time.”
It’s called “retirement.” It happens to people all the time, including Senators and party chairman. Unless you have any evidence, this seems the most logical explanation.
The “evidence” is right on the Widipedia page that you referenced. Dean was snubbed by Rahm Emmanuel. etc.
Dean is quoted as in the “Retirement” section of the Wiki page saying that he WANTED TO SERVE IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.
Very few Chairmen of the DNC went on to serve in the following administrations (the job is not an automatic stepping stone, so there was no “snub”). If Dean wanted to participate in public service, he could (like other politicians) have found some means to do so. Instead he retired. Yearing to for appointment to high office doesn’t count.
FM, please dare to tell the truth for once about the so-called “racist” Ron Paul newsletters: DESCRIPTION OF SMEAR CAMPAIGN CAMPAIGN AGAINST RON PAUL: “Why the Beltway Libertarians Are Trying to Smear Ron Paul“, Justin Raimondo, Taki’s Magazine, 18 January 2008 — Excerpt:
Note: “Reason” magazine is funded by the Koch Bros., evil creeps whose giant oil company was started by their father in the Soviet Union under Stalin. How surprising is it that Autocratic Corporatists want to smear the *populist* Ron Paul?
Also: Justin Raimundo is gay. He microscopically deconstructs the so called “racist”, “homophobic” and “anti-Semetic ” charges and finds them almost entirely taken out of context and misinterpreted.
Let’s examine what WTF calls a “smear”:
Now let’s see what WTF calls “telling the truth” as rebuttal:
Nothing more need be said.
A note about donors
Among the ways our rulers treat us as sheep is their instistence that we read only sources following the Party Line. Left or Right, as the case may be. Heterodox thought is the enemy, as it might spark thought. A effective technique to keep the sheep in their pens is characterizing people and sources as evil. “I never read Krugman, he’s the devil.” “Don’t read Reason, a little of their funding comes from the Koch Brothers.”
No need to read one’s opponents — let alone grapple with what they say. That’s a priori bad, as it move the debate to logic and facts — aways from painting opponents as evil. God only knows where that might lead!
“Ron Paul’s Personal Responsibility“, David Frum, 3 January 2012 — Excerpt:
“MLK Day Fact Check“, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, 8 January 2012 — Excerpt:
At last the truth about Ron Paul’s newsletters, and Ron Paul: “Paul pursued strategy of publishing controversial newsletters, associates say“, Washington Post, 27 January 2012
Short versino: Ron Paul’s associates say Ron Paul’s statements about his newsletter were lies.