The info verse is all atwitter, and all afacebook, and all awhateveryouread, over one question; is Ron Paul a racist?
Let’s assume the answer is “no”, that the argument that he didn’t write any of the racist and homophobic articles, ads and letters released under his name is true. Let us assume that he honestly never read any of it until 10 years later and was horrified by what he saw because he cannot be a racist as it is a collectivist idea (his words – see note 1). A heartfelt Ron Paul supporter is left with one clear truism – he or she can no longer support Ron Paul.
Paul’s rhetoric and writings (his books, which he admits to) constantly refer to “personal responsibility”. One could easily argue (as he has) that it is the cornerstone of both the Constitution and Libertarianism.Among the positions Ron Paul has taken:
- SCHIP, Medicare, LIHEAP should all be drastically reduced and turned over to the states because people have become victims of a nanny state and no longer take personal responsibility.
- Tort Reform? Absolutely – people should take personal responsibility for reading and understanding all of the legalese in their mortgages, credit card agreements and medical insurance. If that language is vague or abusive because of a lack of regulation well – tough. The market will point those out to you somehow and you can avoid those agreements.
- If you cannot afford health care then have a bake sale or some other fundraiser for that expensive life-saving procedure you need. It is no one’s fault but your own that you cannot afford health insurance.
- Should we just let you die if you lose your job and become gravely ill in between and your state offers no program to help you? Yes – whoever said you had a guaranteed right to care? (This last one he actually said – I believe it was in the 11th or 12th of the 14 televised primary debates).
Perhaps you find all of that to be reasonable. Welcome to the Ron Paul Responsibility Paradox. You believe that personal responsibility is key. Hell, perhaps you believe it is everything – the very core of a society that is free and successful. Unfortunately, the candidate who has given voice to your ideals does not practice it, not even for one second. What’s more he does not even try to.
From the mid 70s to mid 90s Ron Paul was the publisher of up to four different newsletters at a time. Starting in 1988 those newsletters started to take on a darker and darker racist and homophobic tone, peaking rhetorically from 1992 – 1995. These newsletters included Dr. Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report, The Ron Paul Investment Newsletter and The Ron Paul Political Report. This is not contested by anyone, including Paul himself.
In a 1995 interview with C-SPAN he described the newsletters as one of the ways he remained politically active while out of office:
The following quotes from his newsletters are also uncontested:
- On race and crime: “Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,’ I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
- On the Rodney King riots: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
- On black males: “As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to ‘fight the power,’ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.”
- On carjacking: “[the] hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos.”
- On race relations: “in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”
- On a reporter for a gay magazine: “[he] certainly had an axe to grind, and that’s not easy with a limp wrist.”
- On ‘out’ homosexuals: “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”
- On San Franciscans and AIDS: “they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.”
And the following excerpt from a subscription offer letter signed by Ron Paul is also uncontested:
Naturally Ron Paul is responsible for all of this, right? After all he is the publisher. That does not mean he wrote it. All he did was allow it to be published under his name and under his nose. All he need do is accept responsibility and respond appropriately. Taking responsibility for something is not the same as supporting it.
Yet Ron Paul refuses to take true responsibility for any of it.
He has said he “disavows” the newsletter content, yet he refuses to answer any specific questions about any of the actual articles. When asked if he believes that AIDS victims “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick” he wont come out and say “no.” Instead he says “I have already said that I had nothing to do with what was in those newsletters.” Ask him if he believes that black males are “trained to hate whites” and he will tell you that “this was all dealt with years ago.” Ask him if he believes that 95% of black males in DC “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal” and he takes off his mic and walks out of the interview.
He even goes so far as to slap down those who try to help him take responsibility. Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, said that Paul took responsibility for the content of the letter above, even though he likely didn’t agree with the views. A spokesman for Paul responded that Ivers doesn’t speak for the Congressman (see note 2).
The line about DC black males is most important in that it came up in mass media earlier than the rest, before Paul had a chance to hone his story. In 1996 The Dallas Morning News interviewed Ron Paul and asked him about that quote. He did not deny knowing about it, and he did not disavow it. Instead, he defended it as a “fair interpretation” of a study he had read (see note 3). How does he deal with this contradiction to his current claim that he had no idea what was in the newsletters at that time? He just refuses to discuss it, calling it “old news”. He wised up and chose to take his own advice as quoted in a 2000 interview with Houston Monthly, in which he lamented that he really wished he had just “told [the Dallas Morning News] that I never read it.”
A 2008 Article in Reason asserted that “a half-dozen longtime libertarian activists—including some still close to Paul” identified Lew Rockwell as the “chief ghostwriter.” Rockwell, a self described “anarcho-capitalist” (see note 4), denied responsibility for the disputed material and called the accusations “hysterical smears aimed at political enemies” (see note 5). On his own website he is quoted as saying “the state is unnecessary and destructive by its nature – that it cannot improve on, and indeed only destroys, the social and economic system that grows out of property rights, exchange, and natural social authority” (see note 6).
However, when Ron Paul is asked who wrote the pieces in question his only answer is “staff.” He either does not know or refuses to say who on staff. Furthermore Rockwell, who worked for Paul as Chief of Staff from 1978-1982, consultant to his 1988 Libertarian Presidential run, and vice chair of his 1992 Republican Presidential Exploratory Committee remains a close friend of Paul. Rockwell’s website includes a “Ron Paul file” with dozens of articles about and interviews with Paul, all pushing Ron Paul as the only man who can save the USA and claiming that anyone who doesn’t support Ron Paul is a liar, uninformed, a fascist, or a socialist (see note 7).
To recap and expand, which of the following responsible things has Ron Paul done?
- Answered questions to a specific racist or homophobic excerpt from his newsletters with “no I do not believe that.”
- Revealed who wrote such horrible things so they can be known for who and what they are.
- Thanked the state chair who said that Paul does take responsibility.
- Apologized to anyone who may have been directly or indirectly hurt by what was expressed under his name for so many years.
- Addressed the Dallas Morning News interview head on.
- Refused and returned money donated to his campaign by white supremacist groups that have publicly stated that they are donating to him because he shares their beliefs.
None of them. Not a one. The only one of these options he has even addressed is the last one, stating that he will not refuse money from anyone, and that it is not his problem if they mistakenly believe he supports their views.
So, if you believe in the bedrock Ron Paul principle that people must take more personal responsibility for their behavior, that the free market works best by rewarding responsible behavior and punishing irresponsible behavior, that people when left alone can be trusted to do the right thing and will be ostracized in the “marketplace of ideas” when they do not then you clearly have only one choice – to denounce Ron Paul. Your own belief system says you should not support those who cannot be trusted to take responsibility for their actions and refuses to discuss them in the “marketplace of ideas.” You cannot say we need someone new and different who trusts the American people and then support someone who will not come clean with the American people. Even if you accept all of his excuse making, how can you put national policy in the hands of someone who does not have the basic competency to control the content of his own newsletters? Clearly he does not know how to vet those he would hire, and does not hold them responsible when they fail. What kind of a cabinet would such a man have?
So there you have it – the only way to stay true to the philosophy envisioned by Ron Paul is to not vote for Ron Paul. Of course you could dismiss all of this as being unrelated to a Ron Paul presidency and vote for him anyway, after all it is a free country. But if you manage to get him elected, do not expect anyone to take his ideas for a system based on personal responsibility seriously. Therein lies the paradox.
- CNN Politics: Ron Paul Newsletters
- TPM: Ron Paul Denies Writing Letter On Coming Race War
- Dallas News: Paul Faces New Questions About Newsletters
- About Lew Rockwell (lewrockwell.com)
- Reason: Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters?
- Doherty, Brian. “Libertarianism and the Old Right.” LewRockwell.com. 1999. Orig. published by SpintechMag.org. 12 May 1999.
- Lew Rockwell: The Ron Paul File