It’s hard not to cheer the way Ron Paul is raising real issues when he discusses Iraq, Iran, and civil liberties in the Republican presidential race. He does it in a way that most of the Democratic candidates are not even doing, and he speaks clearly, forcefully, and eloquently against the united derision of his opponents. Indeed, there’s no reason NOT to cheer his raising these issues, and even to hope he does well enough in the primaries to raise them some more. It’s quite another matter to cheer Ron Paul.
Those of us whose memories stretch back a few years remember him as one of the most consistently right-wing congressmen in the Clinton and early W eras, before Bush’s fall from popularity transformed the political scene. Among the now-swollen ranks of the anti-war crowd, the young and the amnesiac at heart may not know this. Hence the alarming prospect of a candidate whose base of support continues to be ultra-right gaining traction, and perhaps even votes, from the progressive community.
But it’s not just the easily enthused who are catching the Ron Paul bug. No less sharp a mind than Glenn Greenwald has declared him a “principled conservative.” I’m not quite sure what that would mean–selling out the people to corporate interests the good, old-fashioned, Barry Goldwater way? Never disenfranchising without a constitutional rationalization? Jingoism with a conscience? Anyway, presumably being principled is supposed to exclude outright bigotry.
Unfortunately for those who crave to find something redeeming within the Republican party, Ron Paul has a history of vitriolic racism. Moreover, this history, far from being anomalous, is seamlessly enmeshed within a vicious Social Darwinism that is the basis for Paul’s whole worldview, of which his libertarian “principles” are no more than an eloquent expression.
In 1992, Ron Paul, then an ex-congressman, published a piece on the Rodney King riots in his 8-page monthly newsletter, a zine with roughly 7,000 subscribers. In rhetoric far more resonant with the “values” campaign of the Republican party four years later than with what most people associate with libertarianism, the piece gets going with this shot:
We now know that we are under assault from thugs and revolutionaries who hate Euro-American civilization and everything it stands for: private property, material success for those who earn it, and Christian morality.
As a result of the riots’ disruption of transit, the newsletter continues, “White people found themselves walking alone many blocks to get home, running the minefield of black gangs out for their blood. ” Perhaps, you say, the author is merely pointing to the existence of violently anti-white gangs among L.A. blacks at that time? But no, for the piece goes on to refer to “the anti-white ideology in the thoroughly racist black community.” Lest anyone think he only despises “underclass” blacks, the author later says this:
They wanted the cops jailed and the murderers, arsonists, and thieves set free. This came not from the underclass, but from middle-class blacks and black political activists, who hold opinions not markedly different from the Crips and the Bloods. But the Crips and the Bloods, it turns out, have been “misunderstood,” according to Ted Koppel who interviewed two of these animals. After spending several hours with them, he decided he liked them. Unfortunately, they didn’t pull him out of his stretch limousine. [In this and all subsequent quotations, emphasis is added.]
Throughout, the piece excoriates the media for taking the side of black people, criminals, and the welfare state–bizarrely enough considering where the media actually were in 1992, and today. But the author, with populist faith that the common people share his racism, continues optimistically:
Regardless of what the media tell us, most white Americans are not going to believe that they are at fault for what blacks have done to cities across America. The professional blacks may have cowed the elites, but good sense survives at the grass roots. Many more are going to have difficulty avoiding the belief that our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists — and they can be identified by the color of their skin. This conclusion may not be entirely fair, but it is, for many, entirely unavoidable.
…The [National Center on Institutions and Alternatives] reports that 70% of all black men in Washington are arrested before they reach the age of 35, and 85% are arrested at some point in their lives. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.
…We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational.
In conclusion, the author bewails the fact that
The riots, burning, looting, and murders are only a continuation of 30 years of racial politics…. Blacks have “civil rights,” preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black beauty contests, black tv shows, black tv anchors, black scholorships and colleges, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda.
Presumably, the fact that African-Americans sometimes get hired as TV anchors and sometimes get elected as mayors, that some TV shows have heavily black casts, and that most of the government officials in some mostly black communities are themselves black, strikes the author of this piece as grossly unfair…whereas the existence of white TV anchors, white mayors, and white-dominated TV shows and bureaucracies is perfectly fine. For the author, whatever whites have is prima facie evidence that they deserve it; whatever blacks have is prima facie evidence that they were given something they didn’t deserve.
Now, who WAS the mysterious author of this piece? On the face of it, it might seem very simple. The material appeared in the Ron Paul Political Report, a source acknowledged when it was preserved for posterity by a known white supremacist named Dan Gannon, who posted it on the web. No author is mentioned. Any reasonable person would conclude that Ron Paul was the author.