Liberty & Power: Group Blog
Among the more curious arguments made in the wake of the Ron Paul newsletters affair is the charge that those libertarians who decried the racism and homophobia of the newsletters are revealing their underlying statism. The most complete version of this argument is here. You can also see it here, where I've been declared a "Libertarian War Criminal" for "Siding with the State’s Thought Control in the Ron Paul Newsletter Affair." It has also been made in different forms, or cut and pasted from the first blog, into a number of comments threads at Hit & Run and elsewhere. A representative sample from the first link:
Political correctness is a very strong signal of statism. In the mind of a statist, something is either required or banned. Either homosexual behavior is banned or it is required that everybody respect homosexual behavior.
In the statist world of the “cosmopolitan libertarians,” only cosmopolitans get to satisfy their preferences and tastes (or as some others choose and should be free to choose to view them, vices) in the marketplace. Statists in their guts, the “cosmopolitan libertarians” view any differences in values as political threats. Suburban and rural preferences and tastes, whether vices (like racism and homophobia) or otherwise must therefore be shouted down and banned, and even the most ardent libertarian like Ron Paul for whom it is suggested might hold any such values they view as a political threat.
I'm not interested in a line-by-line fisking of this stuff, although I will ask where anyone has said it is "required" (i.e., presumably at the barrel of a gun) that everybody "respect homosexual behavior" or that vices should be "banned." All I've ever said is that we should name those things for what they are, shame those who use such rhetoric, and decide whether we as libertarians wish to continue to associate with them. I also said it was a decision that each of us had to make as individuals, though I still think we'd be better as a movement without it. It's funny that folks who shout so much about the "right of association" are so upset about others making calls to choose not to associate with them.
What I am interested in is the claim that those who stand in opposition to racism are being accused of being susceptible to using the state to somehow enforce that set of beliefs. First, as Roderick Long argued a few years ago in his "One Cheer for Political Correctness" essay, there's nothing inherently unlibertarian about recognizing the existence of structural racism/sexism etc. nor about standing up and loudly opposing it through non-coercive means. Will Wilkinson offers a different version of a similar theme in the context of the Paul newsletters. Second, throughout the long history of the West and the rest of the world, those who believe in the fundamental inequality of the races and/or believe that "like should stay with like" have been far more willing to use the state to enforce those views than those who have opposed them have.
As David Levy and Sandy Peart have argued, the case for laissez-faire and classical liberalism more broadly finds signfiicant roots in the British debates over race in the mid-19th century, with the classical liberals being in opposition to those who both thought the races were unequal and opposed capitalism/laissez-faire precisely because it was premised on equality and had the effect of improving the lot of the races they thought to be inferior. Those, like Mill, who opposed the Carlyle-Ruskin position of racial inequailty, did so precisely because they believed both that the races were equal in capability and in the idea that free markets would be a path toward increased material equality for non-whites. It was the racists who wished to use the state, as they have throughout history, to enforce their vision of inequality. It was the classical liberals, who would have been called "politically correct" if the epithet existed at the time, who wanted to restrict the state's intervention in the economy (not to mention ending slavery, which is the biggest state intervention of them all) in the name of racial equality. And let's not forget that "On Liberty" remains one of the best reponses to modern-day real statists who really would coercively limit free speech in the name of so-called "political correctness."
Yes, legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 involved some interference with private property and the right of association, but it also did away with a great deal of state-sponsored discrimination and was, in my view, a net gain for liberty. In the longer run, it seems quite clear that classical liberalism/libertarianism has sided with the opponents of racism and that those who viewed the races as unequal were much more likely to use the state to enforce that view than were those who saw the races as equal. To suggest that anti-racism libertarians are somehow secret statists because opposition to racism must necessarily lead to state imposition of those views is both a distortion of the actual arguments people like me have made and flies in the face of a long history of libertarians being both anti-racist and anti-state.
This is our heritage as classical liberals, and it long predates the Old Right of the early/mid 20th century, with its very mixed record on race/ethnicity issues, as a source of inspiration for not just the overall spirit of libertarianism, but its perspective on race in particular.
Aeon J. Skoble
Amy H. Sturgis
I decided I would make a list of My Top Ten Favorite British Writers since 1945.
Of those I chose, four were on the list by The Times:
Six, however, were not:
Daphne du Maurier
David T. Beito
The passage of the new law will be hailed by the War party as a major achievement. But as usual they will misread what really happened.
If the new law was good for ex-Baathists, then the ex-Baathists in parliament will have voted for it and praised it, right? And likely the Sadrists (hard line anti-Baath Shiites) and Kurds would be a little upset.
Instead, parliament's version of this law was spearheaded by Sadrists, and the ex-Baathists in parliament criticized it.
I believe it is now generally agreed that the offensive material in the Ron Paul newsletters was written by someone else. From the extracts published on the web (see below), I would surmise that there were at least two different hands at work. (Incidentally, the writer (inter alia) says that ‘forced segregation’ is an ‘evil’ -- but so too is ‘forced integration’; he also says it is ‘legitimate to remove Jim Crow laws’. These two touches do not appear to be standard racism. The writer also opposes the war on drugs.) -- That apart, there is another aspect I would like to go into here. It is a key point, but it has not been given the stress it deserves.
For how long did the Ron Paul newsletters publish material that is clearly offensive (or may be so regarded), on race & homosexuality? Clearly the time-period involved is critical. It is one thing to publish such material more or less continuously over decades; it is another thing altogether if such comments appeared in a few issues only.
Let me begin with some opinions on this point, taken randomly from the vast numbers now available on the internet:- “allowed the bigotry to go on…for years”; “many instances….over the last two decades”; “printing racist rhetoric over three decades”; “decades worth of…..deeply-held bigotry”; “the views his newsletters have long espoused”; “frequently”; & so on.
Are there any facts so far? The New Republic, 8th Jan 2008, have published extracts from some ten issues on these two topics. Material on race appeared in October, November, December 1990; January, February 1991; June 1992 (a ‘special issue’.) Comments on homosexuality appeared in March, June, August 1990; January 1994. In addition, comments on race were published in December 1989 & in an issue (not further specified) in 1992; & an unspecified issue carried derogatory comments on Barbara Jordan. Thus between December 1989 & January 1994, deplorable views were expressed in some 13 issues, out of the 50 or so published in that period.
Overall, the newsletters appeared from 1978 to ?date?. Thus, on the basis of the published extracts & other quotations/references -- this caveat is absolutely crucial -- it can be said:- Over some 30 years & possibly 360 issues of the newsletter (assuming it was published monthly), offensive material appeared in some 13 issues, concentrated in a four-year period.
Regarding the caveat: Copies of the newsletter are available in two libraries. The University of Kansas Library has various issues running from June 1977 to Feb 1985. The Wisconsin Historical Society Library has a collection on microfilm. The issues run from Jan 1988 to 2006 (some are missing.)
The key question: Is the same sort of material to be found in some -- a few? many? -- of these other issues? Or is it confined (more or less) to the 13 issues known so far? The answers will tell us the exact nature of the problem: whether it is long-standing, or a short episode. Each of these raises an entirely different range & type of question.
In short: What is needed is solid evidence. The only way to get any answers, is to go through all of the available newsletters. At present, the copies are accessible to anyone who is in Lawrence (Kansas) or Madison (Wisconsin) & cares to inquire at the appropriate library. Thus the material is already available, tho’ to a small number of people (so far.) It is of course (technically) possible (for someone) to digitise the copies & place them on the web. How much this involves (& what problems, if any, arise), I do not know. But some such measure would help to provide solid evidence. In its absence, we cannot even know what exactly we are to speculate & surmise about.
Addendum: In light of (A) some of the comments below, & (B) the suggestion that the newsletters are, after all, some 15 years in the past & repudiated by Ron Paul, I should like to add a few words of clarification.
1. I would like it to be crystal clear that I am interested only in clarifying Ron Paul’s position. He certainly stopped the objectionable material when he learnt about it, & regretted (eg) the attack on Barbara Jordan. But for how long had similar material been published before then? To repeat: A short period is one thing; a longer period is another thing altogether.
2. The newsletters available at the Ron Paul Freedom Report (Jan/Feb 1999 - July 2007), reprint certain speeches in the House; some issues consist of comments on policy matters. So it is the period upto December 1998 which needs to be cleared up. Apart from the 13 issues referred to above, what is in the others? The answer will tell us one of the following: (a) Objectionable material appeared from time to time over a large number of years. In that case, was Ron Paul too trusting, over too long a period? (b) Such material is found only in the period Dec 1989-Jan 1994. Here, there is a lack of ‘closer attention’ -- which Ron Paul has publicly acknowledged.
To repeat again: Ron Paul’s position can be clarified only after we have the answer.
3. It should be clear that (a) & (b) are not the same. That is the reason for dragging out these newsletters. No doubt ‘It was in another country & besides, the wench is dead’, but what happened before?
[I]t's all classic Ron Paul: Get rid of the income tax and replace it with nothing; find the money to support those dependent on Social Security and Medicare by shutting down the worldwide empire, while giving the young a path out of the programs; don't pass a draft; have a foreign policy of friendship and trade, not wars and subsidies. He attacks the drug war, condemning the idea of arresting people who have never harmed anyone else's person or property. He stresses [note well] the disproportionate and unfair treatment minorities get from drug law enforcement. One of his biggest applause lines, to my astonishment, involves getting rid of the Federal Reserve....
He wraps up the speech with three things he doesn't want to do that sum up the Ron Paul message First,"I don't want to run your life. We all have different values. I wouldn't know how to do it, I don't have the authority under the Constitution, and I don't have the moral right." Second:"I don't want to run the economy. People run the economy in a free society." And third:" I don't want to run the world.... We don't need to be imposing ourselves around the world."
Doherty goes on to note,"Paul does not mention abortion or immigration...."
(I am glad he stresses that the drug war is an atrocity, with members of minorities bearing the brunt. But even here there is ambiguity. Does he oppose only the federal drug war? Or would he oppose prohibition by the states too. He is not always clear. Often he says it's a state matter.)
I quote this at length because most of us have never heard Ron Paul's stump speech. It is clear to me that if you only see Ron Paul on cable news or in televised debates, you do not get the full picture of his campaign.
Having said this, there are obviously areas where Ron Paul does not take anything close to the libertarian position. Immigration is one example. (I'll leave aside the especially contentious abortion issue, except to say I disagree with Ron Paul.) My views on immigration are readily available on the web, so I won't rehash them here. It seems to me Ron Paul takes the position he does because of his attachment to national sovereignty, about which more below. Let me point out just one difficulty that his position creates for the rest of his pro-freedom philosophy. Ron Paul has promised to pardon everyone who has been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. In other words, he doesn't think one should be punished for breaking the drug laws. I assume he believes that legislation which violates the natural law of liberty is illegitimate. That's a proper libertarian position. Logically, he should also promise to pardon anyone who has violated the immigration laws because, like the drug laws, they are state restrictions on behavior that violates no one's person or property. Moreover, he has praised the civil disobedience of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Ron Paul needs to reconcile this contradiction. To his credit, he opposes a national ID and a wall on the border. I presume he would oppose eminent domain to force property owners on the Texas-Mexican border to let a wall be built.
Ron Paul has taken other positions, or at least implied other positions, that conflict with his overall message. If you look at the issues list at his campaign website you will find no section on international trade. Trade is mentioned only in the section on"American Independence and Sovereignty." In that section you find the words"I like free trade," both in print and in a video, but that is all he says in favor of free trade. They are overshadowed by his Lou Dobbs-style remarks condemning the the multinational organizations that threaten"our independence as a nation." On the site and in the debates he never explicitly distinguishes free trade and its undeniable benefits from those organizations. He never praises imports and open markets or points out that exports are the price we pay for goods from abroad. He never embraces the international division of labor. The overall message is one of suspicion of engagement with foreigners. Nowhere do you get a sense that NAFTA and WTO are bad because they may stand in the way of total free trade. You certainly don't hear calls for a unilateral and unconditional repeal of all U.S. trade restrictions.
Ron Paul's position on trade is not helped by his alarm on the alleged NAFTA highway, which he describes as part of a government plan to dissolve the borders within North America. Suffice it say that there is no such plot. (See this.) It's great to oppose eminent domain, but it's damaging to hitch that cause to imagined blueprints for a super North American government. In other respects, however, dissolving the political borders would be a good thing because that would permit free trade and free movement.
Ron Paul is also doing a poor job of presenting the free-market position on medicine. His website has some generally good, if vague, statements, but how many people read them? When he's been asked about medical care on television, he sounds anything but libertarian. Mostly I've heard him say that if we weren't spending billions of dollars on the empire"we could take care of our people at home." That Dennis Kucinich's line. Maybe he means the money could be left in the taxpayers' pockets, but he never says that.
Look at the opportunity he's missing. He's a doctor! He should be pointing out that pervasive government regulation of medicine and insurance has virtually destroyed the medical marketplace. I've heard him say nothing to debunk the calls for a government-paid system, mandatory insurance, or the other unlibertarian positions the other candidates take.
He's missing another opportunity with energy. In response to the fascist central planning of energy proposed by the other GOP candidates, Ron Paul said ... nothing. There are great free-market lessons to be drawn. Why isn't he drawing them?
This reminds me a general point. Ron Paul's position on empire and the Fed are great. I'm glad he pounds away at them because they outrageously burden regular people. Moreover, he is right to point out that these issues affect many others. But he can go too far in doing that. The erosion of the dollar certainly is part of the explanation for why medical care and energy are more costly. But there are specific reasons as well, such as regulation. If all Ron Paul does is tie every issue back to empire and the Fed, people will think he knows nothing of other issues. They may even doubt his single-cause explanation for all the ills in the world.
I don't think I am nitpicking. Medical care, trade, and energy are issues people talk about. In the debate the other night, Mitt Romney promised to"protect every job in America." Where was Ron Paul? There is no reason not to clearly endorse free markets here. He should be channeling Henry Hazlitt. No one should mistake Ron Paul for Lou Dobbs or Pat Buchanan.
Ron Paul did not do well in what is regarded as the most libertarian state in the U.S., New Hampshire. That may signal the end of the campaign, although surprises could lie ahead, in Nevada possibly. If the campaign goes on, there is time to make adjustments so that the program is even more clearly pro-freedom. I don't fault him for his emphasis on constitutionalism. One cannot treat a presidential campaign as a seminar in the fundamentals of libertarianism. Ron Paul is using the Constitution as short hand for limiting government power. I have strong reservations about that approach, but I can understand it in an election appeal. It's for the rest of us to fill out the story for those newly interested in the libertarian philosophy.
I've left the newsletter scandal for last, and here things get difficult. I doubt that Ron Paul ever held the odious views expressed in those newsletters. No one has come forward to claim that Ron Paul has ever spoken that way. Those views are certainly not reflected in his platform. My hunch is that over the years he has put his confidence in the wrong people. He may have had a sense of what was going on, but did not want to know the details. This doesn't absolve him of responsibility, but it does mean that he is not to be put in the same category as the author(s) and anyone else who had a hand in putting out such garbage in his name.
That said, I wish Ron Paul would more fully explain what went on. When did he first learn of the offensive material and what did he do about it? Most important, are the people responsible still advising him? He wouldn't even have to name names to answer these questions.
I continue to think that Ron Paul's campaign can make a contribution to the cause of freedom. As I've written before, it helps if libertarians speak the language of the people around them."Ron Paul" still means: End the war now and expand freedom by shrinking the government. Yet I remain concerned over the newsletter issue. This is not a matter of getting to the bottom of the episode or rendering judgment on Ron Paul. It's bigger than that. It's about protecting the libertarian philosophy and movement from association with bigotry. That is no small matter. Ron Paul has made himself a portal to libertarianism. His campaign has become a first contact with the movement for many people. It would be a disaster if just as people were discovering it they were given reason to associate it with racism and other bigotry. People make nonrational associations all the time. Most people don't have the time to systematically study the libertarian philosophy and its noble heritage. They will form impressions based on things that drift into their range of vision, not taking the time to go below the surface. Hopefully, the newcomers who hear about the newsletters and then hear Ron Paul's repudiation of the views expressed will believe him and not associate racism and anti-gay sentiment with libertarians. But we can't count on that. So the rest of us will have to find ways to explain that those views represent the opposite of libertarianism.
Ron Paul could help by giving a more complete explanation.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Read Camillo Mac Bica who explains that"[u]ltimately, warriors fight, kill, and accept injury and death, neither for god nor for country, but from a personal code of honor, loyalty, commitment, and accountability to one's comrades."
You can view the paintings of John Singer Sargent here and many of his wartime paintings here. And you can find out more about him here and here.
David T. Beito
Democrat Barack Obama on Sunday unveiled an economic stimulus package costing up to $120 billion that his campaign said would put money in the hands of workers and seniors, stem the foreclosure crisis and cover state budget shortfalls.
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
I see that my article Aristotles Egalitarian Utopia is now online at Google Books. (The notice says Some pages are omitted from this book preview, but that seems to refer to the entire anthology, not specifically to my article, which is complete.) This is the paper I delivered at a conference in Niels Bohrs house in Copenhagen almost exactly four years ago. It offers a somewhat libertarian spin on some of Aristotles political ideas.
David T. Beito
Paul disassociates himself from the newsletters (although not from all the people who wrote them) and the people running his campaign have no connection to that older, nastier iteration of his career. The campaign was growing so much larger and more interesting than the conspiratorial Paul circle of the late 80s and mid-90s.
In any case, the Paul pile-on is starting to get ridiculous. You can blame Paul and the ghostwriters for some of this, for keeping what was in the newsletters so quiet, but simply because so many of them are now out I'm seeing"damning" quotes that pad the lists without making Paul look out of line. The excitable Dan Koffler compiles some that wouldn't sound out of place, frankly, in a conservative blog or in National Review
I’m catching up on some of the reaction around the libertarian blogosphere this morning as a windstorm knocked out my internet connection yesterday (though I did get tons of reading done!). There’s too much good stuff out there to link it all, but I do specifically commend Radley Balko’s piece at Reason’s Hit & Run, especially this bit:
Of course, Paul was never going to win. So the real concern here is what happens to the momentum for the ideas his campaign has revived. The danger is that the ignorance in those newsletters becomes inextricably tethered to the ideas that have drawn people to Paul's campaign, and soils those ideas for years to come. You needn't be a gold bug or buy into conspiracies about Jewish bankers, for example, to see the merit in allowing for private, competing currencies (what PayPal once aspired to become). You needn't believe blacks are animals or savages or genetically inferior to believe that the welfare state's perverse incentives have done immeasurable damage to black families. You needn't be a confederate sympathizer to appreciate the wisdom of federalism. You needn't be an anti-Semite to wonder about the implications of the U.S.'s broad support for Israel.
Some of these ideas have always faced a certain hurdle in the national debate. To argue against welfare, hate crimes laws, and affirmative action, libertarians (and conservatives) always have to clear the racism card first. To argue for ending the drug war or knocking out huge federal agencies, we always have to clear the"'I'm not a kook" card. Today's news, combined with Paul's high profile, I think carries the potential to make all of that a little more difficult.
What has surprised me, I must admit, is the fact that so many fairly prominent libertarian commenters are surprised by all of this. First of all, these newsletters have been brought up before, though perhaps not as many examples, nor as many really offensive ones. But more important, those of us who have been paying attention to the libertarian movement for the last 15 years knew that the paleo element was growing and was associated with all kinds of unsavory views from the ugly segment of the hard right. Did all of these supposed observers of the libertarian scene not pay attention to the appearances that Paul has made at all kinds of fringe events? Did they not pay attention to the links between people associated with Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute (Paul’s intellectual home) and racists, anti-Semites, Holocaust skeptics, homophobes, Confederacy praisers, and conspiracy theorists of all types, all of which have been ably discussed and documented by Right Watch and Tom Palmer, among others? Perhaps the under 35 crowd doesn’t have the longer-run history that those of us in our 40s do.
Those of us who have been paying attention knew of Ron Paul’s first or second-hand association with all of these groups and we knew their odious ideas. We knew that people like Lew Rockwell were long-time associates of Ron Paul’s and thus the recent speculation that his pen is prominent in those nasty newsletters comes as no surprise as well. (And, if true, explains why Ron Paul isn’t naming names, as Rockwell is not just a “former aide” but a current advisor.) In my much commented-upon posts from last month, I tried to raise this warning flag in a more subtle way. My closing comment suggesting that the Paul campaign was not clearly a net benefit to libertarianism was my way of expressing precisely the fear that has now come home to roost and is so nicely captured by Balko: libertarians are going to have to spend more energy than ever explaining why we’re not racists, etc. as we get linked to the nastiness in those newsletters. (Glen Whitman explains how a small sample problem can create this burden for libertarians. I think he’s right, and these newsletters now make more people’s “first contact” with libertarianism the sort that will make us have to climb uphill even more often.)
Is there now any doubt about why Stormfront and KKK folks are supporting the Paul campaign? This is not an"accident" - his name has been used to cultivate their support, as these newsletters demonstrate. This is not guilt by association - it's reaping what was sown 15 years ago and since.
So, as Lenin once asked, what is to be done? I hope this causes libertarians who are rightly horrified by the bad stuff in those newsletters to wake the hell up and realize the ways in which this nastiness has infected parts of the movement over the last 15 years or so. Read what Right Watch and Palmer have documented and decide for yourself if those people and organizations represent the ideas that attracted you to libertarianism and the Paul campaign. And if they do not, then stop giving them the funds and attention to continue promoting ideas that you object to. Each and every libertarian needs to make that decision for him or herself. I hope that the attention brought to these newsletters leads libertarians to do some real internal soul-searching about what kind of movement we want. And I really hope we can find a way to get the new folks brought in by the campaign to realize that there are plenty of alternatives out there to the “paranoid style of libertarianism” (a style that is more anti-federal government than pro-freedom, if you ask me). Those of us who have been around awhile and who reject the ugliness need to help the new folks find their way.
I’ll end with a bit of a personal note. I’ve been a libertarian for over 25 years and a practicing Austrian economist since the late 80s. When the Mises Institute was founded, I was full of hope for what it might do. I participated in some early seminars and it provided me the chance to meet and interact with Murray Rothbard, who remains one of the most important intellectual influences on me, whatever his flaws. But by the early 90s, about the time of those newsletters, I began to see the direction it was taking and broke off any association with them. In my letter (this was pre-email) asking them to remove me from all of their lists, I think I referred to them as something like “a fascist fist in a libertarian glove.” Although that particular phrasing might have been an example of over the top youthful exuberance, nothing that has happened in the 15 years or so since has caused me to change my mind about the underlying point and the damage being done their approach. The decision to not associate with them (echoed by David Bernstein the other day) is a decision that I continue to not only not regret but to have a certain pride about.
To this day, I continue to be frustrated by friends and colleagues, many of whom I respect very deeply, who think I’m being silly or paranoid or obstinate when I raise concerns about the paleo crowd. I’m also frustrated by their willingness to lend their names to organizations with some agendas and associations that seem to run so much against what I know to be their vision of libertarianism. I would ask these friends to look at the material in those newsletters. Look at the research Right Watch has done about the way in which the paleos are linked to some really ugly stuff. And after you look at it, decide whether it isn’t time for those of us who have a different vision of libertarianism to stand up for that vision and disassociate ourselves from the people and organizations whose vision appears to take us down a much darker path.
The shame about the Mises Institute specifically is that it has done some very good things, the top two of which are making available an amazing set of online resources and being a consistent voice against the war. I think those good things have allowed many libertarians and Austrians to overlook the darker side of the paleos. Now that dark side has become rather public dirty laundry that may well sink the Paul campaign more quickly and certainly has the very real danger of setting back the libertarian movement in the process. It makes me all very sad that not enough people seem to have paid attention or taken it seriously, even if I feel a certain sense of “I told you so.”
I really hope the events of the last few days wake libertarians the hell up to the nasty ideas that are being promulgated in our name and motivate those who have a different vision to repudiate them loudly and publicly.
"Message to the young supporters of Obama. Politics is not one quick dash. You have to stay and work. The Clintons have been at the game for 30 years. They don't give up. They've come back from the dead many, many times."
Read the entire article and this one as well. Don't forget that Ron Paul won more votes in New Hampshire than the other antiwar candidates, Richardson, Kucinich and Gravel got, combined. And don't let a Giuliani supporter determine the parameters of the debate.
Aeon J. Skoble
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – In response to an article published by The New Republic, Ron Paul issued the following statement:
“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.
“In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’
“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.
“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”
David T. Beito
I almost feel like thanking Fox News for excluding him, almost.
David T. Beito
Just a few reactions of my own:
1. Like many of the RP supporting commenters, I'd like to see scans of the actual newsletters so the full context can be seen. UPDATE: the scans are here. (HT: Jason Briggeman.)
2. Some of what those newsletters say I would call racist etc., but certainly not all of it and perhaps not even the majority of it. Criticism of Israel is not ipso facto anti-Semitic and I see nothing in the piece that I would call anti-Semitic. Name calling isn't the same thing as racism - Barbara Jordan frequently did play the victim and was, arguably, a socialist. Some of what Kirchick sees as ugly is also just policy disagreement. Some of it is bad though.
3. I found it interesting that Kirchick made an explicit connection to the Mises Institute and distinguished their"brand" of libertarianism from the more"urbane" of Cato or Reason. That will increase the fund raising at the Mises Institute for sure! As someone more sympathetic to the Cato/Reason brand, I do think differentiating those products is important and I'm glad Kirchick did so.
4. Kirchick's attempt to turn the Mises Institute's work on secession into ipso facto evidence of racism is really pathetic. In and of itself, of course, secession is very much a noble libertarian tradition. I guess it's naive to think that journalists are not so simple-minded as to be unable to separate the general principle of secession from the particulars of the Civil War. A smear job is a smear job. Of course the charge he's leveled here is an obvious risk when the same organization talks about secession and then also engages in Civil War revisionism and Lincoln bashing, and offers kind words about the Confederacy and the culture of the South.
In general, this is a mostly recycled set of charges that the campaign has dealt with before. My own view is that RP is not nearly as guilty as Kirchick would have it but he's also not innocent either. If you have a newsletter with your name on it and you have byline-free commentaries, some of which say some nasty stuff, you best be prepared to be called to account for it. As I said in my earlier series of posts, RP has walked the line with this stuff for a long time, so it's no surprise that it would be fodder for smear job that mixes unfair charges with accurate ones.
Addendum: at some level, the very fact that Paul has a background such that these newsletters and their comments exist is the real problem here. Imagine what a libertarian candidacy without his baggage might have done.
That said, he observes,"What the support for Ron Paul among potentially progressive voters signifies to me is the failure of today's left to enunciate an anti-imperialist position better than that put forth by the libertarian right."
Jacobs concludes,"In fact, a vote for Ron Paul is certainly a better use of the franchise than a vote for almost any of the other candidates currently running. For better or worse."
I read his analysis with interest. I suggest that libertarians might usefully consider his reasons for not supporting Ron Paul (and libertarian ideas) and how they would respond to his arguments.