Thursday, May 08, 2008

More fleas in the Paul Revolution.

Lie down with dogs and you wake up with fleas -- so goes the old saying. And it is true. Ron Paul thought he had the racism issue behind him. You will remember that it was shown that the Ron Paul Newsletter had run racist and bigoted comments over a period of some years.

That revelation caused some problems for Paul, not the least he had memory lapses apparently. He couldn’t remember who wrote the material and said he had no interest in finding out who was responsible for saddling him with those views. Paul’s position on the newsletters evolved over the years. Originally he said he stood by the comments. Later he said they were taking out of context but said they reflected his views. Later he said that he didn’t write them. At one point he said he the author was a former employee but later said he didn’t remember who the author was. At no point was he willing to ask the editor of the newsletters, his close friend Lew Rockwell, who wrote the material that Rockwell published. And Rockwell refused to talk to anyone about the situation.

The problem is that Paul knows his campaign has attracted a lot of racist types. The wannabe Nazis at Stormfront were cheering Paul on in rather large numbers. The Klan ran links to the Paul site on their own web page. One can’t necessarily blame a candidate for the type of people they attract though it does raise questions as to why the candidate is attractive to them.

But racist problem just won’t go away. And it won’t go away because Paul’s campaign or his campaign people won’t let it go away.

Take the campaign of William Johnson who is running for Superior Court judge in Los Angeles. Johnson is a racist. He wrote an amendment, which he proposed for the Constitution. It said:

“No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asian Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Easter, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood, provided that Hispanic whites, defined as anyone with an Hispanic ancestor, may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are in appearance indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is in the British Isles or Northwestern Europe. Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”

I find it cheeky, to say the least, that this moron wants to strip the original inhabitants of this continent of their right to be citizens. But such is the hatred of the Far Right bigots.

Johnson previous ran for Congress in Wyoming and his campaign manager was some moronic teenager who also worked part-time as an “organizer” for the Ku Klux Klan. Next he was off to Arizona where he tried to run for Congress as a Democrat. His main issue was deporting individuals of Mexican descent. Of the five candidates seeking the nomination he came in last place. His campaign manager in that race was an anti-immigrant activist associated with the so-called Minute Men.

Now Johnson’s campaign manager is Holly Clearman who is also the state co-ordinator for the Ron Paul campaign in California. When Johnson’s racist inclinations were exposed he was defended by Roger Pruyne, who describes himself as the “Ron Paul Hollywood Activists Organizer”. Pruyne says the bad publicity that Johnson received should “unite” the Paulists because “this is not an attack on Bill Johnson” but “an attack on the highest position any of us has sought to be elected to in Southern California, it is an attack on the Ron Paul Revolution.” Nor does it help matters that Johnson's "meet up" group is actually a Ron Paul meet up group that is now backing him. The headline on the page says "Bill Johnson for Judge Meetup" but the location is at

It got worse. Apparently Ron Paul officially endorsed this cretin for his electoral bid. Of course, once the negative publicity started Paul retracted his endorsement. Paul’s chief of staff, Tom Lizardo, admits that Johnson’s “name ended up on the endorsement list” but insists that it happened somehow, without going through the endorsement process that Paul is using. Apparently the endorsement process is managed by Paul the same way his newsletter was -- without any process of accountability for Paul himself. Lizardo says: “In light of this fact, and in light of the revelations regarding [Johnson’s] past statements and associations, Dr Paul has retracted the endorsement and hopes that, in the future, the process that has been put into place will mitigate the likelihood of similar errors.”

Reading the response from Paul’s followers is always amusing, there is a cult-like refusal on the part of many to accept any problems as being valid. Replies I have seen have denied that Johnson is a racist, though Johnson himself has admitted he wrote the racist amendment in question. Others have spread the story that Johnson was never endorsed by Paul even though Paul’s own campaign admits he was endorsed.

I remember Paul’s 1988 campaign very well and Paul was no racist. Nor was he anti-immigration and he opposed efforts by the INS to deport “illegal” workers. In fact, the campaign in 1988 called for the abolition of the INS. That was in the platform on which Ron Paul ran.

But Paul has shifted his views away from his previous libertarian positions toward a Christian-Right view. His anti-immigration stand has been a major beacon attracting the bigots to his campaign. Paul then wanted to change the Constitution as well. His change would strip people born in the U.S. of automatic citizenship, as the Founders intended. Instead citizenship would be based on the citizenship of the parents. This resonated with the racist Right as well. In fact this was a major part of Johnson’s amendment.

Add into this Paul’s newsletters and his friendly attitude toward racist groups like the League of the South and it is clear why Paul continues to attract the support of Klanners and bigots like David Duke. I still don’t think Paul is a racist himself. But I also believe he doesn’t mind have the support of racists and that he is following the strategy that his good friend Lew Rockwell outlined some years ago. Julian Sanchez, at Reason, outlined that strategy well so I will quote him on it:

The newsletters' obsession with blacks and gays was of a piece with a conscious political strategy adopted at that same time by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. After breaking with the Libertarian Party following the 1988 presidential election, Rockwell and Rothbard formed a schismatic "paleolibertarian" movement, which rejected what they saw as the social libertinism and leftist tendencies of mainstream libertarians. In 1990, they launched the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, where they crafted a plan they hoped would midwife a broad new "paleo" coalition.

Rockwell explained the thrust of the idea in a 1990 Liberty essay entitled "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism." To Rockwell, the LP was a "party of the stoned," a halfway house for libertines that had to be "de-loused." To grow, the movement had to embrace older conservative values. "State-enforced segregation," Rockwell wrote, "was wrong, but so is State-enforced integration. State-enforced segregation was not wrong because separateness is wrong, however. Wishing to associate with members of one's own race, nationality, religion, class, sex, or even political party is a natural and normal human impulse."

The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992 Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement." Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an "unholy alliance of 'corporate liberal' Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America."

Anyone with doubts about the composition of the "parasitic Underclass" could look to the regular "PC Watch" feature of the Report, in which Rockwell compiled tale after tale of thuggish black men terrifying petite white and Asian women. (Think Birth of a Nation crossed with News of the Weird.) The list of PC outrages in the February 1993 issue, for example, cited a Washington Post column on films that feature "plenty of interracial sex, and nobody noticing," a news article about black members of the Southern Methodist University marching band "engaged in mass shoplifting while in Japan," and a sob story about a Korean shop-owner who shot a black shoplifter and assailant in the head: The travesty is that Mrs. Du got five years probation, and must cancel a trip to Korea.

The populist outreach program centered on tax reduction, abolition of welfare, elimination of "the entire 'civil rights' structure, which tramples on the property rights of every American," and a police crackdown on "street criminals." "Cops must be unleashed," Rothbard wrote, "and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error." While they're at it, they should "clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares?" To seal the deal with social conservatives, Rothbard urged a federalist compromise in their direction on "pornography, prostitution, or abortion." And because grassroots organizing is "plodding and boring," this new paleo coalition would need to be kick-started by "high-level, preferably presidential, political campaigns."

The presidential campaign Rothbard and Rockwell supported in 1988 was Ron Paul's run on the Libertarian Party ticket. In 1992, they were again ready to back Paul, until Pat Buchanan convinced the obstetrician to withdraw and back his conservative challenge to then-president Bush. "We have a dream," Rockwell wrote in that same January 1992 edition of RRR, "and perhaps someday it will come to pass. (Hell, if 'Dr.' King can have a dream, why can't we?) Our dream is that, one day, we Buchananites can present Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the liberal and conservative and centrist elites, with a dramatic choice....We can say: 'Look, gang: you have a choice, it's either Pat Buchanan or David Duke.'"

This strategy, long ago outlined by Paul’s close friend, Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard, another close friend before his death, causes me to question my first sentence here. I said that if you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas. But with a strategy like this I start to get the impression that the intention was not to lie down with the dogs at all. They were lying down with the fleas and the dogs just happened to be there.

Libertarian ideas have nothing in common with the sort of scum that this strategy attempts to attract. Libertarianism is, in my opinion, a highly moral, highly humane philosophy that treats individuals as ends in themselves and which respects the rights of all people. The attempt to attract the bigoted vote is not going to turn bigots into libertarians. Unfortunately it appears more likely to turn libertarians into bigots. The libertarian movement ought to be clear and firm on the issue -- bigots are not welcome. If you can’t treat others as individuals, but only as some member of a vast collective, then you are not an individualist and you are not the friend of liberty.

The reality is that every movement in history that has tried to appeal to base prejudices has turned out authoritarian not libertarian. Unfortunately the passion of hate is often greater than the love for liberty. To attempt to merge these messages is a error of monumental proportion in addition to being morally repugnant.

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