Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Look at this Ron Paul Racism thing

Ron Paul's rise in the polls brings with it increased scrutiny. One of the few "sideshow" issues (there aren't many) that the media is trying to raise is regarding supposedly racist newsletters that he supposedly wrote.

Let's look at those claims a little more in detail. If you are think this country is on the wrong track and that freedom is under assault, please ensure that you are making an informed decision instead of relying on "edited reality". Please read on as well as the links referenced to get a better understanding of this controversy.

First it is important to realize that the analysis of this has been going on for nearly 20 years. This is not some new revelation. He has dealt with this "controversy" and explicitly answered questions about it dozens and dozens of times. He has said that he didn't write it, didn't proof every article and thus wasn't aware of these statements when they were published (often ghostwritten in his name). However, Ron did take "moral responsibility" for these statements as they were published in a newsletter carrying his name. While some could take this as an honorable position reflecting a man of integrity, many have instead chosen to interpret this as admission that he wrote the statements in these newsletters (thus the reason some will claim that he admitted to writing them, only to change his mind later).

Make no mistake, this is political. There are those that are pushing this less with the actual belief that Ron Paul is a racist than with the goal of running him out of the race. Research it, don't succumb to smears. 

The Newsletter Comments
Several others have done a much more thorough job of analyzing the individual comments themselves that I will be able to and demonstrate that, in context, many of these comments are not nearly as incendiary as they appear when selectively cropped and taken out of context. 

For example, one of the supposedly racist quotes goes: 
our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists—and they can be identified by the color of their skin.
However, when you put the sentence fragment into full context:
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.
It is explicitly saying that, while unfair, the result of the riots in LA will cause the racists views of many to increase. 

Another example:
only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions
But again, when viewed in full context, 
Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action. I know many who fall into this group personally and they deserve credit—not as representatives of a racial group, but as decent people.
What it calls sensible is explicitly stated and is not only not controversial, but is also not surprising to advocates of liberty. In addition, this wasn't an offhand remark demonstrating the author's bias against blacks or implying that virtually all blacks are stupid. This was making an observation about the results of opinion polls and political views. Finally, the last sentence is an extremely non-racist remark. As before, when you see the full context, this comment isn't racist, but is actually the opposite!

If you truly are concerned that Ron Paul is a racist and want to understand the context for many of the comments, please read the analysis in the links above for yourself. If you think they are trying to twist reality and make excuses, that's fine. I think it would be a disservice to stretch the truth to cover any politician, Ron Paul included. But above all, don't fall prey to those that wish to scare you away from a candidate based on a few carefully cropped quotes. Find out for yourself.

However, let me be clear. There are still a few offhanded comments that I personally still believe are unacceptable and should rightly be repudiated and condemned as Ron has done. The explanation for some of them is only to clarify how few of the truly unacceptable comments there are.

Ron Paul's Answer
When this issue first came up in the mid 1990s, and he was made aware of it, Ron Paul claimed moral responsibility for what was said in the newsletters under his name, tried to explain some of the comments, and repudiated others and overall tried to apologize for what ultimately was his responsibility since it went out under his name. However, his advisers told him he should avoid the appearance of "passing the buck" and so advised him to not indicate that someone else wrote them - thus leading to the impression that he was admitting to being the author. In 2001, he finally stated that, in fact, he did not write them and that he was pretty far removed from dealing with the actual editing/proofing of the individual articles and wasn't even aware of them until much, much later. Since then, he has claimed consistently that he was not the author, that, in fact, he was unaware of them at the time and that he ardently repudiates the very ideas implied by such comments. 

Ron Paul's [Actual] Words
Let's look at some of the words that Ron Paul has used regarding race and racism.

Ron Paul on Racists:
Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist.
The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.
- Ron Paul, Government and Racism, April 16, 2007
In addition to that, Ron Paul has consistently spoken negatively about racism and grouping minorities together many times, both in interviews, articles and in many of his books. And many people are drawn to him expressly because of his views of racism as ugly.

Other "Evidence"
Beyond these few quotes, there is virtually nothing in his entire career of public service that reflects a racist mindset. However, there are a few stances that Paul has taken that are used to make that accusation. Most of these have been addressed or discussed in some manner.

The Civil Rights Act
One "evidence" of Ron Paul's supposed racism is that he has said that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights act of 1964. When the statement is left at that, it seems pretty damning. After all, who other than a racist would be against the Civil Rights Act? Well, Ron once gave his reasoning on the House floor.

The crux:
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties. The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society.
You can disagree with him. You can disagree with his view that ending Jim Crow laws (remember that these laws were govt laws that required that businesses be segregated) would have economically harmed racist businesses and would have eventually ended segregation without the federal intervention and infringement of private property rights. However, do not fall for the simplistic narrative that his position is due to racism.

After all, why would a man (a politician at that) get up in front of Congress and national television and condemn a nearly universally popular law that would surely bring accusations of racism, if it was for something other than a political principle?

White Supremacists Contributions
In his 2008 campaign, Ron Paul got campaign contributions from a white supremacist. When Ron Paul decided to keep the money and not reject the donation, more cries of racism erupted. Ron Paul's campaign said that they had no problem using a racists money to further the cause of freedom (and that it was that much less money for a racist to spend). In addition, they reiterated the point that Paul's positions on issues are based on principle, not on the wishes of contributors - especially not a racist and especially not for a mere $500. In addition, be aware that the donor himself recognized that Ron Paul is not a racist, but said that in the name of freedom, his policies was why he was supporting Ron Paul.

Again, we're talking about a grand total of $500. Why would a politician keep that gargantuan amount of money if he knew the political insinuation it would create?

What others say
Many have come to the aid of Ron Paul. Life long associates, many of whom are black. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams (both black) are both ardent supporters of Ron Paul. In fact, Ron Paul has stated that he would consider Walter Williams as a vice presidential candidate.

In addition, other black leaders have come out and rejected the idea that Ron Paul is a racist.

Other points

Some other points that have been made 
  1. During the 2008 campaign, when asked for potential Vice Presidential running mates, he indicated Walter Williams, a black man, as a strong possibility. In addition, Mr Williams claims Paul as a close friend and claimed that he’s one of 3 people the founders would even talk to.
  2. Nelson Lender, the director of the NAACP in Austin, Texas said last campaign that he’s known Ron Paul personally for 20 years and is sure he’s not a racist.
  3. The foundation of the economic and libertarian beliefs that Ron Paul advocates come partially from the work of two Jews, Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard who he has .
  4. One of the strongest characteristics of Ron’s politics is his consistency - regardless of popularity. However, of the few issues he's changes his position on is the death penalty. Why? Because it is disproportionately used on blacks and minorities.

Occam's razor
Another thing consider, which do you think is more likely?
  • that Ron Paul lent his name to a newsletter with which he was only partially involved and that those managing it wrote things "in his name" that didn't reflect Ron Paul's actual views?
  • Or that out of 30+ years of public life, 12+ terms of congressional campaigns, 3 presidential campaigns, thousands of speeches and interviews, hundreds of articles (actually written by Paul), a half dozen full books, and his long congressional authorship/sponsorship/voting record, that these half dozen quotes from a newsletter he was only partially involved in, reveal the TRUE nature of racism he keeps a secret and is just waiting to spring on everyone?
Ron Paul has a history of anti-racist comments and writings. He has numerous close black friends and colleagues. He has publicly expressed his admiration for several black figures from history. The only evidence of his racism are a handful of comments in some newsletters with which he had questionable involvement (and many of these comments, when considered in context are not as incendiary as they are implied).

Beyond all this, it prompts the question, what exactly do those who accuse him of racism fear that he would do if he were elected President? Unless they believe that his consistency is all a ruse and he will, once in power, completely change his positions and start implementing policies in opposition of his stated views, there's not much they can accuse him of trying to implement that he himself doesn't openly advocate.

Add to that the policies he advocates that would run counter to a racist such as pardoning non-violent drug offenders (of which the vastly disproportionate number are black), ending the drug war, and reducing govt spending on war and bailouts.

Ron Paul is a very principled man whose views and policies, while often extremely unpopular, are nevertheless focused on the Constitution and liberty and freedom for all, regardless of race. 

Other links on this:
Justin Raimondo
Thomas Woods

This is starting to be repeated in several places. References to a 1995 CSPAN interview where Ron said:
But along with that, I also put out a political type of business investment newsletter that sort of covered all these areas.  And it covered a lot about what was going on in Washington, and financial events, and especially some of the monetary events.  Since I had been especially interested in monetary policy, had been on the banking committee, and still very interested in, in that subject, that this newsletter dealt with it.  This had to do with the value of the dollar, the pros and cons of the gold standard, and of course the disadvantages of all the high taxes and spending that our government seems to continue to do.
Followed by some type of accusation along the lines of: For some guy who's claims to not have known what was in these newsletters, he sure seemed to be familiar with them then. 

Come on now. This is supposed to be some kind of repudiation of Paul's declaration that he didn't know about the articles? Listen, I can tell you the basic concepts covered in the Fly Fishing Newsletter (analysis of different types of lures on types of fish, types of knots, reels, and casts for various locations, various fishing spots at different times of the year, as well as various types of apparel) and I've never even read it! "For a guy who's never read the newsletter, I seem to have a pretty good idea of what is in those newsletters." 

Simply because you know the topics and concepts, heck, even if you've read many or even most of the articles it publishes doesn't mean you've proofed every article.

I hope this isn't supposed to be journalism.

1 comment :

  1. This is great. Thank you for taking the time to put all of this together.