Photo by Gage Skidmore
Now that Ron Paul is finally considered a legitimate presidential contender in the top tier of candidates, people are naturally looking for any way they can to tear him down. Apparently, the best thing they could find, and the thing that a disturbing number of people are starting to make a big brouhaha about, is several newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s, called the Ron Paul Survival Report, Ron Paul Freedom Report, and Ron Paul Political Report, which contained some arguably racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.
Among the contents of these newsletters were things like “95 percent of black males in that city are semi-criminal if not entirely criminal,” and “it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist, philandering Martin Luther King,” and “I’ve laid bare the coming race war in our big cities, [and] the federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS.”
Now, I have heard and read things that are more bigoted than anything in these newsletters. The newsletters do not, to my knowledge, actually state anything to the effect of, “black people are inferior to white people.” But the main problem with the Paul-bashing is that Paul consistently denies knowing the content of these newsletters, let alone writing them. Not exactly known for being phony, he has never, as far as I have heard, said anything even remotely racist in public. Or, says his former aide for 12 years, Eric Dondero, has he ever said anything racist in private. Dondero split with Paul because of disagreements about foreign policy and has been very critical of him on his blog, so if he had any bias it would be against Paul.
Plus, Paul’s policy positions – based on the belief that people should have the freedom to live as they please as long as it does not violate the rights of others – are friendly to people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations. Paul believes that the government should treat people equally without regard to the demographic groups to which they belong, and that people should be free to form any relationships that they wish to, without government labels or licenses. As Wes Messamore points out at the Daily Caller, Paul has denounced overzealous law enforcement, mandatory minimum sentences, and their effects on African-Americans, and mentioned his friend, African-American economist Walter Williams, as a possible running mate. When it comes to homophobia, certainly it would make more sense to pick on Republican candidates Rick Santorum (who supports anti-sodomy laws) or Michele Bachmann (whose husband allegedly believes in “curing” gay people of their gayness) than Paul.
As an example of how widespread the anti-Paul bias is, a surprisingly ignorant and illogical CNN blog entry (or at least an ignorant and illogical headline) interprets a book that Paul actually did write, “Freedom Under Seige,” as “criticiz[ing] AIDS patients, minority rights and sexual harassment victims.” In the book, Paul writes that people with AIDS often have AIDS because of their own decisions, and that they do not have the right to force other people to pay for their treatment. This is completely true, and completely consistent with Paul’s libertarian ideology. He also writes that federal laws against sexual harassment are unnecessary because employees are free to quit their jobs. I do not agree with this, but it is completely consistent with Paul’s central belief that the government should be small and allow free markets to solve problems whenever possible. And Paul decries the tendency to create separate sets of rights for different groups, such as racial minorities, children, employees, and the homeless, pointing out that, “White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus.” Far from “criticizing minority rights,” this statement sums up the very essence of both libertarianism and diversity – the rights of all individuals to be accepted, treated equally, and treated as individuals.
Yet even though there is nothing homophobic, anti-Semitic, or racist about Paul, far too many people speak of him as if he is the leader of the KKK or the National Vanguard or something. Those who declare their support for Paul are treated as if they made an embarrassing faux pas. And as Salon’s Steve Kornacki describes, nearly all of his campaign rivals have made despicable comments about him in recent days, with Bachmann and Mitt Romney saying he will not be allowed to become the GOP nominee, Newt Gingrich saying he might rather vote for President Obama, Santorum saying he would have to take “a lot of antacid” to vote for him, and Jon Huntsman running an ad about him entitled “Unelectable.”
When Kelly Clarkson announced her endorsement of Paul on Twitter, people responded by saying inaccurate, condescending, and just plain rude things like:
- “Now THAT is how you get someone to unfollow you on Twitter…and in your career.”
- “its good that you dont want women to have the right to choose & think ppl should die in the ER”
- “oh my god I’ve never been more disappointed I thought you were smarter wow”
- “It does concern me a little that you support Ron Paul given his hateful views towards Jews…it did kind of rub me the wrong way”
Fellow singer Michelle Branch bravely agreed with Clarkson, and she was met with a storm of similarly obnoxious comments, such as…
- “ron paul is a homophobe! how could you EVER support him? when you used to sell records, you had so many gay fans. #sad.”
- “supporting ron paul means supporting racism and homophobia, you both need to stop.”
It is beyond me how people can find it sad or disappointing that someone endorses a pro-liberty politician. Even if a celebrity endorsed a politician I hated, I wouldn’t personally attack them or insult their intelligence. And, if I disagreed with someone’s opinions, I would criticize those opinions, using logic and reasoning. But I guess that takes more effort than calling someone a homophobe, an anti-Semite, and a racist.