The Ron Paul newsletters, in the news — again!

The following appeared on Wirkman Netizen, on January 10, 2009:

On Wolf Blitzer’s program, Ron Paul responds (link to Reason’s Hit and Run).

I haven’t watched it all yet, because it’s hard for me to stomach evasion. While I suppose it’s reasonable for people to suppose Ron’s a racist because of the horrid newsletters that went out under his name, that was never my charge. My question has been more like this: Why did you let yourself be used by racist hatemongers, and why did you let them use racist and homophobic hatred to sell your point of view?

Interestingly, the word “libertarianism” is out in front here, and Ron nicely (if improbably) says that libertarians cannot be racist. Of course they can. The libertarians who wrote his newsletters were racist.

Of course, he could say “they weren’t libertarian,” but he also denies knowing who any of them are. Improbable. He mentions the word “editor” but does not mention who the real editor of his newsletter was. And that is something he could have done, easily.

Let me repeat: I have never really believed that he was a racist. I believe he was led by his friends and mentors (Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard) into this sort of race-baiting as a quasi-legitimate way to “use” rightwingers to forward “legit” libertarian ends, courtesy of a sweet business deal (with Burt Blumert).

Or I suppose something like this could have happened:

Ron, 1989: Hey Burt, what’s all this racist crap in my newsletter?

Burt: Sorry, Ron. I had to fire a ghostwriter. It seemed OK when I first read it, but I saw that it was pretty nasty on second thought. Taken care of.

Ron: OK.

Ron, 1990: Hey Burt, what’s all this nastiness about my hero MLK about?

Burt: You like MLK? Sorry. We have evidence here in our folders that he was a commie and a pervert. I mean, I got this straight from J. Edgar Hoover and he never lied.

Ron: Burt, you should know never to trust the FBI!

Burt: Sorry, won’t happen again.

Ron, 1995: Burt, there’s more MLK bashing and nastiness and racism! What’s going on here?

Burt: Yeah, I had to fire another sub-editor. Sorry. But, on the bright side, we suckered another several thou off of the creeps on the far right!

Seems unlikely, no? Could Ron be that dumb?

Well, I just finished watching the video. Paul does what politicians do: try to change the subject. Like I said, I never really believed he was a racist. But he did go along with racists at his newsletter, and let racism go out under his name. This looks so bad, and stinks so high. In a sense, it’s worse than racism. It’s not caring about an issue enough to stick up for your own principles, and letting your friends get away with putting your name through the dreck of bigotry.

Now, we have all said terrible things. At least I have. I have even written pretty awful things. For a joke, sometimes I will say nearly anything. And that, no doubt, is how the ghosts of Paul justified at least some of what they were doing.

And, as I have insisted before, this is part of the paleolibertarian agenda: appeal to conservatives by dissing the underclass.

The paleos just didn’t understand how ugly they were being. I think they thought of themselves as being principled. I bet they argued their case for the vile speech to Ron Paul in terms of principle. And I bet Paul, blown over by the imprimatur of his favorite living economist, went along for those reasons.

It’s just a theory. But it’s the best one I can advance. It offers yet another pathetic example of someone going too far in the “school” he belongs to.

How much better would it have been for Ron Paul had he distanced himself a bit from the “Austrians.” He should have read more Coase and Posner and Friedman, and kept a more open mind. And avoided deifying Mises and treating Rothbard as Mises’ One True Prophet.

The whole cultic aspect of Mises worship comes up again, and in such a way that would surely have annoyed the great man himself.

Mises was not God. Rothbard was no Muhammad. These are fallible men with some good ideas. I admire Mises more than I admire most 20th century thinkers. But that does not mean that I would be so blown over by his brightest disciples that I would let them spew hate in my name.

And, frankly, I am not all that impressive a person. Ron Paul, running for president, should have more integrity than I. He does not. That is sad. So, just as i think a person has to be in several senses better a person than I — morally, financially, intellectually — to be worth placing in the presidency of the United States, just so I can say Ron does not really deserve it.

Of course, I don’t have much evidence that any of his competitors for the position are any better. In fact, I think most are worse. I think that some political positions simply disqualify you. Warmongering without good cause, and going along with lies to support the case for war, that disqualifies most of the major candidates, leaving only Obama (perhaps) worth putting in office.

And he has a lot of other things going against him.

But, at least he probably has kept his anti-black racism under control, and not spewed racial hatred under his name for a decade or more.


Hi, I was really upset when more of these newsletters came out, since I’ve been a RP supporter for a while now (about a year). He really really really needs to understand how bad these are and come clean. Here is my take on the subject:

I liked your take on Hit&Run on what he should have said (that’s how I wound up on your blog):

“Look, I had to deal with this painful experience 12 years ago. I prayed about what to do. I stopped talking to the main person responsible, Mr. X. And those who convinced me to allow this? One is dead, and I forgave him, though never quite trusted him again. I’m afraid I still have regular dealings — though not business dealings — with the one other person who convinced me that this was the right way to go, who defended the highjacking of my newsletters. This is the most awful thing I ever did, giving up my name for others to abuse to promote ideas I believed in to people who were racists, using racist language. I repudiated this a long time ago. I made what amends I could a long time ago. My constituents forgave me. It is sad that it was brought up at this time.”

And cited it in my post, if that’s cool.

One word about how I feel about all this: crushed.