I am a supporter of Ron Paul. I have followed his career since the 1980s, and I have often referred to him as "the greatest Congressman since the days of the Founding Fathers." Though I live outside Texas, I have always considered him my true representative in Congress because of his brave, lonely, and remarkably consistent stands for peace, civil liberties and limited government.
(I should point out that I do paid and volunteer work for the Advocates for Self-Government, a non-partisan libertarian educational organization that Ron Paul has praised; similarly, the Advocates, like most libertarian organizations, has praised, in a non-partisan way, Paul’s work. My thoughts in this article are my own; I do not speak for the Advocates. Nor am I associated in any way with Paul’s campaign.)
In a campaign of sleazy, flip-flopping presidential candidates loaded down with ugly personal and political baggage, Paul has been a shining exception. A ten-term congressman of incredibly consistent views, praised by ideological friends and foes alike for his character, integrity and friendliness. A devout Christian reluctant to inject public declarations of his faith into politics; a devoted family man, married to his high school sweetheart for over fifty years. A doctor who has delivered literally thousands of babies and provided pro bono medical care for the poor; a student who paid for his first year at college by delivering newspapers, selling lemonade, and mowing lawns. No skeletons, no scandals. A squeaky-clean straight-talking Mr. Paul Goes To Washington.
Until… now? Recently the liberal weekly The New Republic (TNR) published excerpts from a newsletter published under Paul’s name from the late 1970s through the 1990s. The worst of these excerpts are racist, anti-gay, and hateful in tone.
According to TNR and others, these excerpts reveal an ugly, secret, hidden part of Paul -- that he is racist, homophobic, conspiracy-obsessed, and anti-Semitic.
I believe that is utterly false. I believe that many of TNR’s charges against Paul are unfair and dishonest -- deliberate distortions and misrepresentations.
Far more importantly, I believe that Ron Paul did not write the bigoted material that TNR quotes.
Before examining the offensive material in the Ron Paul newsletters cited by TNR, it should be pointed out that the TNR article wildly over-reaches in its all-out attempt to condemn Paul. TNR uses some genuinely ugly material in the newsletters as a launching pad for a wider set of unjust and unsupported smears. The article was an obvious hit piece, published on the day of the New Hampshire primaries, when Paul’s hopes for a breakthrough vote were high, and without time for Paul to undo the damage. It is puffed up and padded with innuendo, exaggerations, and unsupported claims.
The TNR article is thick with McCarthyite guilt-by-association smears. For example, TNR breathlessly notes that Paul has appeared on the Alex Jones radio show and given interviews to the John Birch Society. But this, of course, hardly indicates Paul shares their beliefs (many of which, incidentally, are quite unremarkable). TNR supplies no damning quotes from these, or any other, interviews -- because, quite simply, there aren’t any damning quotes. Paul’s message of peace, tolerance and liberty is the same, whatever the venue.
Similarly, the fact that a few tin-pot would-be fuehrers have announced they support Paul says no more about Paul than the Communist Party USA’s quasi-endorsement of John Kerry in 2004, or the Klan’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan in 1980, said about those candidates.
While I strongly believe that Paul did not write the newsletter material quoted in the TNR article, for reasons I will discuss below, it should nonetheless be noted that a good bit of what TNR holds up as oh-my-God!-shocking actually is... not. For example, criticism of Israeli policies, or concern about the influence of the Israeli lobby upon U.S. foreign policy, is not anti-Semitic. Nor is opposition to foreign aid to Israel, especially in the context of Paul’s opposition to all foreign aid.
Similarly, criticism of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Yale’s sordid Skull and Bones society is surely not outside the bounds of respectable discourse. And concern about an "industrial-banking-political elite" is hardly sinister; jeez, what intelligent non-Establishment political observer doesn’t worry about some variant or other of this? Isn’t that essentially what Eisenhower was warning about in his famous “military-industrial complex” speech?
And when did it become “paranoia” to oppose the Federal Reserve System and to support a gold standard instead of easily-inflated paper currency?
In the same way, it is just laughable for TNR to criticize a 1986 newsletter for describing conservatives Jeanne Kirkpatrick and George Will as “two of our enemies” and noting they had joined the Trilateral Commission. They were, in fact, inducted into that august organization, joining a gaggle of other suspicious characters; and no doubt both of them are viewed as enemies even by some of TNR’s staunchest readers.
Similarly, attacking The New Republic for failing to defend the free speech rights of Holocaust revisionists (as one 1989 newsletter did) is not, of course, an endorsement of the revisionists’ views; it is the proper stance of First Amendment absolutists like Paul.