A sane, reasoned analysis of Ron Paul’s newsletter problem. AGB
Originally published in LA PROGRESSIVE.
December 27, 2011
By Mark Naison
I can’t say that I am surprised by the content of recently unearthed Ron Paul newsletters from the 1990’s that talk about a coming “race war,” or about Congressman Paul’s continuing connection to the John Birch society. Neo-Confederates, white supremacists, and those who hate immigrants and gays have been vocal supporters of the conservative wing of the Republican Party for the last 40 years, so it is not surprising that Rep. Paul would count people with such views among his most loyal supporters.
Nor he is alone in such a posture. During her run for the Vice-Presidency, Sarah Palin attracted more than a few such people to the rallies she organized, to the great embarrassment of John McCain, while racist imagery was a fixture at early rallies of the Tea Party before leaders of that movement were able to persuade, or force, individuals with such views to go into deep cover.
The informal results of my little survey may surprise my friends on the left. The majority of the libertarians I work or correspond with have pointed out that the sentiments in those newsletters do not represent what Rep Paul, or the vast majority of his followers stand for and insist that the movement they are a part of will remain inclusive and multiracial. I don’t necessarily agree with all their conclusions, but the manner in which they have responded has been reassuring. In defending Paul, they have not allowed themselves to become the very people they were accused of apologizing for or protecting.
However, a few of the Ron Paul supporters in my networks have completely flipped out over the new accusations and have struck out at anyone and everyone who raises questions about the Paul campaign with injured innocence and a torrent of abuse.
Implicitly and sometimes explicitly, they have said that racism is no longer an issue in American society, and that critics of Paul are “playing the race card” to undermine the campaign of a great patriot and a great American
This argument is not only unconvincing, it is counterproductive. It suggests that supporters of Ron Paul have something to hide, most probably the very attitudes that critics accuse the movement of harboring
Let me conclude with the following suggestion. If supporters of Ron Paul want to continue to attract a multiracial following, they will have to deal in a serious and principled way with accusations of racism, homophobia, and anti-immigrant prejudice, not move into a posture of denial
In our very NON post racial society, denying racism’s existence is a posture that arouses, rather than defuses, suspicion among racism’s long time victims.
Healing America’s racial wounds requires open discussion and debate. Those who call for a cover up when real issues arise contribute to the continuation and intensification of the very divisions they claim to abhor.