A bigot through and through

January 10, 2012

There isn't any reason good enough to support Ron Paul. Elizabeth Schulte explains.

IT'S HARDLY a revelation, but here's the plain truth: Take a good look at Ron Paul, and you'll see a candidate who is racist, sexist, anti-gay and anti-worker.

The right-wing libertarian's long record is packed with conservative ravings and support for policies that make the lives of working-class people much, much worse when they're implemented. Yet there's still debate, including among some liberal commentators, about whether Paul is bringing something important to Election 2012.

For example, in a column for Truthdig, Robert Scheer argued that neither Paul's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act nor the revelations of racism in newsletters he published in the past should stop progressives from:

seriously engaging the substance of Paul's current campaign--his devastating critique of crony capitalism and his equally trenchant challenge to imperial wars and the assault on our civil liberties that they engender.

Paul is being denigrated as a presidential contender even though on the vital issues of the economy, war and peace, and civil liberties, he has made the most sense of the Republican candidates.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (Allison Stillwell)

While Paul might score points with liberal commentators for his criticism of wars abroad and attacks on civil liberties at home, these positions don't make up for the racism and scapegoating that he stands for in the rest of his platform.

IN THE run-up to Iowa caucuses, several newsletters that Paul published in the 1980s and 1990s came under the media scrutiny, revealing pages chockfull of racist, far-right garbage. Here's a small sampling:

-- December 1990: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was "a world-class adulterer" who "seduced underage girls and boys" and "replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."

October 1990: "A mob of black demonstrators, led by the 'Rev.' Al Sharpton, occupied and closed the Statue of Liberty recently, demanding that New York be renamed Martin Luther King City 'to reclaim it for our people.' Hmmm. I hate to agree with the Rev. Al, but maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis? But Al, the Statue of Liberty? Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house."

October 1992: "If you live in a major city, you've probably heard about the newest threat to your life and limb, and your family: carjacking. It's the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos...What can you do? More and more Americans are carrying a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped-off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example.)"

January 1993: The newsletter bemoans "the disappearing white majority."

Paul claimed he didn't write the comments nor know anything about them. So...just to clarify, Ron Paul knew nothing about what was in newsletters titled Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.

Paul's claim about not knowing the contents of the newsletters is a lie, pure and simple. After all, in 1996, Paul was facing similar criticisms, and defended a comment in a 1992 newsletter that read, "[W]e can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."

And the direct-mail solicitation for Paul's newsletters that warned of the "coming race war in our big cities" and a "federal-homosexual cover-up" probably should have been on Paul's radar--since it had his signature at the bottom.

No matter what he says today, Paul profited from the newsletter, financially and politically, gaining supporters from the hysteria whipped up in the pages of these publications.

Supporters like Don Black, founder of the white supremacist group Stormfront, who in December told Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks Internet news show, "[W]e agree with his stand on the issues, which we believe are heartfelt, coincide with ours."

Oddly enough, Black distanced himself from comments in the Paul newsletter, pointing out that claims that the 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion ended "when it came time for the Blacks to pick up their welfare checks" were "over the top" and "typical hyperbole, cutesy little things that somebody came up with, whoever it was, trying to appeal to Ron Paul's paleo-conservative base."

When a Nazi like Don Black thinks your newsletters' racist rants are "over the top," it's time to stop claiming you just don't know anything about them.

If he was serious about not being associated with racism, Paul's responsibility isn't just to disavow these racist comments, but to challenge them. If he really thought the comments in the newsletters were a mistake, then he should stop far-right organizations whose members support him because of the newsletters from contributing to his campaign.

PAUL ALSO ought to answer for the things we can be confident he does believe--because he actually said them.

In 2004, he was the only member of Congress to vote against a bill honoring the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, arguing that the result of the act "was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of a free society." You know the "right" he's talking about? The right to discriminate on the basis of race.

Paul's rotten libertarianism extends to laws that "violate" the right to discriminate against women, too. Paul lays out his thoughts on laws concerning sexual harassment in the workplace in the pamphlet Freedom Under Siege, which he put out in 1987--and thought enough of to reprint in 2008:

Employee rights are said to be valid when employers pressure employees into sexual activity. Why don't they quit once the so-called harassment starts? Obviously the morals of the harasser cannot be defended, but how can the harassee escape some responsibility for the problem? Seeking protection under civil rights legislation is hardly acceptable.

Paul clarified his position on Fox News Sunday, adding, "Because people are insulted by, you know, rude behavior, I don't think we should make a federal case out of it."

Paul's Freedom Under Siege also has some choice words about people who have AIDS and dare to consider using the public health care system: "The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim--frequently, a victim of his own lifestyle--but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care."

The political establishment, the media and his fellow Republicans may scoff at Ron Paul and his kooky rhetoric, but his presence in the primaries has lent credibility to far-right ideas. Many Republicans roll their eyes at Paul when he talks about the Federal Reserve or the gold standard (or ending the war in Afghanistan), but they agree with Paul on key issues like scapegoating undocumented immigrants, abolishing women's right to choose abortion, banning gay marriage and shredding the social safety net.

For example, Paul supports ending birthright citizenship granted to children born in the U.S. who may have undocumented parents. He also believes that there should be no mandate on hospitals to treat undocumented immigrants who need care.

And evidently, while Paul is known for opposing U.S. wars abroad, he sings a different tune when it comes to a war on Mexican immigrants. During the CNN debate on national security issues in November, he said:

[W]e do have a national responsibility for our borders. What I'm, sort of, tired of is all the money spent and lives lost worrying about the borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and forgetting about our borders between the U.S. and Mexico. We should think more about, you know, what we do at home.

For the Iowa caucuses, Paul's campaign ran ads touting his opposition to women's right to choose abortion and his belief that "life begins at conception."

Paul is for getting rid of the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs, as well as Social Security. His enduring faith in the free market dictates that every American should get the same opportunity--and no one should be shown "favoritism" with things like government-subsidized health care or unemployment insurance.

While Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney might not say that he wants to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education, as Paul does, the two men do agree on axing government agencies and social programs that make a real difference in workers' lives.

The fact that Ron Paul gets even fleeting attention from progressive activists says less about his supposed merits and more about the miserable choices on offer in Election 2012. Every day the media spends chronicling the sick priorities of the creeps running for the Republican nomination, it becomes more obvious how out of touch Washington politics is with the concerns of working people.

The Occupy movement has shown us that this is the time to demand what we want, and to aim high--not to tolerate the likes of Ron Paul and his racist, sexist and anti-worker policies.

Further Reading

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