Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletter Articles

Like many millions of other people out there, Ron Paul converted me to libertarianism. Actually, I was already a libertarian but didn’t know it until I saw Ron Paul in a presidential debate about 4 years ago.

Dr. Paul has always struck me as a sincere man, with a good heart, and extraordinary courage. His success in preaching the message of peace, liberty, sound money, and equality before the law makes him a hero and an intellectual giant, in my humble opinion.

Recently, however,  a news story has come out that has caused me to take a second look at Ron Paul.

I originally heard about this story during Ron’s first presidential campaign. The man who wrote the original article was James Kirchick. You can read the article for yourself by clicking here. The jist of it is that Mr. Kirchick went back and read a bunch of old newsletters that were published under Ron Paul’s name. The newsletters carried titles such as Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report. 

Some clearly racist statements were made in those newsletters. There is no question about that.  We can all agree that racism is intolerable and should be condemned. There is no excuse for insulting people based on their skin color alone.

However, as a percentage of the total content published, the racist material was negligible. Less than 10 statements that could be construed as racist were to be found in the thousands of articles that were published. To see a brilliantly written and very well researched response to James Kirchicks article, written by libertarian Justin Raimando, click here. I mention this because it is important to understand that even though racist remarks were made, they were far from being the central theme of the newsletters. Its not like there were weekly tirades against blacks under Ron Paul’s name. They were isolated incidents, terrible though they were.

In other articles, James Kirchick has expressed outright disdain for Ron Paul the man and the libertarian message in general. For example, in a recent CBS article that can be read here, he condemns Ron Paul supporters as being guilty of “a less savory type of political devotion, one that escapes the bounds of sober reasoning.” He writes that Paulians are obsessed with an “absolutist notion of libertarian rigor that has always been coupled with an attraction to fantasies of political apocalypse.” In other words, we’re all nuts.

It is easy enough to see that the attacks on Ron Paul are not only motivated by a hatred of racism. They are motivated by a hatred of his philosophy. The timing of these articles is suspect. This information has been available for a long time. It could have been released at anytime during the republican primaries. The fact that the media blitz is being launched only now, as Ron Paul is surging towards a victory in the Iowa primary, stinks of rotten politics.

In any event, in deciding on whether to stick with Dr. Paul, I’m asking myself  four questions : 1) Is Dr. Paul actually a racist? 2) Are the allegations true? 3) If they are true, how much does it matter? 4) Do these allegations disprove the correctness of libertarianism?

Is Dr. Paul actually a racist?

The evidence is overwhelming. Dr. Paul is not a racist. I’ve read four of the man’s books: Gold, Peace and Prosperity, The Revolution: A Manifesto, End the Fed, and Liberty Defined: 5o Essentail Issues That Affect Our Freedom. There is not a whiff of anything that can be considered racist anywhere in those books. I’ve done a page by page summary of The Revolution: A Manifesto on this website.

On page 64 of The Revolution: A Manifesto, Ron says “To the contrary, my philosophy of individualism is the most radical intellectual challenge to racism ever posed.” It can’t be said in any more explicit terms than that.

Here is a quote from Nelson Linder, the president of the Austin, TX branch of the NAACP. This quote is taken from an interview in which the interviewer makes explicit reference to the newsletters. Of Ron Paul, Linder says

“I met Ron Paul about 20 years ago on another station and he was doing a presentation and I called into to talk to him. I’ve also read his work. Let’s face it, Ron Paul is a thinker. He’s also a Constitutionalist. He believes in the Constitution. And in America in 2007 where that document has been tossed around like a piece of paper, he’s a very, very dangerous man. He’s talking about real issues, he’s very intelligent, he’s very informed and he’s a free thinker. So, it definitely invites attacks on him. As far as the comments, there a lot of folks who don’t quite understand the libertarian philosophy. I mean, we appreciate the fact that you watch the Constitution. But, in reality as black people sometimes, we don’t feel social policy. And sometimes people can say things in a context where it can be distorted and have a such greater impact. So, I think in his case he was basically taken out of context. I’ve watched his work. I admire what he does on foreign policy. He has a lot of potential. I just think that in the future we ought to talk more about social issues. Because, in reality if you talk about trying to having a meaningful impact on the American political system, you’ve got to understand that as African Americans we do have to deal with social issues because of our history. And I think if he would do that as well as talk about the Constitution, which is very, very important I think a lot of folks would be a lot more comfortable with not only joining the dialogue but perhaps being a part of the party. So, I like Ron Paul personally. I like what he’s saying. I think he’s sincere. I think he’s correct in what he’s saying. And I hope that more folks in the other parties develop the courage to join him and address the issues that I think will decide the fate of this country in the near future.”

To hear the entire interview with Nelson Linder, click here.

One more example. Take a look at this article. As many are aware, Dr. Paul has earned the nickname Dr. No. This is because he votes “no” on all laws that are not expressly permitted by the Constitution. He did make one interesting exception, though, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. During that time he voted to make  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday. According to Kirchick, only 10 years later Paul wrote that King was a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and “seduced underage girls and boys.” It seems impossible.

The facts are remarkably clear. Ron Paul is not a racist.

Are the allegations true?

As far as I can tell, there are really two allegations that must be considered. 1) Ron Paul wrote racist articles. 2) Ron Paul didn’t write the articles but was negligent in letting the articles go out under his name. Ron is completely innocent of the first and stone cold guilty of the second.

As shown above, Ron Paul is no racist. We can therefore safely assume that he wouldn’t write racist newspaper articles.

As to the second point, how could such a seemingly brilliant man let something so awful be released under his name? Here is the story as far as I can tell. Between 1984 and 1996 Ron Paul left the congress and went back home to Lake Jackson, Texas. He worked in a medical practice as an obstetrician. His kids were still in the house and he needed to support his wife and family. Although he wan’t nationally known he had a limited following in libertarian circles. It is likely that some publishers offered him some money if they could use his name to sell newsletters. Needing the money, he took them up on it even though he wouldn’t be actively involved in the day to day work of putting out a publication. In order to appeal to a certain segment of the libertarian movement, the managers of the newsletter printed some racist content.

Is Ron Paul responsible for what goes out under his name? Absolutely. Is it legitimate to question his judgement and fitness for the office of the presidency? One hundred percent.

Ron Paul is guilty of negligence and bad judgement.

If the allegations are true, how much does it matter?

Here’s the thing. We’ve all screwed up in the past. If you met me now, you’d think I was some kind of a square. I attend religious ceremonies. I’m a vegan. Reading is my favorite pastime. I’m a sweet guy.

But if you dig into my past, there are definitely some skeletons in my closet. Fighting. Drinking. Drug use. Arrests. Hell raising of all sorts. People used to ask my dad if he was sure he knew what he was doing with me. Of course he’d answer that he wasn’t.

Bill Clinton cheated on his wife while he was in office. Martin Luther King Jr. did have a numerous extra marital affairs. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have both admitted to using cocaine in their younger years.

As Tom Woods points out in his illuminating article here, the same people writing about Ron Paul couldn’t care less about government spying, drone murder, enormous deficits, money printing and all of the other problems that face our country.

The question we must ask then, is this: how grave is Ron Paul’s offense? The answer: not really grave at all.

Considering all of the positive good that Ron has done, allowing a few racist articles to go out under his name 20 years ago is relatively minor. That is not to completely absolve Dr. Paul of any wrongdoing. Its just that so much worse has been done by people with none of the redeeming qualities that Ron Paul has.

Do these allegations disprove the correctness of libertarianism?

Even if Ron Paul was a racist, it wouldn’t make the philosophy and ideas that he espouses wrong. Only a logical refutation of libertarian ideas can do that. Just because a math teacher sleeps with a student doesn’t mean that Pythagorean theorem is suddenly defunct.

This is actually a good learning moment for a lot of people who are beginning to learn about liberty. Are we actually convinced of the correctness of these ideas? Or are we simply a part of a Ron Paul personality cult? Will we continue to fight for liberty after Ron Paul is gone?

Unless each and every one of us takes the time to study, think, and get to know ourselves and our positions intimately, we’ll fold in the face of pressure. We’ll be fickle. We won’t know why we think what we think. Such people are easily dissuaded.

Be prepared to endure disappointment. People error with great frequency. There are no true saints among us. Put your faith in the strength of ideas not in the infallibility of certain individuals.

Conclusion

Ron Paul is not a racist. However, racist comments went out in newsletters bearing his name. The journalists reporting on this issue hate Ron Paul’s philosophy. They think libertarians are loons. The timing of the article makes it obvious that the reporting is politically motivated. Some of the luster has come off of Dr. Paul. We’ve learned that he’s human just like the rest of us. He’s made mistakes in the past. But so have we all. His mistakes pale in comparison to the good that he’s done. No matter what happens though, only a rational critique of our ideas, not what happens to a single individual, should change our mind about peace, liberty, free markets, and human progress.

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3 Responses to Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletter Articles

  1. galudwig says:

    Superb response to the whole racist newsletter debacle. I remember hearing of Paul for the first time back during the previous presidential elections (I’m under 30 and European). I was very enthusiastic until the (mostly right-wing) blogosphere ramped up the attacks and presented the newsletter articles (there was also some other supposed connections with white supremacist groups iirc), at which point I dismissed him as a racist. I’m sure there were many like me, and there will be more, as the 2012 electoral campaign gets in full swing and the articles suddenly become a hot issue again. I took a second look at Paul over the years, as I became more and more interested in the writings of Mises, Rothbard and others, but most probably would dismiss him completely based on some superficial references to those articles..

    Anyway, great article and thanks for the link to the Tom Woods article on the same subject. Can’t believe I missed that one!

    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m a 28 year old American dude from the state of Washington. I completely ignored the racist newsletter revelations in 2008, so I needed to do a little more digging this time around. As an aside, I’m currently re-reading Human Action. Such a great book. There is so much there that I had forgotten. Also, your blog is wonderful, you’re so prolific! Keep up the great work my friend.

      Adam

      • galudwig says:

        Ohh I love Human Action so much! I’m reading Man, Economy and State now (unfortunately, I avoided Rothbard for a very long time because I was scared of his “anarchism” :D) and like his analysis a lot, but prefer Mises’ style. I have a particular fondness for Omnipotent Government of which I just can’t get enough! If only there were some drug I could take to make me forget everything and read it again for the first time 😉

        Thanks for your encouragement, but I think my prolificness comes at the cost of quality because I prefer to just post quickly and without having to sit and think too much. I dread the amount of research I’d have to do to match the calibre of your posts! Anyway, I’ll be reading your blog regularly, so keep updating 🙂

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