By Lizzy Ratner
I am distressed, I am. You’re a smart man and a thoughtful one. But you went surprisingly light in your recent post titled “The Ron Paul Moment: Bad And Good,” minimizing the Ron Paul Newsletter scandal as a possible Neocon “smear” while letting the good doc off with scarcely a pinky waggle.
Don’t get me wrong: I applaud – no, thrill to – Ron Paul’s antiwar righteousness as much as you do. On occupation, military bases, civil liberties, and the useless, murderous immorality of war and interventionism he is saying all the right things, a breath of bracing, anti-imperial honesty. But to take Paul’s antiwar declarations without scorching, or at least seriously interrogating, some of the other parts of his platform is not just intellectually sloppy but morally lazy, a big, politically reckless spit glob in the face of African Americans, gay folks, women, poor people, and just about every other marginalized person in this country and beyond.
Let’s start (start, but not finish) with the contents of the Ron Paul newsletter, that lucrative experiment in conspiracy-laced wingnuttery that burns with such virulent bigotry that I practically singed my face just reading excerpts. I found these excerpts courtesy of the website “Et tu, Mr. Destructo,” which recently unearthed and released a 50-page cache of greatest Newsletter hits. It’s worth mentioning that Et tu, Mr. Destructo is a deliciously acid voice of lefty irreverence – proudly anti-war, pro-union, Israel critical – hardly part of the neoconservative cabal that Andrew Sullivan so quiveringly accuses of trying to smear Doc Paul. In fact, plenty of the media outlets that have been so gleefully sifting through the contents of the “Ron Paul Newsletter” colostomy bag are “respectably” mainstream operations (I know, there’s no such thing) if not staunchly progressive ones – which is appropriate given that the man is running for President of the United States. Getting frisked by the media is part of the job application.
In any case, since the newsletters are now effortlessly accessible – thanks again to aforementioned “Et tu, Mr. Destructo,” among others – I would hope that you would have taken a few minutes to examine them. However, just in case, I’ve selected a sample.
Let’s roll the fiche…
Ron Paul Newsletter—December 1990
[King] was also a Comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration. King, the FBI files show, was not only a world-class adulterer, he also seduced underage girls and boys…. And we are supposed to honor this ‘Christian minister’ and lying socialist satyr…?
Ron Paul Newsletter—February, 1990
Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day. Listen to a black radio talk show in any major city. The racial hatred makes a KKK rally look tame.
Ron Paul Newsletter—January, 1991
St. Martin was a world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours (‘non-violence’ didn’t apply in all spheres, I guess).
Ron Paul Newsletter—June, 1990
President Bush invited the heads of homosexual lobbying groups to the White House for the ceremony. As Congressman Bill Dannemeyer (R-CA) noted, ‘It’s a tragic message that is being sent,’ that normality and deviance are equal. I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities. They could also not be as promiscuous. Is it any coincidence that the AIDS epidemic developed after they came ‘out of the closet’ and started hyper-promiscuous sodomy? I don’t believe so, medically or morally.
Ron Paul Newsletter—October, 1990
A mob of black protestors, 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.
Ron Paul Political Report—July 1992
Perot cannot fix the welfare state any more than Gorbachev could fix Soviet socialism. To achieve even a semblance of success, Perot may resort to authoritarian means. Maintaining order may be the number one priority, especially as the race riots grow…. Just after a basketball game ended on June 14, blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot, even breaking through protective steel shutters with crowbars to steal everything in sight…. (Is this why Hollywood tells us White Men Can’t Jump?).
Ron Paul Survival Report—January, 1994
They [gay men] enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick. Put it all together, and you’ve got another wave of AIDS infections, that you, dear taxpayer, will be asked to pay for.
Ron Paul Survival Report—November, 1994
If you belong to one of these groups [i.e., a right-wing militia], be careful not to let down your guard too easily if at all…. Big government is forever, says the Beltway elite. But don’t believe it. If people form their own communities of internal protection, the central state becomes an even more obvious parasite. It is an encouraging sign that the end of government as we know it may be near.
Had enough yet?
As you know, Paul’s response thus far has been about as flimsy as the paper his Newsletter was printed on. “I didn’t write them. I didn’t read them at the time and I disavow them,” he told CNN’s Gloria Borger in a near-parodic replay of James Murdoch’s hacking scandal defense.
Now it’s certainly possible that Paul didn’t write the newsletters, as he claims. In fact, despite draping his name across the top of all of them and John Hancocking the bottom of some of them, it’s pretty well-suggested that Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former right-hand, penned the missives. But the claim that he didn’t read them? Come on. The man spent 30 years publishing these tracts, raking in more than $1 million in the process — and he’s saying he had no clue about the contents? He certainly seemed pretty well briefed on the details in this 1995 video.
All of which reflects pretty poorly on Dr. Paul.
As Et tu, Mr. Destructo writes:
Paul supporters face three losing propositions:
• [Ron Paul] lacks the competency to control content published under his own name for over a decade, and is thus unfit to lead a country.
• He doesn’t believe these things but considers them a useful political tool to motivate racist whites, which makes him fit to be a GOP candidate, but too obvious about it to win.
• He’s actually a racist, which makes him unfit to be a human being.
In other words, no matter how you spin the Newsletter scandal, Ron Paul is either incompetent, cynical, or racist.
But here’s the other truth: troubling as the Newsletter is, it’s really only part of the Ron Paul problem, because the Ron Paul problem is ultimately bigger and murkier, the creepy-reckless result of an ultra-libertarianism which looks refreshingly righteous at first but, when followed to its natural conclusion, leads to some pretty slithery-slippery places. Which is what I hope to discuss in my next installment…
Lizzy Ratner is a journalist in New York City. She is a co-editor with Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.