As Newt Gingrich plummets and the single-digit candidates languish, the presidential race is shaping up to be a two-man race: Ron Paul (the Iowa frontrunner) and Mitt Romney (the New Hampshire frontrunner).
Romney has faced his fair share of attacks for his records and statements, but the heat is just beginning to turn up on Paul. At one time, it was thought that Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy and laissez-faire social policy were his biggest liabilities. As voters everywhere, from the right to the left, grow tired of the endless wars and nation building, and as a majority of Americans now support full legalization for hemp and legal equality for gays, the country has found Paul to be more mainstream and tuned in to the average American household than previously assumed. The conventionally estimated “ceiling” of Paul’s support seems to be shattered anew each week, as Paul’s support rises with no end in sight.
The one hurdle that threatens to cause the most trouble for Congressman Paul consists of a series of newsletters that were published under his name during the early 1990’s. While the bulk of the newsletters consisted of sermons on economics, lessons in constitutional interpretation, and financial advice, there are a good handful of quotes that are, to say the least, despicable. Everything from calling Martin Luther King, Jr. a communist philanderer, to saying that only “5% of blacks have sensible political opinions,” to referring to blacks as “animals,” to salivating over a coming “race war.”
While these quotes would be damning for Paul’s campaign had they actually been written by Ron Paul himself as the header on the newsletter implied they were, there is no corroborating evidence that Ron Paul ever used this kind of language or espoused these kinds of opinions elsewhere at any time. Even Austin, Texas’s NAACP President Nelson Linder, a 20-year friend of Paul’s, has come to the Congressman’s defense on this issue. There is evidence that Paul occasionally read content in the newsletters during this time, and was aware that there were some controversial statements being made, but it appears Paul was not aware at the time of the full extent of the problem. Faulting him for not taking a more controlling attitude over the newsletter that bore his namesake is a legitimate criticism, but making Paul out to be an actual racist is quite a challenge.
Paul was one of the congressmen who voted for the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday in November, 1979, possibly a rare exception to his lifelong strict constitutionalism (seeing as the Constitution does not authorize Congress to declare holidays for the entire nation, and seeing as giving federal bureaucrats paid holidays is not entirely fiscally conservative). Rep. Paul voted for the holiday at a time when Rep. Newt Gingrich opposed the idea. Ron Paul has time and again held up King as a personal hero to emulate, has always referred to all people as valuable individuals, and has never savored the thought of any “race wars” or aggressive violence of any sort (even garnering some criticism for expressing concern about the unsober way in which many reacted to the violent deaths of enemies like bin Laden or Qaddafi).
But if the grotesque utterings that pockmark those newsletters did not come from the pen of Congressman Paul, then whose are they? The answer has been a poorly kept secret among libertarian circles for years: self-professed “paleolibertarian” writer Lew Rockwell, of LewRockwell.com. A 2008 Reason article received word from a half dozen libertarian activists close to Paul who confirmed that Rockwell was the chief writer of the racist newsletter articles. Paul’s opponents have been reluctant to pin the racist remarks on Rockwell because they’d rather try to pin it on Paul, and Paul himself has been reluctant to shove the blame off on Rockwell because that’s not Paul’s style. As a libertarian who does not worship at the altar of demigods like Rockwell, however, I have no qualms about pointing out the emperor’s nakedness.
The evidence is plain enough for anyone to find.
Take the 1992 quotes about the “communist philanderer” Martin Luther King Jr. and his alleged “Hate Whitey Day”. Where have we heard this garbage before? Just months prior, in 1991, Lew Rockwell wrote an article in his own “Free Market” newsletter entitled “The Economics of Martin Luther King, Jr.”, which starts off with the sentence: “We’re supposed to venerate Martin Luther King, Jr., but that’s not easy for a believer in economic liberty.” The article goes on to excoriate King’s political beliefs, calling King a “Marxist,” saying King disliked the idea of entrepreneurship, and accusing King of intentionally pushing policies he knew would “create social conflict”.
In a May 1992 article in Rockwell’s “Free Market,” entitled “A New View of Civil Rights,” Rockwell continues this kind of language, saying that civil rights “have made us poorer and angrier,” and “must be junked.” During this time period, Rockwell also penned a pro-discrimination manifesto called “Repeal ‘64” (as in, the Civil Rights Act of 1964), in which Rockwell uses the kind of “black”-“white”, “us vs. them” collectivist thinking that Rep. Paul insists on avoiding. “White males,” says Rockwell, “are no longer fooled by the euphemisms.” Civil rights legislation, claims Rockwell, is about “denying economic opportunity to [white males] in order to benefit others.” Rockwell sounds positively David Duke-ian near the end of the article, when he proclaims “we also need to give up the notion of a ‘color-blind society’ – a goal as absurdly utopian as socialism itself.”
In a January 1992 article in Rockwell’s personal publication, in which Rockwell describes what he would do each day on his first 30 days as President, Rockwell gives curiously high priority to dismantling civil rights legislation, doing so on Days Eight and Nine.
In one of Rockwell’s more warped, pro-segregation rants in March, 1994, he fulminates over the small, Texan town of Vidor where four blacks had recently been chased out of town by hostile racists, and a new black family moving into town had to be escorted in by police. Rockwell was, of course, angry about the police escort for the blacks, not about the racist threat in the town.
Rockwell’s racist, twisted sense of justice was on display following the Rodney King beating, when he published in the Los Angeles Times an article with the title, “It’s Safe Streets Versus Urban Terror”, along with the repulsive, un-libertarian byline: “In the ‘50s, rampant crime didn’t exist because offenders feared what the police would do”. For any street criminal, Rockwell prescribes a police beating immediately after arrest, and another beating at the station. He also muses that perhaps video cameras should be banned in public, so that police can carry on these beatings undisturbed and without accountability. Rockwell’s comparisons of inner city troublemakers as “depraved infants” and “terrorists” would be perfectly valid, if the piece wasn’t in direct response to the Rodney King incident, with its obvious racial overtones. Rockwell does admit that the Rodney King beating was a tad excessive, but claims “that’s not the issue.” He writes that police beatings are “not a pleasant sight,” but equates such actions with “surgery” to remove “cancer.”
The style of writing and subject matter are undeniably similar to the racist articles peppering the newsletter that used Ron Paul’s name. Even if, by some unlikely coincidence, Rockwell was not actually the guilty ghostwriter for the Ron Paul newsletter, Rockwell has enough other unsavory work under his belt that deserves a full-throated apology.
Lew Rockwell needs to organize a televised press conference as soon as possible, take full responsibility for the racist, anti-libertarian content in the newsletters, apologize for, and fully repudiate them, and then completely disassociate and distance himself from venerable enterprises like the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Ron Paul 2012 campaign, so as not to further tarnish these innocent parties. Rockwell, while claiming to be a fan of Ron Paul (though not a Ron Paul voter, because he considers voting to be “immoral”), has done more damage to Ron Paul’s presidential efforts than any other single person. Ron Paul has taken the heat and the responsibility for Mr. Rockwell long enough. Paul has apologized for and repudiated the newsletters, so why can’t Rockwell? I join countless other Paul supporters and lovers of the free market and individual liberty, in demanding that Rockwell come clean now and end his cowardly charade that threatens to damage the reputation of the congressman he claims to admire.