|A man should be judged by the content of his character
The Freedom Report's online
archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul's newsletters, in part because of a controversy
dating to 1996, when Charles "Lefty" Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that
"opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions," that "if you have ever been robbed
by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be," and that black representative Barbara
Jordan is "the archetypical half-educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism." At the time, Paul's
campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had
written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said
he found Paul's explanation believable, "since the style diverges widely from his own."
Finding the pre-1999 newsletters
was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University
of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines,
it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed
by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined
newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.
But, whoever actually wrote
them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the
articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create
the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with
conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short,
they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather
a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.
To understand Paul's philosophy,
the best place to start is probably the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Auburn, Alabama. The institute is named for a libertarian
Austrian economist, but it was founded by a man named Lew Rockwell, who also served as Paul's congressional chief of staff
from 1978 to 1982. Paul has had a long and prominent association with the institute, teaching at its seminars and serving
as a "distinguished counselor." The institute has also published his books.The politics of the organization are complicated--its
philosophy derives largely from the work of the late Murray Rothbard, a Bronx-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and a self-described "anarcho-capitalist"
who viewed the state as nothing more than "a criminal gang"--but one aspect of the institute's worldview stands out as particularly
disturbing: its attachment to the Confederacy. Thomas E. Woods Jr., a member of the institute's senior faculty, is a founder
of the League of the South, a secessionist group, and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, a
pro-Confederate, revisionist tract published in 2004.
Dr. Nunez asks: Is this how you plan to conduct business as President?
To allow your staff to use your name as they see fit, while you feign ignorance?
Ron Paul's attempt to excuse away this revelation
with cries of political foul play can't override the fact that he allowed this newsletter to printed in his name for years..
Paul enthusiastically blurbed
Woods's book, saying that it "heroically rescues real history from the politically correct memory hole." Thomas DiLorenzo,
another senior faculty member and author of The Real Lincoln:
A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, refers to the Civil War as the "War for Southern Independence"
and attacks "Lincoln cultists"; Paul endorsed the book on
MSNBC last month in a debate over whether the Civil War was necessary (Paul thinks it was not). In April 1995, the institute
hosted a conference on secession at which Paul spoke; previewing the event, Rockwell wrote to supporters, "We'll explore what
causes [secession] and how to promote it." Paul's newsletters have themselves repeatedly expressed sympathy for the general
concept of secession. In 1992, for instance, the Survival Report argued that "the right of secession should be ingrained in
a free society" and that "there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration
of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it."
The people surrounding the
von Mises Institute--including Paul--may describe themselves as libertarians, but they are nothing like the urbane libertarians
who staff the Cato Institute or the libertines at Reason magazine. Instead, they represent a strain of right-wing libertarianism
that views the Civil War as a catastrophic turning point in American history--the moment when a tyrannical federal government
established its supremacy over the states. As one prominent Washington
libertarian told me, "There are too many libertarians in this country ... who, because they are attracted to the great books
of Mises, ... find their way to the Mises Institute and then are told that a defense of the Confederacy is part of libertarian
Paul's alliance with neo-Confederates
helps explain the views his newsletters have long espoused on race. Take, for instance, a special issue of the Ron Paul Political
Report, published in June 1992, dedicated to explaining the Los Angeles
riots of that year. "Order was only restored in L.A. when
it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began," read one typical passage. According
to the newsletter, the looting was a natural byproduct of government indulging the black community with "'civil rights,' quotas,
mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black
mayors, black curricula in schools, black tv shows, black tv anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who
dares question the black agenda." It also denounced "the media" for believing that "America's number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass
blacks." To be fair, the newsletter did praise Asian merchants in Los Angeles,
but only because they had the gumption to resist political correctness and fight back. Koreans were "the only people to act
like real Americans," it explained, "mainly because they have not yet been assimilated into our rotten liberal culture, which
admonishes whites faced by raging blacks to lie back and think of England."
This "Special Issue on Racial Terrorism" was hardly the first time one of Paul's publications
had raised these topics. As early as December 1989, a section of his Investment Letter, titled "What To Expect for the 1990s,"
predicted that "Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities" because "mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing
from mostly white 'haves.'" Two months later, a newsletter warned of "The Coming Race War," and, in November 1990, an item
advised readers, "If you live in a major city, and can leave, do so. If not, but you can have a rural retreat, for
investment and refuge, buy it." In June 1991, an entry on racial disturbances in Washington,
DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood was titled, "Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo."
"This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s," the newsletter predicted. In an October 1992 item about urban
crime, the newsletter's author--presumably Paul--wrote, "I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self
defense. For the animals are coming."
That same year, a newsletter
described the aftermath of a basketball game in which "blacks poured into the streets of Chicago
in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot." The newsletter inveighed against liberals
who "want to keep white America from taking
action against black crime and welfare," adding, "Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black
rage, it seems."
Such views on race also inflected
the newsletters' commentary on foreign affairs. South Africa's transition to multiracial democracy was portrayed as a "destruction
of civilization" that was "the most tragic [to] ever occur on that continent, at least below the Sahara"; and, in March 1994,
a month before Nelson Mandela was elected president, one item warned of an impending "South African Holocaust."
Martin Luther King Jr. earned
special ire from Paul's newsletters, which attacked the civil rights leader frequently, often to justify opposition to the
federal holiday named after him. ("What an infamy Ronald Reagan approved it!" one newsletter complained in 1990. "We can thank
him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.") In the early 1990s, a newsletter attacked the "X-Rated Martin Luther King" as a "world-class
philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader
Ralph Abernathy. One newsletter ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New
York City after King, suggesting that "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," and "Lazyopolis"
were better alternatives. The same year, King was described as "a comsymp, if not an actual party member, and the man who
replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration."
While bashing King, the newsletters
had kind words for the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In a passage titled "The Duke's Victory," a
newsletter celebrated Duke's 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary. "Duke lost the election," it said,
"but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment." In 1991, a newsletter asked, "Is David Duke's new prominence, despite
his losing the gubernatorial election, good for anti-big government forces?" The conclusion was that "our priority should
be to take the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-welfare loafers, anti-race privilege, anti-foreign meddling message
of Duke, and enclose it in a more consistent package of freedom." Duke is now returning the favor, telling me that, while
he will not formally endorse any candidate, he has made information about Ron Paul available on his website.
DAVID DUKE ATTENDS AHMADINEJAD'S IRANIAN HOLOCAUST CONFERENCE TO DENOUNCE THAT JEWS WERE KILLED IN GAS CHAMBERS
Like blacks, gays earn plenty
of animus in Paul's newsletters. They frequently quoted Paul's "old colleague," Representative William Dannemeyer--who
advocated quarantining people with AIDS--praising him for "speak[ing] out fearlessly despite the organized power of the gay
lobby." In 1990, one newsletter mentioned a reporter from a gay magazine "who certainly had an axe to grind, and that's not
easy with a limp wrist." In an item titled, "The Pink House?" the author of a newsletter--again, presumably Paul--complained
about President George H.W. Bush's decision to sign a hate crimes bill and invite "the heads of homosexual lobbying groups
to the White House for the ceremony," adding, "I miss the closet." "Homosexuals," it said, "not to speak of the rest of society,
were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities." When Marvin Liebman, a founder of the conservative
Young Americans for Freedom and a longtime political activist, announced that he was gay in the pages of National Review,
a Paul newsletter implored, "Bring Back the Closet!" Surprisingly, one item expressed ambivalence about the contentious
issue of gays in the military, but ultimately concluded, "Homosexuals, if admitted, should be put in a special category and
not allowed in close physical contact with heterosexuals."
The newsletters were particularly
obsessed with AIDS, "a politically protected disease thanks to payola and the influence of the homosexual lobby," and used
it as a rhetorical club to beat gay people in general. In 1990, one newsletter approvingly quoted "a well-known Libertarian
editor" as saying, "The ACT-UP slogan, on stickers plastered all over Manhattan, is 'Silence = Death.' But shouldn't it be 'Sodomy
= Death'?" Readers were warned to avoid blood transfusions because gays were trying to "poison the blood supply." "Am I the
only one sick of hearing about the 'rights' of AIDS carriers?" a newsletter asked in 1990. That same year, citing a Christian-right
fringe publication, an item suggested that "the AIDS patient" should not be allowed to eat in restaurants and that "AIDS can
be transmitted by saliva," which is false. Paul's newsletters advertised a book, Surviving the AIDS Plague--also based upon
the casual-transmission thesis--and defended "parents who worry about sending their healthy kids to school with AIDS victims."
Commenting on a rise in AIDS infections, one newsletter said that "gays in San Francisco
do not obey the dictates of good sense," adding: "[T]hese men don't really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are
not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners." Also, "they enjoy the attention
and pity that comes with being sick."
The rhetoric when it came
to Jews was little better. The newsletters display an obsession with Israel;
no other country is mentioned more often in the editions I saw, or with more vitriol. A 1987 issue of Paul's Investment Letter
called Israel "an aggressive, national socialist state," and a 1990 newsletter
discussed the "tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel
in all countries who are willing to wok [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise." Of the 1993 World Trade Center
bombing, a newsletter said, "Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly
a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little."
Paul's newsletters didn't
just contain bigotry. They also contained paranoia--specifically, the brand of anti-government paranoia that festered among
right-wing militia groups during the 1980s and '90s. Indeed, the newsletters seemed to hint that armed revolution against
the federal government would be justified. In January 1995, three months before right-wing militants bombed the Murrah Federal Building
in Oklahoma City, a newsletter listed "Ten Militia Commandments," describing "the 1,500 local
militias now training to defend liberty" as "one of the most encouraging developments in America." It warned militia members that they were "possibly under BATF [Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] or other totalitarian federal surveillance" and printed bits of advice from the Sons of
Liberty, an anti-government militia based in Alabama--among
them, "You can't kill a Hydra by cutting off its head," "Keep the group size down," "Keep quiet and you're harder to find,"
"Leave no clues," "Avoid the phone as much as possible," and "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war,
let it begin here."
The newsletters are chock-full
of shopworn conspiracies, reflecting Paul's obsession with the "industrial-banking-political elite" and promoting his distrust
of a federally regulated monetary system utilizing paper bills. They contain frequent and bristling references to the Bilderberg
Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations--organizations that conspiracy theorists have long
accused of seeking world domination. In 1978, a newsletter blamed David Rockefeller, the Trilateral Commission, and "fascist-oriented,
international banking and business interests" for the Panama Canal Treaty, which it called "one of the saddest events in the
history of the United States." A 1988
newsletter cited a doctor who believed that AIDS was created in a World Health Organization laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland. In addition, Ron Paul & Associates
sold a video about Waco produced by "patriotic Indiana lawyer Linda Thompson"--as one of the newsletters called her--who maintained
that Waco was a conspiracy to kill ATF agents who had previously worked for President Clinton as bodyguards. As with many
of the more outlandish theories the newsletters cited over the years, the video received a qualified endorsement: "I can't
vouch for every single judgment by the narrator, but the film does show the depths of government perfidy, and the national
police's tricks and crimes," the newsletter said, adding, "Send your check for $24.95 to our Houston office, or charge the
tape to your credit card at 1-800-RON-PAUL."
When I asked Jesse Benton,
Paul's campaign spokesman, about the newsletters, he said that, over the years, Paul had granted "various levels of approval"
to what appeared in his publications--ranging from "no approval" to instances where he "actually wrote it himself." After
I read Benton some of the more offensive passages, he said,
"A lot of [the newsletters] he did not see. Most of the incendiary stuff, no." He added that he was surprised to hear about
the insults hurled at Martin Luther King, because "Ron thinks Martin Luther King is a hero."
In other words, Paul's campaign
wants to depict its candidate as a naïve, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his
behalf. This portrayal might be more believable if extremist views had cropped up in the newsletters only sporadically--or
if the newsletters had just been published for a short time. But it is difficult to imagine how Paul could allow material
consistently saturated in racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy-mongering to be printed under his name for so
long if he did not share these views. In that respect, whether or not Paul personally wrote the most offensive passages is
almost beside the point. If he disagreed with what was being written under his name, you would think that at some point--over
the course of decades--he would have done something about it.
What's more, Paul's connections
to extremism go beyond the newsletters. He has given extensive interviews to the magazine of the John Birch Society, and has
frequently been a guest of Alex Jones, a radio host and perhaps the most famous conspiracy theorist in America. Jones--whose recent documentary, Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement,
details the plans of George Pataki, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands,
among others, to exterminate most of humanity and develop themselves into "superhuman" computer hybrids able to "travel throughout
the cosmos"--estimates that Paul has appeared on his radio program about 40 times over the past twelve years.
Then there is Gary North,
who has worked on Paul's congressional staff. North is a central figure in Christian Reconstructionism, which advocates the
implementation of Biblical law in modern society. Christian Reconstructionists share common ground with libertarians, since
both groups dislike the central government. North has advocated the execution of women who have abortions and people who curse
their parents. In a 1986 book, North argued for stoning as a form of capital punishment--because "the implements of execution
are available to everyone at virtually no cost." North is perhaps best known for Gary North's Remnant Review, a "Christian
and pro free-market" newsletter. In a 1983 letter Paul wrote on behalf of an organization called the Committee to Stop the
Bail-Out of Multinational Banks (known by the acronym CSBOMB), he bragged, "Perhaps you already read in Gary North's Remnant
Review about my exposes of government abuse."
Ron Paul is not going
to be president. But, as his campaign has gathered steam, he has found himself increasingly permitted inside the boundaries
of respectable debate. He sat for an extensive interview with Tim Russert recently. He has raised almost $20 million in just
three months, much of it online. And he received nearly three times as many votes as erstwhile front-runner Rudy Giuliani
in last week's Iowa caucus. All the while he has generally
been portrayed by the media as principled and serious, while garnering praise for being a "straight-talker."
From his newsletters, however,
a different picture of Paul emerges--that of someone who is either himself deeply embittered or, for a long time, allowed
others to write bitterly on his behalf. His adversaries are often described in harsh terms: Barbara Jordan is called "Barbara
Morondon," Eleanor Holmes Norton is a "black pinko," Donna Shalala is a "short lesbian," Ron Brown is a "racial victimologist,"
and Roberta Achtenberg, the first openly gay public official confirmed by the United States Senate, is a "far-left, normal-hating
lesbian activist." Maybe such outbursts mean Ron Paul really is a straight-talker. Or maybe they just mean he is a man filled
This article originally misidentified ABC's Jake Tapper as Jack. In addition, Paul was a surgeon in the Air Force, not the
Army, as the piece originally stated. It also stated that David Duke competed in the 1990 Louisiana Republican Senate primary. In fact, he was a Republican candidate in an open primary.
The article has been corrected.
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