Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has done the unthinkable this election cycle: He has injected libertarianism into the mainstream political debate and made himself a serious contender for the presidency. The fact that voters are taking him seriously means he can't be ignored, but he can be slandered. And this is exactly the route his critics in the media and the Republican Party have taken.
Twenty years ago, Paul supposedly authored a series of newsletters that contain defamatory comments about minorities. He denies writing them, but the questionable comments have naturally become the focal point of his campaign, and his critics have used them in an attempt to sink his campaign. But a racist Ron Paul exists only in the minds of his detractors. There is absolutely nothing racist about the man and his policies are incontrovertible proof.
People in a rush to commit character assassination rarely stop to think their way through their presentations. And if the allegations are to carry any weight, Paul's critics need to explain why he endorses a political philosophy that completely contradicts his supposedly discriminatory views.
A brief history lesson illustrates the point well. The 19th century abolitionists who decimated the arguments made in defense of slavery shared Ron Paul's views about liberty. The American Antislavery Society, for instance, argued in 1838 that an individual's right to his own life is “a self-evident proposition, that a man belongs to himself — that the right is intrinsic and absolute." Whatever the policy in question, the quoted statement is a perfect summation of the premise for every Paul position.
I've yet to hear any of the talking heads consider such an argument when grilling Paul about his newsletters. But if they did bother to crack open a history book before going on the attack, they would probably suggest that Paul has inconsistently stuck to this view throughout his career, much like the founding fathers who turned a blind eye to slavery during America's earliest years.
So let's consider his record. Every one of Paul's votes in Congress, books written, and speeches given since the beginning of his career has consistently preached the same message. While most of the political establishment enthusiastically supports our wars in the Middle East, for example, Paul is one of the few politicians with the sense to realize that stopping terrorism isn't as simple as denouncing the region as a bastion of radical Islam. A little cultural understanding goes a long way in explaining why America is so unpopular in the Arab World – and it isn't because we're free. Again, when is the last time any defender of racism has been caught promoting cultural awareness?
A look at domestic issues reveals the same conclusion. Experts have argued for many years that America's war on drugs has disproportionately harmed racial minorities, and Paul, despite the stance of both major political parties, has said that we should quit incarcerating people for drug use. Interestingly, so does the NAACP. In October, Reason Magazine reported that the civil rights organization has come out against the federal government's drug policy, citing evidence that black Americans are “... 13 times more likely to go to jail for the same drug-related offense as their white counterparts.”
The examples of Paul's policies contradicting his alleged racist comments go on and on. There is really no way to harmonize the two. One of the two doesn't really reflect his character, and everybody knows which it is if they're honest with themselves. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out at The Daily Beast, “... you've now heard this guy countless times; he's been in three presidential campaigns; he's not exactly known for self-editing. And nothing like this has ever crossed his lips in public.” The simple truth is that the newsletter stunt is nothing but a cheap attempt to dismiss a candidate whose views have the potential to upset the status quo in Washington.
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